The Mystical Lord of Obstacles - Ganesha

Over time we have made Ganesha look like such a domestic, homely God who is ever pleased with our little to no prayer. We believe he removes obstacles from our path and grants us boons and prosperity. In kaliyuga terms this would amount to a very happy Ganesha living in the middle of civilized society and granting us all our greed for materialism. And to add to the glamour he shows up everywhere, in a high degree of abstraction and schematic art, yet he is expected to perform his duties of bestowing us with what we call - boons and reward. 

Let’s step back a bit and read again, who is the real Ganesha... and we do have a few surprizes. The Ganesha Namavali throws some awesome insights into the nature of this mysterious Lord. 

Om Ganeshvaraya Namaha
Ganesha's name comes from the term Gana or Bhootagana, meaning he is an attendant of Lord Shiva and he is the leader of all the Ganas, Ganadhipati. Their primary place of residence is the cremation ground, the home of all Ganas, Bhootaganas, ghosts, spirits and ghouls apart from Mount Kailasa. 

Om Vighnarajaya Namaha
He is the ruler of obstacles i.e. he can create them as well as destroy them. He is known to be the great remover of obstacles, those which fall in our path of spiritual understanding. He helps us get closer to our spiritual state, which in other words means, he helps us get far away from our material greed. 

Om Avyayaya Namaha
He is the unchanging, the unshakable, the inexhaustible one. He is associated with the earth and to please him is to move mountains. 

Om Dakshaya Namaha, Om Gunatitaya Namaha
He is the skillful one, the talented and the expert. He can solve every problem as well as create the best obstacles. In him lies the essence of perfection. He transcends all great qualities. 

Om Agnigarbhachide Namaha
He is the one who holds fire within himself. This is almost the picture of the molten fires within the deep belly of the earth. 

Om Vanipradaya Namaha, Om Vagishaya Namaha
He is the bestower of good speech, sweet voice to the seeker. He is the Lord of good speech, the controller of words. It makes so much sense for most of our future is governed by the words we use in our present. If we are kind in our words and respectful there is little chance of facing trouble in the future. He automatically kills that obstacle. 

Om Sarvasiddhipradaya Namaha
He is the bestower of all powers, Ashtasiddhi Vinayaka as he is more warmly known. He is the greatest Sidha himself also known as Svayamsiddhaya - Om Svayamsiddhaya Namaha

Om Bhaktavighnavinasanaya Namaha
He removes obstacles from the path of his devotees, obstacles from the path of those who are deep in devotion towards worship.

Om Chaturaya Namaha, Om Buddhipriyaya Namaha
He is the intelligent one, the ingenious one who is worshipped by all the sages. 

Om Grahapataye Namaha
He is the Lord of the planets; he is greater than the mortals, the grahas, the rishis, a true worshipper of Lord Shiva. If we worship him with devotion, then the planets will be at bay, he will indeed remove the obstacles from our path towards spiritualism. 

Om Vitabhayaya Namaha
He is the great one who has surpassed fear; he has conquered fear for a great Shiva bhakta knows no such thing. He lives in Kailasa as much as he lives in the cremation ground. He has conquered death for he is the greatest Sidha himself. 

He is a brahmachari with great self control who has conquered all temptations and knows no fear. He lives in the open and he is a perfectionist, the divine voice of Lord Shiva, his own son. He is the wise one, the intelligent one who controls our destiny. 

Om Pramatta daityabhayadaya Namaha
He is feared by those men who greed for power and intoxication. In another explanation it says he is feared by Asuras. So it makes me wonder whether manushas are beginning to take up Asura like qualities in our age... Kaliyuga?

Om Nagarajayajnopavitavate Namaha
He is the great one who wears a cobra as a sacred thread! 

Om Mayine Namaha
He is the source of illusory power, or he who has an illusory form. It appears more like he is the controller of this great Maya we live in, he sets the rules and he grants us boons that will help us get out of this illusion towards a more pure, clean spiritual path. 

Ganesha just makes way so much sense now... a lot more sense than just a destroyer of obstacles on our path. He guides us in our spiritual quest towards a higher realm. 

Om Vinayakaya Namaha, Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha


Conquest of the Astha Siddhis

It has been cooking for a while in the mind and I am taking my time to connect the dots. Spiritualism is great fun when it comes with puzzles that make the grey cells work harder. I have had the general idea that the offering of aarti, dhoop and naivedya are connected to the conquest of the great Siddhis, a thought that once popped up in my mind may be after reading about it somewhere but the truth of it is that it refuses to go. 

A small puzzle fell into my path when I chanced upon a book that was a biography of the Mahaperivar of Sringeri, who sows the seeds of this quest in his composition of the Pancopacara Puja. In his prayer, he offers fire, water, sandal wood, flowers, and incense to the supreme in the form of the five great elements. This sounds like regular puja, but for some reason I didnt feel like stopping at it. 

Each offering is initiated by a sacred syllable followed by the object of offering towards the supreme power as it manifests in nature. At the same time each syllable in isolation didn’t make any sense until it struck me that the puja essentially starts with Lam - which is the bija mantra of Muladhara Chakra. And there started the next quest. Each syllable personifies the chakras within our being through which the Kundalini rises. 

It soon became clear that the passage to conquer the elements of nature was through the process of offering with the recitation of the divine syllables with bhakti. I cannot explain this but for some reason it made sense that the conquest of the elements was linked to the conquest of the siddhis as a result of the rise of the Kundalini within oneself. And why is that? Let’s take each siddhis and study it. 

Anima: The power to reduce to the size of an atom
Mahima: The power to expand to an infinitely large size
Garima: The power to be infinitely heavy
Laghima: The power to be almost weightless
Prapti: The power to have unrestricted access to any place
Prakamya: The power to realize what one desires
Istva: The power to conquer
Vastva: The power to subjugate all.

If we look at each of these attributes, the 5 great elements of water, space, earth, fire, and air have exactly these qualities - one or more if not all. Could this be the sacred spell that the great Shankaracharyas tried to tell the masses towards spiritual growth? 

Further to this is the other form of worship which is the Panchayatana puja, popularized by the Shankaras where an aspirant could worship all the 5 sacred Gods within a framework, they being Ganesha - representing the water element, Vishnu - representing the space element, Siva - representing the earth element, Devi - representing the fire element and Surya - representing the air element. 

The great Shankaracharyas tried to convey to the lesser mortals a far greater truth that can only be realized by the experience of puja - panchayatana or pancopacara puja, with devotion and love. How amazing is this truth that with the help of a sacred act of ritual worship we can offer certain offerings of divine acceptance to access certain chakras within ourselves and render us capable of realizing the great elements that at some point we will be able to move/live/experience them when we have attained the capability of the great siddhis that allow us to move from one element to the other with ease, in short conquering them. 

Does the performance of the sacred ritual of puja with deep devotion enable us to conquer these elements and therefore enable us to move up the spiritual ladder... it’s a good thought to think about. The discovery of this thought is baffling and will keep me excited for a good time to come but I wonder about the "how". Will I ever get the success of seeing it work on myself in this lifetime... no idea.