Sri Maha Ganapati ~ Significance

SRI MAHA GANAPATI is the Lord of Knowledge and Wisdom. He is “Prathama Pujitha” (First Worshipped) before any undertaking or activity – worldly, religious or spiritual. Ganapati means Lord of Ganas. Gana denotes groups or categories. The mineral, plant, animal and human kingdom, the celestial beings, the devatas, the lower and the higher worlds can all be classified into various groups. He who is the Lord of all of them is known as GANAPATI or GANESHA. His Sakti-s are known as SIDDHI (Success and Fulfillment) and BUDDHI (Knowledge and Wisdom). He is also known as VINAYAKA (Vi-Nayaka) – One who is the Suprememost Lord and therefore has no one to claim lordship over him. Lord Ganapati is also known as VIGHNESHWARA, both as, VIGHNAHARTA (Remover of Obstacles) and VIGHNAKARTA (Creator of Obstacles for our constructive progress in life).

Ganesha is sindoora-varna, which is the colour of the rising sun which denotes knowledge and dispassion. The Lord is elephant-faced. The Elephant signifies Abundant Knowledge and Intelligence. The two small eyes represent sharp and in-depth vision. The Lord’s large ears indicate that He has an “Ear for All prayers”. The long trunk of the elephant can handle a huge log of wood with the same ease as that with a blade of grass. Therefore, the trunk represents our VIVEKA (discriminative capacity) – the ability to handle and balance our materialistic as well as spiritual life. The single tusk indicates the Advaita (One-without-a-second) State. The Kalasha held by the Lord’s trunk represents the State of Immortality (All-full or Poorna State) which he bestows upon the seeker who has intelligently and efficiently used his discriminative powers. He is clothed in vastras of different colours. Red represents Selfless Activity. White denotes Purity. Yellow stands for Spiritual Knowledge. Green for Plenty and Prosperity. Blue signifies His All-pervading Infinite Nature.

Sri Ganesha has a large belly to indicate his capacity and ability to contain all the myriad experiences. The serpent which denotes the ego is an ornament (waist-band) to him indicative of the ego-less state. His Yagnopavita signifies discipline. The three strands of the sacred thread also indicate his transcendence of the tri-groups (past, present, future periods of time; OR waking, dream and deep sleep states; OR, the gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas; OR, body, mind and intellect equipments). Sri Vighnesha is seated with his right leg firmly rooted on the ground. The left leg is folded and the left foot is pointing towards the right leg. The RIGHT leg represents the “intellect” well-established in the Higher Knowledge. The folded LEFT leg represents the “mind” aligned with the “intellect”. 

Lord Ganesha is depicted with four arms. In the upper hands he carries the “pasha” and “ankusha”. The Ankusha is a pointed instrument to goad the individual onto the righteous (spiritual) path. The Pasha or Rope is to pull the seeker towards Himself. In one of the lower hands he holds the Modaka (sweet) which denotes happiness, success and fulfilment. Modaka also represents the State of Bliss (Ananda). The outer white cover of the Modaka is made of rice flour while the filling inside is made of jaggery. It is then steamed. To prepare the rice-flour covering requires extra effort (rice flour does not bind like wheat flour). Rice is the ‘dhaanya’ associated with the Moon. And the Moon is the presiding deity of our mind. This suggests that through right effort, the mind has to be made pure and satvik and such a well prepared mind alone can contemplate on the blissful (sweet) Nature of Parabrahma. This is indicated by the ‘sweet-filling inside the outer covering’. It is then steamed. In the heat of meditation, the seeker realises his perfect identity with the Lord. The other hand is in Abhaya Mudra – an assurance to the devotee: “I am there – why fear!?”

Lord Vinayaka’s Vahana (vehicle) is Mooshaka or the Mouse. Mooshaka represents our INTELLECT. A tiny mouse can eat into an entire granary! Similarly, the human intellect has almost an inexhaustible capacity to gather, classify and store information and knowledge. Just as Lord Ganesha uses Mooshaka as his vehicle, the seeker should invest all his intellectual and mental capacities, abilities and capabilities in search for the Higher Truth. Sri Ganesha was bestowed with the Jnana-Phala (Fruit of Knowledge) by Lord Sankara because he went round the divine couple instead of the universe. This represents “God-centered” Activity. Only then GANAPATI – SAKSHATKARA (Darshana or Liberation) is possible.

Lord Vighneswara is invoked and worshipped using one of the smallest and tiniest of Lord’s creations – the DURVA GRASS. It indicates that nothing in the Lord’s creation is insignificant – everything is significant, important and has a purpose. The durva grass also has immense medical benefits and extraordinary healing effects. It has the capacity to annul even the most powerful negative energy fields. 

Lord Ganapati is invoked on the tithi of Chaturthi (4th day). The 4th day on both sides of Amavasya and Poornima (Chaturthi and Ekadashi) are days on which the moon’s influence on the ocean waters is maximum. Moon being the presiding deity of our mind, the mind has a tendency to get more agitated and become extremely extrovert on these days. Hence our Acharya-s have prescribed UPAVASA (fasting) on Chaturthi and Ekadashi. No food for the physical body means no food for the mind also. Upa-Vasa not only means fasting, but it also implies staying near, or identifying with the Lord by prayerfully invoking Him. Chandra-darshana (Seeing the Moon) on Chaturthi is prohibited. Symbolically it means refraining from extroverted activities. 

On Chaturthi, a clay-idol of Lord Ganesha is brought home and worshipped. The puja concludes with visarjana of the idol in water. Parabrahma, the Unmanifest with the help of Prakriti (clay) takes a Manifest form – SRI GANAPATI. This is to enable the devotee to easily anchor his mind at the Altar of the Lord. All the puja-vidhi (rituals) are a dramatisation of the inner spiritual journey. Once the vedantic significance has been understood, the manifest form dissolves in the “waters of spiritual knowledge”, and the Unmanifest alone remains – the “visarjana” leading to ISWARA DARSHANA – the STATE of JIVANMUKTI !!

“Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!”

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