INDIAN FESTIVALS : Ganapati Vandana
GANESA -The Lord of All Gods
By Methil Prabhakaran
GANESA -The Lord of All Gods
“Namo Namo Ganesaaya Namaste Sivasoonave
Nirvighnam Kuru Devesa Namaami Twaam Ganadhipa”
(I prostrate again and again at the lotus feet of Sri. Ganesa, the son of the Lord Almighty Siva with prayers to remove all obstacles in my auspicious undertaking)

Let us offer our humble prayers to Lord Ganesa who represents Wisdom and to His consorts, Siddhi and Buddhi, who grant wealth and knowledge, to bless all devotees with true knowledge, discrimination, dispassion, good health and prosperity. “May You remove our difficulties with the lustrous axe in Your hand and bring success to all our noble efforts”.

Ganapathi’s position in the Hindu Pantheon

The Supreme Being manifested Himself as the holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara to undertake the functions of creation, sustenance and dissolution respectively of the entire universe. Their divine consorts respectively are Saraswathi, Mahalakshmi and Maheswari, Goddesses of learning, wealth and activity. All the above manifestations of Divinity have blessed Lord Ganesa, granting Him all their powers and attributes. They have also conceded to Him the first priority in any worship. In fact, the Gods themselves pray to Ganesa to bring success in their all endeavours.

The divine forms of Ganesa

The lustrous body of Ganesa with the face of an elephant, huge belly and a broken tusk, holding weapons in His several hands and a modaka or fruit in His trunk, is a virtual feast for the fortunate eyes of any devotee. The divine mystery about this great God of all virtues is further deepened when we observe the small mouse, which He has chosen as His vehicle.

According to Mudgalapurana there are thirty-two forms of Ganesa, with different colours such as white, golden, crimson, red and blue, and the pair of hands ranging from one to eight. The white coloured Heramba Ganapathy has five heads and ten hands and is mounted on a lion. Lakshmi Ganapathy and Shakthi Ganapathy appear with their consorts, held in tight embrace. The crimson coloured Mahaganapathy is a majestic figure with three eyes, a crescent on His forehead and ten hands, one of them holding His consort. It is only with extreme delight and admiration that you can watch the attractive form of golden coloured Nritta Ganapathy in dancing pose with His six hands.
Suffice to say, that this versatile genius of Godhood, the favourite of all Gods and devotees, can assume any form He likes for the well being of the universe. The following prayer uttered while chanting Ganesakavacha indicates that Lord Ganesa assumed different forms in the four yugas. “I meditate on Lord Vinayaka Who ever fulfills all righteous desires of devotees, Who appeared in kritayuga seated on a lion with eight hands, in tretayuga seated on a peacock with six hands, in dwaparayuga with four hands and in kaliyuga with two hands.”

Ganesa Tattwa or the Principle of the Manifestation

It is necessary that the devotee tries to grasp the significance of the system of his worship to improve his concentration and to avoid dissipation of his energy. The entire creation is made up of five elements, namely, ether, air, fire, water and earth and they have emerged in that order from the Absolute Reality. These elements operate in the human body from the five spiritual centres of Muladhara, swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata and Visudhi in the reverse order of their emergence. These spiritual centers along with the sixth centre “Ajna” form the “shadchakra” (six energy points) in the sushumnanadi inside the backbone.
The lower centre, Muladhara, situated near the hip, is the seat of earth element (prithvi), the controlling deity being Ganapathy. The remaining higher centers are controlled by Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Jivatma and Paramatma, (Their seats being Swadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudhi, and Ajna respectively) By constant sadhana and the grace of the respective deities starting from Ganesa, the individual soul is raised to higher levels in the realm of the Spirit, in the above order, enabling him to finally merge with the Ultimate Reality, dwelling in Brahmarandhra at the crown of his head in the form of Sadasiva.

The origin

Great scholars have stated that Rigveda just hints about Ganapathi in two places while the Lord just makes His appearance in Krshnayajurveda. Ganesa becomes an important deity of worship only in Atharvaveda, which includes Ganapatyopanishad, Brahmopanishad and Herambopanishad. These upanishads prescribe various mantras and mode of worship. Ganesapuranam and the up-puranam called Mudgalapuranam describe stories about the birth and sports of Ganesa, which are both interesting and informative to the devotee. These stories arrest the attention of the devotee who gets divine revelation of their inner significance when his mind constantly dwells on these sports.

About Ganesa’s birth, the Purana mentions that once Vishnu during His visit to Kailas admired Uma’s fondling of the young Kali on Her lap and strongly desired to be born as Uma’s son.
Thus started the cycle of the Divine plan. It continued when Parvati was dissatisfied with Nandi who permitted Siva to enter the premises where the Goddess was taking Her bath. She had instructed Nandi not to permit anyone to disturb her privacy. There upon Maheswari created a young handsome boy by invoking the power of Vishnu into a ball made a turmeric powder and named Him as Ganesa. When the boy Ganesa did not allow Siva’s entry, a stiff fight ensued. On Siva’s call for help, Vishnu wielding the Sudarsana cut off the boy’s head. To assuage the feelings of an agitated Parvathi, Siva cut off the head of an elephant lying down with head pointing to the north and brought back life to the boy by joining his body to the elephant’s head.
Ganesa, realizing the outcome of the situation, demanded Siva’s head in turn. The great Lord Siva then presented a three-eyed coconut to His son in lieu of His own head. Thus started the system of offering of coconut to Ganesa, to symbolize the absolute surrender of one’s head at His feet.

The divine sports

Once Ganesa swallowed the Sudarshana chakra of Vishnu when the latter was holding discussion with Siva. The tactful Vishnu then held His ears after crossing His hands and started bowing down repeatedly. Seeing the Lord of the Universe apologetically performing such action Ganesa started laughing aloud when Sudarsana came out of His throat.
To obtain Ganesa’s grace it is customary to hold one’s ears, the right hand holding the left ear and vice versa and then bow down in front of the Lord.

It is also stated in Ganesapurana that on one occasion Parasurama was not permitted to have darshan of Siva by Ganesa. In the tussle that followed, one tusk of Ganesa was broken. The divine turn of the event unfurled itself when Ganesa used the broken tusk to write down the largest epic, “The Mahabharata”, as dictated by the divine author Vedavyasa.

Adisesha dwelling on Siva’s head once thought that the devas and rishis worshipping Siva also revered him. Siva on realizing the Naga’s pride, threw him far away with great force. The injured Naga then prayed to Ganesa on Narada’s advice. The lord Ganesa blessed Sesha thus: “From now on free yourself from pride.The thousand injuries on your head will turn into a thousand heads capable of supporting the earth. The five headed form of yours will again adorn Siva’s head. With one head you will form My ‘udara bandhana’”.

While Siva is described as Abhishekapriya, Vishnu is mentioned as Alankarapriya. Ganesa is called Bhojanapriya. These attributes are assigned to different deities to afford devotees to offer various sorts of service and to sublimate their attitudes and feelings into divine sentiments. The most important annual festival for worship of Ganesa is GANESA CHATHURTHI which falls on Chaturthi thithi of shuklapaksha in the Malayalam month of Chingam (corresponding to the Tamil month of Avani). This festival is celebrated all over India, especially in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, where huge and colourful idols of Ganesa are worshipped in pandals erected in street corners for eleven days and later immersed in lake, river or sea at the end of long procession of devotees.

Mantrajapa sadhana

Ganesa Mantras are very powerful and they confer success to devotees, chanting them with deep faith and regularity.

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