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Ganesha teaches us to be kind in our actions and forgive those who ask for it

Holding on to anger, they say, is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. However, eventually, you are the one who gets burned in the process.

A story goes that one day, Ganesha was invited to a big feast. Since he was very fond of sweets, he ended up consuming much over his normal capacity.

When he noticed that his stomach had bloated unusually, he felt guilty of having eaten too much. Since he did not want anyone to catch him in his embarrassing condition, he grabbed hold of a snake and wrapped it over his stomach to disguise his bulging belly.

He waited for night to fall so that he could start on his journey home, hoping that nobody would see him. Unfortunately, the moon caught sight of him on his way and could not resist mocking an already shy Ganesha, bursting into fits of laughter.

When the moon did not stop, Ganesha got angry and cursed the moon, saying that he would be invisible from that day on.

When that happened, the moon realised his mistake and begged Ganesha to forgive him.

Since Ganesha could not revoke his curse, he proclaimed that the moon would grow thinner each day and remain invisible on one day of the month. The day, known as amavasya, is considered inauspicious in our country.

This legend of Ganesha reminds us to be kind in our actions and forgive those who ask for it.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-specials-life-lessons-from-ganesha/20120921.htm

Make the most of what you have, says Ganesha

It is human to crib and complain about what we don’t have. But this story of Ganesha shows you how to make the most of what you do possess.

Both Shiva and Parvati loved to play with their two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. One day, the parents decided to issue a challenge to test their children’s skills.

The winner of the challenge, they said, would earn a miracle fruit — a fruit which would provide supreme knowledge and immortality to its owner.

The challenge was that both of them had to run three times around the world. Whoever came first would earn the fruit as a gift.

As soon as the task was announced, Kartikeya left immediately. He rode his peacock and left on his world tour. On his way, he halted at every sacred place, praying and seeking their blessings.

On the other hand, Ganesha stood there and put on his thinking hat. He looked down at his stout body and his vehicle — the rat. In his head, he was sure that no matter how hard he tried, it would be impossible to compete with his brother.

He collected his thoughts and turned to face his parents. When Shiva asked why he did not start on the journey, he replied: “To me, my parents are my world. I would prefer circumnavigating you thrice.”

Needless to say, when Kartikeya returned, Ganesha was already smiling because he knew he had won the race.

This story tells us how we must not fret over our physical weaknesses or limitations, and instead use our wisdom and intelligence to overcome difficult situations.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/getahead/slide-show/slide-show-1-specials-life-lessons-from-ganesha/20120921.htm

A vahana for Ganesha

Rachna Chhabria

Bal Ganesha or baby Ganesha was a naughty child, unlike the quiet Kartikeya. Little Ganesha was always up to mischief, doing things he should not be doing and driving his mother Parvati crazy.

She was constantly running around Mount Kailash in search of her son, who she would find hiding behind a snow covered tree or hill. The angry mother would drag the little one back home. Then she would make him sit beside her while she completed her chores. Her eyes would frequently stray to her elephant-headed son.

Bal Ganesha was fond of sweets, especially laddoos. Whenever Parvati prepared a special meal for her family, she would keep a strict watch over her son who would happily eat up most of  the laddoos from the large platters, leaving very few for his father and brother.

Quiet Kartikeya was no trouble. He was an obedient child. He seldom needed supervision. Sitting astride his peacock, Kartikeya travelled everywhere, often  taking his father’s messages to the gods.

“I too want a vahana (vehicle),”  Ganesha tugged at his mother’s sari. This had been his frequent request for the past one month.

“You are not ready for it Ganesha,” his mother answered. A vahana for Ganesha would mean more work for her. She would end up looking after her baby and whichever creature he chose as his vahana. It had been no problem getting the self-reliant Kartikeya a vahana, for he looked after himself and his peacock.

“I will get you a vahana when you grow a little older. You have to take care of your vahana,” she explained, cradling her son in her lap.

Stomping his foot, little Ganesha pouted. “No, I will not wait. I want a vahana right now,” he said loudly, shattering the peace and disturbing his father who was meditating.

Shiva opened his eyes. Kartikeya and Parvati shivered. An angry Shiva was a fierce sight. Mother and son stared at Shiva in shock. Seeing the fear in their eyes,  he smiled.
“Come here,” he beckoned little Ganesha, who trotted up to his father on chubby legs, munching a large peda. Gathering his son close, Shiva ruffled Ganesha’s hair.

