Friday, September 10, 2010


First, I'd like to wish you all a very very happy Ganesh Chaturthi / Pillaiyar Chaturthi!

Ganananam Isha: -> Ganesha:
Ganapati is Lord of all Ganas!

Pillaiyar -> Revered Son
Pillai means son, and Pillaiyar is calling Him with respect.

Chaturthi: Fourth day of Waxing Moon (Shukla Paksham)

Ganapathi is one of the Primal Deities of the Hindu pantheon. He has been revered and celebrated by one and all (not just Hindus!)

He is one of the simplest deities who can be approached without any fear, and one of the Six main deities who can liberate His devotee and make him one with Himself.

Ganesha is found everywhere, esp in Tamil Nadu. Find a Arasa Maram (Peepal Tree) and you can find one nice fat Ganesha sitting below! He is absolutely easy to please - Just offer Him some arugam pul (a type of grass) - He gets ecstatic when he gets Kozhukkatai (Modhakam). We just have to remember is that He is just a kid with elephant's face. Just a mere sight or thought of Ganapathi should help us lose our sorrow and make us feel light and happy.

But, behind His child-like demeanor lies one of the Supreme Personalities of Divinity. He is One with the Parabrahman Himself. He is called 'Vinayaka' - Vi-Nayaka - One without Leader / Hero, because there is none superior to Him.

His Body is a reflection of Om / Pranavam - He is One with OM.

He is always invoked first before any effort to remove all the obstacles! When Bhandasuran, a nasty Asura created massive obstacles, Sri Lalitha (consort of Shiva) looked at Shiva, and Lord Ganesha jumped out from the Union of their sights. He removed all obstacles, and finally lead to triumph of Devi over Bhandasuran.

When Lord Shiva wanted to burn the Tripura (owned by Three Asuras), He forgot to invoke Ganesha. As a result, the axle of His chariot broke. Shiva then realized His folly and created a clay idol of Ganesha and worshipped. He then successfully proceeded to destroy Tripura. When Lord of the Lords Himself invoked Ganesha, we should always invoke Him. We should start our days with remembering Ganesha.

The following is a widely used prayer for Ganapathi (it is sometimes, interpreted as invocation to Sri Maha Vishnu, which IMO it is NOT) - It is always used before any activity is started, which is indirectly an indication that it is for invoking Ganapathi

Shukla-ambharadaram Vishnum
Shashi Varnam Chatur Bhujam
Prasanna Vadanam Dhyayeth
Sarva Vignopa Shanthaye!

Shukla -> White
Ambaram -> dress
Dharam - Wearing

Lord Ganesha is meditated as wearing pure white dress

Vishnum -> One who is all pervading

This is one of the main reasons why this is understood as invocation to Vishnu. The term Vishnu refers to all-pervasiveness. Even Sri Rudram ends as 'Om Namo Bhagawate, Rudraya Vishnave...' I bow down to Sri Rudra, who is *all pervading* - We need to understand that this indicates the OmniPresence of Ganesha

Shashi Varnam
Shashi -> Moon
Varnam -> Color

He is colored like the color of the Moon - This is an important reason to decide this shloka is for Ganesha and not Vishnu. Sri Vishnu is considered dark complexioned! Tirumantiram has the invocation which indicates the same thing too - Inthin ilam-pirai polum ayittrinai == Shashi varnam

Chatur Bhujam
Chatur -> Four
Bhujam -> Hands

Ganesha has four hands - In some verses, He is considered to have 5 hands (including his trunk with is called thuthikkai / thumbikkai in Tamil) - Thirumantiram starts as 'Ainthu karatthanai' (One with five hands) and Kandar Anubhuti's first stanza says 'pancha-kara aanai padam panivam' (bow to the elephant with five hands)- His four hands + His trunk are symbolism for the Five Main activities of God (Pancha Kruthyam) - Usually, the first three alone are known - Creation (Shrishti), Maintenance (Sthithi), Dissolution (Laya), Obfuscation (Dhirobhava) and Grace (Anugraha) - These are major topics themselves, so let's not delve deeper into them :-)

Prasanna Vadanam -> Pleasant countenance

As I said earlier, Ganapati's face is so pleasant to look at

Dhyayeth, sarva Vignopa shanthaye
Dhyayeth -> On Meditating
sarva -> all
Vigna -> Obstacles
Upa Shanthaye -> Will be resolved

Let us medidate on the pleasing face of Sri Ganesha, who wears white dress, all pervading, colored like the moon and Has four-hands, upon which all the obstacles are removed!

Let's start all our activities with this Shloka!

May Lord Ganesha shower us with His Grace!

PS:- In the image above, He is neither shuklambharadharam or shashi varnam :-) - Just liked this image!


Subhomoy ATGS Bakshi said...

Hello Mr.Iyer.

Many many happy returns of this day..

Happy birthday..

Looking forward to more of your enlightening blogs..

I really love your blogs!! :)

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Dear Subhamoy:
Thanks for your wishes! Good to connect! Please keep in touch - Glad to know that you like my blog posts :)


Subhomoy ATGS Bakshi said...

:( my name's spelling!

not that i care!!

"Whats in a name??"_Einstein.

(I mean Whats in a name when i say it!)

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Sorry Subhomoy :) - It is quite important to spell names correctly (even if I have to contradict Einstein :D) - Will get it right this time onewards!

Subhomoy ATGS Bakshi said...

Well actually it was said by Shakespeare..

But then.."What's in a name??"

hehe! :P

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Name and Form are important stuff that need to be lost / forgotten :) - Five Aspects of this creation are said to be Sad, Chit, Ananda, Namam, Roopam - The first three attributes are for the Brahman and next two for the prakriti. We can realize the first three only after we lose focus on Namam / Roopam (name and form) can we achieve the first three.

Hope I didn't bore you with that stuff :)

Anonymous said...

Nice blog Sriram. The "Gana" in Ganapati refers to the senses that need to be controlled to liberate the "self" (ego) and reach the "selfless" state..

-Divya Melkote

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Dear Divya:
That's a different take on the name Ganapati! Thanks!