Vinayagar

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Shuklambaradharam Vishnum
Shashivarnam Chaturbhujam
Prasannavadanam Dhyaayeth
Sarvavighnopashantaye

He who is attired in a white garment
Who is all-pervading and has the complexion of the moon
Who has four arms and a bright and gracious countenance
On him we mediate for the removal of obstacles

 

Creation has no beginning nor end. It is anaadi, eternal and a day of brahma was to dawn anew following the long night. Though this still night suddenly emerged a beautiful sound, a powerful sound, the mind-blowing OM*. In this new age, called the Shwetavaraha Kalpa , the Great God had appeared in the form of OM were followed by a beautiful soft light, the first dawn heralding a new Sun.

The Ganapatya Cult(which was later absorbed into Hinduis,) believes that OM or the Pranava Mantra as this symbol of God is called, is embodied in the form of Ganesha , also commonly known as Ganapati or Vinayaka. He is the first word , Vaak, the First Cause.

According to this cult, with the sound of OM resounding through the Universe, Ganesha appeared against the light of the first dawn, blowing the conch through which the sound of OM had emanated. He came in the form of Nritya Ganapati, dancing in great abandon, swirling , whirling, his movements beyond Man's understanding. He called the Trinity to him and asked them to create and preserve the world and to destroy the evils in it.

 

OM Shri Ganeshaaya Namah

A Child is first introduced to learning with a prayer to Ganesha, the fountain head of wisdom when laying the foundation of a building. Ganesha is invoked before placing the first stone. No new business or industry is started without a prayer to him. Travelers on lonely roads stop and pray at roadside Ganesha shrines comforting themselves that Ganapati will remove all dangers in their path.

All auspicious events begin with an invocation to this deity. At the commencement of all samskaras or rituals that dot the life of a Hindu from birth until the evening of lhis life, it is the worship of Ganesha that precedes the ceremony.

Ganesha is addressed in hymns and prayers by many names, sometimes eight, sometimes twelve, sometimes sixteen , sometimes thirty-two. Most popularly he is addressed as Ganapati or Ganesha, lord of the ganas or celestial hordes, and as Gajanana, the one with the face of an elephant. He is also called Vakratunda of the twisted trunk,and Ekadanta, having but one tusk. He is known as Krishna Pingaaksha, one with dark, reddish brown eyes and Gjavaktra, having an elephant''s mouth. He is Lambodara. One with a fat belly , and Vikata, of the monstrous figure. He is addressed as Vighnaraja and Vighneshwara, the king and lord of obstacles as also Vignaharta or Vighnanaashin, the destroyer of obstacles. His smoke coloured body has given him the name. Dhoomravarna, and his tawny colour , the name Kapila. He is Phaalachandra, sporting the moon crest,and Vinayaka remover of hindrances.

He is also Sumukha of the auspicious and pleasant visage, Heramba the five headed protector of the weak, and Ganaadhyaksha, the leader of celestial hordes. His large ears resemble the winnow and have given him the name, Soorpakarna. He is Skandapoorvaja , older than Skanda, the other son of Shiva and Parvati. He is Akhuratha, with the rat as his chariot, and Siddhidaata, the bestower of success. The Tamils however have their own special name for him-Pillaiyar, the revered and noble son.

Whatever the name by which he is addressed, all prayers to Ganesha ask for the removal of obstacles which block the path of the devotee, and for success in all endeavours, whatever be the goal.

 

A common prayer to Ganapati beseeches him thus:

Vakrathunda Mahaakaaya
Sooryakoti Samaprabhaa
Nirvighnam Kurumedeva
Sarvakaaryeshu Sarvadaa

(you of the twisted trunk and the massive body
with the dazzle and light of millions of suns
Lead me on a path thaaat has no obstacles nor hindrances
Clearing the way in all that I do, ever, and always!

 

Birth of Ganesha

Each of lthe puranas has a different story regarding the birth of Ganesha. In some he is the maanasika putra (mind born son )of Shiva. In others he is the creation of Parvati. In still others he is the son of Shiva and Parvati.

