GANESHA CHATURTHI - An Exposition by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

- Compiled and Edited by Suresh C Bhatnagar. 


Purpose Of Ganesha Chaturthi

       "The essential purpose of the Vinayaka Chaturthi is to teach a person to avoid the company of the bad and cultivate the company of the good." Sai Baba. SS, 9/92, p. 221

       "The Ganapati festival is an occasion for people to purify their minds. People generally tend to see in others the faults, which they themselves have. Thereby they try to cover up their own defects by attributing the same defects to others. This is a bad quality." Sai Baba, SS. 9/92, p. 222

Vedic References Of Ganesha/Vinayaka

       "The worship of Vinayaka has been in existence from times immemorial in Bharat The Rig-Veda, the Narayanopanishad and the Taitiriya Upanishad have passages referring to Vinayaka. It is embedded also in a Gayatri Mantra, as follows:

       'Tatpurushaaya Vidmahe Vakratundaaya dheemahi  Tanno Danti Prachodayat'

       This Mantra indicates that Vinayaka' s divinity is glorified in this Gayatri Mantra." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. '254

       "The adoration of Parvati and Ganapati is not of recent origin. Ganapati is lauded at several places in the Rig-Veda. This clearly shows that Ganapati is as ancient as the Vedas. In several places, Ganapati is mentioned both in the Vedas and the Upanishads. There are many prayers addressed in the Narayanopanishad. There are prayers to him in the Taitiriya Upanishad also. Thus, Ganapati Mantra also figures in the Upanishad." Sai Baba, SS. 9/97, pp. 235 & 236

       "Parvati Tanayaa Ganaadhipa" (Oh son of Parvati! Lord of the Ganas.). "In these terms the Vedas extolled Ganapati." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 253

Birthday Of Ganesha "

       "You are under the false impression that today (Ganesha Chaturthi) is the birthday of Vinayaka. He has neither birth nor death. He has neither beginning nor end. He is the eternal witness." Sai Baba, SS, 10/99, p. 267

Who Is Ganapati Or Ganesha?

       "Try to understand the significance of the names Ganapati - Vinayaka and Vigneshwara. You are Ganapati yourself. This morning, you have all heard Susheela singing a song, 'Adugaduguna Gudi Undhi' (there is a temple at each and every step). Our body itself is a temple of God. "Deho Devalaya Prokto Jeevo Deva Sanathana' (body is the temple and the indweller is God). The Jeevana-jyoti (light of life) that is present in the body is Parama-jyoti (the Supreme Light itself). The body may die, but not the mind. Such a mind has to be controlled. That is true Sadhana." "Who is Ganapati? He is the Adhipati (master) of all Ganas - five senses, five elements and five sheaths. Human body consists of five Koshas (sheaths) - Annamaya Kosha (food sheath) Pranamaya Kosha (life sheath), Manomaya Kosha (mind sheath), Vijnanamaya Kosha (wisdom sheath) and Anandamaya Kosha (bliss sheath). Man progresses only up to Manomaya Kosha. He is unable to go up to the sheaths of wisdom and bliss. Since Ganapati is the master of all the five Koshas, one has to take refuge in him in order reach the state of bliss." Sai Baba, SS, 10, 99, p. 266

Ganesha's Different Names And Their Meanings

Aprameya

       "Ganapati has been described as 'Aprameya', transcendent and all-encompassing." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 239

Arka-Dron-Priya

       "One of the names of Vinayaka is' Arkadronpriya' (One who loves thumini and jilledi flowers, flowers which are not valued by people). Other offerings to Vinayaka include a special kind of grass. Ganapati accepts as offerings many things which men consider useless and trivial." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 237

Ekadanta

      "When Vinayaka was writing the Mahabharata to the dictation of sage Vyasa, the latter laid down the condition that Vinayaka should go on writing non-stop whatever Vyasa said. But Vinayaka also stipulated a condition that Vyasa should never stop his dictation but should go on without a break. While he was writing, Vinayaka's pen broke and he did not hesitate to break one of his tusks to use it as a pen. That is why he is called Ekadanta or with a single tusk. This is the shining example of the spirit of sacrifice that Vinayaka exhibited for the welfare of humanity." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 266

