LORD GANESH By SWAMI
to Lord Ganesha who is Brahman Himself, who is the Supreme Lord, who is the
energy of Lord Shiva, who is the source of all bliss, and who is the bestower
of all virtuous qualities and success in all undertakings.
karna vilambitha sutra,
rupa maheshwara putra,
vinaayaka paada namasthe
"O Lord Vinayaka! the remover of all obstacles, the son of Lord Shiva,
with a form which is very short, with mouse as Thy vehicle, with sweet pudding
in hand, with wide ears and long hanging trunk, I prostrate at Thy lotus-like
Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday
of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th
day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed
throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world.
figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in
some cases ten days, they are thrown into water.
Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His
Names are repeated first before any auspicious work is begun, before any kind
of worship is begun.
is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and the
elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya. He is the energy of Lord Shiva and so He
is called the son of Shankar and Umadevi. By worshipping Lord Ganesha mothers
hope to earn for their sons the sterling virtues of Ganesha.
following story is narrated about His birth and how He came to have the head of
upon a time, the Goddess Gauri (consort of Lord Shiva), while bathing, created
Ganesha as a pure white being out of the mud of Her Body and placed Him at the
entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anyone to enter while she went
inside for a bath. Lord Shiva Himself was returning home quite thirsty and was
stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha's head
as He thought Ganesha was an outsider.
Gauri came to know of this she was sorely grieved. To console her grief, Shiva
ordered His servants to cut off and bring to Him the head of any creature that
might be sleeping with its head facing north. The servants went on their
mission and found only an elephant in that position. The sacrifice was thus
made and the elephant's head was brought before Shiva. The Lord then joined the
elephant's head onto the body of Ganesha.
Shiva made His son worthy of worship at the beginning of all undertakings,
marriages, expeditions, studies, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of
Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapada.
the Grace of Sri Ganesha and His help nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No
action can be undertaken without His support, Grace or blessing.
his first lesson in the alphabet a Maharashtrian child is initiated into the
Mantra of Lord Ganesha, Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah. Only then is the alphabet
following are some of the common Names of Lord Ganesha: Dhoomraketu, Sumukha,
Ekadantha, Gajakarnaka, Lambodara, Vignaraja, Ganadhyaksha, Phalachandra,
Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vakratunda, Siddhivinayaka, Surpakarna, Heramba,
Skandapurvaja, Kapila and Vigneshwara. He is also known by many as
Mantra is Om Gung Ganapathaye Namah. Spiritual aspirants who worship Ganesha as
their tutelary Deity repeat this Mantra or Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah.
devotees of Ganesha also do Japa of the Ganesha Gayatri Mantra. This is as
Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins.
He is foremost amongst the celibates.
has as his vehicle a small mouse. He is the presiding Deity of the Muladhara
Chakra, the psychic centre in the body in which the Kundalini Shakti resides.
is the Lord who removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant,
and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success. Hence He is called
Vigna Vinayaka. His Bija Akshara (root syllable) is Gung, pronounced to rhyme
with the English word "sung". He is the Lord of harmony and peace.
Ganesha represents Om or the Pranava, which is the chief Mantra among the
Hindus. Nothing can be done without uttering it. This explains the practice of
invoking Ganesha before beginning any rite or undertaking any project. His two
feet represent the power of knowledge and the power of action. The elephant
head is significant in that it is the only figure in nature that has the form
of the symbol for Om.
significance of riding on a mouse is the complete conquest over egoism. The
holding of the ankusha represents His rulership of the world. It is the emblem
of divine Royalty.
is the first God. Riding on a mouse, one of nature's smallest creatures and
having the head of an elephant, the biggest of all animals, denotes that
Ganesha is the creator of all creatures. Elephants are very wise animals; this
indicates that Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom. It also denotes the
process of evolution--the mouse gradually evolves into an elephant and finally
becomes a man. This is why Ganesha has a human body, an elephant's head and a
mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.
is the Lord of Ganas or groups, for instance groups of elements, groups of
senses, etc. He is the head of the followers of Shiva or the celestial servants
of Lord Shiva.
