The Importance of Ganapati (Ganesha)
Updated: Aug 17, 2019
excerpt from the Life History of His Holiness Sri ,Sri,Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji.
Chintamani, Arka and Praśna Ganapathi
Arka Ganapathi reveals himself
“Tak, Tak, Tak. In the still of the night, the sound, resembling the beating of a heart, could suddenly be heard. But, what was it? Was someone in the attic? Linganna, the maternal grandfather of Satyanarayana, awoke with a start. Linganna suffered from a chronic cough, which was loud enough to make it difficult for anyone in the house to fall asleep. On this particular night, after a struggle, everyone had finally nodded off to sleep when, suddenly… “Tak, Tak, Tak.” This unfamiliar, unbearable sound woke them up. Satya went to the attic of His grandparents’ house. Linganna saw Him taking out a big box from the attic. “What is it?” he asked while controlling his cough. Savitramma, Linganna’s wife, and Parvatamma, their daughter, woke up with the noise of the conversation between grandfather and grandson. They, too, were curious about this teak box and questioned Satya. Quietly, Satyanarayana brought the box down. It was a big, old box, measuring approximately three feet by one foot. It had been left, unused, in Satyam’s grandparents’ attic for age
“Tak, Tak, Tak.” The noise was probably coming from inside that box and Satya decided to investigate. His grandparents and aunt watched him eagerly.
The box should have been empty, but as Satya reached in, the adults watched in surprise, as He took out a carved wooden article from inside it.
“What is it?” Parvatamma asked.
“Ganapathi.” That single word was Satyam’s reply to all.
Symbolism of Ganesh
There are many references to the symbolism of Lord Ganesh, including the following:
Ganesha can be divided into “Gana” and “Eesh.” Gana means “group of people,” and hence Ganesha is the leader of the people.
His large ears are symbolic of His capacity to listen to the problems of everyone.
His long nose is symbolic of His capacity to gather intelligence from everywhere.
His small eyes are symbolic of a leader who sees everyone as greater than Himself. He sees all, being omnipresent.
His inward facing tongue means we should not find fault with others, but we should speak only when necessary.
The small “Ankush” in His hand means he is in control of all obstacles, with just one control button.
The rat is symbolic of destruction and interruption in noble activities, because of maya or illusion. Ganesha conquers it and makes it His vehicle. Prayers to him overcome all troubles since he is beyond Maya.
His Holiness Parama Pujya Sri Sri Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji has “Ganapathi” in His name. In fact, the 108 names of Pujya Sri Swamiji include the following very significant ones:
Śri Gaṇēśadatta Brahmōpadēśāya Namahạ - The one who was initiated by Ganesha;
Śri Arka Vighnēśa Bōdhitāya Namahạ - The one who is shown the right path by Arka Ganapati;
Śri Praśna Vighnēśa Bōdhitāya Namahạ - The one who received preaching from Praśna Ganapati;
Śri Gaṇēśahōma Saṃsaktāya Namahạ - The one who shows interest in Ganapati homa;
Śri Nāma Bhrājad Gaṇapatayē Namahạ - The one who has Ganapati in His name.
So, one may well ask, “What is the relationship between Sri Swamiji and Lord Ganapathi and how did it come about?”
Sri Swamiji was, at birth, named Satyanarayana, or knower of truth. He often questioned who He was and what His purpose was in His early days. Sri Swamiji has also told of a similar disposition held by Sri Rama, wherein He was inclined only to meditate and to turn His attention inwardly, away from the world into which He had incarnated. It was against this setting that young Satya, who exhibited many miraculous powers at this tender age, was guided briefly, by His soon-to-depart Guru and mother, Jayalakshmi Mata.
When Satya was 11 years of age, Jayalakshmi handed Him a precious stone which He received with due reverence. She told Him that she considered the stone to be Lord Ganapathi Himself and referred to it as “Chintamani Ganapathi”. It was a gift from God, to her, in her younger days. She treated it as a sacred stone, considered it as Ganapathi Himself and performed daily rituals of worship to it.
This Divine mother informed her son that He had several important tasks ahead of Him. One of these was that He had to establish an ashrama (hermitage) for the sole purpose of establishing “Dharma.” Chintamani Ganapathi, She instructed, should be considered as its Lord and sole protector, and should be offered daily worship in the form of “Abhisekha.” Mother warned Satya that He needed special skills, and also, to learn some special mantras, for conducting the “Abhisekha”. Towards this task, she advised, He would receive assistance and guidance from Lord Ganapathi. On occasions when He was unsure of any procedure, He was to keep the Ganapathi near his ears and Lord Ganapathi would give him proper advice.
Suddenly the jewel, the special stone of Ganapathi, disappeared from His hands. Neither did He utter a word, nor did his mother make any comment on this unusual occurrence. Instead, Mother simply continued preaching to Him and He continued to listen. The word, “Praśna,” means question. Satya was told that Ganapathi would be “Praśna Ganapathi” to Him. Satya was to request help from Praśna Ganapathi, if and when the need arose. His devotees, on the other hand, were to worship “Arka Ganapati.”
Jayalakshmi Mata completed her instructions by reminding her young son and sadhaka to keep all her instructions constantly in his memory, and to follow Ganapathi’s instructions.
One such instruction, given by Lord Ganapathi to Satya was that people should not forget “fire ceremonies,” as Ganapathi himself was the “Fire God Agni”. When this puzzled young Satyam, Lord Ganapathi explained… The syllable “Gam” is the root word or the proper name for Ganapathi. This is made up of 2 bindus (vowels and consonants) “g” and “a.”
