Archive for the ‘Ganesha’ Category


Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first. His Names are repeated first before any auspicious work is begun, before beginning any kind of worship.

He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Siva, and the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya. He is the energy of Lord Siva, and so He is called the son of Sankara and Uma. By worshipping Lord Ganesha, mothers hope to earn for their sons the sterling virtues of Ganesha.

The Elephant-Head

The following story is narrated about Lord Ganesha’s birth and His having the head of an elephant. Once upon a time, at bathing time, the Goddess Gauri, the spouse of Rudra, created Ganapati as a Suddha, or 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 anybody inside and went for a bath. Lord Siva Himself returned home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Siva got angry and cut off Ganesha’s head, taking Him for an outsider. Gauri came to know of this and grieved much. Siva ordered His servants to bring the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head northwards. The servants made a thorough search end found only an elephant in that position. The head of the elephant was cut off and brought before the Lord. Siva joined the head of the elephant to the body of Ganapati.

Lord Siva made Ganapati worthy of worship by men at the beginning of all their undertakings—marriages, journey, expedition, study, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha, should take place on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada (August-September).

Symbolic Philosophy of Lord Ganesha’s Form

Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins. He is the foremost among Brahmacharins or celibates.

He rides on the Vahana, the small mouse. He is the Presiding Deity of the Muladhara Chakra.
He is the Lord who removes all obstacles in the spiritual path and brings worldly success. So He is called Vighna Vinayaka. His Bijakshara is Gang. He is the Lord of harmony and peace.

Lord Ganesha represents OM or the Pranava. Pranava is the chief Mantra of the Hindus. Nothing can be done without uttering it. Hence the practice of invoking Lord Ganesha before beginning any rite or work. The two feet are His Jnana Sakti and Kriya Sakti. Lord Ganesha has the elephant-head as that is the one figure in nature which is of the form of Pranava.

Riding on the mouse represents that He has killed egoism. He holds Ankusa. This represents that He is the Ruler of the world. This is the emblem of Divine Royalty.

Ganesha is the first God, Adi-Deva. Mouse is a small creature. Elephant is the biggest of all animals. Riding on a mouse and wearing the head of an elephant denote that He is the Creator of all creatures, from the biggest elephant to the smallest mouse. Elephants are very wise. Wearing the head of an elephant 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. That is the reason why Ganesha has a human body, the head of an elephant, and mouse as His vehicle. This is the symbolic philosophy of His form.

He is the Lord of Ganas or groups, such as the group of elements, the group of senses, the group of Tattwas. He is the head of the followers of Siva.

The Vaishnavas also worship Lord Ganesha. They have given Him the name of Thumbikkai Alwar, i.e., Alwar with the proboscis.

Lord Ganesha’s two Saktis are Kundalini Sakti and Vallabha Sakti.

Legends Connected With Lord Ganesha

Lord Ganesha is very fond of Modaka, sweet balls made of rice. On one Ganesha Puja Day, He was going from house to house, accepting the offerings of Modaka. Having eaten a good number of these offered to Him, He set out moving on a mouse at night. Seeing a snake, the mouse got afraid and stumbled, with the result that Ganapati fell down. The stomach burst open and the Modakas came out, but Ganappati stuffed the Modakas into the stomach, and catching the same snake, tied it round His belly. Seeing all this, the moon in the sky heartily laughed. Ganapati was annoyed at the behaviour of the moon and pulled out one of His tusks and hurled it against the moon and cursed that no one should look at the moon on the Ganesha Puja Day.

If anyone looks at the moon, he will earn bad name or censure or ill repute. If anyone happens to see the moon on that day by mistake or by chance, if he repeats or hears the story of Lord Krishna’s clearing His character in respect of the Syamantaka jewel, he will be free from that ill-repute or blame. Lord Ganesha was pleased to ordain thus. Glory to Lord Ganesha! How kind and merciful He is unto His devotees!

