“May our troubles be as small as Ganpati’s mouse & our moments as sweet as His laddus.”
The sacred festival of Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi reveres Lord Ganesha as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.As a layman we are under the false impression that it is to celebrate the birthday of Vinayaka, but He has neither birth nor death. He has neither beginning nor end. He is the eternal witness. Since the month of ‘Magh’ is auaspicious and since He controls the 4 directions of the Cosmos (‘Chatur’ means 4) His ‘birth’ is celebrated on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of this month.
THE SYMBOLIC MEANING OF THE FESTIVAL
Just like other festivals the 10-day Ganesh festival too is suffused with deep inner meaning. The ancient tradition of welcoming Ganesh to come and stay among us means remembering the latent divinity within each one of us and bringing it out. For 10 days, while we ardently worship him, offer him fruits and sweets and shower him with hospitality like we would a dear guest, everything & everywhere becomes Ganesh i.e one sees the good aspect within all.
The festival ends with the immersion or Nimajjan of Ganapati idols in water known as Ganesh Visarjan or Vinayaka Nimajjan symbolizing a ritual see-off of Ganesha in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees. Spiritually it represents us asking Him to not just remain outside but enter our stream of consciousness- that is Visarjan (immersion). “Visarjan” means releasing the manifest into the un-manifest, the ‘sakar’ form into the ‘nirakar’ formless. That what came from the earth should return there so He is returned to the elements (Water). It teaches us that our journey too on this earth is transitory, and we too will return from our physical form to the divine formless being we are.
There is no need to go to any temple. Vighneswara dwells in each one of us as our Buddhi (intelligence) and Vijnaana (wisdom). When we make proper use of our inherent intelligence and wisdom, you will be successful in life.
This year let us bring Him, not only into our homes, but into our hearts and keep Him there. The idol we may do ‘visarjan’ (immersion) of, and together with it, our negative tendencies.
HIS MANY NAMES
‘Ga’ symbolises Buddhi (intellect), ‘Na’ stands for Vijnana (wisdom) and ‘pati’ means master. So, Ganapati is the master of Buddhi and Vijnana, a master of the intellect and discriminating power in the man. Truth emerges out of wisdom, from a pure and sacred mind and ultimately leads to Ananda (bliss). This is the teaching of Ganapathi.
He is also Vinayaka (meaning one without a Nayaka -master). He symbolises the qualities of a true leader in all aspects. “Viyate Nayake Iti Vinayaka” meaning, He is a master unto Himself. In this world Vinayaka is worshipped by many. However, Vinayaka does not worship anyone as He has no master above Him.
Another name for Vinayaka is Vighneswara. Easwara is one who is endowed with every conceivable form of wealth : riches, knowledge, health, bliss, beauty, etc. Vighneswara is the promoter of all these forms of wealth and removes all obstacles to their enjoyment. He confers all these forms of wealth on those who worship him. If you want to lead a life of happiness, free from troubles and difficulties, you have to pray to Ganapathi, the remover of all obstacles.
WHAT SHOULD WE OFFER HIM AND WHY?
Vinayaka is described as Prathama Vandana (the first deity who should be worshipped). Pathram, Pushpam, Phalam and Thoyam – these are the four things that one should offer Him.
Symbolically Pathram (leaf) means body. The leaf refers to the body that can wither away at any moment. So never develop attachment towards the body, instead offer it to God.
Pushpam (flower} means hridaya – heart. This flower will never fade away.
Mind can be compared to Phalam (fruit) and Thoyam stands for tears of joy.
All these four should be offered to God while chanting his mantra. When we chant Aum Ganeshaaya Namah before starting anything we are saying: In what we are about to do, let wisdom be our Guide.
WHAT IS THE INNER SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS FORM?
He is loved by millions because He is always ready to listen. His big ears are a solace to those who have been wronged and need to empty their troubled souls. His trunk helps Him discriminate between right and wrong- as also indicating His great reach. His beady eyes enable Him to see only the good in people. His single tooth signifies that there is only One God, that He is all wisdom (elephant head) & love (the modak).
His one feet is always above the ground and one on the seat), symbolising giving up the ego, remaining above materialism while being an exceptional leader (Gana-pati) and yet keeping humble (He travels on a mouse). The elephant is a symbol of might and magnitude and can make its way through the densest jungle. In this way, it signifies the quality of a leader who shows the way for others.
The mouse is the vehicle of Vinayaka. The mouse can see well in the dark. As Vinayaka’s vehicle the mouse signifies an object that leads man from darkness to light. Bowing to Ganesh means understanding and appreciating all of the above, hence attaining the Truth.
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