All these are stories from the various Puranas where, firstly , Ganesha appears as the Son of Shiva or Parvati or both and is given powers as the lord of the Ganas by Shiva, and
Secondly, acquires an elephant head which replaces his original human head.

The two Upa Puranas, the Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana on the other hand treat Ganapati as the Great God himself, to whom even the Trinity pay obeisance and ask for his help to save the world from evil.

There are 4 yugas or ages the Krita, Treta, Dwapaara and Kali Yuga. According to the Ganesha Purana , Ganesha incarnated in each yuga or age in a different form for a particular purpose.

In the Krita Yuga, Ganesha was born on earth as Mahokata the son of Sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi. In this incarnation he destroyed the demons Naraaantak and Devantak who wre harassing the three worlds, as also another demon, Dhoomraaksha. On his achieving the purpose of his incarnation. He left his earthly parents , promising them that his astral spirit would be there whenever they wanted him.

In the Treta Yuga, Ganesha was born as a son of Parvati. Once while playing he brought the wild peacock under control and was named Mayuresha as a result. He released birds like Jataayu. Shyena and Sampaati from the serpent kingdom and killed the domon Sindhu, the purpose for which he had incarnated.. He then married Siddhi and Buddhi ( personifications of achievement and wisdom ) and gifted his peacock to his brother Kartikeya whose vehicle it became. He hen went back to his heavenly abode.

In the Dwaapara Yuga, Ganesha was born on earth as Gajaanana, and was adopted by Sage Paraashara and his wife, Vatsala when the king and queen his parents, deserted him on seeing an elephant headed child. He then conquered the evil demon , Sindhur, and then taught the Ganesha Geeta, the wisdom of the ages, to the king and queen who had earlier deserted him.

It had been predicted and proven by our own experience that in the Kali Yuga ( in which we are living now ) evil will predominate. Men will harm his fellow men and all being s wil chase chimerical values. Desire for wealth and acquisitiveness will lead to all eartly beings destroying one another and bringing about chaos.

To set matters right, the Ganesha Purana , avers that Ganesha will incarnate in earth as Dhoomraketu, when he will destroy the evil in the minds of men and reestablish righteousness and peace.

The other Upa Purana, the Mudgala Purana, details eight incarnations of Ganesha, each of which set out to conquer the vices that afflict man and woman and turn their minds away from righteousness.


The first prayer of a Hindu is always to Vinayagar.Vinayagar is invoked at the beginning of all ritualistic worship. He is invoked before a family moves into a house. Recitatation of holy songs begin with the recitation of a Vinayagar mantra or song.
While there are countless Vinayagar temples, every Hindu temple dedicated to some other deity, including the Vaisnavite temple, has a statue of him. Vinayagar is not only worshipped by Hindus. He has a place in many other religions and nations of people. His name might not be the same but the figure is similar and so are the ideas that Vinayagar represents - auspiciousness, prosperity, well-being and wisdom.
Vinayagar has a place in the Buddhist temple and among the Jains. The Chinese too worship Vinayagar but with a different name. Vinayagar or Vinayagar-like deities are found in Indonesia, Japan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Brazil, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Tibet, Mongolia and Polynesia, among other places.
Vinayagar is both the Lord of obstacles as well as the Remover of obstacles. When we do evil things or when the time is not right, He places obstacles in our path. When we take the correct path, He removes the root of our troubles.


VINAYAGAR'S NAMES

Vinayagar has many names and many forms of His own. The word Vinayagar or Vinayagan is a combination of Vi + Nayagan."Vi" means "No" while "Nayagan" means "head". Vinayagar literally means He who has no leader. That is, He himself is the leader of all and therefore the highest.
Ganapati = gana + pati.Pati = Lord; gana = Siva's warrior attendants. Therefore it means the Lord of Siva's warrior attendants.
Ganapati also has another meaning derived from the root words ga + na + pati. Ga = going (into the world of knowledge); Na = the end (of this knowledge); and Pati = Lord.Therefore the Lord of both the path and goal/end and therefore the highest.
Ganesan = easan + gana. Easen = Lord. So Lord of Siva's attendants.
Vigneswaran = vigh + easwaran.Vigh = obstacles; Easwaran = Lord. Therefore it means Lord of obstacles and Remover of obstacles.
Siddhivinayagar/Sithivinayagar = siddhi + vinayagar. Siddhi = powers or fulfillment; vinayagar = the top leader. This name therefore means the leader who confers powers or fulfillment on devotees.
Gajamugha = gaja + mugham.Gaja = elephant; Mugham = face. It means the elephant-faced One. Gajananan carries the same

