Category Archives: Lord Ganesha

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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Glory of Durva Grass

Once Sage Kaundinya’s wife asked him why the Durva grass was given so much of importance and had become almost indispensable in the worship of Lord Ganapathi. Kaundinya Rishi explained to her the immense benefits of using the Durva grass. 

But Kaundinya’s wife was not totally convinced. So the Rishi gave her a bunch of twenty one blades of Durva grass and asked her to go to Lord Indra and bring back gold in exchange for its weight. She was surprised, because the bundle of grass hardly weighed anything!  But since the Sage had told her, she decided to go to Lord Indra. On approaching him, she showed him the bundle of grass and asked for gold in exchange for its weight. On looking at the sacred bundle of grass in her hands, Indra who knew fully the glory of Durva grass asked her to go to Kubera, the treasurer of the heavens. The Rishi’s wife approached Kubera and asked for gold equivalent to the weight of the bundle of grass. The scales were brought. The Durva grass was placed on one pan and Kubera tried weighing it with gold on the other pan. All the gold that Kubera had was put in the pan, but the scales did not tilt even a little! The Trimurti’s Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva came there and added their assets too, but still the pan did not tilt. Sage Kaundinya’s wife then realized the glory of Durva grass – it was priceless! Truly incomparable and incomprehensible!

The very word “Durva” means “to bring that which is far away closer or nearer to us”. Its absorption capacity as well as transmitting capacity is enormous. When Durva grass is offered to the Lord, the aura and the divine vibrations associated with the deity is absorbed by Durva. When this Durva is received as prasad by the devotee, the very same aura and divine vibrations is transmitted to us. It also protects us by cutting off the negativity in the environment. Even the most powerful nuclear radiations can be blocked by Durva grass. Durva has purificatory properties. Hence it is dipped in water and that water is sprinkled to cleanse the environment. This is the reason why Seeta placed the blade of grass between her and Ravana while addressing him. It acted as a shield between her and the rakshasa. And in addition, it has lots of medicinal value and is used in a number of ayurvedic therapies. Durva Bhasma (ash) has the capacity to nullify the adverse effects of the navagrahas.

Prathama Pujya Lord Ganesha acknowledged the glory of Durva grass and gave it the prime importance in his worship.

Everyone has a precise place in the scheme of created things. Each one has an importance and none is to be despised.. There is no redundancy in the Lord's creation; not even a single blade of grass is unnecessarily created. - Swami Chinmayananda

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LORD GANESHA – Significance of His Name and Form ~ by Swami Chinmayananda

Lord Ganesha

[Excerpts from letters and articles by Swami Chinmayananda]

LORD VINAYAKA is the Supreme Reality, who is bountiful, eternal and the bestower of joy and glory to those who worship Him. He is of the nature of the Pure Consciousness and Liberation. Lord Ganapathi, the leader of the Ganas is extolled as one who brings well-being to the entire universe. As the Lord of all Obstacles VIGHNESWARA, He is the Master of all Circumstances. He is the Master of Knowledge and the Champion of Worldly Achievements. He also represents a Man of Perfect Wisdom and a fully Realised Vedantin.

Ganapathi, the Elephant-headed Lord, represents the highest and the best that have ever been given in our scriptures. To a Vedantic student, since his ‘path of knowledge’ is intellectual, he must have a ‘great head’ to conceive and understand the logic of the Vedantic thought, and in fact, the truth of Vedanta can be comprehended only through listening to a teacher and therefore, Shravana (listening) is the initial stage. Therefore, Ganapathi has large ears representing ‘continuous and intelligent listening’ to the teacher. His intellect must have the depth and width in order to embrace in his vision the entire world of plurality. Not only must he, in his visualisation, embrace the whole cosmos, but he must have the subtle discriminative power (Viveka) in him to distinguish the changing, perishable, matter-vestures from the Eternal, Immutable, All-pervading Consciousness, the Spirit. This discrimination is possible only when the intellect of the student has consciously cultivated that power to a large degree of perfection. The trunk, coming down the forehead of the elephant-face, has got a peculiar efficiency that beats all achievements of man and his ingenuity in the mechanical and scientific world. Here is a ‘tool’ that can at once uproot a tree or pick up from the ground, pull heavy weights or pluck a blade of grass — the mechanical instruments cannot have this range of adaptability! Like the elephant’s trunk, so should be the perfect discriminative faculty of an evolved intellect, so that it can use its discrimination fully in the outer world for resolving gross problems, and at the same time, efficiently employ its discrimination in the subtle realm of the inner personality layers. The discriminative power in us can function only where there are two factors to discriminate between; and these two factors represent the tusks of the elephant and the trunk growing down between them. Between good and evil, right and wrong, and all the dualities must we discriminate and come to our own judgements and conclusions in life. The broken tusk indicates a real Vedantic student of subjective experience who has gone beyond the pairs of opposites (dwandwatita).