Vaishnavas also worship Lord Ganesha. They have given Him the name of Tumbikkai
Alwar which means the divinity with the proboscis (the elephant's trunk).
Ganesha's two powers are the Kundalini and the Vallabha or power of love.
is very fond of sweet pudding or balls of rice flour with a sweet core. On one
of His birthdays He was going around house to house accepting the offerings of
sweet puddings. Having eaten a good number of these, He set out moving on His
mouse at night. Suddenly the mouse stumbled--it had seen a snake and became
frightened--with the result that Ganesha fell down. His stomach burst open and
all the sweet puddings came out. But Ganesha stuffed them back into His stomach
and, catching hold of the snake, tied it around His belly.
all this, the moon in the sky had a hearty laugh. This unseemly behaviour of
the moon annoyed Him immensely and so he pulled out one of His tusks and hurled
it against the moon, and cursed that no one should look at the moon on the
Ganesh Chaturthi day. If anyone does, he will surely earn a bad name, censure
or ill-repute. However, if by mistake someone does happen to look at the moon
on this day, then the only way he can be freed from the curse is by repeating
or listening to the story of how Lord Krishna cleared His character regarding
the Syamantaka jewel. This story is quoted in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Lord
Ganesha was pleased to ordain thus. Glory to Lord Ganesha! How kind and
merciful He is unto His devotees!
and His brother Lord Subramanya once had a dispute as to who was the elder of
the two. The matter was referred to Lord Shiva for final decision. Shiva
decided that whoever would make a tour of the whole world and come back first
to the starting point had the right to be the elder. Subramanya flew off at
once on his vehicle, the peacock, to make a circuit of the world. But the wise
Ganesha went, in loving worshipfulness, around His divine parents and asked for
the prize of His victory.
Shiva said, "Beloved and wise Ganesha! But how can I give you the prize;
you did not go around the world?"
replied, "No, but I have gone around my parents. My parents represent the
entire manifested universe!"
the dispute was settled in favour of Lord Ganesha, who was thereafter
acknowledged as the elder of the two brothers. Mother Parvati also gave Him a
fruit as a prize for this victory.
the Ganapathi Upanishad, Ganesha is identified with the Supreme Self. The
legends that are connected with Lord Ganesha are recorded in the Ganesha Khanda
of the Brahma Vivartha Purana.
the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha
early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a
bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some
coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all
the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home,
too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in
your house. Feel His Presence in it.
forget not to look at the moon on that day; remember that it behaved
unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those
who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru and religion, from this
fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength
to attain success in all your undertakings.
the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles
that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity
as well as liberation!
LORD GANESA By SWAMI KRISHNANANDA
life is beset with obstacles. We face oppositions and encounter difficulties in
galore, and the whole of our daily activity may, in a sense, be considered as a
struggle against all odds which come in different forms as the sorrows of life.
The moment we wake up in the morning, we have to face the obstacle called
hunger which we try to obviate by cooking and eating food, the obstacle called
thirst which we have to get rid of by drinks and the obstacle called disease,
exhaustion, fatigue, sleeplessness and the like, which we endeavour to remedy
by the introduction of various types of medicines. The very presence of people
around us is an obstacle and the human individual suddenly becomes restless,
and both consciously and unconsciously puts on an attitude of self-defence, as
if one has found oneself suddenly in a terrific warfield.
difficulties of life are, to a large extent, the very substance of life itself.