“I have the perfect vahana for you,” he said, winking at his wife and Kartikeya. They were stunned.

Over the last week, Shiva’s meditation had been disturbed by the constant squeaks of a scampering mouse. Not just that, the mouse had chewed up his meditation mat! Ganesha too was proving troublesome. It was time to bring two naughty creatures together, decided Shiva.

With his cosmic eye, Shiva saw the little mouse hiding in a corner of the room. With a brisk snap of his fingers, he brought the mouse out. The tiny creature obeyed Shiva’s silent command and scurried towards him.

Lifting the mouse, Shiva dropped it into baby Ganesha’s hands.  “Henceforth this will be your vahana,” he said.

Thrilled with his vahana, Ganesha went down on his haunches and stared delightedly at the furry little mouse.

The moment the mouse was placed on the ground it darted away to safety. Ganesha, who taken by surprise, chased the pesky creature all over the house. Parvati smiled. Her clever husband had once again solved her problem. Now her little Ganesha would not trouble her, as he would be too busy keeping his mischievous vahana under control. It would take Ganesha years to learn to control his mouse, and by then he would have outgrown his mischief!

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/183037/a-vahana-ganesha.html

99 Thoughts of Ganesha – The Book

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 
Pages: 227 
Price: Rs 195 

Source: Times of India

Lord Ganesha And The Fruit Of Self Realization

By: Priya Devi R, Source: www.OneIndia.in 

The fruit of self realization is for the one who is centered. A popular Hindu story about Lord Ganesha conveys the truth.

Saint Narada once handed over a mango to Shiva and Parvati. He said that it was a special mango which would bestow eternal wisdom on whoever savours it. There was also a hitch that the mango should not be shared and had to be consumed by one person. Though Shiva and Parvati wanted to handover it over to either of their sons Ganesha and Karthikeya, they were perplexed as to whom they should give it.

Narada stepped in and suggested a solution to the issue. He said that the mango can be given to the one who first succeeds in going around the world thrice . Shiva and Parvati consented to Narada’s suggestion. Karthikeya immediately mounted his peacock and set out to accomplish the mission. Lord Ganesha on the other hand simply circumambulated his parents thrice and requested the fruit to be given to him.

When demanded an explanation, Lord Ganesha humbly said that his parents were his world and that no other world existed apart from them.

Respect for parents would be the moral of the story on the superficial level. However the very essence of the story stretches beyond the superficially portrayed moral.

It is a fact that eternal wisdom or self realization (the mango) can be cherished only when one is centred in the truth (Siva and Parvati) and nothing exists apart from the truth. A mind (the act of Karthikeya) that is focused in the outer world is incapable of attaining the truth. An inward turned mind (Lord Ganesha) that is in constant communion with the truth is that which is capable of realising the truth or attaining wisdom.

Lord Ganesha in thus short story reveals the fact that self realization can be attained only with one’s vision focused inwards.

An Insight Into Ganesha’s Aspects On Ganesha Chaturthi

Lord Ganesha in Kharkiv Zoo

Image via Wikipedia

The form of Lord Ganesha is no doubt endearing and it captures one and all, young and old. The much celebrated form of the Lord Ganesha is intriguing with an elephant head and a human body with a pot belly. Lets take a look into the inner meaning of Lord Ganesha’s form so as to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi in a more fulfilling way.

Elephant Head

The elephant head of Lord Ganesha is symbolic of His eternal Wisdom. It also denotes His intelligence, auspiciousness and intellectual prowess. The elephant is considered as the largest and intelligent of all animals. Hence the ultimate Wisdom of the Lord is depicted in the elephant head.

The elephant is gentle and graceful in its bearing yet its wrath can be disastrous when provoked. The elephant head thus portrays that Ganesha is extremely compassionate and gentle with His devotees, yet His wrath can be disastrous in the face of evil.

Ganesha is also depicted as tactful in His undertakings with an effortless ease which portrays His wisdom. His huge fan like ears of an elephant depicts its capacity and His readiness in listening to the unending and numerous woes of the human folk.

Pot belly

The pot belly of Ganesha denotes the limitless space. It is symbolic of the fact that the Lord is the source of all that is manifested. His pot belly thus reveals the fact that it holds the entire manifested universe in it. Yet the Lord is beyond the manifested universe for in Him does it exists. Further more it is also symbolic of a perfect being who looks at both the pleasant and unpleasant with the same attitude, the result of which is perfect bliss which is represented by His delightful, endearing form.

