I offer salutations to the lotus like feet of the guru.
To his lotus like feet for they have the purity and supreme consciousness that I strive to achieve.
When his feet are so beautiful what can I comment of his head for it embodies the spirit of the best of the best.
The word Tattva means a distinct state of existence of being. For example the solid state is the distinct from the liquid state and these states can be termed as Prithvi Tattva or earth state and Jal Tattva or water state respectively. Similarly at the subtle level there exist many states or forms of energy distinct from each other. These are termed as Tattvas. In Sankhya philosophy and other philosophies we come across the term Manas Tattva or mind state of subtle matter, Buddhi Tattva or intellect state of subtle matter and Ahamkar Tattva or identity state of subtle matter.
In the same way the different forms of energy that exist at higher subtler plains that were identified by the Rishis or the ancient seers were termed as Devis or Devtas. Illuminated beings of light that are Gods and goddesses known as Devis or Devtas.
In the Indian tradition there exist about 3.3 billion different Devis and Devtas. Each of these Devis and Devtas thus identified by the Rishis are considered as an opening to higher consciousness. It is very important to understand that in the Bharati tradition there is only one God. These 3.3 billion Devis and Devtas are considered as different manifestations of the same one supreme energy. In this system of worship the Rishis laid down the rules and processes of worship of each of these Devis and Devtas. Depending on the level of the consciousness of the individual, the person was given spiritual practices in keeping with the level of individual ability and consciousness. The advanced students were given higher level of practices so as to enable them to achieve higher states of consciousness.
Each individual sees divinity at the level of his consciousness and understanding. For some it is more on the physical level. For others it may be at the level of social interactions, for yet others at the subtle mental levels. For the rare few at the level of causation and for the rarest of all, at the highest level of supreme consciousness. Most practices were given keeping in accordance with the ability of the individual to absorb the energy and to work out the negativities within their mind.
In the Bharati tradition the devotees of each form of God look upon that form as that of the supreme consciousness. However humans are full of frailties, many of us are able to see god only at the level of our gross consciousness. Among all the Gods and Goddesses, Lord Ganesh has a boon of being the first worshipped. No prayer or puja can be done effectively without invoking Lord Ganesh. There exist about 92 different forms of Ganesh.
Main forms of Ganesh Sampradaya (Six main forms of Ganesh that are worshipped): The first is known as Maha Ganapati. The second is Heramb Ganapati. Third is Ucchisht Ganapati. Fourth is Santan Ganapti. Fifth is Haridra Ganapati. Last is Swaran Ganapati. Most of these 92 forms fall within the six main sampradayas however numerous other forms have their own texts of worship.
The name Maha Ganapati means great leader of the Ganas or Divine beings. Usually the form may have four hands, one holding the Pash or the Noose. The second hand holds the Ankush (a weapon to control the elephant). The third hand shows the Abhay Mudra or blesses fearlessness. And the fourth hand is in the Varda Mudra or the boon giving pose.
In certain depictions one of the hands may be holding the lotus instead of the ankush and instead of the Abhay Mudra Lord Ganesh is seen as holding a tray of Modak or Laddoos (it is a type of sweet dish made of whole gram flour and sugar). The lotus indicates beauty, purity, peace and prosperity. In the Indian tradition the sweet Modak is especially distributed during all auspicious and happy occasions such as marriages, birthdays, at the birth of a child, festivals, etc. Therefore Ganesh holding a tray of sweets is a sign of auspiciousness.
Second is Heramb Ganapati. Heramb Ganapati is a red colored form of Ganesh having 8 or 10 hands seated on a lion or a bull. Usually the easiest way to identify the Heramb form of Ganesh is by the symbol of a snake wrapped around the waist and the head of the snake is visible around the navel. This form of Ganesh is considered to be a form of sustenance, prosperity, maintenance of the world, abundance of food and general wellbeing of the world, etc.,. However in Garhwal there is a tradition that all the statues of Ganesh have a snake wound around the waist.
