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Magazine Web Edition > March 1986 > GUARDIAN OF DHARMA

GUARDIAN OF DHARMA



Plump and Lovable, This Elephant-Faced God is a Potent Unifying Force Among Hindus. Worshipped Before All Other Deities, Lord Ganesha is Patron of Arts & Sciences, Remover of Obstacles And Bountiful Source Of Things Both Earthly and Divine.

AUM GANESHA! ALL HINDUS WORship Lord Ganesha, regardless of their sectarian positions. He is both the beginning of the religion and the meeting ground for all Hindus - and that is only proper inasmuch as He is the personification of the material universe. The universe in all of its varied and various magnificent manifestations, is nothing but the body of Lord Ganesha.

Ganesha sits on the psychic lotus of the Muladhara Chakra, the ganglia of nerves at the base of the spine of man which governs time, matter and memory. As the aspirant is lifted into conscious awareness of the Muladhara Chakra, he encounters the Holy Feet of Lord Ganesha. Once this connection is firmly established, all of the currents of the mind and the body become harmonized; and if after that strong connection is made he should falter on the spiritual path, he has gained divine protection. But he loses one thing. He loses his free will. It is lost. Yet, it is not a great loss. Man's own personal will, his free will, is a feeble and insignificant force when compared to Lord Ganesha's will. When you are beholden to Lord Ganesha, when you are inwardly awakened enough to be attuned to His will, then it is quite natural that your own will, your personal likes and dislikes, and your limited faculties of reason and analysis are overpowered and subdued by a greater will, a cosmic will. If you have awakened sufficient humility to surrender your willfulness, this greater will may guide you on the inner path.

Among all the wonderful Hindu Deities, Lord Ganesha is the closest to the material plane of consciousness, most easily contacted, and most able to assist us in our day-to-day life and concerns. In His hands. He wields a noose and a goad. With the noose He can hold you close, or hold obstacles close. He can capture and confine both blessings and obstacles. With the goad He can strike and repel obstacles. He is called the Remover of Obstacles, but He also places obstacles in our way, for sometimes we are going in the wrong direction and His obstacles block our progress in the wrong direction and guide us back on the straight path. So, if you decide to step out of the boundaries of your immediate karma, Lord Ganesha is there to block your way. When you evolve a relationship, a personal relationship, with the Deity, Lord Ganesha, He will not allow you to use your free will to get into difficulties. Guiding you carefully and protecting you along your way in your natural karma through life is His concern.

Ganesha is wonderful. He has a wonderful knack for unweaving complicated situations and making them simple. He can unweave you from your karma, simplifying and purifying your life. This happens once you have established a personal relationship. Soon thereafter changes will probably begin to happen in your life, and you may go through difficult times. Don't worry if that happens. You are being unwound from accumulated and congested, difficult karma, or you are being turned in a different direction altogether. Know that at such a time you have surrendered your free will, and now it is God's will that guides your life.

What about the grace of the Deity? Grace is received from the Deity when you are consistent in your worship, consistent in your discipline, consistent in your bhakti, your devotion. With such a foundation in your life, a great shakti, a force or power from Lord Ganesha, will come. Your mind will change. It will become clear and penetrating. You will say, "I have been graced to see everything differently." Doors will begin to open for you, and as you go through them your life will become more full, more wonderful. And the grace of it is that it would not have ordinarily happened to you. This is not a boon. A boon comes as the result of something that we ask for and get. It is a very specific thing. But grace comes because of the state of the soul in conjunction with its particular karma, because you have done everything right up to a certain point. The grace of the Deity then is not for a specific need or event in our life. It is a complete transformation-a metamorphosis. After that you can never be the same again, never look at life in the old way. By grace we are directed in spiritual life, pointed in the right directions. Our thoughts are enlivened, our life is inspired with enthusiasm and energy, and we live daily in the joyous knowledge that everything is all right, everything is happening around us in accord with our karma, our dharma and God's gracious will.