The Trunk

The trunk of Lord Ganesha depicts discrimination or Viveka which is one of the most important aspect for enlightenment.

The broken tusk

The broken tusk of Lord Ganesha portrays sacrifice which commemorates the significance of the Lord breaking His tusk to write the scripture (Mahabharata) while sage Vyasa dictated it for common good.

Four arms

The four arms of Ganesha are symbolic of subjective evolution. His right arm holds an axe or a cutter, a rope or a noose is held in His left arm, a sweet modak in his lower left arm and the lower right hand portrays the hand that showers blessings.

In one’s evolution subjectively towards liberation or Moksha, the axe severs the inessentials which refer to one’s unwanted materialistic attachment and bonding, the noose or the rope cautions one against the entanglement in Maya or illusion which could strangle one to ceaseless misery while the rope also depicts the recognition of one’s spiritual goal; the Modak represents the sweetness of enlightenment and the hand that shows the sign of benediction promises protection and bestows ultimate deliverance.

Modak

The sweet Modak that Ganesha holds is a call or an invitation to savour the sweetness of spiritual enlightenment or self realisation. Hence Lord Ganesha urges one to partake of the bliss of enlightenment and to be eternally immersed in it. It also represents the fullness or the absolute aspect of the reality.

The Mouse

The mouse which is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha represents the ego of man which sneaks its way into even a small admission if not alert. The mouse lies at the feet of the Lord to represent the Lord’s victory over it and also holds the truth that the supreme reigns the ego. On realising the true self on surrendering to the Lord, the ego can be vanquished once for all to bask in bliss.

Further more the disproportionate form of the Lord renders a stillness to the mind which portrays the mind’s defeat in its incapability of conceptualizing the Lord .

Let us thus celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi realising the inner meaning of the aspects of Lord Ganesha. Let us do away with the binding worldly attachments by freeing ourselves from the noose of illusion with discrimination and vanquish the ego by surrendering to the Lord who promises protection and attain the sweetness of bliss of spiritual enlightenment.

Source: OneIndia.com by Priya Devi R

Siddhi and Riddhi – the wives of Hindu God Ganesha – The Story of How Ganesh Got Married?

In some Hindu cultures, Hindu God Ganesh is considered to be a bachelor. But there are some cultures in which he is a family man. Siddhi and Riddhi are the wives of Hindu God Ganesha. There is an interesting story which narrates how Ganesh Got Married. 

As Ganesha had an elephant-head no girl was ready to marry him. While all other gods had a consort he did not have one and this angered Ganesha. He started creating problems in the marriages of Devas (demigods). He asked rats to dig up holes on the path through which wedding procession of any Deva would go to the bride’s house. 

The Devas faced innumerable problems in their weddings. Fed up with the activities of Ganesha, the Devas complained to Brahma, who agreed to solve the problem. 

To please Ganesha, Brahma created two beautiful women named Riddhi (wealth and prosperity) and Siddhi (intellectual and spiritual powers). Brahma gave them in marriage to Ganesha. 

From that day onwards whoever pleases Ganesha also gets the blessings of Siddhi and Riddhi. 

Ganesha had two sons in Riddhi and Siddhi – Shubha (Auspiciousness) and Labha (Profit). 

Ganesha’s daughter is Santoshi Mata (Goddess of Satisfaction).

The symbolism of ganapati

Ganapati is a God from the rig Veda, where he is seen as the “Gana” or clan

The modern ganapati can be explained as the totem of the farmers Bain, the elephant, snake and rat.

But as we decode the mythology. We come with various amazing discoveries.

Most of us are familiar with the Shiva purana story that revolves round the birth of vinayka, who is called so because he was born without the intervention of Shiva. Yet he is able rouse the jealous and anger within the self contained hermit. Shiva turns violent and beheads the boy. But seeing the wailing Gauri he revives her using the head of Airavata the elephant that belonged to Indra.

This recreation of Vinayaka, becomes symbolic as the head is placed by the god and body is created by the goddess. The body created by the goddess symbolizes rasa material abundance, while, the head revived by the Hermit god represents spiritual energy. Thus ganesha becomes the union of the soul with substance a balance of material delight with spiritual bliss.