The whole of life is a bundle of difficulties. It is a mess of oppositions,
which calls for a continuous counteracting force which is what is called human
enterprise. If the whole earth were filled with milk and honey, and if there is
no fatigue, no old age and death, no hunger and thirst, no opposition and
nobody to utter a word, then there would be no activity, no necessity to do
anything and no incentive in the direction of any movement. The quantity, the
expanse and the magnitude of the opposition which comes before us in life is
such that no single individual will be able to face it. This whole world is too
much for a single man and considering the incongruous, disproportionate
relationship between a single human individual and the vast world outside,
there is very little hope of man's achieving anything in this world,
successfully. Because, with a spoon you cannot bail out the ocean of waters,
though your effort may be laudable. You are, no doubt, very sincerely
industrious in emptying the ocean of its waters with a little spoon or a ladle.
Notwithstanding the fact that this effort on your part is praiseworthy, that is
not going to lead you to any success and the expected result will not follow.
The ocean cannot be emptied by any amount of bailing out with a spoon. Such
seems to be the type of world into which we are born and people who are acutely
conscious of this situation become humble enough to accept that even an inch of
success cannot be expected in this world without a miraculous grace of God. So,
even the little success that sometimes seems to come to us is a kind of
undeserved promotion, as it were, granted to us by the mercy of the Almighty.
Our efforts are only a puny child's whining and weeping with a helpless
weakness of body and mind. The traditional annual worship of God in this role,
as the remover of all obstacles, as Vighna Vinayaka, is known as Vinayaka
Chaturthi or Ganesa Chaturthi. It is the day on which we offer special
adoration to the Remover of obstacles.
are terribly afraid of obstacles. There is no other fear in this world except
obstacle. So, always we cry: "Remove the obstacles, clear the path,
cleanse the road." On the fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month
of Bhadrapada (August-September) every year, the great Lord called the Lord of
Hosts, Ganapati, is worshipped throughout India, perhaps in many other parts of
the world also. There is no Hindu who does not recognise the pre-eminence of
the worship of this mysteriously conceived deity called Ganapati whose name
occurs right in the beginning of the Rigveda itself, the earliest of
scriptures, where pointedly the name is taken in a Mantra, "Gananam tva
ganapatim havamahe..." The fear of God is supposed to be the beginning of
religion. A person who has no fear of God has no religion also, because
religion is respect for God. The fear of God goes together with the acceptance
of the greatness of God and His Power. Wherever there is power, we are afraid
of it. An ocean, a lion, an elephant are all powerful things and we dread the
very sight of them.
conceives this great Remover of obstacles, Ganapati, as the son of Lord Siva
with a proboscis of an elephant and a protuberant belly, with weapons of
various types and a benign gesture of goodwill, grace and blessing with His
right hand. The family of Bhagavan Siva is of a peculiar set up. The Lord of
all the worlds, lives as one possessing nothing! This manner of living in Mount
Kailasa by the great Master of Yogis, Lord Siva, is perhaps a demonstration of
the great definition of the glory of Bhagavan, the Supreme Being as possessed
of all-knowledge, all-power and all-renunciation. What is Bhagavan and what are
His characteristics? 'Bhagavan' is one who has six characteristics.
"Aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasah sriyah; Jnana-Vairagyayoh chaiva
shannam bhaga itirana"--these six characteristics mentioned are all called
Bhaga. One who has Bhaga is called Bhagavan. All prosperity, all wealth, all
treasure, all glory, all magnificence is Aisvarya. Entire Aisvarya is there.
Virya is tremendous energy, force and power. Yasas is fame and renown. Srih is
prosperity. Jnana and Vairagya are the pinnacle of wisdom and the pinnacle of
renunciation, respectively. Knowledge is supposed to be a benediction from Lord
Siva Himself. In the Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana, at the commencement of the
second Skandha, Sri Suka delineates the names of various deities who have to be
adored for various purposes. "Jnanam Mahesvaradicchet--All knowledge is to
be expected from the great Siva." They say that the ocean of Siva is
incomprehensible; a part of it was contained in a pot by Brihaspati, and a
spoon of it was taken by Panini who is the promulgator of Sanskrit grammar.
