Monday, September 17, 2012

Ganesha's Favorite Things

Om Utpalakaraya Namaha
The complicated form of Lord Ganesha is rich with symbolism. For Ganesh Chaturthi we will offer him some of its traditional symbols. Ganesh as Pure Consciousness, the Atman, makes these tools able to work within us.
Shankha, Conch
Om Gânajna Jnânavatae Namaha
Om Gîtanâmnae Namaha
The conch shell is a major Hindu article of prayer, used as a trumpeting announcement of all sorts. Also
this symbol proclaims ultimate victory for the devotees, since the conchshell mark on His feet contains the entire ocean of material existence that may now be easily crossed. Shankha symbolizes the sound that created the universe and stands for knowledge.

Ankusha, Goad
Om Ankushayasurnaganam Namaha
Om Ankushayasurvidhivisham Namaha
Goad as tools of subjugation, is possible to understand as the tool for mind conquest. Destroyer of the energies which are harmful to the mission of acquisition of spiritual knowledge and Bliss. The goad is to prod the man to the path of righteousness. In the Hinduism, an elephant goad is one of the eight auspicious objects known as Astamangala. In Ganesha's hand, the Ankusa signifies an awakening. 
Pasha, Noose
Om Pashankushadharaya Namaha
The Pasha symbolizes Ganesha's powers at curbing the ego, restraining passion and conquering delusion. The noose means also worldly bondage, soul slavery. The noose wielded by Ganapati signifies that He will tie the noose around negative entities and take them away. This noose permits the spiritual seeker to lift himself up, beyond his human limitations, and connects him to the everlasting bliss of his own Self. In Ganesha's hand, the Pasha signifies control.

Gada, Mace
Om Gadâgne Namaha
Om Gadâyudhâya Namaha
Om Gadâyuddha Vishâradâya Namaha 
Traditionally, the Mace was a symbol of authority. Gada is used by Ganesh to fight negative forces, i.e. ignorance forces, depicted as demons (Asura ). He casts karmas back on devotees for resolution, never letting up until completion.

Parashu, Axe
Om Parasmayedhamne Namaha
As the "Lord of Obstacles", Ganesh needs a powerfull weapon able to cut and to put down. The axe symbolizes the destruction of desires and attachments, and all their results like troubles and sorrows. Mahaparashu, Large Axe frightens off asuras and banishes malicious thoughts of those who intend harm to His devotees.

Rudraksha Mala, Prayer Beads
It is believed that the Rudraksha beads, the "tears of Shiva", are endowed with cosmic powers to elevate the soul and assist on the path of ascension. In Ganesha's hand, Rudraksha can have set of meanings, including the spiritual power and the link between the earth and the heaven. Also, it corresponds to the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and symbolizes sound and hearing.

Jambu, Rose Apple
The Jambu tree plays an important role in Hindu mythology. Jambu-dvipa ("Island of the Jambu Tree") is the name of the innermost of the seven dvipas ("islands" or "continents") that comprised the Cosmos in Hindu Cosmology. The enormous Jambu tree planted at the center of Jambu-dvipa was the archetype of the Tree of Life everywhere. Legend says that only one Jambu tree exists, which is not visible to ordinary persons but only to enlightened beings. Interesting that in the Buddhism Jambu-dvipa is the only location where a being may become enlightened.

Modakapatra, Bowl of Sweets
Om Modakapriya Namaha
The modaka in Ganesha's hand is a symbol of jnana, conferring Bliss, the sweetest of all things sweet. In  Padma-Purâna, the modaka would rather be the symbol of the supreme wisdom (mahâbuddhi). And this is sweet inside as the inner soul, while its white shell is like the gross physical body surrounding the soul.

Veena, Indian Lute
Om Gânabhuyae Namaha
Om Gânashîlâya Namaha
Om Gânashâlinae Namaha
 "The Veena is the abode of divinity," says the mystic Rangaraja Iyengar. Veena is considered as instrument of devotion. This ancient instrument from the time, when the yogic philosophies evolved, about 5000 years ago, is very unique as its nada has a divine flow. The Veena is symbolic of Nada-brahman, the music and rhythm of the cosmos. A form of Ganesh, Ucchista Ganapati, also holds a Veena.
Mudgara, Hammer
Om Mudgarayudhaya Namaha
It is an honourable and the multiple-valued symbol. Traditionally, it represents strength and creative-
destructive power. It is possible to understand it simply as accessory of the Patron of Arts and Crafts.

Narikela, Coconut
When we break a coconut to Him, we break the ego's hold on us. Our body may be compared to the shell and our life to the kernel. Our Samskaras are the waters inside the coconut. As long as there are Samskaras within us, the heart will cling to the body consciousness just as the kernel clings to the fruit.