Many people look at the Gods as mere symbols, representations of forces or mind areas. Actually, they are beings, and down through the ages ordinary men and women, great saints and sages, prophets and mystics in all cultures, have inwardly seen, heard and been profoundly influenced by these superconscious inner plane beings. Lord Ganesha is such a being. He can think just as we can think. He can see, and understand and make decisions - decisions so vast in their implications and complexity that we could never comprehend them with our human faculties of understanding. In recent history missionaries and others from the West have told the Indian people over and over that the Gods are not really beings, but merely symbols of spiritual matters, and unfortunately many have begun to believe in the Gods in this way. Among Hindus there are quite a few who don't believe in Third World beings, or Second World beings. Their belief is restricted to beings of the First World and to a grand philosophy which is based solely on meditation, inner discipline and the Absolute Truth. That is fine, but it is too high-minded for those living in the everyday world. It does not provide the practical spiritual necessities, such as devotion and temple worship, that lead the aspirant systematically to realization of the Absolute Parasivam, the Self God beyond the mind through the grace of the personal Deity. For such a philosophy to become more than a mere philosophy, for it to become actual personal realization, it is imperative that one live near and serve in a temple and under the direction of a Sat Guru, a spiritual preceptor. In this way one avoids the many pitfalls of personal attempts at spiritual unfoldment.

When you approach the Deity, you should believe that He feels your presence, that He sees you just as you see Him. In thus seeing Him in very human terms, you will get to know Him better. You will develop a very human relationship with Him. It is especially important that you develop this relationship with Lord Ganesha. And that won't be difficult for He is the Deity of the instinctive mind, of all the animals, the insects, the birds, of all the forces of nature. He is also the Deity of the intellectual mind, of science and knowledge, and that is why they call Him the Lord of Categories. He organizes and clears the mind so that awareness may flow through certain areas of the mind. He creates and removes obstacles so that karma becomes more and more perfect, more and more refined, as you go through the experiences of life.

In the temples of India, even the offerings that come in through the day from pilgrims who bring silver, gold and gifts of all kinds to be placed into the hundi, are counted at night before the Deity. He sees this and is told of all that was given to Him, and He knows. At night the Deity is ceremoniously put to bed. They treat him in very human terms. And in the morning He is symbolically awakened and bathed and dressed. The Deity is treated just like a human person. Well, in the Third World that kind of dedication, that intense bhakti, is appreciated. Now, you might wonder, "Where is the Third World?" It is where you were just before you were conceived. It is the macrocosm of the microcosm. When you were conceived and growing in your mother, you were in the microcosm. You existed, but not in this macrocosm.

Well, the devas and Deities are all in that microcosm. They are not in some heavenly place above the clouds. But they actually exist inside of material existence, for there is a world within this world. If you were to go into our microcosm, into a cell, and into an atom, and into the inside of that and the inside of that, you would come out in the macrocosm of the Deities. Their macrocosm is bigger than our macrocosm. The concept of this inner space is different than we ordinarily conceive. Even though their macrocosm exists within this macrocosm, it is larger than this macrocosm. Of course, that immensity is in another dimension, another world. And each world is larger than the one before - the Second World is larger than this First World, and the Third World is much larger than the Second World. Therefore, in a tiny space in this First World hundreds of thousands of devas exist-in a very tiny space. When you invoke these worlds and their beings consciously, you open up the microcosm into their macrocosm. In other words, you connect through your conscious efforts the inner and outer worlds, even to the point that you may see the transfiguration of a being of the Third World, a Mahadeva, superimposed right over the stone Deity that sits in the temple. You could see - and many awakened souls have seen such things - the eyes move, or hear that Being speak. The Deity is still in the Third World. He does not travel to the altar of the temple. It is similar to dialing a friend on the telephone. You bring the voice across vast distances and you can hear it, but the friend has not moved. The telephone could be likened to the connection between the gross and the subtle worlds, the world of matter and the worlds of spirit or akasha.

