Lord Ganesh – Not an External Power

On the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi 2013, presenting my piece which is translation of the Hindi talk on Ganesh Chaturthi delivered by His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living in HIS unimitable style. (I had originally blogged this in Septemeber 2003 on Art of Living’s social forum www. esatsang.net)

Wishing everyone abundant blessings from the remover of obstacles, Lord Ganesha and a festival that is more fulfilling to all of you.

Our Ganesha - 2013
Our Ganesha – 2013 Arrives. Awaiting Installation & Puja

Let me have your feedback and suggestions for correction to improve this translation and make it more accurate, for the benefit of others.

(Translated from HIS original Hindi talk)

From the viewpoint of Sadhana(spiritual practices), Lord Ganesha is the ruler of Mooladhara Chakra (Primordial base centre). Adi Shankaracharya’s description of Lord Ganesha is unique and amazing. The form of Lord Ganesha that Adi Shankaracharya has projected to us is that of Parabramha–Supreme Brahman. “Ajam Nirvikalpam Nirakaram Ekam” – Lord Ganesh is verily the “Parabrahma – Supreme Brahman – Beyond Birth (Ajam), Beyond Imagination (Nirvikalpam) and Beyond Form (Nirakaram) and Ekam (Absolute) – the power of consciousness is Absolute.

This power is absolute which is Omnipresent (Sarvavyapi) when extended and sought to experience towards Mooladhara is Lord Ganesha. From this perspective, irrespective of the externally depicted form of Ganesha., like Elephant faced, there is a big secret behind this depiction – as the Ruler of Knowledge and Education. And Knowledge and Education for a person can happen only when there is Awareness. When there is Inertia or lack of awareness – Knowledge, education or progress in life is not possible. Therefore if you want to awaken this power of consciousness, then the ruler of this power, Lord Ganesha is to be invoked. And instead of treating Lord Ganesh as an external power or outside element, we consider HIM as a centre (Chakra) of our own power. We pray and meditate on Lord Ganesha by installing Lord Ganesha within ourselves, at the first or primary chakra (Mooladhara).

“Dhyanam Nirvishayam” meaning, in meditation there is nothing in our thoughts – nothing external or useless thoughts anyway but focusing on no particular deliberate thought. Then we experience a formless yet a manifest form of Ganesha in our thoughts during the prayer composed sweetly yet precisely by Adi Shankaracharya,

“Ajam Nirvikalpam Nirakaram Ekam;
Niranandam Anandam Advaita Purnam;
Param Nirgunam Nirvishesham Nireeham;
Parabrahma Roopam Ganesham Bhajema”

Those who can’t experience of the formless, over a period of sustained experience of manifested form reaches the formless Brahman. In India, there is this amazing and unique art of reaching formless Paramatma called Lord Ganesh by repeated worship of the manifest form of Ganesha, who is Gajavadhana. Parabrahma Roopam Ganesham Bhajema – worship that form of Ganesh that is Omnipresent.

“Jagatkaranam Karanam Jnaana Roopam;
Suradhim Sukhadim Gunesham Ganesham;
Jagatvyapinam Vishwavandyam Suresham;
Parabrahma Roopam Ganesham Bhajema.”

This Absolute power which is the very cause of the whole universe from which everything originated, that which keeps things going, the same power into which everything would be dissolved, this Causal Absolute Power is Paramatma (Supreme Soul) Ganesha to whom we prostrate and worship.

Even the study of the cause of the whole universe itself is supreme knowledge, which is Ganesha embodied – who is the knower and knowledge Himself. Ganesha thus is Knower, Knowledge and the Goal itself. We also begin worshipping Ganesha as a Goal which is not a superior form of worship. Any worship based on external materialistic object like Goal or aim, means there is not identification with self and a separation is seen. Therefore Ganesha is the cause as well as the knowledge of the reasons for that cause, the seer, and the Absolute – that is the power of Ganesha. These things are not understood by many of us but Rishis and Munis (Saints) who realized this, created different kinds of myths and stories for making it easily comprehensible and thus beneficial to everyone. When we make an Idol of Ganesha, we infuse life in it (Prana Pratishta) – it means let my life be infused in Ganesha. Let, the Ganesha manifested within my life force (Prana) go and get installed in this Idol so that we can play with this Idol and worship (puja). Puja is a game. If you carefully notice, Puja is an artful expression of our inner feelings (Bhaav).

Ganesha at home - A few years back
Ganesha at home – A few years back

Thus a devotee always yearns to play with the God and never desires anything. If a devotee desires something, then this desire becomes bigger than devotion. Thus, a devotee desires God itself, to play with God for a while. The luminescence called God which is formless, beyond imagination and eternal power embedded within ourselves, is invoked, invited and infused into Manifest in the form an idol for us devotees to play is Ganesha Puja. During Prana Pratishta, we state that Ganesha’s life power is my life power and then we pray, “O God! Who is within me always, please manifest and stay in this Idol for a while because I wish to play with you. Whatever I have been given is a great favour from you, which I wish to offer it back to you” So we offer Water, fruits, flowers which is God’s bestowment to us in any case. We are perpetually given sun, moon which revolves around us which I offer it back in the form of Camphor lit fire taken round the Idol (Arti). In this manner, a devotee displays his inner feelings during the act of Puja.