The third sect of Ganesh is known as Ucchisht Ganapati. The word Ucchisht means Lord of Blessed Offerings, it also means well-mannered, well-behaved and decent and also indicates etiquette, culture, education, character, good temperament etc. Therefore the form of Ucchisht Ganapati is the Lord of all well-mannered and well-behaved beings. The prayers for Ucchisht Ganapati are done to instill the qualities of beings who have higher consciousness such as right behavior, good morals and a yearning for higher knowledge. Some people translate Ucchist as stale or leftover as in stale or leftover food. This can however been seen as the energy of Ganesh left after all of creation. Yet others see this as meaning to worship lord Ganesh with a stale mouth that is without rinsing the mouth unlike the usual practice of cleansing one’s self and bathing before starting prayers.
Fourth form of Ganesh is Santan Ganapati. The word Santan means progeny. In India traditionally it is considered very important to have a son. Therefore prayers to this form are done to have a son.
The fifth form of Ganesh is known as Haridra Ganapati. The word Haridra means turmeric that is yellow in color. From ancient times in India turmeric is used to fight diseases and it is considered as very auspicious. Traditionally, in India when the couple is married, before the marriage there is a special ceremony where the bride and the bride groom are individually in their families given a special beauty treatment with turmeric, sandal paste and certain other herbs. In this treatment turmeric is the main ingredient. Usually, in common language one may say it is time to make your daughters hand yellow and signifies that is time to find her a good husband and marry her. From a spiritual perspective the color yellow signifies Vairagya or dispassion to the world. Turmeric is a pungent herb and therefore signifies the power of spiritual cleansing.
The sixth form of Ganesh is Swaran Ganapati. Swaran means gold. The worship of this form of Ganesh is done to achieve wealth and prosperity. However, finding texts pertaining to worship of this form may be somewhat of a challenge.
Yogic and tantric perspective of Ganesh
Lord Ganesh is considered as a Lord of Muladhara chakra. From a yogic prospective it is the reason why Lord Ganesh has to be worshipped first. The trunk of Lord Ganesh signifies the earth tattva (Mahabhut), the tanmatra of smell, the gyanindriya as the organ of smelling or the nose. The large stomach of Lord Ganesh signifies the ability to be seated in a stable pose as well as to be able to absorb and digest the spiritual energy. The Kundalini energy starts at the Muladhara chakra. This chakra is very important as is enables the mind to become stable and therefore enables the sadhak to remain grounded even when he tries to take (lift) the kundalini energy higher. The Kundalini energy itself is symbolized as Shakti or the divine mother Parvati. Lord Ganesh guards her and only with his permission can one meet her. The Muladhara chakra controls fear of death or one can say the instinct of self preservation. In practical life some sadhaks experience the awakening of the Anahata chakra first. When it happens without the awakening of the Muladhara chakra the sadhak is in the state of dreaminess and tends to float in an unreal world. Therefore it is important to attempt to awaken the Muladhara chakra.
In the tantric tradition the worship of Ganesh is considered as the first step. The mantra for Ganesh opens a way for deeper meditations, focuses the mind and gives stability to the mind. From the perspective of the material or physical world the Ganesh mantra removes all obstacles, reduces loss of money, improves memory, improves relationships, opens new paths for self-development as well as in the material world, helps one in meeting material and spiritual goals, helps in sleeping better, increases intelligence, helps to complete material works with lesser financial inputs and helps in achieving deeper Spiritual growth and Meditation..
In tantra the worship of Ganesh is done first to remove obstacles and give stability to the practice.
Texts and Scriptures
Since there are about 92 forms of Ganesh there are numerous texts in the worship of Ganesh. The most obvious ones are the various kavaches or armors such as Ganapati kavach, Samsarmohan Ganesh kavach, Shri Vakrutund Ganesh kavach, Ucchisht Ganapati kavach, Sankat Nashan Ganesh kavach, 108 names of Ganesh, Ganesh ashtakam, Sankat Haran Ganesh ashtakam, Ganesh Panchratnam, Ganesh stotra, Ganesh mahiman stotra, Ganesh stavraj, Ganesh sahasranam stotra. There are many other forms of Ganesh prayers, such as Mayureshvar stotra, dhanprad Ganapati stotra, rinharta Ganesh stotra, ekdant Ganesh stotram, etc. There are different versions of the twelve names of Ganesh. Also, there are different mantras of Ganesh in keeping with the form of Ganesh that is worshipped as well as the sampradaya.
Some explanations of Ganesh mantras
- Ganesh- He who is worshipped by ganas or the celestial beings.
- Vignaraj – lord of obstacles. He is the lord who creates obstacles for those that follow the wrong path.
