Ancient Indian literature, both, spiritual as well as historical, has several references to Lord Ganesha- the lovable elephant-God who is the deity of beginnings and a terrific trouble-shooter (vignaharta). The Skandapurana delineates his origin while the Ganesh Purana is named after him. The Nagdala Purana says that rishis and munis bowed before him saying, ‘Om Ganeshaya Namaha’ (meaning, I bow to Lord Ganesha).
The Yajnavalkya Smriti describes the cult of the Vinayakas (elephant spirits) who were terrible, mischievous spirits responsible for causing confusion, chaos, misery and untold hindrances. In fact, in Buddhism (both Hinayana as well as Mahayana) Vinayaka is represented as the demon with the elephant-head and in Buddhist temples, the gates are adorned with elephants, the esoteric meaning being that these elephant (sculptures) separate the physical world outside the temple from the metaphysical one inside the temple. For that matter, even in Hindu temple architecture, the elephant represents the separation of this world from the spiritual-realms.
In Tantrik symbolism, Ganesha is drawn as a fiery-red triangle (the Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy-Spirit) set inside a yellow square. As an aside, I may add that if any reader has carefully noticed the paintings at NCPA’s Tata theatre in Mumbai, there’s a wealth of knowledge in each one of them. But I digress…
In the Yoga system, the very first (base) chakra of the human body called (Muladhara) is governed by Lord Ganesha. This chakra is the fulcrum of terrific energies which need to be uplifted from the base (sexual) to the sublime. Persons who direct this energy upwards, called (Kundalini) go beyond the ephemeral pleasures of the flesh (Prithvitatva) to attain soul-knowledge (atma-gyan). Once this first chakra is controlled and then transcended from this material world, there is only bliss (Sat-Chit-Anand), but as we say in Tao, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Hence, once this chakra is transcended, the other six are comparatively easy to deal with and the serpentine-psychic-energy (Kundalini) can be tapped into quite easily if one is a true seeker.
Ganesh Chathurthi which falls on Thursday, 13th September this year, is celebrated in the sixth month of the Hindu calendar, denoting the birth of this cute, loveable, trouble-shooter with a bear-belly and an elephant-head. He is a popular God – the people’s God, (gana+ish) who is famous even today, not only in India but also in Java, Sumatra, Bali and parts of Thailand. He is worshiped as a trouble-shooter, the remover of all obstacles, because he really has the psychic-energy to throw evil forces and negative vibrations away and make room for prosperity (as symbolised by his two wives, Riddhi and Siddhi) to enter. Maybe, every year, this is the reason we give him standing invitation for the next year, saying, “Pudhchya varshi lavkar yaa!!”