Lord Ganesha is one of the celestial deities holding the divine prominence in Vedic scriptures. His form, intellect, divinity and strengths are glorified in the Ganesh Purana. He is Ganesha or Ganapati who is the Lord of masses that worship him for his blessings. He is the first Vedic deity worshipped first at the altar before other deities at a ritual or a venture. He is the ruling deity of the Muladhara Chakra and blesses his devotees with wisdom and ability to face challenges and obstacles in life. He has a pot belly signifying contentment and fullness. He holds a fragrant Modak in His left hand signifying the bliss of satisfaction that he provides. His vehicle, the Mouse, signifies that one needs to curb vices (signified by mice) to achieve his state.
What does ‘Ganesha’ mean?
The Sanskrit word Ganesha is made of gana meaning a group or a cluster and isha meaning the controller, the leader or the master. The gana in an actual sense means a group of saintly beings serving as a retinue of Mahadeva (Shiva). Lord Ganesha is also known as Ganapati; gana meaning a group (of beings) and pati means the ruler who protects.
Sanskrit lexicon Amarakosha mentions others names of Ganesha as well: Vignaharta-One who removes obstacles; Gaṇādhipa-One who leads masses, Ekadanta-One who has one tusk; Heramba, Lambodara-one who has a pot belly and Gajanana-one who has the face of an elephant.
Various names of Lord Ganesha:
Lord Ganesha is prayed and worshipped by many names describing His stature. Few of the most famous names by which Lord Ganesha is worshipped are:GANPATI – The Lord of all lords SUMUKH – The Lord with a beautiful face VINAYAKA – The prominent Lord of all GAJANANA – The Elephant headed God EK DANTA – The Lord with one tusk LAMBKARNA – Long Eared God VIGNESHWARA – Remover of all the obstacles Puranas mention that Lord Ganesha is the God of Letters, Learning and Wisdom. In Sanskrit, the word Buddhi is a feminine noun that is variously translated as Intelligence, Wisdom, or Intellect. The Ganesh Purana and Ganesh Sahasranama (thousand names of Ganesha) mention one of His names as Buddhipriya, the one who is Fond of Intelligence.
Lord Ganesha is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and the brother of Lord Kartikeya. He is the supreme Lord of power, wisdom and prosperity. He is the most intelligent of all Gods and is also invoked as the patron of learning during any writing session, loves art and He himself is an expert musician. The principal scriptures that describe the almighty in the correct form are Ganesha Purana, Mudgala Purana and Ganapathi Atharvashirsa.
Once, Goddess Parvati asked Nandi Maharaja, one of Shiva’s closest associates and servitors, to stand outside the cave while she takes bath inside. However, Nandi relented when Shiva wished to go in. Upon seeing Him, Parvati got scared, covered Herself and felt embarrassed. Knowing that Nandi can never disobey Shiva, She wished to have someone else to guard Her and to be loyal to Her.
She secretly created a yogmaya jaal (illusionary trap) around Her in order to not to be noticed or sensed and created a young boy out of turmeric powder which she had applied on Her body. The turmeric paste contained dirt (earthly) particles accumulated on Her skin. She forced an element of Her consciousness energy into the paste and the boy emerged out of it. She told him to guard Her while She bathes.
Next day the boy picked a fight with Nandi who asked him to leave. After Nandi was defeated, an army of ghosts (devotees of Shiva) attacked him. A battle ensued. They were all defeated. Finally Lord Shiva arrived and picked a fight with the boy who was adamant about not letting anyone in. Shiva found it hard to defeat the boy, unaware that he is born of Goddess Parvati who personifies prakriti, or nature.
Enraged and irate, Shiva had no option but to take out His cosmic Trident and behead the boy. When Parvati found this her entire body shook in anger. She declared that all the creations will be ruined. Hearing this Lord Brahma pacified Her and dissuaded Her from executing the curse. She declared: If my boy is not brought back to life, everything will be finished. And if he is brought back to life, he must be worshipped first. Finding out the truth, Shiv repented killing the boy with His powerful Trident. Even the Vedas do not permit the killing of the following four: a child, a woman, a cow and a Brahmin even if they are at fault. Later on, Shiva asked Brahma to head north upon descending on the earth and bring the head of the animal which he sees first. The first animal was an elephant which was sacrificed for Ganesha. The head was brought and given to Ganesha. This is how Ganesha got an elephant’s head and was also called Gajanana.
Once of Lord Shiva’s powers is to transform an object into its constitutional position. Ganesha was made of dirt accumulated on Prakriti (Pravati’s body) that represents the material nature. The boy was made by dirt or illusion of the mind and blocked Shiva from meeting Parvati. In a sense it prevented the soul from meeting the mind. When Shiva cut the head off, and replaced with Elephant which means “memory”, the realization dawned that the mind has taken birth to meet the soul. So Ganesh represents this auspicious realization, personifies intellect, memory, patience, humility and divinity. He is worshipped first symbolizing these qualities or the person who has these qualities is honored first in all the three worlds.
