Atanu Dey On India's Development

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

OM Shri Ganeshaya Namaha!

Of the 330 million gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, my favorite is Ganesh, the Lord of the Ganas. He is Vighneshwara, the Remover of Obstacles. The story goes that Shiva, the great god, had challenged Ganesh and his brother Kartik to go around the universe three times. While Kartik took off in great haste on his peacock to complete the task, Ganesh walked his portly figure around his parents, Shiva and Parvati, and declared that he had accomplished the task as his parents were the totality of the universe. Shiva was quite pleased at Ganesh’s strategy and granted that Ganesh will be invoked before the invocation of any other gods when anyone embarks on any task.

Vakratunda Mahaakaaya
Suryakotee Sama Prabha
Nirvighnam Kurumey Deva
Sarva Kaaryyeshu Sarvada

O Lord Ganesha of Large Body Curved Trunk
With the brilliance of ten million suns
Please make all my work free of obstacles

Ganesh’s elephant head requires some explanation. According to one story (and there are more than one), Parvati, his mother, wanted someone to prevent people from barging in while she was bathing. So she fashioned a little boy out of the scurf of her skin and gave him the job. The great god Shiva, Parvati’s husband, did not know this and when he was challenged by the boy at Parvati’s door, he got enraged and cut off his head. Shiva’s temper is something else. But when Parvati got on his case, he commanded that a replacement head be brought. As it happened, an elephant was handy and thus Ganesh got himself an elephant’s head. So technically, Ganesh does not have a father, although Shiva is nominally a father to Ganesh.

One of Ganesh’s tusks is shown broken. One story explains it thus: Ganesh was coming back from an evening of feasting. Guy likes to eat. Now his vehicle is a mouse. So here is this huge potbellied guy returning home on his itsy-bitsy mouse. A snake on the road frightens the mouse and Ganesh falls off. His huge belly bursts open. He quickly grabs the snake and ties it around his belly. Things are back to normal but the Moon sees this and cannot but laugh. Ganesh’s pride is hurt and he breaks off one of his tusks and hurles it at the Moon. The Moon goes out like a broken light. This astronomical disaster is a bit of a problem with the gods and they plead with Ganesh to restore the Moon. Ganesh relents but decrees that as punishment the Moon will wax and wane from then on.

Another story which explains the broken tusk goes thus. Ved Vyasa, the great sage, had composed an epic poem which foretold the events of the Mahabharata. He needed a scribe, however, to write the poem down since Ved was not interested in mundane tasks such as writing. Bramha recommended that Ved engage Ganesh. Ganesh agreed to do the job but on the condition that Mr. Vyasa would have to dictate his poem in one continuous unbroken stream and no editing of any material would be entertained. Mr. Vyasa agreed but he imposed his own condition: that Mr. Ganesh would have to fully comprehend each line in all its subtleties and intricasies and implications and import before recording it.

In short, Ganesh said, “You better be sure of whatever the heck you say, else I will not undertake the job.” And Vyasa said, “If you are thinking that this is one heck of an easy job, you have another think coming, mister. You may be the remover of obstacles but you’d have to wake up pretty early in the day to get this one done.”

They reached agreement and then Ganesh broke off one of his tusks and used as a pen it to write down the longest epic poem in the world, The Mahabharat, with more than 100,000 stanzas.

I like Ganesh because he is a laid back sort of a guy. He personifies wisdom and learning. And of course he keeps up with the times. Laid back but with the times. I am writing this with my laptop balanced on my knee, to emulate Ganesh thus:

He does get around. And moves with the times. Check out Ganesh on wheels:

Wonder where all he has been? How about Saturn’s moon Titan?

Like me, Ganesh likes gadgets. For communicating, he uses his Nokia cell phone with cool ringtones:

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, the festival where he is the principal diety. Here is an incantation to Him,The Remover of Obstacles:

Om maha Ganapathe namaha
Sarva vignopa shantaye
Om Ganeshaya namaha

Om, I invoke the name of Ganapathi;
Bringer of peace over all troubles,
Om, I invoke the name of Ganesh…..

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Post Script: Here is an article by Shashi Tharoor on The Many Faces of Ganesh.]

  • http://gudem.blogspot.com Chandra

    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi. Have you noticed Ganapati is also a favorite for most artists (I mean the art gallery type) – glass, painting, rock…

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  • http://filmiholic.com Filmiholic

    It’s a good thing you remembered what day it was!

    :-)

    Great post.

  • Vishwaksena

    Just wished to correct some Sanskrit mistakes:
    (The first line) Shri Ganeshaya Namaha
    And: Sarva vignopashantaye

  • Vishwaksena

    To continue:
    Om maha Ganapathaye namaha

    Atanu’s response: Thank you, Vishwaksena. I appreciate the corrections.

  • Swati Das

    Nice posting. Was wondering where I could get the one with laptop. Any idea? Cheers.

  • http://bombaylives.blogspot.com satish

    Ganpati Bappa Moraya!!

    thanks for the wonderful pics.

    cheers

  • Vivek S

    Nice collection of stories and pics, Atanu. Refreshing !!!

    The first story is very popular in Tamil Nadu because of Karthik. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palani#The_Legend_of_the_Palani_Temple

  • Raj Sharma

    Love the stories – Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

  • Pawan Gupta

    Very good post.
    Nice to know that in today’s time someone takes time out to talk about Gods.

  • http://shreemoyee.blogspot.com Shreemoyee

    Surprisingly none of the pics above feature the ganesh Vahana, the humble mouse. Strange. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

  • http://www.deeshaa.org/2006/08/27/happy-ganesh-chaturthi s.padmamohan

    IS THE GANESH MANTRA…….NIRBHIGNAM KURUMEDAYA…..OR NIRVIGHNAM KURUMEDEVA?

  • http://desidirectory.com/indian-festival-events/ Yashvant

    Ganesha chaturthi – legends and prayers
    Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesh on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada month of Hindu calendar. It is among the most celebrated of the festivals in India, and perhaps the only one involving general public (others only involve families and friends and are celebrated privately). It is interesting to note that the festival was not celebrated until the times of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who used it a great means to unite Hindus all over India and educate them the evils of colonization.

  • kavita mohan

    hey atanu,loved the trivia about the festival.was a great help in educating my son beyond shlokas and legends.found ur blog when i googled ganesh chaturthi.but am definitely going thru all ur other stuff.u seem like a really interesting guy.i’m sure i’ll enjoy all the other stuff as well.

    :) kavita

  • http://www.desievite.com/Desi-Indian-ecards.asp nishant

    Ganesh Chaturthi is the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the son of Shiva & Parvati. Reach

    out to all your fellow Indians on this auspicious occasion. with these religious

    greeting cards. Send Free Online Greeting Cards to your friends & loved ones. ALL

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    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

  • http://desidirectory.com/indian-festival-events/ nil

    Ganesha chaturthi – legends and prayers : Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the

    birthday of Lord Ganesh on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of

    Bhadrapada month of Hindu calendar. It is among the most celebrated of the

    festivals in India, and perhaps the only one involving general public (others only

    involve families and friends and are celebrated privately). It is interesting to note

    that the festival was not celebrated until the times of Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar

    Tilak, who used it a great means to unite Hindus all over India and educate them the

    evils of colonization.

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