- Vinayak – destroyer of obstacles
- Bhim – gigantic huge and strong
- Sumukha – having a pleasant face to his followers who follow the righteous path. He protects them and appears pleasant.
- Durmukha – Badfaced, having an ugly face. To those who follows the way of the demons, to them he appears as evil faced.
- Heramba – protector of the weak.
- Budd – wise
- Siddh – perfected
- Avign – destroyer of obstacles and ignorance.
- Siddhipati – lord of achievement and perfection.
- Durjaya – he who can not be defeated.
- Jaya – victor – he who always wins in all ventures and guarantees success in all ventures.
- Muktida – grantor of liberation
- Acchutya – eternal
- Akshar – that which cannot be destroyed
- Amala – without sins, sinless
- Aghora – fearless
- Adhara – support of the universe
- Urjaswat – having eternal radiance
- Aishvarya – The embodiment of spiritual and material treasure.
- Omkar – the form of Om the divine syllable
- Guhya – secret knowledge
- Tarak – protector and liberator from the bondages of maya
- Bhadra – very well behaved
- Ucchishtganesh – the well mannered lord
- Rasa – The form of taste
- Shastra – bestower of peace and knowledge
- Arthda – grantor of material desires
- Sat – that which is the absolute truth
- Saptdash – seventeen, emboding all the seventeen kalas or the seventeen rays or parts. Kala is a technical term that indicates the lunar cycle as well as creation and hence the fifteen kalas of the lunar cycle indicating the whole of creation, the sixteenth indicating the beyond and the seventeenth – the infinite divine mystery.
All pujas in India can be very long but here is the short version of the puja.
- Take a statue of Lord Ganesh place it on a tray.
- Take a small container and pour one by one these five products. Offering of panchaamrit snan – milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), honey, sugar. They can be poured on the feet of lord Ganesh.
- Take the mixed preparation of these five and distribute it as Prasad after the puja.
- Wash the feet of lord Ganesh in water in the separate tray. But do not lift the statue of Lord Ganesh once you started your worship – change the trays only.
- Put tilak with Kumkum and rice,
- Then light a lamp of ghee and place it near lord Ganesh.
- Burn some incense,
- Offer him some flowers,
- Offer five types of fruits,
- Offer five types of sweets.
- Now you can read any one of the Ganesh stotras or prayers you know.
Here is one popular shlok
Nirvighnam kuru mey Deva, Sarva kaaryeshu Sarvadaa"
It means “I pray to the Lord with the curved trunk who has a huge form, radiates over everything like countless suns. Please Lord make me free of obstacles, for all works, forever.”
Given below is an even shorter version of the steps in the pooja.
- Wash the Feet with water (Charanaun Ko Pakharana)
- Put Tilak of Sandal Paste or Roli/Kumkum and rice on Forehead
- Offer Flowers or Mala
- Dhoop, Deep, Dakshina
- Naivaidya- Fruits, Sweets, Coconut, etc.
- Aarti, Prayer
- Distribute Prasad
Days of worship of GaneshThe specific days for the worship of Lord Ganesh are Mondays and Fridays; since lord Ganesh is the son of lord Shiv and mother Parvati so he is worshiped on Mondays and Friday. Monday is the day of lord Shiv and Friday is the day of the divine mother Parvati. Wednesday signifies mercury which is astrologically speaking, the day of intelligence. Lord Ganesh also denotes intelligence, wisdom and memory. Hence Wednesday is also regarded as day of lord Ganesh. From the astrological perspective prayers done to please Lord Ganesh help in controlling the two shadow planets – Ketu (the dragons head) and Rahu (the dragon’s tale). According to The Hindu lunar calendar, each month is divided into two fortnights- the dark fortnight or the fortnight of the waning or diminishing moon know as Krishnapaksh and the fortnight of the waxing or increasing moon known as Shuklpaksh. In every Krishnapaksh (receeding moon) fortnight the fourth day is called Ganesh chaturthi, as well as, according to some other calenders the fourth day of the Shuklapaksh and on these days, all over India, special prayers are done worshipping Lord Ganesh. On the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapad Shuklpaksh, Lord Ganesh revealed himself to this world, so this day is celebrated with great joy and is the special day of worship and the festival of Lord Ganesh in the entire year. It is especially celebrated in State of Maharashtra in Western India.