19. september, 2023

Ganesh Chaturthi

Gaṇeś Caturthi or Vinayaka Caturthi, the birthday of Lord Gaṇeś a, is one of the most popular Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India and by Hindu around the world.

The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi takes place in the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar and it is celebrated for 10 days.

During these 10 days, people follow a lot of rituals which include erecting a pandal or a temporary podium for installing the idol, performing the aarti, the offering of prasad especially Modak which is considered to be Lord Ganesha’s, favorite sweet.

Lord Ganesha’s blessings are considered very auspicious before beginning any kind of work and hence he is one of the most worshipped deities.
Gaṇeś (also spelled Ganesa or Gaṇeś a and known as Gaṇapati, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar) is the Lord of Good Fortune who provides prosperity, fortune and success. He is the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles of both material and spiritual kinds.
Gaṇeśa, in fact, is the symbol of he who has discovered the Divinity within himself.

Gaṇeśa is the first sound, OM, in which all hymns were born. When Śakti (Energy) and Śiva (Matter) meet, both Sound (Gaṇeś a) and Light (Skanda) were born.  He represents the perfect equilibrium between force and kindness and between power and beauty. He also symbolizes the discriminative capacities which provide the ability to perceive distinctions between truth and illusion, the real and the unreal.

A description of all of the characteristics and attributes of Gaṇeś a can be found in the Gaṇapati Upanishad (an Upanishad dedicated to Gaṇeś a) of the rishi Atharva, in which Gaṇeś a is identified with Brahman and Atman.

Gaṇeś a became the Lord (Isha) of all existing beings (Gana) after winning a contest from hisbrother Kartikay. When given the task to race around the universe, Gaṇeś a did not start the race like Kartikay did, but simply walked around Śiva and Parvati, both his father and mother as the source of all existence Gaṇeś a (Gaṇeś ) rides a rat that represents the subjugated demon of vanity and impertinence. The conch represents the sound that creates Akash. The laddu (sweet) represents Sattva. The snakes represent control over the poisons of the passions and refer to Śiva, father of Gaṇeś a. The hatchet cuts away the bondage of desires. The mudra grants fearlessness. The broken tusk is the one with which Gaṇeś a wrote the Mahabaratha.
Gaṇeś a is the consort of Buddhi and Siddhi, daughters of Brahma. 'Ga' symbolizes Buddhi(intellect) and 'Na' symbolizes Vidnyana (wisdom). Gaṇeś a is thus considered the master of intellect and wisdom. Gaṇeś a is also often portrayed along with Saraswati and Lakshmi, symbolising that success and beauty always accompany wisdom.

Traditionally, Gaṇeś a comes in 32 different forms. One for example is Heramba Vinayakar, the Pancha Muga Gaṇeś a or five-faced Gaṇeś a. This form is specifically known as the protector of the weak. This ten-armed Gaṇeś a is seated on a lion instead of the usual rat. He extends the gestures of protection and blessing while holding a noose, prayer (japa) beads, axe, hammer, tusk, garland, fruit and modaka

Sri Ram Ramanuja Achari:

Gaṇeśa is one of the most popular and well-known of all the Hindu gods and is always worshipped first. He is the god of Wisdom and the patron of learning.
Gaṇeśa has two wives Siddhi — Success, and Buddhi — intelligence sometime his second wife is said to be Riddhi — Prosperity.
Gaṇeśa represents one of the basic concepts of Hindu Philosophy — the identity between the macrocosm and the microcosm. In religious terms this is the identity between the individual and the universe (humankind made in the image of God). This idea of the potential divinity of the person and the immanence of God should be presented in the mind before beginning any undertaking. This is the reason that Gaṇeśa is worshiped at the beginning of every enterprise. Not only this but his icon is seen at the entrance to almost every Hindu home and on every altar.

In iconography Gaṇeśa is represented as an Elephant-headed man. The man part of Gaṇeśa represents the manifest Principle which is subordinate to the unmanifest Principle which is represented by the elephant's head. The elephant head also represents certain qualities to which a sincere spiritual seeker is encouraged to aspire — strength, intelligence, endurance and gracefulness. The elephant is the only animal which has all it's 5 organs in the head. Thus we are taught that exerting control over the five senses is an essential pre-requisite to achieving knowledge and wisdom.

The Accoutrements

  • The noose [pāśa] — represents the three things which are the cause of our bondage to the material world which necessitate continued rebirth:
    • Ignorance of our true nature [avidyā] as eternal modes of consciousness and an erroneous identification with the material body and mind.
    • Our actions done in conformity with the false identification with the material vehicle and their inevitable reactions [karma].
    • The habitual pattern formations which we create [vasana]. Many of these are useful such as performing acts of daily living, and also special skills needed for our convenience such as driving, working computers and other forms of machinery and mechanical tasks needed for earning a living. But there are more subtle and invidious pattern formation which cause suffering to ourselves and to others. These need to be uprooted — de-conditioned — in order to progress towards enlightenment. n the hands of a free and enlightened being these three become a mere ornament!
  • The axe [paraśu] — represents non-attachment. In order to progress on the spiritual path the essential virtue to cultivate is that of non-attachment to the sense-object and their means of gratification — the noose held in the one hand needs to be cut with the axe of non-attachment in the other.
  • The Elephant Goad [ankuśa] — represents perseverance on the path of spiritual practice. The spiritual path is very arduous and difficult but if we are committed then Gaṇeśa when propitiated will prod us by means of the Goad, and guide us to our supreme destination — union with the Divine. But that incentivization will require pain and suffering!!
  • The sweet [modaka] — represents the basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. One should never neglect one's physical well-being while one is practicing spiritual discipline. The spiritual life is to be followed in harmony with a material life — not in opposition to it.
  • The Mouse Vehicle [muṣika] — The mouse is the master of the inner part of every building, and as such it represents the Atman or the Self. The Self lives in the innermost recesses of the intellect, within the heart of every being. The mouse is called mushika in Sanskrit. It is derived the word mush which means to steal. The Inner Ruler (ātman) steals everything that we enjoy, hidden from our view it enjoys all the pleasures and remains unaffected by virtue or vice. The inner ruler is the real enjoyer of everything, yet the ego in ignorance thinks that it is the enjoyer! The mouse also represents the uncontrolled and negative mind that lives inthe dark hidden places and destroys for the sake of destroying. Gaṇeśa, representing wisdom can control the mind by riding on it but the mind can never be completely crushed.
  • One Tusk. [eka-danta] Gaṇapati acted as the scribe for the Mahabharata, on the condition that he would on no account interrupt the recitation by Vyasa who was dictating the Mahabharata for the welfare of the world. When the pen broke Gaṇapati broke off his own tusk in order not to interrupt the work. Thus out of great compassion for beings the Lord was prepared to mutilate himself! This is the symbolism contained in the iconographical representation.
  • Gaṇapati is always depicted as being obese because all the universe is contained in his belly, yet he himself is not contained in anyone.

Ganesha Gayatri:
Oṁ e̱ka̱da̱ntāya̍ viḏmahe vakratu̱ṇḍāya̍ dhīmahi |
tanno̍ dantī praco̱dayāt ||