May 30 2012

Ganesha

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Ganesha is also known as Ganapati.

So there isn’t confusion. :)

Also, due to the limitations of my keyboard, and not being able to effectively render correct spellings, please forgive lack of accents and such.

The following, are some excerpts from Ganapati: Song Of The Self by John A. Grimes (1995 State University Of New York Press)

Ganesa is called “Adi-davata,” the first god to be worshipped. He is known as the lord of beginnings and is traditionally invoked first, not only by Ganapati devotees, but also by devotees of any other god or goddess… Though it is well known that different gods are to be invoked for different benefits, there is a reference that claims that by worshipping Lord Ganesha one may secure every benefit possible. The logic behind this claim is that all the gods are but variant forms of Ganesha

He is Siddihata, the grantor of success, and, as such, is invoked for success at the beginning of every undertaking. He is Vinayaka, the remover of obstacles. He is the doorkeeper and the guardian of the threshold. Finally, he is learning and wisdom. To open the gates to success, to cross the threshold of empirical existence (samsara), to reveal or unveil the divinity within, one must necessarily invoke that which Ganesha represents…

Puja is usually translated as “worship.” It derives from the multivalent Sanskrit root puj, meaning “to worship.” This root also means “to honor”; “to serve”; “to collect or bring together”; “intelligent”; “to shine.” Puja is therefore “an intelligent bringing together of luminous elements (in the form of a murti) in order to honor or worship. Thus, a puja is a type of ritual that, unlike in a Vedic sacrifice (yajna), employs the use of an image (murti). The term puja is used to denote a ritual of worship of an image or an aniconic form of a deity as well as of any other object that is considered to possess special power and be sacred. Any such ritual worship, whether performed with a special ritual procedure or not, by a person trained in ritualism or not, in a temple or in a home, can be referred to as a “puja…”

Ganesha is extremely adaptable. He is the most easily acceptable of all the Indian deities, because there are no strict rules or canons binding down his worship, as is the case with the other deities. He can be worshipped in any form, even as a small triangular pyramid of turmeric or a pot on which thin string has been crisscrossed and then filled with water, mango leaves, and a coconut. His murti can be made out of any substance whatever…

When one decides to obtain an image of Ganesha it is important how to choose the image/statue/murti. What is of utmost importance is that one chooses an image that pleases one. It should invoke feelings of devotion and inspiration. There should be an immediate feeling of joy inside when one looks at the statue. Perhaps this joy arises inexplicably , or perhaps it arises for aesthetic or artistic or iconographic reasons. Whatever, what is important is that one has a feeling of inner joy when one beholds the image.

After applying this first test, there are some qualities to look for in a Ganesha murti…

First, the trunk should generally bend to the murti’s left, in the shape of the letter L when the devotee looks at it. Such an image is easy to worship and bestows boon freely. A Ganapati in which the trunk curves to his right is extremely particular about how his worship is to be performed. Such an image is said to require worship performed in an exacting manner. These images are very particular in regards to what is offered, when it is offered, and how it is offered.

Second, the eyes should look directly at you; they should not look up, down, or sideways. Then the murti will freely and easily bestow its grace and blessing on one. This is the case, even in the physical world when one wants to get someone’s attention: the speaker is quite particular about the listener looking at him or her. Otherwise, there is a feeling that the listener is distracted, uninterested, or far away, lost in thought. The same requirement holds in regars to a murti. Further, sakti (power) is said to emanate from one’s eyes, and thus they are a great source of energy and conveyors of great power.

Third, although there are many scriptural instructions fo making an image of Ganapati, these can be neglected by an artist without necessarily rendering such a murti inauspicious…A general rule in this regard is that one’s devotion is more important than scriptural details…

Fourth, since there are so many poses in which Ganesha may be depicted, it is difficult to know all the nuances of the proper ways in which he can be made. Therefore, the Scriptures give a test to find out if a particular Ganesha is auspicious for you (ie, whether that particular Ganapati suits that particular person). They suggest that after you obtain an image, you take it home and keep it standing on a plate of rice in a sacred place. Do not worship it for seven days. If all is well during that period, then you may keep the image. If difficulties appear, then submerge the image in a body of water, for example, a well, pond, lake, or ocean…

Ganesha is said to preside over the muladhara cakra (the fountainhead of evolutionary energy, located at the base of the spine, where it is coiled up like a sleeping serpent). When activated, the human consciousness expands and unknown and unexpaected faculties emerge. Subtle powers of intelligence and accomplishment arise. For this reason, Ganesha is well known as Vighnesvara (lord of obstacles) and Siddhi Vinayaka (bestower of success). He represents the divine power that works from the lower levels removing obstacles and uplifting life to stages of supreme consciousness.

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