After the puja, a devotee says O Lord! Now you may go back to my heart which is your abode. This process is called Visarjan. The specific process of restoring and re-creating the Lord to HIS abode is Visarjan. Kindly go back to my heart from where you came out to manifest in this idol just like how we take out the ornaments from the safe during festivals, wear it and return it back to the safe after the celebrations.

This celebration where an invaluable, precious knowledge and divine power is manifested for us to play games, enjoy and find fulfillment is Ganesha Festival. In this manner, after the puja we go and immerse the idol into water. It is pertinent now to realize that God is not just in the Idol. He is omnipresent, present everywhere and this power which is given a form and celebrated is Ganesh Chaturthi.

These forms of celebrations helps us in increasing enthusiasm and devotion (gratefulness) in our life. Sage Narada, who is a symbol of devotion in his Bhakti Sutras says, “As per Parasharya, displaying interest and enthusiasm in Puja (worship) is a sign of devotion” Thus, when we perform a worship, it should not be with anyone or to any person, it is with love and devotion. Mental Worship (worshipping in our minds) is a better form than External symbolic worship.

As Adi Shankaracharya says, during mental worship, Non-dual absolute is deemed as Ganesha. And this Absolute power called Ganapati is the very “Cause of Universe” Jagat karanam karana jnana roopam, suradhim, sukhadim – The very origin of happiness (Sukhadim) is in this Absolute power. When each atom of our being is filled with this power, enthusiasm and happiness just overflows and bubbles in us. It is not necessarily to show off outside. This display of enthusiasm, smile or happiness is useless. The inner blossoming is the Origin of Happiness – the love, enthusiasm and playfulness emanates from this space. He is the lord of all Qualities (guna). The absolute power of Self is also the lord of all gunas.

We think that we can obtain good gunas with practice. This is impossible. We have to start from the premise that “All the good qualities pre-exist in us. Bad qualities that we possess has been acquired from external source” With sadhana (Spiritual practices) these bad qualities is expelled and the good qualities which anyway is our true nature is unveiled and starts glowing. In Daivartha Sampat Vidayog, Lord Sri Krishna says, “Arjun, you already have divine qualities is already within you from the very beginning. So start from this premise that all good qualities are already in you. These lord of these qualities which is hidden is Ganapati. So worship Lord Ganesha so that all these good qualities blossom and prosper in us.

Jagatvyapinam Vishwavandyam Suresham;
Parabrahma Roopam Ganesham Bhajema

Lord Ganesha, you are omnipresent, your reach extends the whole universe, who is worshipped by everyone, who is accepted in all the corners of the world, every country accepts the God as formless, as the Ruler of qualities, one who is worshipped and greeted across the world, we worship you the Parabrahma (The Supreme Brahman).

“Gunathithamanam Chidanandaroopam;
Chidabasakam Sarvgam Gyanagamyam;
Muni Dhyeyam Akasharoopam Paresham;
Parabrahmaroopam Ganesham Bhajema”

Gunathithamanam – One who is beyond intellectual description of Quality (beyond attributes) Chidanandaroopam, what is the form of Lord Ganesha? It is Satchitananda roopa (Supreme Blissful form), playfulness, Blissful form.

Gunathithamanam Chidanandaroopam Chidabasakam Sarvgam Gyanagamyam – only if we have this Absolute power can Ganapati be experienced. If we have even an iota of awareness, then we can recognize this. This cannot be recognized by those from Intellectual level. Chidabasakam Sarvgam Gyanagamyam – Everywhere you are known and accepted as Knowledge itself. It is for this reason that Ganapati is considered as Ruler of Vidya (education) or knowledge. Perform worship of Ganapati before proceeding to any other worship. Imbibe the essence (Tatva) of Ganesha into oneself. We have to progress from Tamo guna (Attribute of being at Gross level) towards Satva guna (Attribute of being at Subtle level). This is the first phase/part of Worship.

Muni Dhyeyam Akasharoopam Paresham – what is your form? The form that Saints and the learned meditate upon which is like formless, unimaginable Space (Chidakash) is verily you, Lord Ganesha. You are not an object, nor a person but infinite space. Muni Dhyeyam Akasharoopam – You form is that which the Sages have learnt, which is omnipresent and infinite Space. Muni Dhyeyam Akasharoopam This is your actual form. Parabrahmaroopam Ganesham Bhajema, this form of Absolute and Supreme Brahman, Lord Ganesh, here is me worshipping and praying to you repeatedly. Therefore, install the Idol in front of you, worship with infinite love, meditate and experience Lord Ganesha from within.

This is the symbolic essence of Ganesh Chaturti festival, to awaken the Ganesha Tatva(essence) which is masked inside ourselves.

You can listen to the Original talk in Hindi  (Visuals are my creations. However the talk is Original recording)

Another talk of Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on the significance of Parvati Creating Lord Ganesh out of dirt and Lord Shiva slaying Him is here 

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