Ganapathi has the widest mouth and the biggest appetite. A Man of Perfection has an endless appetite for life — he lives in the Consciousness and to him every experience, good or bad, is only a play of the Infinite — he must have a big belly to stomach peacefully, all the experiences of life — auspicious or inauspicious.

A Mastermind sits with ONE foot down. Generally, we move about in the world through the corridors of our experiences on our two feet — the mind and the intellect. A perfect man of wisdom has integrated them both to such an extent that they become in him as ONE — an intellect into which the mind has folded and become completely subservient.

In the representation of Sri Vinayaka, we always find a “mouse” sitting in the midst of beautiful, fragrant ready-made food, but not daring to touch anything without His command. The “mouse” within each personality which can eat away a mountain of merit in us, is the POWER OF DESIRE. The Man of Perfection is one who has so perfectly mastered his urge to acquire, possess and enjoy — this self-annihilating “power of desire”, that it is completely held in obedience to the will of the Master. He rides upon the mouse — meaning, it is a “desire” to do service to the world and it becomes His vehicle to move about and act.

The Lord of Obstacles, Sri Vighneswara has four arms representing the four inner equipments — the ANTAHKARANA. In one hand He has the ROPE and in the other He has an AXE. On the spiritual pilgrimage, all obstacles are created by the very subjective and objective worlds in the seeker himself. Sri Vighneswara chops them off with the AXE. He cuts off the attachments of His devotees to the world of plurality and thus ends all the consequent sorrows. He holds the attention of the seeker constantly towards the Higher, and pulls us nearer and nearer to the Truth and ultimately ties him down to the Highest Goal with the ROPE. With one hand, He blesses all His devotees and protects (ABHAYA) them from all obstacles on their spiritual path of seeking the Supreme, and with the other hand He feeds the seeker with MODAKA, representing the reward of the joys of sadhana — the “Joy of Experiencing the Reality”.

ॐ गं गणपतये नमः

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Glory of Gokarna

Ravana’s mother was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. She worshipped the Lord with great fervour so that with the power and blessings of the Lord, Ravana would become invincible. Indra, the king of the Gods came to know about this, and he stealthily took away the Shiva linga which Ravana’s mother was worshipping and hid it in the ocean. Unable to find the altar of her pooja, she refused to touch food unless she got the Shiva linga back. Ravana consoled his mother and said that he would go to Kailasa and bring the Lord’s Atma-linga itself.

Ravana went to the Himalayas and undertook severe penance. Lord Sankara pleased with his tapas appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Ravana asked for the Lord’s Atma-linga for his mother to worship. The Lord gave Ravana His own Atma-linga, but warned him that enroute if he placed the Atma-linga down on the ground, the Atma-linga would get rooted there itself and he would not be able to lift it up again. Ravana was very happy to receive the divine linga and started off to Lanka by the air route.

All the Gods were worried. Atma-linga in Lanka meant Ravana would be very difficult to conquer and vanquish. They all went to Lord Vishnu for help. In the meantime, Devi Parvati also was not happy with Ravana taking the Atma-linga to Lanka. Lord Vishnu and Ganapati came up with a plan to prevent the Linga from reaching Lanka.

Ravana was very particular and strict about performing his religious duties. Knowing this, Vishnu used His Sudarshan Chakra and covered the sun, which gave an illusion that it was dusk time. Ravana immediately thought it was the time to perform his sandhyavandana. He landed down on the shores of the ocean. He looked around and saw a young brahmana boy with cows standing nearby. It was none other than Ganapati in disguise. Ravana asked the boy if he could hold the Atma-linga in his hands until he finished his sandhyavandana. The boy agreed but on one condition. He said he did not have much time to spare and therefore Ravana must finish his prayers and come back quickly. “Three times I will call you, if you don’t come back by then I will place the Linga down”, said Ganapati in disguise. 

Ravana promised to come back quickly and walked towards the waters of the ocean for his sandhya prayers. Ravana had hardly reached the ocean and started his prayers, when Ganapati called out “Ravana” three times. Ravana hurriedly finished the ritual and came running back. By then Ganapati placed the Atma-linga on the ground  and started running away along with the cows. Ravana was furious and ran behind Ganapati but could not catch him. But he caught hold of the ear of one of the cows. The cow disappeared into the earth. All that remained above the earth’s surface was the cow’s ear. Hence the name of the place became Gokarna – ‘Ear of the Cow’. 

Ravana tried with all his might to uproot the Linga, but he could not. Since the Atma-linga was so powerful that it defied even the strength of his twenty hands, he called the Atma-linga as “Mahabaleshwar”.  Hence the Atma Linga of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahabaleshwar in Gokarna which is situated on the western coast of Karnataka.

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