Where does the soul go when a person dies? It goes into the microcosm, and ceases for a time to function in this macrocosm. At death the soul goes in and in and in to another world, an inner world which has its own expansive space, its own macrocosm. Small children, when they are four or five years old and can speak but have not yet become too deeply immersed in the learned reality of the conscious mind, tell their parents that they remember when they were born. I have heard of children in our Church who have said to their mother and father, "I came from a world that was bigger than this world." And they tell about the things that happened there and the Beings that exist there. Of course, as they grow older these memories fade away. Meditate on that. Think seriously about that. It will make your religion more alive, more real. Religion should be the most real and solid and certain thing in your entire life. Ponder these worlds and learn how they relate and interrelate. Think of all of the visions that prophets have spoken of, of all the angels that have graced mankind with their presence and their prophecies, of all the mystic human events - think of them all in terms of the Three Worlds described in Hinduism. One day it will all come together and make perfect sense from the inside of you, from the depths of your knowing state. That is where all knowledge resides, deep within the depths of your being. And Lord Ganesha is there to reveal that wisdom. You have only to seek His blessings, to follow dharma and to strive within.

There are more than 650 million Hindus the world over. The West is finally discovering the wonders and the enlightened perspectives of Hinduism, and perhaps for the first time in history men of the Cast and men of the West are amalgamating on a spiritual basis in a most profound way for the benefit of the next generation, and the next generation, and the next.

IN SCIENCE AND BEYOND

Hinduism is at the heart of science, and yet its understanding of the universe lies beyond the most advanced scientists conceptualization. Modern science describes the whole of the universe as energy in one form or another. Matter itself is merely condensed energy, as Einstein's renowned formula, E=MC[?], proclaims in mystic brevity. There are three basic forces at work in the universe: gravity, electromagneticism and the nuclear force. Lord Ganesha's body is the material universe, the sum of cosmic mass; and one of His shaktis or forces is gravity. Gravity is a mysterious force to the scientist, even today. It is the galactic glue which draws and holds larger mass together and gives order to the macrocosm. It is an instantaneous force, so that when one celestial body moves in a remote corner of a galaxy, all other masses throughout the galaxy adjust instantaneously, even though it would take light at its incredible speed millions of years to travel the distance. This implies to the scientist what the Hindu knew from the beginning, that space and time are relative concepts and that there is a "something" that exists everywhere in the universe at once. Like gravity, Lord Ganesha is totally predictable and known for orderliness. Without gravity the known galactic and solar systems could not exist. Masses would stray apart; all organization of life as we know it would be impossible. Gravity is the basis of ordered existence in the macrocosm, and Lord Ganesha holds dominion over its mysteries. Like gravity, Lord Ganesha is always with us, supporting and guiding our very physical existence.

Hindus maybe justifiably proud of a religion which postulated thousands of years ago a cosmology that only today is being discovered and appreciated by science through the ponderous process of reason and empirical proof. Our religion knew the truth of the source and organization of the universe long before Newton and Einstein confirmed the validity of our world view. While most religious systems stand opposed to science or alter their beliefs according to its evolving conclusions, it is one of the great heritages of the Hindu perception of God, man and world that we have spiritual truths that are irrefutable and in complete concord with modern science.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Who is Lord Ganesha? Lord Ganesha is a Mahadeva, a Great God, created by Lord Siva to assist souls in their evolution. He is the elephant-faced Patron of Art and Science, First Son of Siva.

Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami proclaimed: The God with the elephant's face I shall never forget - Sankara's Son, with massive belly and the ring in His ear, the Lord who gave His grace to Indra, of whom mantra is His very form. Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: The Shakti or "Va" of Lord Siva, the Almighty Power created heaven and earth and the God, Lord Ganesha, to have charge over all the heavens and all the earths. Lord Ganesha was created as a ruler by God, an interplanetary, intergalactic ruler over all the universes, inner and outer worlds. His knowledge is infinite. His rule is supreme in reigning over the heavens, the earth and the Narakaloka. It is none other than Lord Ganesha and His mighty band of Ganas that gently help souls out of the abyss of the Narakaloka and adjust them in the Devaloka after due penance has been paid. He, unlike many other Gods, is intricate of mind loving pomp and enjoying adulation through constant repetition of His name. Thus it is that He is acknowledged first. All Mahadevas, devas, minor Gods and sentient beings must worship Lord Ganesha before any responsible act of any kind could hope to be successful. Thus, this Almighty Ruler, Lord of the universes, is truly a great God.

