For the lull before the start of the festive season, and because it is always good to be well-prepared, we recommend that you pick up the latest book by Indian physician turned author, mythologist, management consultant and chief belief officer of the Futures Group, Dr Devdutt Pattanaik.

Published by Jaico, it is a slim volume titled ‘99 Thoughts on Ganesha’ (Stories, Symbols and Rituals of India’s beloved elephant-headed deity), for which we already have a review by reader Nilesh A Raje. Here it is.

A medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik has written and lectured extensively on the nature of sacred stories, symbols and rituals and their relevance in modern times.

In his latest book and also the first one on Ganesha, the author brings together 99 meditations to better understand the stories, symbols and rituals of one of the deities best-known and most widely worshipped in the Hindu pantheon, namely Ganapati, known to remove hurdles to bring prosperity and peace in our life.

If you have ever wondered why Ganapati is always riding on or accompanied by a rat, why a snake is coiled around Ganesha’s stomach or neck, why Ganesha is fond of modaka as a sweet in particular, why blades of grass, known as Dhurva form a critical ingredient of Ganesha worship, the answers to these questions can be found in this book making it easy to relate to each one of them forever. 

The author has made it interesting by dividing the book into twelve parts and showing the importance of Ganapati in family, festivals, stories, symbols, temples etc. An interesting area covered under “family” is that of Lakshmi and Saraswati. Lakshmi, is the goddess of wealth. When she enters the house, there is prosperity. Saraswati, is the goddess of wisdom. When she enters the house, there is peace. But the two of them do not stay in the same house which is why peace and prosperity rarely co-exist. The only God who can bring them together is Ganesha.

Why do devotees of Ganesha avoid looking at the moon on the days that he is worshipped? Why is the word ‘Shri’ seen on top of wedding cards even today and what is its significance? If these questions make you curious, then reading this latest book by Dr. Pattanaik would be all the more enlightening.

One may ask why only 99 thoughts, why not more? This also the author explains, citing the example of the game of cricket. Having scored 99 runs, when a batsman stands all set to get that one run to gain the century mark, he experiences the moment that is best associated with Ganesha.

Frankly, we are already sold because we would like to know the name of the moment best associated with Mumbai’s beloved elephant god. For that, and also for the information on Dhurva grass. After all, we see people every day on our walks, going into gardens and meticulously choosing those special blades of green. Now we know why, at least partially!