The deity for the letter “g” is Agni and, for the letter “a,” is the Lord Parashiva. The Lord for the bindu was Brahma. Thus, Agni, Shiva and Brahma constitute the 3 facets of Ganapathi (Gam). Agni represents the physical body (Sthula sharira), Shiva represents the subtle body (Sukshma sharira) and Brahma represents the causal body (karana sharira). Therefore, the worship of Agni is simply another form of worship of Ganesha.
Lord Ganapathi further explained that, during worship, the deities receive their share of offerings through the medium of “Agni.” Ganesha, as “Agni,” carries the offerings to all the Gods. This is why Lord Ganapathi is worshipped first in prayer rituals.
When Lord Ganapathi instructed Satya to start the worship of “Agni” (In the Vedic context it means to start the karma marga,” or the path of action), Satya had doubts. Did this mean that He should follow the path of action? If it meant that, He was not really happy to do so. Lord Ganapathi then reminded Satya that, Ganapathi represents knowledge. Therefore, following the advice of Ganapathi really means following the path of knowledge (by following the spirit of “nishkama karma” and “karmaphalatyaga,” as described in the Bhagavad Gita, the sadhaka who is following the path of “karma,” is really a “Jnani”).
Nadaopasana—Celestial Music and bhajans of Sri Swamiji
Lord Ganesha, once, in the explanation of the origin of the word “Om,” explained to Satya that it originated from the word “Ava”. The word “Ava has 19 different meanings. Of these, 12 give a direct meaning of “knowledge.” Actually, the remaining 7 names also give the same meaning, but in a more indirect way. Lord Ganesha also explained that “Om” is also “Naada” (sound). Bearing this in mind, as well as knowing that “ava” means, “listening,” Satya realized that He was being asked to perform “Naadopasana”. Sri Swamiji’s musical genius is now legendary. It moves people of all races, religious denominations, sex and social stature, throughout the world. Even plants and animals are known to respond well to His music for meditation and healing, and many devotees testify to the healing power of His bhajans!
Fruit of Jayalakshmi’s worship is passed on
Getting back to the story of Satya and Lord Ganapathi, though - when Satya, up to this point, had not offered that many prayers specifically to Lord Ganesha, He was quite bewildered by the level of compassion showed to Him by this Lord. What had He, Satya, done to earn this grace? The answer, as Lord Ganesha informed Him, was that Satya, young Sri Swamiji, was receiving the results of unswerving worship, which Satya’s mother, Jayalakshmi, had offered to Lord Ganesha, during her lifetime. It turns out that Lord Ganesha had been playing quite a role in Satya’s life, unknown before, to Satya. It was Lord Ganesha who went, as the young priest, and arranged the marriage between Satya’s parents. Once, when Satya went to Bangalore in search of His uncle’s house, but got lost and famished, it was Lord Ganesha who gave some prasadam to Satya. During the Navaratri festivals in Kesare, Lord Ganesha managed to get Satya to conduct His worship. During Satya’s upanayanam ceremony He blessed him with the sight of Viratpurusha. It was Lord Ganesha who made Satya, as a young schoolboy, recite the glory of Lord Ganesha at a school function during the period of Ganesha festival.
Satya, after learning all these things, admitted that He considered Ganesha to be His spiritual father. Ganesha advised Him to start his long term plans on the spiritual path and to conduct Ganapathi homa regularly. Sri Swamiji, to this day, conducts Ganapathi homa every Sunday.
Sri Swamiji has seen the manifestation of Lord Ganesha’s prediction that many devotees would come to Him in the future and many would unburden their problems to Him. During such times, Lord Ganesha instructed that Sri Swamiji must receive Lord Ganesha’s instructions and follow His advice. We should always remember this. To doubt the actions of Pujya Sri Swamiji is to think of Him as a mere man. But to say that He is beyond human comparison is an understatement. We should never assume to know better than Sadgurudeva Sri Swamiji, or His advisor, Lord Ganapathi.
We began with the story of Arka Ganapathi. After Satya gave that single-worded answer, “Ganapati,” when questioned about the contents of the box, He went on to point out the features of Ganapathi on the wooden article. That “piece of wood” was the root of an Ekke tree (calatropis gigantea also known here as Madar), a tree which Satya had, as His family put it, “uprooted,” but one which, as Satya says, He had “rescued.” When an argument ensued between Satyam and His family about the nature of this root, where it should be kept and how it should be treated, Satya left the house of His maternal grandparents. Where did He go?
In the midnight darkness, carrying Arka Ganapathi in a wooden box atop His head, young Satya made His way to the house of Srikantiah, in Kesare. As He was about to enter the house, a stone on the ground dazzled His eyes. Chintamani Ganapati had returned to Him! Satya stayed in Kesare for quite some time. It is from here,that His fame for conducting Ganapathi homas spread. He was called Kesare Swami then… until one day, visitors, who had heard about His Ganapathi worship, came to Kesare, looking for “Ganapati Swami.” As He epitomized the characteristics of Sat, Chit and Ananda (Truth, Knowledge and bliss), He has since come to be known as Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji.
(Content taken from “Reflections of the Absolute”,i.e. the life history of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, by K.V. KrishnaMurthy, and 108 Names of Sri Swamiji,- Bhajan Mala 1V, compiled by Dr Ravita Singh and Rishi Balroop.)