THE FORM

Vinayagar's form is shaped like and represents the Aum (also spelt "Om") which is the primeval, creative energy. When the elephant cries it produces a sound akin to the Aum.
The Aum is the sound symbol of Brahmam, Sivam, The Eternal, The Unchanging, the substratum of all existence.
The Aum is the seat of Siva and the base of all mantras and the Vedas. The world originated from the Aum. It is the beginning and the end of all the Vedas, letters and sounds. Aum is the origin of everything and the essence in all of them.

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VINAYAGAR

Life evolves from lower forms into higher forms, from a lower stage to a higher stage. There are obstacles which obstruct the unfoldment of life from the lower stage to a higher stage. However, somehow, with time, the evolving being overcomes these obstacles and continues to progress.
Our sages saw that from the amoeba right up to man, there is this upward movement with a steady direction. In man, our sages saw the unfoldment from the man-brute to the godman.
Hindu sages realized that something motivates and gives direction to the unfoldment of life. They recognized that there was a cosmic intelligence guiding and providing this direction.
This intelligent principle guides and helps life overcome all obstacles in its unfoldment. Our sages decided to call this intelligent principle which removes obstacles in the path of progress and aids in our unfoldment Vigneswara or Vinayagar.
Also, while some Hindus consider Vinayagar simply an embodiment or symbol of philosophic or spiritual truths, others consider Vinayagar as real and existing.Hinduism accepts both streams of thought. Vinayaga baktas believe that Vinayagar exists in a greater world than ours from where He guides our destinies.

 

VINAYAGAR REPRESENTS UNITY

Vinayagar represents unity.He has a revered place in all Hindu temples including the Siva temple and the Krishna temple. This serves to remind the overzealous Vaisnavites and the overzealous Saivites that Siva and Krishna are one and the same.
Vinayagar's form also shows the unity that exists between man and animal and the need for harmony. A human body connects an elephant head to a mouse.It shows that from the lowest to the highest, all creatures are a part of God and that man is intimately connected to all life forms.
The human body being in the middle reminds man that he has to ensure a balance in nature and tred the middle-path.
Again the elephant is a non-meat eater. This signifies that man should practice Ahimsa. Man should not cause any injury to his fellow beings. We are taught to live in harmony with nature.
Since the every first prayer goes to Vinayagar it shows how important the Hindu sages consider unity. And it reminds man that his foremost duty is to ensure unity in diversity which is the law of nature.

ELEPHANT AND MOUSE

Hindu deities normally each have their own vehicle in the form of some animal or bird. This is to drive home the point that all beings are the vehicles of God and that they have no existence independent of Him. Vinayagar has an enormous elephant head and He is seated on a small mouse. What is the significance of this?The elephant represents wisdom and strength. Its trunk can remove obstacles. The large head represents an expanded consciousness. It represents the highest type of consciousness.
The mouse is always associated with the earth. Almost all parts of its body are in contact with the earth. It represents the lowest type of consciousness.
And what connects these two?The human body. The message to the devotee is this: Man can be like the mouse which has limited consciousness or he can work his way up to achieve an expanded consciousness as represented by the elephant head. The rat runs hither and tether, Man's mind too, ruled by impulses, runs hither and thither. However, he is also capable of being wise, hardworking and strong like the elephant. Man's goal then is to remove his mouse qualities and enter the elephant stage.
The huge elephant sitting on a tiny mouse also indicates the truth that the Atman is the same in all, irrespective of size or birth or race.
Another meaning is also given to the mouse. It moves everywhere unnoticed and steals or destroys food. Like the mouse, egoism too exists unnoticed in our minds and silently wrecks havoc in our lives.When controlled by divine wisdom, however, the ego can aid progress.