know the interesting story as to how Panini, the originator of Sanskrit
grammar, received knowledge from Lord Siva. He was supposed to be the dullest
of the students in a group that was studying from a Guru in Taxila, Taksha
Shila. There were other very intelligent boys. Panini was the most stupid, the
least intelligent, very much belittled and made fun of by the colleagues in the
class. He was deeply hurt that he was being cowed down by other colleagues and
that he could not understand anything that the teacher said. Almost in a
desperate mood of disgust with everything, he went to the forest and deeply
contemplated on Lord Siva. He prayed: "O Lord! Bless me with
Knowledge." It is said that Lord Siva appeared before him, danced and
revolved His Dakka or Damaru fourteen times, and the following fourteen sounds
were made: "1. Aiun, 2. Rlrk, 3. Aowng, 4. Ai ouch, 5. Ha ya va rat, 6.
Lan, 7. Na ma nga na nam, 8. Jha bhanj, 9. Gha dha dhash, 10. Ja ba ga da das,
11. Kha pha chha tha tha cha ta tav, 12. Ka pay, 13. Sa sha sar, and 14. Hal.
All this constitutes the very essence of Sanskrit grammar. These sounds,
meaningless as they may appear to us, became the foundation of Sanskrit grammar
and Sanskrit literature.
God can teach us without books and without the usual medium of instruction, by
a thought, a sound, a look, a touch or a benign gesture.
a Master's son is Sri Ganapati, Sri Ganesa. We have endless stories about our
Gods, all partly humorous and partly highly illuminating. The usual belief is
that Lord Ganapati is a celibate and He never married, though there is a belief
in North India that He has Siddhi and Buddhi, two consorts behind Him. There is
a humorous story about His marriage. He was about to be married and the
bridegroom's procession was moving in great gusto, from Mount Kailasa
evidently, to the bride's palace. We do not know who that contemplated bride
was. We know only that there was a procession of the bridegroom. And His pot
belly, it seems, burst on the way due to eating too much, and He took a snake,
who is sometimes identified with Subrahmanya, tied it around His stomach and
ate again. It seems Chandra or moon looked at this scene and laughed, saying:
"Look at this man who is going for his marriage! His stomach is burst and
he is tying up with, a snake? This took place on the fourth day of the bright
half of the lunar month, Bhadrapada (Aug-Sept). Ganapati was irritated very
much. He cursed the moon: "You fellow, you talk about me like this. You
have insulted me. Well, whoever looks at you on this day will also similarly be
insulted." So, people dread to look at the moon on that day. Chauthi Chandra,
the moon on the fourth day of the bright half of the lunar month, is considered
very inauspicious, resulting in Apavadam or censure and reproach on the one who
sees it. Apavada means undeserved blame and scandal. You might have done
nothing, yet somebody will go on telling some evil against you. This is the
result of looking at the moon on the fourth day, because it has the curse of
Ganapati. But they say, in our tradition of curses, that there is also what is
called Sapamoksha or a kind of remedy. The moon said: "Please excuse me,
why do you curse me like this?" The moon pleaded for some remedy. Then
Ganapati in reply said: "OK, alright, I pardon you. Whoever looks at you
on the first day after the Newmoon, will be relieved of this curse." I
have seen people running to terraces and climbing trees and trying to see the
little streak of the moon appearing like a thread on the first day after the
Newmoon, to be rid of all the evils that might have grown around them even by
an unconscious look on the fourth day, because on that fourth day especially
the moon is just before our eyes and very clear. He is located very peculiarly
in a position in the sky where you cannot avoid seeing him. So, then, when our
eyes fall on the moon on the fourth day, we rub our eyes and say,
"Oh..very sorry, some mistake has taken place," and we expect some
trouble afterwards. Somebody will say something against us. Anyhow, the remedy
is seeing the moon on the first day after the New moon.