Why must we supplicate Lord Ganesha before beginning any worship or task? At the command of God Siva Himself, we supplicate, that is, humbly request. Lord Ganesha to clear obstacles from the path of our endeavor, if it be His will

Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami proclaimed: May the Supreme Guru, who bestows on me His grace, be my protection! May the elephant-faced God be my protection! May the Fair Child who wields the shapely lance be my protection! Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: The father and mother, in a properly conducted home, govern their children and prepare them to be fine citizens when they have homes of their own. The children ask permission from their parents before beginning any new endeavor. The employee asks permission from the employer before beginning any new endeavor. The subjects in a realm ask permission from the monarch before beginning any new endeavor. Why wonder we about asking permission from His Majesty, ruler of this world, head chieftain of our religion, before beginning any new endeavor? He of intricate mind and power is immediate and aware of any form of sincere prayer and supplication, humble requests to clear obstacles from the path of our endeavors, but only if that be His will. Thus, this God rules our lives commanding acknowledgement and adulation - a truly great God is He.

What is Lord Ganesha's special function? He is Vigneswara, Lord of Obstacles. As such, He controls our evolution by preventing or permitting events to happen in our life.

Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: Lord Ganesha holds the architect's plans of the divine masterpiece of past and future of this small world and all the universes. They were entrusted to Him when He took office by command of God Siva. His rule is compassionate. His disciplines strong. He is equally feared and loved. His law is just, for justice is His mind. He enjoys adulations, festivity, hearing of His name, for this brings the devotee into His court, into His presence, close to Him. All good comes from Lord Ganesha, and He staves off misfortune for those who performed penance in His name. He is within us and not otherwise, closer than our heartbeat, guiding our karma through the timing of events. This Lord of Obstacles prevents us from hurting ourselves through living under an incomplete concept or making a request unneeded or beginning an endeavor not well-thought-out. He expects us to use all of our intellectual faculties and resources, to wield the knowledge available to us before submitting our petitions to Him. It is for us to try to arrive at the right decision, the one that He Himself would have made in granting the acquisition. Thus, this Mahadeva, wise and all-powerful, truly is a great God.

If an obstacle is encountered despite our sincere supplication of Lord Ganesha, what does it mean? It may mean that the time, the means or the goal itself is not right for our karma and dharma.

Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami explains: The architect presents his finished plans to the engineer. They are rejected for one technical reason or another. The executive presents a completed letter to the president. It is rejected as not being explicit enough in the third paragraph. The architect and the executive were equally sincere in presenting their work. The engineer and the president were performing their duty as well. Lord Ganesha loves us. He is a loving God who guides, governs and controls with speed and accuracy when the plan is perfect, deliberates long and rejects often when the plan needs revision. Take the plan back into your mind. Search your own superconsciousness for the greater ideas and revise your efforts with confidence. Seek for the right timing and proceed with confidence when you know the timing to be right. "When the will rises in command, even the Gods are willing to obey," or to give immediate cooperation, to guide and enhance our efforts. We must work our minds in close cooperation with the instantaneous, computer-like mind of Lord Ganesha, and then success is certain. Thus, this God, called Bhaktavignavinasana, He who destroys the obstacles of His devotees, is truly a great creation of God Siva Himself.