 

THE TRUNK

The elephant trunk is very significant.The trunk is also its nose. The elephant nose is its greatest weapon and tool. Similarly, Vinayagar having the elephant form shows that man's nose is his greatest weapon and tool. How?Breath-control. Through breath control man can attain powers. It can help him expand his consciousness and move towards Sivagati.

 

LARGE EARS

Vinayagar has large ears. Why?It is to teach us to talk less and listen more. Many of our problems with people arise because we listen little but talk a lot. Before someone can finish saying what he wants to say, we interrupt. This truth can be verified at home and at meetings.
Ears are used to gain knowledge. The large ears indicate that when God is known, all knowledge is known.

 

THE POT-BELLY

Vinayagar has a huge pot-belly.Why?Vinayagar's pot belly suggests that it can contain anything and everything. His belly is considered to be the womb of the world.
We notice that His belly is something like that of a pregnant woman who holds life in her. The difference is that while the pregnant woman supports one life or perhaps two or three, Vinayagar supports and sustains all life. He is the creative energy that brings forth life.
Vinayagar's protruding belly and stories about His voracious appetite show that He can digest anything.
This indicates that a man of perfection, the highly evolved man, can digest anything whether it is pain or pleasure, good or bad, honor or dishonor. He has attained equilibrium.

 

THE HAND

The right hand of the deities in almost all representations is held in the Abaya posture with palm facing us. It indicates that he who surrenders unto Him need not fear anything. Vinayagar assures us that we should be brave as He is with the good and noble.

 

THE FOOT

One foot of Ganesa touches the ground while the other is folded and rests on the other thigh. Why?This suggests that while we live in this world, we must tread the middle path and not go to extremes. Moderation should be our guide.

 

MODAKAM

In representations of Vinayagar, He is depicted as holding the modakam, a sweet cake, in one hand. There are usually modakam placed in a tray in front of him or held by His trunk.
This is to show that the spiritually wise man always finds the world and life sweet as it enables him to be of service to his fellow beings of God. It also affords him an opportunity to improve himself and progress towards Sivagati.
The modakam consists of the outer flour portion and the inner sweet portion. The inner sweet portion represents the Supreme. The message is that man must dive within himself, transcend the outer, in order to find the inner treasure.

 

THE PASAM

Vinayagar, just like most other deities, is always shown holding a Pasa or rein/noose in one hand. The pasa has been given several interpretations.
The pasa represents desires and feelings that bind. Uncontrolled desires are the seeds of bondage. Like the noose they strangle us.
The pasa shows that attachment is the cause of birth. It also shows the creative aspect of divinity.
It is said that with the pasa (reins), Vinayagar guides us on the right path.With the pasa too He maintains obstacles in our path when we take a wrong turning or when the time is not right for us to do something.
The pasa tells us we must bind ourselves to God for material and spiritual progress. For unfoldment we must bind ourselves through love, thavam and service to God.
It suggests too that we should use our discrimination to control our desires as this conserves energy and helps us move upward. The pasa shows He binds us with His love and will guide us.

 

ANKUSA

The ankusa is a hook-like instrument. This too has various related interpretations. The ankusa symbolizes discrimination which can pierce through delusions. It is said that Vinayagar removes obstacles and troubles in our path using the ankusa. He helps us be rid of delusions.
The ankusa indicates that we must check our emotions and passions through strict self-control and thavam. Like a hook pulling at our flesh, self-control and thavam will cause pain but it must be done. We must use our discrimination to control our lower nature.
The ankusa reminds us to break away from the grip of material entanglements. .
The ankusa is also said to stand for anger which hurts us. The pasa (attachment) and ankusa (anger) will not help in spirituality. So we have to get rid of anger and attachment by surrendering to Vinayagar.
As the ankusa is used for destruction, it is also said that it shows the destructive or dissolving power of God.