Amra, Mango
Mango is one of the sacred tree of Hinduism and represents also the highest spiritual fruition. The perfectly ripe mango is often held by Lord Ganesha as a symbol of attainment, regarding the devotees potential perfection. Mango leaves are used to decorate archways and doors in Indian houses and during weddings and celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is a symbol of love and thought to grant wishes.

Kadaliphala, Banana
Bananas are imperative as temple offerings for both practical and symbolic reasons. The practical reason is that their thick peel seems to guard them from the contaminations of caste, so even priests can eat bananas given as offerings, no matter who they came from. Offering fruits symbolizes the fruits of spiritual practice. On a philosophical plane the sacred Kadali tree represents a tatva jnana.

Panasa Phala, Jackfruit
Ganesha's favorite, jackfruit, is a potato-like vegetable, a chewy nut and sweet yellow fruit all in one. Like the jack's stem, our attachments, though small, are strong. The jackfruit is one of the three auspicious fruits of Tamil Nadu, along with the mango and banana, known as the mukkani. It is associated with the life-span of the family and its ancestral house.

Dadima, Pomegranate
Its shape, color, seeds, juice - every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity.

Nagapasha, Snake Cord
Om Nagayagnopavitine Namaha
The snake worn around Ganesha's stomach is symbolic of cosmic energy in all forms. It is sometimes worn by him as sacred thread, across his left shoulder. The practitioners of Yoga, who claim that ones inner strength is like a coiled-up snake which is deep within oneself. That at that moment when the Kundalini awakes through strict religious practices and rises into eternity, one can reach the ultimate state of humanity. Also, Ganesha wears a snake around Him to tell us all that we have to be like Him and control our instinctive, animal mind. 

Laddu, Milk Sweet
Om Gudâya Namaha
Om Gudapriyâya Namaha
Om Gudaladhubhujae Namaha
Laddus, symbolic of the sweetness of the realized inner self, are considered a very auspicious mithai as they are Lord Ganesh's favorite. For the Ganapatiya devotees, who consider Ganesh as the Supreme God and the Master of the Universe, the sweet given as offerings are seen like seeds of innumerable worlds inhabited by innumerable living creatures.

Mushika, Mouse
Om Garvamardinae Namaha
Ganesha's companion, a mouse, is said to be a servant of Ganesh and was originally an evil demon, Gajamukhaasura, whom he had subdued in a battle. The defeated demon requested that Ganesh transform him into a highly agile creature so that he could best serve the god. Ganesh agreed and Gajamukhaasura became his trusty companion in the form of a rat. This legend has clear meaning : the demon is the ego of our daily life, the mind with all of its desires, and the pride of the individual. Ganesha, riding atop the mouse, becomes the master of these tendencies, indicating the power that the intellect and the discriminative faculties have over the mind. As the vehicle of Lord Ganesha, a mouse teaches us to remain always on alert and illuminate our inner-self with the light of knowledge.In this old Telugu film these mythological events are reflected:

Shastra, Scripture
Om Buddhipriyaya Namaha
Om Jnanine Namaha
Om Kritine Namaha

Ganesha is the thinker, the writer, the giver of Knowledge. He is said to be Knowledge incarnate. Ganesha is venerated as the deity of letters and scriptures. He has a thorough knowledge of the scriptures and is a superb scribe. Maybe therefore the Mahabharata is one of the most harmonious works? There is another interesting symbolic story. Ganesha and his brother Karttikeya, both, wanted to marry Buddhi and Siddhi. So, at last, they decided between themselves that the first of them to circumnavigate the earth entirely would get their hands in marriage. Karttikeya set out on foot to circle the earth but Ganesha sat at home studying the scriptures. After long years of travel Karttikeya returned, only to find that his brother was already married to the two ladies. Ganesha had stayed at home and studied the scriptures and, through his studies, had gone round the earth in much lesser time than his more physical and less astute brother, Karttikeya, had on foot.

Trishula, Trident
Om Trigunatmane Namaha
Om Trishaktishaya Namaha

The trident's symbol has so many interpretations that demands a separate article. Trishula represent  various trinities (three gunas, three main nadis, three states of being, or the three bodies; ...etc) including Ganesha's three Shaktis (powers): Will, Action and Wisdom.

Khetaka is symbol of Dharma, the doctrine which protects like a shield. Ganesha holds the shield of divine security, symbol of His power to defend lands of the upright, to preserve traditions and to protect all souls on the spiritual path. May Lord Ganesha protects and bless you!

Om Gam Ganapataye Namah

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