HIS 108 HOLY NAMES

Praise to the Peerless One

Praise to the Ruler of Obstacles

Praise to the Son of Gauri

Praise to the Lord of Categories

Praise to the Skanda's elder Brother

Praise to the Inexhaustible One

Praise to the Pure One

Praise to the Skillful One

Praise to Him who presides

Praise to Him fond of the twice-born

Praise to Him who contains fire within

Praise to the Bestower of Indra's Power

Praise to the Bestower of Speech

Praise to the Inexhaustible One

Praise to the Bestower of All Fulfillment

Praise to the Son of Siva

Praise to Him who is fond of night

Praise to Him who is the soul of all

Praise to the Creator

Praise to the Resplendent One

Praise to Him worshipped by all

Praise to the Auspicious One

Praise to the Pure One

Praise to Him fond of intelligence

Praise to the Peaceful One

Praise to Him who is celibate

Praise to Him with an elephant's face

Praise to Him who has two mothers

Praise to Him adored by sages

Praise to the Destroyer of Obstacles

Praise to Him who has one tusk

Praise to Him who has four arms

Praise to the Ingenious One

Praise to the Powerful One

Praise to Him who has a large belly

Praise to Him with winnow-like ears

Praise to Him who is lion-like

Praise to the prime knower of Brahman

Praise to the Embodiment of Time

Praise to the Lord of Planets

Praise to Him who is Love

Praise to Him with eyes of sun & moon

Praise to Him wielding noose & goad

Praise to Him with rhythmic actions

Praise to Him who transcends qualities

Praise to Him who is without blemish

Praise to Him who is without impurity

Praise to Him who is Self-Attainment

Praise to Him whose feet sages worship

Praise to Him fond of pomegranates

Praise to the Bestower of Boons

Praise to the Unchanging One

Praise to Him who works incessantly

Praise to Him fond of the twice-born

Praise to Him who is free from fear

Praise to Him who wields the mace

Praise to Him who wields the discus

Praise to Him holding a sugarcane bow

Praise to the Bestower of Wealth

Praise to the Unborn One

Praise to Him holding a blue lotus

Praise to the Lord of Wealth

Praise to Him who rejoices in praise

Praise to the Support of Mountains

Praise to the Intricate One

Praise to the Destroyer of Impurity

Praise to Him who wears the moon

Praise to the Beloved One

Praise Destroyer of Wickedness

Praise to the Attentive One

Praise to Him who is our refuge

Praise to Him who grants prosperity

Praise to the Pleasant One

Praise to the Giver of Devotees' Desires

Praise to the Peaceful One

Praise to the Bestower of Pure Bliss

Praise to Existence/Knowledge/Bliss

Praise to the Wise One

Praise to Him full of compassion

Praise to Him who has self-control

Praise to Him unfearful of the Supreme

Praise to Him feared by powerful men

Praise to Him with a beautiful throat

Praise to the Lord of the Wise

Praise to the God worshipped by Rama

Praise to the Controller of Destiny

Praise to Him who wears a cobra

Praise to Him who has a stout neck

Praise to Him who acts independently

Praise to Him fond of the Sama Veda

Praise to Him who has no other

Praise to Him who has a stout trunk

Praise to the First-Born

Praise to the Courageous One

Praise to the Lord of Speech

Praise to the Bestower of Fulfillment

Praise to Him fond of durva & bilva

Praise to the Form of the Formless

Praise to the Wondrous Form

Praise to Him who is fond of Paravati

Praise to the sweet ocean of Love

Praise to the Supporter of All Worlds

Praise to the Source of Illusory Power

Praise to Him who rides the mouse

Praise to the Rapturous One

Praise to the Content One

Praise to the Benign One

Praise to the Giver of All Fulfillment

Wielding Five Shaktis

There are five great shaktis, or powers, of Lord Ganesha. These vibratory rates can be felt through your body and should always be with you. "What is this shakti?" you may be wondering. It is being in the presence of God. All holy men emanate one, two or more of these shaktis stronger than all of the others, and you can too. We can say that Lord Ganesha has five aspects to His presence. Feeling the presence of Lord Ganesha everywhere is what each Hindu soul wishes to attain. These powers are Lord Ganesha's way of guiding dharma. We explore them briefly here.

The first shakti emanates the feeling of love and compassion that you would have for your immediate family; love and harmony within the family is most important to all Hindus and this beautiful feeling, when it exists, is the first shakti of the Lord.

The second shakti is the same feeling but extended to relatives and neighbors and friends. This is more difficult to hold, as inharmonious conditions often arise. These are called asuric forces. These forces come between people causing misunderstanding and upsets.

The third shakti of Lord Ganesha is this same love extended to all persons we have to have dealings with in the external world: business associates, a casual merchant and the public at large. This shakti of the Lord is tenuous to hold onto, as worldly forces, as you well know, militate against this kind of harmony.

The fourth shakti brings through the sub-superconscious mind - the love of culture and all that it brings to us, and the respect and appreciation of discipline. Here we find the vibration of religion which brings as a boon creativity in music, art, drama and the dance. It is through these refining rays that religious life is adhered to.

