Category Archives: Ganesha Books
Ganesha is one of the most popular and loved of the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Everything auspicious starts with invoking his name. Here’s a selection of wonderful books that I’m sure will delight readers and storytellers of all ages, and would brighten your collection of books on Hindu mythology and Indian culture. All of them well illustrated, entertaining and promises interesting reading.
This rare collection of Hindu mythological tales for young readers features 17 stories about Ganesha – ‘Ganesha’s Head,’ ‘The Broken Tusk,’ and ‘Why Ganesha Never Married’ – including one from Mongolia, where Ganesha entered the Buddhist tradition. Full of entertaining pen-and-ink illustrations, it also includes a pronunciation guide, glossary, and a prefatory discussion on Hindu mythology.
This book makes a great gift for someone at the threshold of a change or venturing into a new territory – entering a new job, new house, new business, or kicking off a new relationship. It comes in a box, and contains tales of Ganesha’s powers as a protector, beautifully decorated with 30 illustrations, and includes mantras, prayers, sacred symbols, songs and instructions on conducting a Puja.
Author Amy Novesky retells the authentic version of how the Ganesha got his elephant head as told in the ‘Brahma Vaivarta Purana‘. Belgin K. Wedman’s lovely illustrations reminiscent of classic Indian miniatures add to the beauty of the book. The narration is direct and suitable for read-alouds to small children. This is indeed a beautiful book to possess.
By By Devdutt Pattanaik
Where Ganesha, the Elephant God is, there has got to be a story; not one but many. Wherever there is Ganesha, there have to be symbols, temples, rituals, lots of sweets to eat, and last if not the least, lots of mischief. That’s what Devdutt Pattanaik, who writes on myth and mythology, brings alive to us in his latest book, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha.
He’s started with a puzzle about Ganesha’s existence you may not have known about. ‘The image of Ganesha, his rituals and his stories are a kind of mythological puzzle created by our ancestors,’ writes Pattanaik. ‘Through him, they are trying to communicate a profound truth – so the answers are right there in front of us in the form of Ganesha, if we are willing to decode it. If we don’t want to decode, it’s perfectly alright; the image of Ganesha will continue to enrich us.’
And so it does; with the story of his creation. Ganesha was created by Shakti when, ‘she anointed herself with turmeric and oil. When the mixture had soaked her sweat and dried on her skin, she scraped it off and from the rubbings created a child, her son.’ While this story might be well known to Ganesha’s followers, what may not be so well-known is that Vinayaka comes from the words, Vina (without) and Nayaka (the help of a man).What may also not be common knowledge is that ‘Durga, Ganesha’s mother, took a banana plant, wrapped a sari around it and gave it in marriage to Ganesha, because no woman in the world wanted to marry him because of his elephant head!’ It is these interesting facts, detailed in an easy manner, with a contemporary slant that make you want to read on. By now we are into the part called ‘stories’.
One day,the Moon laughed when he saw Ganesha riding on a rat. He found the idea of an elephant-headed, fat god riding a tiny rodent rather amusing. Ganesha didn’t appreciate the Moon god’s laughter and so declared that anyone who looked at the Moon on the fourth day of the waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada, which is sacred to Ganesha, will suffer bad luck. That is why no one looks at the Moon god on Ganesha Chaturthi! It’s a nugget of information nicely told; just like the tale on the spiritual symbolism of the modaka, the steamed dumpling made of rice flour dough, jaggery and sesame, that follows in the part called Symbols.
‘The modaka is also shaped like an upward pointing triangle, which, in Tantrik art, represents spiritual reality, in contrast to the downward pointing triangle which represents material reality.’ There is more – on the history and wisdom of Ganesh. Sensibly, Pattanaik has kept all the chapters short; no chapter is more than a page long, and has presented all this information – which could otherwise be terribly boring – in a very readable manner. In 99 Thoughts on Ganesha, Pattanaik has developed the retelling of mythology into an art, and it shows.
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Price: Rs 195
Source: Times of India
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!
Former Rector of Andhra University and Director of Centre for Policy Studies, A. Prasanna Kumar, who released the book, remarked that it was as if Ganesh Chaturthi festival was being celebrated a week in advance.
He appreciated the uncanny nature of the book which combined management, politics and governance would be useful not only to the religious-minded but to non-believers as well.
Noted Telugu scholar K. Malayavasini who reviewed the book said that the author who penned it during his three-month sojourn in Russia came out with all details of the elephant-faced god, including prayer verses in 59 chapters. A galaxy of city elite – managing director of Chairman of Sri Saranya Venkateswara Swamy temple and Pydah educational institutions Pydah Krishna Prasad, Vijaya Nirman S. Vijaya Kumar, founder-trustee of Sampath Vinayaka temple T.S. Rajeswaran, managing director and of Kumarraja Projects and sponsor of the book K. Kumarraja, principal of Gayatri Vidya Parishad College P. Raja Ganapathi, chairman of Gopala Krishna Foundation PVGK Murthy, and surgeon from Gajapathinagaram BSR Murthy were on the dais.
Earlier, Prof. Balamohandas who welcomed the gathering said he had dedicated the work to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah.
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In this book, Ganesha: The Auspicious The Beginning, Smt. Shakunthala Jagannathan and Dr. Nanditha Krishna, mother and daughter, have brought out the relevance and importance of Ganesha from ancient times to the present day.
They have covered historical and archaeological evidence, legends and parables, and Ganesha imagery in India and abroad to make a multi-dimensional study of this deity through the ages. The chapters on Symbolism and Worship of Ganesha explain his symbolic importance and modes of worship.
Copiously illustrated with a number of colour and black-and-white photographs (several of rare antiques) and with attractive line drawings, this comprehensive book covers all aspects of this greatly adored deity. The book would be of equal interest to the layman, the scholar and the devotee and a valuable addition to every home and library.