Ganesha and His brother Lord Subrahmanya or Kartikeya had once a dispute as to who was the elder of the two. The matter was referred to Lord Siva for final decision. Lord Siva decided that whoever would make a tour round the world and come out first to the starting point had the right to be the elder. Lord Subrahmanya flew off at once on His vehicle, the peacock, to make a circuit of the world. But Ganesha went round His parents and asked for the prize of victory. Lord Siva said: “Beloved and wise -Ganesha! You did not go round the world”. Ganesha replied: “No, but I went round My parents. My parents represent the manifested world”. The dispute was settled in favour of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha was thereafter acknowledged as the elder of the two brothers. Ganesha got a fruit as prize for this from Mother Parvati.

In the Ganapati 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 Vaivarta Purana.

Ganesha Mantra And Ganesha Gayatri

Without the grace of Sri Ganesha and His help, nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without His support, grace or blessing.

During Aksharabhyasa (teaching of the alphabets), the child is initiated into His Mantra of Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah in Maharashtra and other places. Then only the alphabet is taught.

The following are some of Lord Ganesha’s most common Names: Sumukha, Ekadanta, Kapila, Gajakarnaka, Lambodara, Vighnaraja, Vinayaka, Dhoomraketu, Ganadhyaksha, Balachandra, Gajanana, Vakratunda, Surpakarna, Heramba, Skandapoorvaja, Siddhivinayaka, Vighneshwara. He is also known as Maha Ganapati. His Mantra is Om Gam Ganapataye Namah. Sadhaks who worship Ganesha as their Ishta Deva, repeat this Mantra or Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah.

Ekadantaya Vidmahe Vakratundaya Dheemahi Tanno Danti Prachodayat: this is Ganesha Gayatri. The devotees of Lord Ganesha can do Japa of this Mantra also.

Ganesha Chaturthi And Ganesha Vrata

Ganesha Chaturthi is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. This is the birthday of Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It is observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada throughout India. Clay figures of the Deity are made, and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, are thrown into water.

The yearly Ganesh Chaturthi Puja that is thus observed throughout India is the festival version of the Ganesh Vrata that has become enjoined as a compulsory observance, as a matter of tradition. Apart from this annual Puja, the Ganesh Vrata—also known by the name of Siddhi-Vinayaka Vratam—is done as a special Vrata for the attainment of some particular end in view, usually for clearing oneself of false and unjust accusations and charges, recovering lost objects, regaining lost status, and removal of obstacles in an enterprise. It is to be performed on the fourth day of the dark fortnight. It consists of elaborate worship of Lord Ganesha with Shodashopachara (a 16 step worship) and various offerings, after appropriate Sankalpa (desire).

The divine sage Narada prescribed this Vrata to Sri Krishna who wished to wipe off the dishonour of the charge of stealing the Syamantaka Gem. Much later, Krishna instructed Yudhishthira to perform this Vrata at the time of the Mahabharata war. This renowned Vrata was effectively celebrated by the Devas to obtain Ambrosia on the eve of churning the ocean, by Damayanti to find her lost husband, by Lord Rama to get back Sita, by Indra to defeat Vritra Asura, by Bhagiratha to get down the celestial Ganges, by Draupadi and by Samba to get cured of incurable disease.

He who performs this Puja with faith, devotion and concentration obtains all that he desires and attains the Highest Abode.

May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path and bestow on you both Bhakti and Mukti!

Source: pgs. 38-42, Hindu Gods and Goddesses by Swami Sivananda


TOKYO, JAPAN, October 26, 2010: A few hundred Japanese congregate in the courtyard of the Asakusa Shrine in central Tokyo. The five-story pagoda is ornate and immaculate, not least because it was rebuilt in the 1970s. This is the Shoten-cho part of the Japanese capital, famous for its many temples and shrines. Less known is that , the Noble God, is the Hindu Deity Ganapati. And there are temples to Sarasvati and Shiva to be found amid these crowded streets. In the 1830s, say scholars, over 100 Ganapati temples could be found here.

