Ganesha is today the most popular and loved of the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Nothing auspicious takes place without invoking his name.
Was this always so? If not, how did he rise into prominence? These and so many more questions about this god with the elephants head and unusual form have exercised the minds of those interested in Hindu religion and philosophy.
In this book, "Ganesha: The Auspicious
The Beginning ", Smt. Shakunthala Jagannathan and Dr. Nanditha Krishna, mother and daughter, have brought out the relevance and importance of Ganesha from ancient times to the present day.
They have covered historical and archaeological evidence, legends and parables, and Ganesha imagery in India and abroad to make a multi-dimensional study of this deity through the ages. The chapters on Symbolism and Worship of Ganesha explain his symbolic importance and modes of worship.
Copiously illustrated with a number of colour and black-and-white photographs (several of rare antiques) and with attractive line drawings, this comprehensive book covers all aspects of this greatly adored deity. The book would be of equal interest to the layman, the scholar and the devotee and a valuable addition to every home and library.
One of the many glories of Hinduism consists in the tremendously wide variety of divine manifestations that it has conceived down the long corridors of time since the dawn of history. The Hindu pantheon is rich with various deities, all of them manifestations of the same divine Brahman, and all powerful pathways to salvation.
Among the many deities worshipped by the Hindus, Lord Ganesha has in some ways pride of place. It is not that he is considered to be superior to the great Gods Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, or the Goddesses, but he has a special place in the affection of people and no worship of any kind or of any other deity can begin without an initial worship to Ganesha, among whose many names is vighneshwara, remover of obstacles.
In this book, Shakunthala Jagannathan and her daughter Nanditha Krishna have produced an excellent volume on the varied symbology, mythology and iconography of Ganesha. In my view, one of the more important aspects is that Ganesha. In my view, one of the more important aspects is that Ganesha's elephant head in a way describes the symbol for AUM, which is considered the most sacred word in Hindu literature and is looked upon as the audio-visual representation of the divine. His worship at the beginning of any ritual would thus be a reminder that what we are really worshipping is not the image as such, but the all-pervasive divine power that stands behind it.
Shrimati Jagannathan's earlier book on Hinduism was well received in India and abroad and I am sure that this one will be equally, if not more, popular.
May Lord Ganesha shower his blessings upon us all, and remove the many obstacles that we face individually and collectively as the world moves rapidly towards the end of this millennium.-Dr. Karan Singh
Ganesha, the Ultimate Reality
At the end of the last age, there had been a pralaya, a great deluge, which had destroyed the Universe as it existed then. This was followed by the long, long night of Brahma, when there was pitch darkness everywhere, a great stillness, no sound, no movement, only peace, peace, peace.
Suddenly there was a little rustling, a feeling of expectancy that something great was about to happen. The night of Brahma stretching to 4320 million human years was about to come to close. Creation has no beginning nor end. It is anaadi, eternal, and a day of Braham was to dawn anew following the long night.
Through this still night suddenly emerged a beautiful sound, a powerful sound, the mind-blowing sound of OM. In this new age, called the Shwetavaraha Kalpa, the Great God had appeared in the form of OM to recreate a new world. The vibrations of OM were followed by a beautiful soft light, the first dawn heralding a new Sun.
The Great God, the Supreme Spirit, called to his presence the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra-Shiva, and gave Brahma the task of creation.
Brahma was confused and at a loss as to what he should do next and meditated on the Great God. Out of the vibrations of the sound of OM, the Lord of all the worlds conceived the four Vedas, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva and taught the knowledge from these books to Brahma who then created our present Universe, the world in which we live, and many other worlds beyond.
However the Ganapatya Cult (which was later absorbed into Hinduism), believes that OM or the Pranava Mantra as this symbol of God is called, is embodied in the form of Ganesha, also commonly known as Ganapati or Vinayaka. He is the first Word, Vaak, the First Cause.
According to this cult, with the sound of OM resounding through the Universe, Ganesha appeared against the light of the first dawn, blowing the conch through which the sound of OM had emanated. He came in the form of Nritya Ganapati, dancing in great abandon, swirling, whirling, his movements beyond Man's understanding. He called the Trinity to him and asked them to create and preserve the world and to destroy the evils in it.
But they were confused as to what they should do and how to do it. Ganesha told them he was the Universe itself and swallowed them, and asked them to see all the worlds reflected inside him and to meditate on them.
Brahma even then found he was unable to create the world or the beings in it as they should be created. Ganesha appeared before him and chastised him, saying that he was not able to achieve the role given to him as he had not first meditated on Ganapati, nor on the symbol of God, OM, which Ganesha symbolized.
Brahma then meditated on Ganapati who asked the goddesses, Siddhi (Achievement) and Buddhi (Wisdom) to help Brahma. And with their help, the Universe in all its beauty came into being. The gods and all the worlds rejoiced and sang-
Thus, according to the Ganapatyas, was the present Universe created and with it the present age, the Shwetavaraha Kalpa, dawned.
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