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Ganesha

In Sanskrit, 'gana' means group and 'isha' means master or lord. So the word Ganesha means the lord of the groups - groups here mean troops of divine beings who serve Lord Siva.

Ganesha is also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, Pillaiyar and Vighneswara. In fact, he has a thousand names and they are listed in the Ganesha Sahasranama.

Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. Hence the name Vighneswara ('vighna' - obstacles and 'iswara' - lord). Devotees honor Ganesha before they start any important activity - be it a project or a spiritual ritual or whatever. All barriers - hidden or otherwise - can be overcome with blessings from Ganesha.

Ganesha's idol is usually decorated in various colors as a golden crown, deep crimson 'tilak' (a dot on the forehead), vermillion colored curved trunk turned left, a garland of red flowers around his neck, with a sparkling 'modak' (sweet) in one hand, wears yellow or white colored clothes, with his dark dusky vehicle the mouse sitting nearby.

Devotees chant Ganesha's mantras and shlokas daily to please the lord. Following are some Ganesha mantras/shlokas:

Om suklambara-dharam vishnum sasi varnam caturbhujam |

Prasanna vadanam dhyaet sarva vighnopa santhaye||

Word meanings:

  • Sukla: white colored clothes;

  • Ambaram: like the sky;

  • Dharam: wears;

  • Vishnum: all pervasive;

  • Sasi: moon;

  • Varnam: colored;

  • Catur: four;

  • Bhujam: arms;

  • Prasanna: tranquil;

  • Vadanam: face;

  • Dhyaeth: meditate;

  • Sarva: all;

  • Vighnopa: obstacles;

  • Santaye: cessation.

Translation:

My salutations to Lord Ganapathi who wears white colored clothes like the color of the moon, all pervasive like the sky, who has four arms and a tranquil face and helps in the cessation of the obstacles.

Pronunciation:

Pronounce a like in the word car

Pronounce s like in the word shove

Agajanana padmarkam gajanana maharnisam|

Aneka dam tam bhaktyanam eka dantam upasmahe||

Word meanings:

  • Agajanana: the divine mother Parvathi, daughter of the great mountain Himavath;

  • Padmarkam: beams like lotus petals that open at the first rays of sun;

  • Gajanana: elephant faced, (an epithet for the Lord);

  • Maharnisam: always at the sight of;

  • Anekadam: more than one;

  • Bhaktyanam: devotees;

  • Eka: a single one;

  • Dantam: tusk;

  • Upasmahe: worship.

Translation:

Just like how the lotus petals opens at the first rays of sun, in a similar way face of the divine mother Parvathi, daughter of the great mountain Himavath, beams with joy and happiness at the sight of her son the elephant faced Gajanana who has only one tusk, but for his many devotees showers multitude of benefits generously.

Pronunciation:

Pronounce a like in car

Pronounce s like in shove

Ekadantaya vidmahe vakra tu?daya dhimahi |

Tanno danti? prachodayat ||

Word meanings:

  • Ekadantaya: a single tusk;

  • Vidmahe: contemplation;

  • Vakratu??aya: curved trunk;

  • Dhimahi: intelligent;

  • Tanno: extend;

  • Dantih: Lord Ganapathi;

  • Prachodayat: inspired

Translation:

We know the form of Lord Ganapathi that he has only one tusk and his trunk is curved and we contemplate on him to inspire our thoughts.

The scriptures describe that the vividness of the Lord's form helps the seeker to concentrate his/her vagrant mind.

This mantra is called Ganapathi Gayatri, since it is set in Gayatri meter which has a special place in Vedic literature.

Pronunciation:

  • Pronounce a like in car

  • Pronounce ? like in under

  • Visarga ? nasalization of preceding vowel

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