Few Japanese and fewer Indians realize most Deities worshipped in Japan are of Indian origin. “A majority of Japanese Gods are actually Indian Gods,” was a common line of the former Japanese Ambassador to India, Yasukuni Enoki. Hindu Deities were imported wholesale from the 6th century onwards. “These Indian Deities were introduced from China into Japan as Buddhist Deities with Chinese names,” writes Sengaku Mayeda of Japan’s Eastern Institute. Thanks to the centuries and translation hurdles, the names and appearances of the Gods have become localized to the point of anonymity.

An example is Shichifukujin, the popular Japanese sect of the Seven Deities of Fortune. This pantheon includes Sarasvati, Shiva and Vaisravana – under their Japanese names of, respectively, Benzaiten, Daikokuten and Bishamonten. Some names are direct Japanese translations. Daikokuten means “great head God”, a direct translation of one of Shiva’s names, Mahakala.

 
Source: Hinduism Today (November 24th, 2010)
Scholars commonly date the presence of Ganesha in Japan with the age of Kukai (774- 834), the founder of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. The centrality of the worship of Ganesha or Vinayaka or Kangiten, as he is popularly called in Japan, is a distinguishing feature of this cult. The doctrines, rituals and beliefs of the sect have a number of parallels with the cult of Ganpatyas, to which belonged saints like Gajanan Maharaj of Shegao, Maharashtra.

China, the land through which the Elephant-headed divinity entered Japan has Ganesha Sculptures dating back to the fourth century, which surprisingly predates any depiction of Ganesh in India. Both the lands recognize Ganesha as having converted to Buddhism.

Ganesha’s most popular form in Japan is the dual-Vinayaka or the Embracing Kangi. Two tall figures, elephant headed but human bodied, male and female, stand in embrace. The female wears a jeweled crown, a patched monks robe and a red surplice. 


Her tusks and trunk are short. Her eyes are narrowed. Her body is whitish. The male neither wears a monk’s robe nor a crown, though he may have a black cloth over his shoulders. His body is reddish brown. His trunk is long. His eyes are wide open. His countenance is not compassionate, but loving. His head rests on the female’s shoulder. The feet of the female may rest atop the male.

Also called the Deva of bliss, Ganapati is invoked both for enlightenment and for worldly gains – more for the latter than the former. Katigen – Vinayaka is offered “bliss – buns” (made from curds, honey and parched flour), radishes, wine, and fresh fruits. The offerings are later partaken in the same spirit as Hindus take prasad. Whosoever fulfills the rituals of the dual Kangiten is believed to attain success in all worldly endeavors.

Ganesh Chaturthi By Sri Swami Sivananda

Posted: September 6, 2010 in Ganesha

SALUTATIONS 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.
Mushikavaahana modaka hastha,
Chaamara karna vilambitha sutra,
Vaamana rupa maheshwara putra,
Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe 

MEANING: “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 Feet!”

Ganesh 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.
Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are thrown into water.
Lord 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.
He 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.
The following story is narrated about His birth and how He came to have the head of an elephant:
Once 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.
When 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.
Lord 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.
Without the Grace of Sri Ganesha and His help nothing whatsoever can be achieved. No action can be undertaken without His support, Grace or blessing.
In 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 taught.
The 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 Maha-Ganapathi.
His Mantra is Om Gung Ganapathaye Namah. Spiritual aspirants who worship Ganesha as their tutelary Deity repeat this Mantra or Om Sri Ganeshaya Namah.
The devotees of Ganesha also do Japa of the Ganesha Gayatri Mantra. This is as follows.

Tat purushaaya vidmahe

Vakratundaaya dheemahi
Tanno dhanti prachodayaat.
Lord Ganesha is an embodiment of wisdom and bliss. He is the Lord of Brahmacharins. He is foremost amongst the celibates.
He 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.
He 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.
Lord 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.
The 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.
Ganesha 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.
He 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.
The 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).
Lord Ganesha’s two powers are the Kundalini and the Vallabha or power of love.
He 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.
Seeing 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!
Ganesha 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.
Lord Shiva said, “Beloved and wise Ganesha! But how can I give you the prize; you did not go around the world?”
Ganesha replied, “No, but I have gone around my parents. My parents represent the entire manifested universe!”
Thus 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.
In 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.
On 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.
Don’t 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 very day.
Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.
May 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!