What does Ganesha’s body symbolize?
The bodily features of Lord Ganesha have been the essential facets of spiritual arts of India. The pictorial representations of Lord Ganesha have varied over a period of time; standing, sitting, attacking the demons, nestled between his parents Shiva and Parvati and the like.
Lord Ganesha possesses the head of an elephant and a rounded beefy belly. He holds his own broken tusk in his lower-right hand, an axe or a goad in one upper arm and a pasha (noose) in the other upper arm. One of his popular forms, Heramba-Ganapati, has five elephant heads. The Mudgala Purana refers Lord Ganesha as ekadanta; ‘eka’ one and ‘danta’ dent or tusk, the one-tusked God, while the other being broken. It also mentions two different avatars of Ganesha; Lambodara and Mahadora, potbelly and great belly respectively.
According to Brahmanda Purana, Ganesha is known as Lambodara because all the universes of the past, present, and future reside in him. According to the Ganesha Purana, Ganesha has the serpent Vasuki around his neck. The serpent also known as yagnyopavit is a sacred thread wrapped around the belly as a belt, held in his divine hand, coiled around his ankles or sometimes used as a throne. The Ganesha Purana, a Vedic treatise glorifying Him, talks about the divine tilaka and the crescent moon on his forehead. Hence he is called Bhalachandra ‘Moon on the forehead’. The bodily color of Lord Ganesha is red but the Sritattvandhi mentions specific colors associated with meditation on Ganesha. For instance, white is associated with his representation as Heramba-Ganapati and Rina-Mochana-Ganapati whereas Ekadanta is believed to own blue color.
How did Ganesha become Ekdant, one-tusked?
There are various Vedic narrations about Lord Ganesha losing one of his tusks in the Puranas. Once, Parashuraam visited the Himalayan Mountain (Kailash) to meet Lord Shiva who was fast asleep. Lord Ganesha ensured that no one disturbed Lord Shiva. When Parashuraam insisted Ganesha on letting him meet Shiva, both of them broke into arguments and then a fight. Ganesh grabbed him with his trunk and struck him on the ground. In turn, Parashuraam hurled his Pharasaa (axe) at Ganesha. Ganesh right away recognized it as His father's weapon that was given to Parashuraam by Lord Shiva and hence received it with all his humbleness on his one tusk. As a result, the tusk broke apart.
Another story mentions that while writing the great epic Mahabharata under the authorship of sage Vyaas, Ganesha realized the insufficiency of any ordinary pen to undertake the humongous task. Therefore, He broke one of his own tusks and used it as a pen. One story mentions that demonic king Ravana picked a fight with Lord Ganesha and forcibly took out one of his tusks. He made ivory earrings for his beautiful queen with this.
Ashtavinayaka Temples: The Sanskrit word ashta means eight and Vinayak is another name for Lord Ganesha. Ashtavinayaka means eight Ganeshas. Ganesha personifies unity, success and learning as well as removal of hurdles. Ashtavinayak Temples refers to the eight temples of Ganesha located at eight places in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Morgaon of Pune
Siddhatek of Ahmednagar
Pali of Raigadh district
Mahad of Raigad district near Khopoli
Theur of Pune
Lenyadri of Pune
Ozar of Pune
Ranjangaon of Pune
The Ashtavinayaka Yatra covers the eight primeval holy temples of Ganesha located around Pune district. Each of them has its own legend and historical importance. All the idols vary from each other in terms of bodily features. The form of each idol of Ganesha and his trunk stand different from the others. The devotees of Lord Ganesha, especially local residents of the states, believe that one must visit all the eight temples once in a year as blessings of Ashtavinayak fulfills all the spiritual and material wishes of worshippers.
What is the Vahana (Vehicle) of Ganesha?
The Matsya Purana, Brahmananda Purana, Mudgala Purana and Ganesha Purana confirm that Ganesha uses mouse as his divine vehicle. One of the names of Ganesha in Ganesha Sahasranama (thousand names of Ganesha) is Musakavahana that is the One who is mounted on the mouse.However other Avatars of Ganesha use other vehicles. For example, in Vakratunda Avatar a lion is His vehicle; in Vikata Avatar, a peacock is His vehicle; in Vignaraja Avatar, the divine serpent Shesha is his vehicle
Ganesha in the Vedic Literatures:
A manuscript discovered in the Indian state of Rajasthan in the 17th century mentions Saint Vyasa narrating the great epic Mahabharata to Lord Ganesh, who acts as a scribe. The Rig Veda mentions ‘Leader of the group’ (ganeshorganapati) at two places. It appears in the verse 2:23:1 as a title to Brahmanaspati which was subsequently taken as the mode of worship for Ganesha. Another place is the verse 10:112:9 where Ganapati is referred as Indra who rules the celestial beings. Many commentators on the Vedas opine that both the verses may not actually be in reference to Ganesha but any celestial being that rules and protects the divine beings from asuras. However, the Ganapatya scriptures mention the Rig Vedic verses to honor Lord Ganesha.
