God Ganesha – Vinayaka, Vinayakudu, Ganapathi
Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings
As the god of beginnings, he is honored at the start of rituals and ceremonies. Ganesha is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities. His image is most found everywhere and people worship him than any other god.
Mantra: Oṃ Gaṇeśāya Namaḥ, Oṃ Gan Gaṇapatayē Namaḥ
- Ganesh parents are Shiva and Parvati
- Ganesha brother is Kartikeya the god of war, who is also called Skanda and Murugan
- Wives: The Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power) and Riddhi (prosperity)
- Ganesha had two sons: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit).
- Weapon used Paraśu (Axe), pāśa (noose) , aṅkuśa (Elephant goad)
Eight synonyms of Ganesha: Vinayaka, Vighnarāja, Dvaimātura (one who has two mothers), Gaṇādhipa), Ekadanta (one who has one tusk), Heramba, Lambodara (one who has a pot belly), and Gajanana (having the face of an elephant)
The most recurrent motif in these stories is that Parvati made form out of her nalugu pindi (bath powder) and gave life and put him near entrance of Kailasam to guard when she is bathing. Shiva came and tried to enter Kailash he was stopped by Ganesha. Shiva got angry and beheaded him. Parvati came to know of this and got angry on Shiva. Shiva realized the mistake and got replaced Ganesha’s original head with that of an elephant.
Ganesha’s earliest name was Ekadanta (One Tusked), referring to his single whole tusk, the other being broken. Some of the earliest images of Ganesha show him holding his broken tusk.
- Lambodara means pot belly interepreted as it carries all the universes (i.e., cosmic eggs, brahmāṇḍas) of the past, present, and future are present in him.
- The number of Ganesha’s arms varies; his best-known forms have between two and sixteen arms.
- Ganesha wrapped snake around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne.
- Ganesha means head of ganas ( Atroop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva
- Ganesha has elephant head, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.
Vahanas in four incarnations of Ganesha
- Mohotkata uses a lion,
- Mayūreśvara uses a peacock,
- Dhumraketu uses a horse, and
- Gajanana uses a mouse.
The mouse interpretation – Removal of Obstacles: It symbolizes tamoguṇa as well as desire. it symbolizes those who wish to overcome desires and be less selfish. Ganesha as master of the rat demonstrates his function as Vigneshvara (Lord of Obstacles)
Buddhi (Knowledge): Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning.
Aum (Om): Ganesha is identified with mantra Aum, also spelled Om.
First chakra: According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called Muladhara (mūlādhāra). Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby “governing the forces that propel the wheel of life”.
Worship and festivals
Ganesha is worshipped on many religious and secular occasions, especially at the beginning of ventures such as buying a vehicle or starting a business.
Belief: If Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.
Devotees offer Ganesha sweets such as modaka and small sweet balls called laddus. He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktacandana) or red flowers. Dūrvā grass (Cynodon dactylon) and other materials are also used in his worship.
- Vināyaka chaturthī in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of Bhadrapada (August/September) and the Ganesh Jayanti (Ganesha’s birthday) celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of magha (January/February).”
Ganesha festival is performed for ten days, starting on Ganesha Chaturthi, which typically falls in late August or early September. The festival begins with people bringing in clay idols of Ganesha, symbolising Ganesha’s visit. The festival culminates on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi, when idols (murtis) of Ganesha are immersed in the most convenient body of water. Some families have a tradition of immersion on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 7th day.
- In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak transformed this annual Ganesha festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event. He did so “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and find an appropriate context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them”, Tilak chose him as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule. Tilak was the first to install large public images of Ganesha in pavilions, and he established the practice of submerging all the public images on the tenth day. Today, Hindus across India celebrate the Ganapati festival with great fervour, though it is most popular in the state of Maharashtra.
Further information: List of Ganapati temples and Ashtavinayak
Ganesha’s rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century, when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularized the “worship of the five forms” (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition.
Source: Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa, Ganesha Sahasranama and Wikipedia.
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