The fifth shakti of Lord Ganesha is the combination of the first and the third in vibration, and extends into the wonderful feelings obtained by the outpouring of love of this God. This gives the added boon of being able to be charitable - building churches and temples and participating in the overflowing generosity from their abundance.

These five shaktis, which in Hinduism are associated with Lord Ganesha, actually form the basis for all of the religions in the world, though usually not in their entirety. What we call Ganesha worship today is actually the age-old religious pattern performed through eons of time, and is found in some form in each of the eleven religions of the world and in the multitudes of faiths. And this is basically the extent of religion, for once religion is secured in one's life, yoga - finding the temple within, going into that temple, merging within the sanctum sanctorum with the Lord Himself - is the next and most natural unfoldment.

There exist, as well, five vibratory rates that are the opposite of the first five shaktis carefully guarded by Lord Ganesha. They are adharmic, abysses of the mind.

The first abyss is inharmonious conditions within the home; fighting and squabbling among those who are near and dear to each other. This makes strong samskaras or scars in the subconscious mind, and literally begins to create a subconscious that opposes any kind of furtherance of religious life.

The second abyss is inharmonious conditions and misunderstandings, allowed to exist without apology, recompense or forgiveness, between acquaintances, friends and relatives not living in the immediate home.

The third abyss is that of worry and concern. The courts of law handle this one, the collection agencies, and displeased customers - lack of courtesy in business affairs, the borrowing and the lending of money all together throw their power into making a beguiling abyss of inharmonious conditions within the business world.

The fourth abyss is turning one's back on culture, away from music, art, drama and the dance, laughing at religious people and their practices, being content with the dull drab life of mundane things. Sloth and conceit are found here, along with the smug attitudes of those that have the first three shaktis well under control. Here, their intellect and money is their God.

The fifth abyss, of course, is that dark night of the soul the religious person goes through when devoid of the childlike spontaneity of spiritual giving.

For Hindus in the East and in the West, it is this understanding of the five positive shaktis of Lord Ganesha and their five equally powerful negative forces that can make religion a working part of our lives.

Worshipped Around the World

No other religion offers such insight into the intricate workings of our universe than Hinduism. More importantly, no other religion offers the grace of a God that is within us as well as within all things outside of ourselves, that is both within form as Saguna Brahman and beyond form as Nirguna Brahman and that may be known my the devout seeker even in this life. Little wonder that the Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Path, has withstood the ravages of time and stands today as the most advanced system of philosophy and devotion on the earth. It is fully in accord with, and in fact its sages clearly anticipated, the advances of 20th Century science. Hinduism today stands as the religion of the village community as well as the urban family - an enlightened faith for all men in all times. The single most unifying force within Hinduism is Lord Ganesha, son of Siva/Sakti, beloved Deity of over 600 million Hindus.

It is an incontrovertable fact that Lord Ganesha is real, not a mere symbol. He is a potent force in the universe, not a representation of potent universal forces. Of course, Ganesha belongs to all mankind, not to Hindus alone, though not all men on the planet call Him by our name, Ganesha. To the Chinese He is embodied in the form of a massive dragon, whose physical immensity depicts His incredible and irresistible force. To some Chinese He is Kuan-shi t'ien or Ho Tei, the large-bellied God of Happiness. To the Polynesians He is God Lono. The Tamils call him by the affectionate term Pilliar, Noble Child. The Tibetians know Him as ts' ogs-bdag, and the Burmese worship Maha-Pienne. In Mongolia His name is Totkhar-our Khaghan. Cambodians offer worship to Prah Kenes, and the Japanese supplicate Vinayaksa or Sho-ten. By some He is envisioned as the feminine Mother Nature, and even non-believers seek to understand Him through personifying His great powers as Fate, Destiny or Numen, The Greeks called Him Janus and sought His blessings at the outset of any new venture. In the West He is revered as the corpulent Santa Claus, the giver of boons and gifts. The Buddhists and Jains also honor Ganesha. In one form or another, Lord Ganesha is honored throughout the world. Hindus worship Him at countless pujas performed daily on every continent. In temples and home shrines Ganesha is worshipped today in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malayasia, Java, Bali, Borneo, Tibet, Burma, Siam, China, Indo-China, Japan, Trinidad and Tobago, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, Africa, Europe and North America.