The Yajur Veda, MaitrayaniyaSamhita (2:9:1) and TaittiriyaAranyaka (10:1) mention a deity as dantith (the tusked one), hastimukhai (elephant-faced) and vakratunda (one with a curved trunk). As per Shiva Purana, Ganesha had sired two children: Kşema (success) and Lābha (profit). In northern Indian variations of this story, the children are said to be Śubha (auspiciouness) and Lābha.
One of the major sources of information on Ganesha is Ganesha Purna which splits into two sections; the Upasanakhanda (upāsanākhaṇḍa) and the Kridakhanda (krīḍākhaṇḍa). The Kridakhanda is also known as the Uttarakhanda (uttarakhaṇḍa). Upasanakhanda includes a stotra (hymn) that is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and recited in Hindu temples as a living part of Ganesha devotion. The Kridakhanda of the Ganesha Purana features the stories about the four divine incarnations that appear in the four different yugas.
Ceremonies and Festivals:
Lord Ganesha is worshipped on a number of religious and ceremonial occasions, particularly at the beginning of new activities such as buying a house or a professional venture. It is almost impossible to find a Hindu family that does not worship Lord Ganesha. It is believed that when Lord Ganesha is pleased before initiating a venture, one’s endeavor surely leads to success. Lord is always worshiped before all important personal, professional and ritual undertakings. To seek success, prosperity and protection against adversity, every Hindu family worships Ganesha.
One of the most popular festivals in India is Ganesh Chaturthi that occurs in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of August/September and the Ganesh Jayanti (Ganesha's birthday) celebrated on the fourth day of the waxing moon in January/February. This festival honours Ganesha for ten days. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolizing Ganesha's visit.
The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most suitable and appropriate water body. Some families have a custom of immersing Ganesha on the second, third, fifth, or seventh day. In the year 1893, Lokmanya Tilak changed this yearly Ganesha celebration from individual family festivity into an open occasion for all people. He did this to build unity between people in his nationalistic mission against the British in Maharashtra. Because of Ganesha's wide claim as "the god for common man", Tilak picked this as a revitalizing point for India’s dissent against British standard.
Today, Hindus commence the Ganapati celebration with great enthusiasm especially in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The celebration witnesses colossal gatherings of devotees in Mumbai, Pune, and in the encompassing belt of Ashtavinayaka temples in the state. During the festival, people engage in devotional services such as organizing Ganesh Mandala, offering prayers and chanting the most celebrated mantra Om Gam GanapatayeNamah. In south India, there are art performances such as Bharatnatyam, dances and other spiritual exhibitions displayed as means to worship Ganesha. People offer Lord Ganesha sweets such as modaka and sweet balls called laddus. He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra.
1. Vakratunda Ganesha Mantra
श्री वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्य कोटी समप्रभा निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्व-कार्येशु सर्वदा॥
Shree Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryeshu Sarvada॥
Meaning: O Ganesha of the curved trunk and massive body, whose splendor is equal to million suns, please bless us and be kind enough to eradicate all the obstacles in my endeavors.
2. Ganesha Shubh Labh Mantra
ॐ श्रीम गम सौभाग्य गणपतये वर्वर्द सर्वजन्म में वषमान्य नमः॥
Om Shreem Gam Saubhagya Ganpataye Varvarda Sarvajanma Mein Vashamanya Namah॥
Meaning: We ask Lord Ganesha for good fortune and many blessings for our present and future. We offer obeisance to him who blesses long lives, health and happiness.
Om Ekadantaya Viddhamahe, Vakratundaya Dhimahi, Tanno Danti Prachodayat॥
Meaning: We pray to Ganesh with the single-tusked elephant tooth as he omnipresent. We meditate upon him and pray for greater intellect. We bow down asking him to illuminate our minds with wisdom.
As per Kundalini Yoga Sutra, the human body receives its subtle cosmic energies from seven chakras that are ruled by different gods. Lord Ganesha rules Muladhara Chakra, the Root Chakra associated with family, stability and wealth. Mula means ‘main, root or original’ and adhara means ‘base’, meaning that Lord Ganesha is the root cause of our familial happiness and domestic peace that are absent without his blessings. Also in Ganapati Atharvashirsa it is given that "Lord Ganesha continually dwells in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine, Mūlādhāra Chakra. He resides permanently in every living being at the Muladhara. He guides all other chakras, thereby leading the forces that propel the wheel of life”.
Therefore, Lord Ganesha is the primal force that supports the foundation of every aspect of your life. He removes all the obstacles in all your undertakings. One should meditate on Him every day in the morning. One can also use Ganesha Yantras or Rudraksha beads ruled by Lord Ganesha to strengthen your Root Chakra.
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