philosophy behind all these traditional worships and Puranic allegories is that
the path of spiritual Sadhana is a mystery by itself and it is not a heroic
activity of the Sadhaka, as sometimes he may imagine. No heroism will work
there. Even the so-called heroic attitude, which we sometimes put on, is an
entry of divine force into us. Just as a child's or a little baby's walking is
the strength of the mother who is holding it with her hand, whatever
intelligence we have, whatever satisfaction we enjoy in this life, whatever
strength we possess, whether physical or psychological, whatever security we
have, whatever is worthwhile in our existence is a modicum of the reflection of
God's power. The worship of Maha-Ganapati, with the Mantra "Om Gam
Ganapataye Namah," is a humble submission of the true circumstance of
oneself before the might of God's glory. Who can open one's eyes before God!
Who can utter one word before Him! Who can boast of one's learning, greatness,
etc., before Him! We would be ashamed even to present ourselves before Him. Consider
the might of the Creator, the magnitude of His power, the depth of His Wisdom,
His Knowledge and His Omniscience, and your present condition! Compare it and
contrast it. What Sadhana, what meditation, what Yoga can you do! The moment
you begin to take one step in the direction of this holy movement towards God,
the world pounces upon you with all its army, because the world is
quantitatively larger. We live in a world of quantities. We require
quantitative food, quantitative drink, quantitative physical appurtenances, and
everything we require and ask for in life is only a quantity rather than a
quality. So the quantity of the world being larger than the quantity of our
physical personality, we cannot face it. So there is this humble acceptance of
submission and a prayer to the great Almighty as manifest in Ganapati.
is another story as to why He is worshipped first on all occasions. It appears
Parvati, the consort of Lord Siva, went for a bath, may be in the Ganga. She
scrubbed her body and out of the dirt of her body she made a small image of a
boy, gave life to it by her touch and ordained him not to allow entry to any
person when she is taking bath in the river. Accordingly, that boy stood
guarding. At that moment, the great Lord Siva Himself came and the boy
prevented His entry, because he cannot recognise Lord Siva, whom he has not
seen. He has only the order of his Mother that nobody should enter. He
immediately objected to the brave entry of Lord Siva into the vicinity where
Parvati was taking bath. You can imagine the feeling of Lord Siva. "What
is this? The little chap is standing and preventing me from seeing my own
consort!" He immediately chopped off Ganapati's head and he fell down
dead. When Parvati came up, she was aghast and said: "Oh Lord, You have
killed my boy, he is my own child, and I am deeply hurt. What have you done!
Oh, my Lord!" She bet her breast and would not speak. She started weeping.
The Lord Siva said, "Do not weep, I shall give life to him." But ironically
enough, He would not put the same head back. We do not know the reason why He
did this. He told, "Bring the head of someone who is sleeping with his
head towards the north." This is why it is said that you should not sleep
with your head towards the north. Otherwise, Siva will search for you! And they
found nobody except an elephant lying with its head towards the north. Its head
was severed and brought. The elephant's head was attached to the trunk of this
boy and life was given by the Great Siva. He became alive and was named as
Ganapati, which designation was bestowed upon him by Lord Siva Himself, may be
to pacify Parvati or to bring about a peaceful atmosphere around. Lord Siva not
only gave him life, but also made him the leader of His hosts. Ganapati, is
therefore, the leader of the hosts of Lord Siva Himself. There is a large
audience before Lord Siva, consisting of varieties of Ganas. Ganas are
demigods; they are neither human nor superhuman, but a peculiar type. Sometimes
they look like astral beings. These Ganas are ruled by Ganapati under the order
of Siva. So Ganapati means the Generalissimo, as it were, of the hosts who
always live in Kailasa. Apart from making Ganapati the Leader of hosts, Lord
Siva bestowed another blessing on Him, saying: "You shall be the first one
to be worshipped on all occasion." So this is the order or the ordinance
of Lord Siva. The ordinance stands for ever. It is a permanent ordinance from
the Great Master: "No one will be worshipped before you, not even me.