Abundantly built. Lord Ganesha is said to contain within Himself all matter, all mind. He is the very personification of material existence. We look upon this physical world as the body of Lord Ganesha. Hindus do not believe that God is in heaven, aloof from His creation. We believe in the divine immanence of God, that He is non-different from the world that He has created. In seeing and understanding the varied forces at work in the physical universe, we are seeing and understanding the powers and the being of Lord Ganesha. God is everywhere. Lord Ganesha is everywhere in this physical universe. In looking upon the world and all that happens in it and in our daily lives, we are learning to see God everywhere. There is nothing that exists apart from God. If we know that, then life becomes a joy, for we know that all that happens, whether it brings sorrow or happiness, whether we personally wanted it to happen or not, still we know that all that happens is right and good. This is a wonderful spirit for all Hindus to carry into our daily lives - a complete trust that all that happens is for the best, a full knowing that God's Will prevails everywhere.

Symbols of Lord Ganesha

SWASTIKA

The swastika is a sign of auspiciousness, a lucky cross associated with the good fortunes given by Lord Ganesha. It is said that the swastika has the crooked arms due to the fact that the path toward our objectives is not always straight, but filled with change and indirection.

NOOSE

The noose, usually held in Ganesha's left hand, is unlike the more warring weapons of the other Deities. It is a gentle implement, used to capture and then hold obstacles or difficulties, to direct us along the right path much as a rider guides his steed by the use of the bridle and reins.

MODAKA

The modaka is a sweet, round cake made of rice and sugar, and offered in Ganesha worship, The modaka is looked upon as the sweetest of all things sweet: as Siddhi, the gladdening fulfillment or joy hidden within everything.

TUSK

The single broken tusk held in Ganesha's fourth hand is considered the symbol of sacrifice. For the elephant the tusks are beauty and pride and strength. But, in order to save the Mahabharata, Ganesha broke His own tusk. Thus He teaches us the noble principle of personal sacrifice.

AUM SRI GANESAYA NAMAHA

This is the mantram of Lord Ganesha. It is chanted aloud and recited in silence each day by His devotees, bringing with it His blessings. OM or AUM is also considered the sacred invocation of Ganesha, and He is often said to be the Pranava Aum, the first creative sound of the universe.

MULADHARA CHAKRA

In the center of His trunk hangs a small bell. This is the watchman's bell. Ganesha is often called "The Gatekeeper", seated upon the four petals of the muladhara chakra. Here he rules over memory and knowledge, guarding the gate to the seven psychic centers or nerve ganglia of memory, reason, will, cognition, love, divine sight and into the 1008-petaled Crown Chakra.

COCONUT

The coconut is especially sacred to Lord Ganesha and many husked coconuts are offered during His worship. It is broken at time of worship to symbolize the shattering of the ego, which must be surrendered or it obstructs true worship through its desires. The "kumbam" illustrated above, a coconut in a small pot with five mango leaves, represents Lord Ganesha in puja.

PRANAVA AUM

The Pranava Aum is another form of Lord Ganesha in which He is embodied in the Primal Sound: Aum, also spelled Om. In the Hindu cosmology all of creation comes forth not from light, but from sound - really from Soundless Sound. It signifies the formless aspect of Ganesha. As a mantram, it may be chanted by anyone. It helps to calm and quiet the mind and emotions.

GOAD

The goad, usually held in Ganesha's right hand, is used to remove obstacles or difficulties from our path, when He judges that right in relation to our karma and dharma. Like the rider urging his horse on with the use of spurs, Lord Ganesha propels us forward on the Eternal Path with His goad.

MUSHIKA VAHANA

Each of the Hindu Gods rides upon a vahana or mount. It is the tiny mouse that attests to the all-pervasiveness of Lord Ganesha. It is the mouse who carries Lord Ganesha's grace into every nook and cranny. Moving silently under cover of darkness, seldom visible yet always at work, mushika is the unseen grace which influences our lives.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.


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