Ganesha the son of gauri is worshiped with lakshmi (material abundance) and saraswati (wisdom) he becomes the god of thresholds, between Yoga and bhoga, discipline and indulgence, monastic order and fertility rites. The God sitting between the past and future removing all obstacles. Ensuring the realization of every dream.

This is why even the head that used to revive him has to come from the Airavata, the elephant (abundance) associated with the rain god Indra. When the clouds are cut off, do we find the mother earth emerging draping herself with the green sari of harvest, and her son who removes all obstacles emerges with her. The elephant also symbolises the large wisdom reserve that ganapati has, the large reserve of knowledge that is collected by the large ears.

Mythology has riddhi(material abundance) and siddhi(spiritual essence)) as his spouses. Sometimes siddi is referred to as Buddhi (inner wisdom). His offspring’s being shubh (good) Lab (profit) and daughter Santoshi (contentment).

The tantric traditions talk of the path of realizing the truth through shakti. The flowering of the kundalini in stages till the union of Shiva and Shakti occurs. The Ganapati, sits as the lord of the muladhara or the first chakra preventing Shiva’s entry into Parwati’s cave.Analysing the sons of Shiva Parwati.

Kartikeya

• Masculine, virile

• Associated with power symbols, lance, peacock,ash(detachment)

• Associated with army and weapons

• Commands the devas

• Yet worshiped to beget children.

Ganapati

• fat and fertile

• associated with feminine symbols like water, banana leaf, serpent

• associated with wealth and wisdom.

• Scribe of the scholars (Vyasa)

• Yet worshiped to destroy obstacles.

Source: Writerscolony.blogspot.com

Story of Ganesha writing the Mahabharata

As per the Hindu tradition, Sage Vyasa narrated the Mahabharata and Ganesha wrote it down. The longest epic in the world was not the job for an ordinary scribe and therefore Sage Vyasa requested Ganesh to become his scribe. Ganesha put one condition that Vyasa should recite the Mahabharat non-stop. Vyasa agreed. But the wise sage put one condition before Ganesha that he should write only after understanding the lines that he dictated. Ganesh agreed to this condition.

It is said that Ganesha sometimes took time to understand some of the complex lines narrated by Sage Vyasa. The Sage used this pause to compose the next lines.

Another legend associated with Ganesh writing Mahabharat is that of the broken tusk of Ganesha. After some days of writing of Mahabharat the stylus used by Ganesh broke and as he could not stop writing he broke off one of his tusks and started writing with it. This symbolically explains that any amount of sacrifice is not too much to gain knowledge.

Source: www.hindu-blog.com

The first prayers

Saivite saint Sundarar, while visiting Seraman Perumal Nayanar, a devotee of Lord Siva, sang of his desire to sever worldly ties.

And Lord Siva responded to the cries of His devotee at once. He sent a white elephant to fetch Sundarar to His abode, Kailasa, and the saint departed immediately for Kailasa, said K. Sambandan.

Hearing that his friend had left for Kailasa, Seraman Perumal Nayanar too left at once on a horse-back. But how would he be able to reach Kailasa?

Seraman Perumal Nayanar whispered “Om Namah Sivaya” in the ears of the horse and it started flying towards Kailasa.

Poetess Avvaiyar, through her gnana, sensed that the two men were leaving for Kailasa. She too wanted to accompany them. So she said her prayers in a hurry. Lord Ganesha told her not to rush through her worship of Him. He would make sure that she reached Kailasa even before the other two did.

Avvaiyar followed Lord Ganesha’s directive and did her usual worship in an unhurried manner.

Pleased with her worship, Lord Ganesha lifted her with his trunk and put her in Kailasa, well before Sundarar and Seraman Perumal Nayanar reached the holy abode of Lord Siva.

Thus by worshipping Lord Ganesha, Avvaiyar could fulfil her wish speedily. This showed that worshipping Lord Ganesha first and foremost would lead one to success in all ventures.

Avvaiyar sang 72 lines in praise of Lord Ganesha to show her gratitude. Though her work was not lengthy, it was significant in its meaning. Just as a banyan tree, which can shelter an army, could grow from a small seed, the small work of Avvaiyar had within it many facets of bhakti and philosophy.

Avvaiyar praised Lord Ganesha as the One who rids us of the results of our actions and quells our pride.

She pointed out that He makes us realise that we should ponder philosophical truths, use the knowledge gained to dispel doubts and we must resort to meditation.

Also, making us realise the path to salvation, He liberates us from births and deaths.

Source: The Hindu

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