 

THE SNAKE

Vinayagar is the presiding deity of the Mooladhara Chakra which is the foundation of the evolutionary, creative or primeval energy called the Kundalini Sakti. It is coiled up like a snake when dormant. When activated, this energy is said to result in an expansion of consciousness and the unfoldment of man into Godman.
This results in various siddhis (powers and therefore we have Siddhi Vinayagar.Raising this energy to the Sahasrara will bring enlightenment.
A snake normally coils around Vinayagar's belly. This represents the Kundalini sakti.It reminds us that we have to awaken this energy to reach the state of expanded consciousness.
The snake around the belly also shows that everything in nature (the pot-belly) is supported by energy.

 

THE BROKEN TUSK

Vinayagar's right tusk is broken. There are a few interpretations of this. Some suggest that it means we should not be trapped between the pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain but that we should with conscious effort break its grip on us. Vinayagar uses the broken tusk as a writing instrument.This shows that a man who transcends the pair of opposities becomes creative. Our right side represents Siva (spiritual) and the left is Sakti (material). The broken right tusk indicates that one must break-off the ego for spiritual fulfillment. In worldly life however, we need the ego as otherwise we cannot live.But the ego is worldly life must be controlled by divine wisdom. The story runs that Vinayagar and Vyasa participated in a challenge whereby Vyasa would recite the Mahabharatam without a pause and Vinayagar would write it down without stopping. In those days they wrote on palm leaves with a thick stylus. However, halfway, Vinayagar's stylus broke but he quickly broke off His tusk to continue, writing without stopping. This story indicates that we should be willing to make sacrifices for any noble cause.

 

STOTRAS AND MANTRAS

It is said that by reciting Vinayaga Stotras, mantras and Thevaram songs we create energy which activates divine faculties in our consciousness. This helps remove obstacles that hamper our material and spiritual progress. What is required is patience and perseverance.We must apply the Pasa and Ankusa.
Also, when we concentrate on Vinayagar and sing His praises, we awaken the divine potential in us.


Reciting the following mantra is said to bring auspiciousness:
Aum Sri Ganesaya Namah
Aum Sri Ganesaya Namah
Aum Sri Maha Ganapathiyae Namah
Aum Sri Gam Ganapathiyae Namah.

 

VINAYAGAR WORSHIP

Vinayagar worship is very simple. It is the most informal too.If we do not have a statue or picture of Him, no problem. We can make a conical shape out of clay, earth, wet turmeric powder or santhanam (sandalwood) paste and it becomes Vinayagar automatically. Even a rock or a tree with some bearing to his shape can be worshipped.

 

VINAYAGAR FORMS


Vinayagar is usually said to have 32 different forms.Among the important forms are: Bala Ganapati, Taruna Ganapati, Bhakti Ganapati, Vigheswara, Veera Ganapati, Sakti Ganapati, Dvaja Ganapati, Siddhi Vinayagar, Uchista Ganapati, Ekatanta Ganapati, Shristi Vinayagar, Thundi Vinayagar, Yoga Vinayagar, Vighnaraja, Kshipra Ganapati, Heramba Ganapathi.

 

VINAYAGAR CHATURTHI CELEBRATIONS

Vinayagar Chaturthi is grandly celebrated in Malaysia. All Vinayagar temples celebrate this festival. Other temples also often celebrate it, especially if there is no Vinayagar temple in that area. Vinayagar Chaturthi falls on the 4th day of the new moon in the month of Aavani (August-September). Prayer to the god-with-form can lead to deep devotion and one-pointed ness so essential to transcending the senses and achieving union with God. Except for Rishis and Jnanis, the rest of mankind uses some form of symbol or other in worship. The Hindus are courageous enough to admit it openly and put these symbols to good use while almost all others do not admit it. The symbols help Hindus understand the indescribable better. The immersion of the earth figure into the water and its subsequent loss of existence denotes that man the ego-centric individual must allow himself to be absorbed by and into God. He must lose his individuality to gain unity with the Supreme.
Vinayagar Chaturthi helps us realize the unity of all life. It teaches us to drop off our egocentric, individualism for God-centered universalism.
Subam

Sri Kaleeswarar
Sri Ruthra Kaliamman Sri Mangalambigai
Sri Subramanyar Sri Dhakshinamoorthy
Sri Muneeswaran Sri Sandigeswarar
Navagrahas Sri Nandeeswarar