After you are worshipped alone, will anybody else be worshipped." We won't
worship Lord Siva or Lord Narayana without first worshipping Ganapati. "Om
Gam Ganapataye Namah," is a Mantra to propitiate Ganapati.
mind is elated and enthused by hearing stories. Image, painting, music, idols,
dance, any kind of picturesque presentation of religion and spirituality or
philosophy is generally more appealing than cut and dry logic, as you know very
well. So the Puranas and the Epics bring home to us the idea of the necessity
to accept the power of God as the only medium by which obstacles can be
removed. So, He is called Vighnesvara, the God who is not merely the Ganapati
or the ruler of the hosts or Ganas, but also a Remover of all impediments on
have heard a story when I was a small boy told by a neighbour. There was a
person who never believed in Gods and when his daughter's marriage was to be
performed, someone said, "First of all you must worship Ganesa. Do not be
in a hurry." He replied, "Let him be Ganesa or his grandfather, I do
not care for anybody." He took the Murti of Ganesa and threw it into the
tank. And suddenly, they say, there was a fire and the whole marriage Pandal
was aflame. People bet their breasts, cried, ran to the tank and brought back
the image. And then, it is said, there was rain, after Ganesa was worshipped.
These are all stories and we have to take them for what they are worth.
there is something mysterious about things. Everything is not clear to the
minds of men. There are great secrets. And as I began by saying, the spiritual
path is itself a great secret. The little Japa that you do, the scriptures that
you read, the audience that you hold and whatever you appear to be doing, is
only an outer crust of the mystery of life. The mystery is finally in yourself.
You yourself do not know who is goading you to think in this manner. That
goading principle is the mystery. If you recognise this mystery within you
which mystifies even your intelligence and your efforts, you will be humble,
simple and small before God, because spiritual Sadhana is an art of becoming
smaller and smaller. It is not to become bigger and bigger. A person becomes
smaller and smaller as he approaches God, just as a candle flame becomes dimmer
and dimmer as it goes nearer and nearer to the sun; and just before the sun, it
is not there? You cannot see even its existence. It vanishes. Likewise, when we
approach God, we become smaller and smaller, humbler and humbler, littler and
littler, until we become nothing. In this nothingness, we will find God Himself
filling us. When there is total emptiness created by an abolition of ourselves,
in this emptiness or vacuum created, God fills Himself. 'Empty thyself and I
shall fill thee'--says Jesus Christ. The Mahaganapati Purana, the Ganapati
Atharvasirsha Upanishad, the Ganesa Gita and several anecdotes occurring in the
Mahabharata and the other Puranas glorify this aspect of the Supreme Almighty
which requires our submission at His feet, and expects us to recognise Him as
the sole power that can remove all obstacles on the path of the spiritual
seeker towards the attainment of Godhead. This seems to be a part of the
meaning hidden behind the holy worship of Bhagavan Ganapati or Sri Ganesa or
Mahaganapati. A dread enters our minds when we think of His Name on account of
the feeling that any displeasure on His part may be a doom to us. People are
afraid even to forget taking the holy Prasada of Sri Satyanarayana Puja because
of the story behind it. Do you know what will happen to you if you do not take
the Prasada? It is mentioned in the story that the whole thing will be
finished--all your wealth, property, wife, children, etc., will go to dogs in
one second. The fear of it makes you bow down and wait for the Prasada even if
it is late in the night. These stories are not meaningless narrations of cock
and bull incidents. They instil into our minds a divine urge and a fear of the
Divine Presence. After all we are human beings who are ruled more by sentiments
and feelings than by our reason or our so-called understanding. This psychology
of the human being is taken advantage of by the writers of the Epics and the
Puranas to instill faith in our hearts through these stories. Thus is a little
tribute to the glory of Maha Ganapati.
OM TAT SAT