Ganapati

       "Ga means Buddhi or intelligence. 'Na' means Vijnana or wisdom. 'Pati' means master. So, Ganapati is the master of all knowledge, intelligence and wisdom. There is also another significant meaning for the word, that he is the leader of all the 'Ganas' who are celestial beings." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, 263 & 264. Refer also to SS, 10/96, p. 274

       "To worship the intellect and wisdom is one form of worship of Ganapati. Ganapati represents the combination of much energy. Because of this, the name Ganapati is appropriate for him. Nor is that all. He is the Lord of all celestial hosts (Ganas). Hence, he is hailed as Ganapati." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98, p. 254

Ganaadhipati

       "Parvati Tanayaa(son) Ganaadhipa! (Oh son of Parvati! Lord of the Ganas). In these terms the Vedas extolled Ganapati. He (Ganesha) is called Ganaadhipati (Gana+adhipati = Supreme Lord), because he is the Supreme Lord of the Ganas. The Ganas are the embodiment of the organs of perceptions (Janaanedriyas) and of action (Karmendriyas). The mind is the master of these ten senses. The presiding deity of the mind is called Indra, as he is the Lord of lndriyas (the senses). The master over the mind is the intellect." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, pp. 253 & 254

       "In the name 'Ganapati', 'G' stands for Guna or virtue and 'Na' for Vijnaana (wisdom). When 'Ga' and 'Na' are joined, we have the combination of Vijnaana (scientific knowledge) and Prajnaana (spiritual wisdom). It is out of the combination of Vijnaana and Prajnaana, Sujnaana (Supreme Knowledge) emerges. Sujnaana is the distinguishing mark of a true man.*Ajnaana is the sign of ignorance. Ganapati is the Lord of Vijnaana and Prajnaana (worldly knowledge and spiritual wisdom). Therefore, when a devotee prays to Ganesha, he asks for the conferment of Vijnaana, Prajnaana and Sujnaana." Sai Baba, SS, 12/92, p. 224

       "Ganapati means the Lord of Ganas. He is the Lord of sound and has the form of Pranava." Sai Baba, SS, 10/89, p. 263

Lambodara

       "Lambodara means Guardian of Wealth (Lakshimi-Swaroopa). Here Lakshami represents all (types of) wealth and prosperity, and not only Dhana (money) for which there is a separate deity called Dhana-Lakshami, one of the eight Lakshamis. Here wealth means Sukha (pleasure) and Ananda (bliss). What is the use of having all other things when one has no pleasure or bliss?" Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 264

Vighneshwara

       "Vinayaka is also called Vighneshwara as he removes all obstacles coming in the way of devotees who pray to him sincerely. He is worshipped by students with books so that all that is contained in the books may get into their heads." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 265

       "Vinayaka is one who drives away all sorrows and miseries. He is the enemy of all obstacles. He will not allow any obstacle to come in the way. He is the destroyer of obstacles. He confers happiness and peace (on his devotees)." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 255

Vinayaka

       "Vigato naayakah Vinaayaka", that means "Vinayaka has no master over him. This means that Vinayaka is a totally autonomous and independent deity. In the world, any individual or authority has someone superior above him. But Vinayaka has no overlord." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 254

       "Vinayaka means that he is one who has no master above him. He is the Supreme Master. He is beyond the mindless state. One who has stilled the mind cannot have any master." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 264

Form Of Ganesha

       "The form of Ganapati cannot, by any standard, be termed as handsome. He has a small head, big stomach and uncouth form. But still we are captivated by his form and like to see him more and more and worship him. Beauty does not lie in Ganesha's 'Aakaara' (external form) but in 'Vikaara'. Ganesha sacrificed his own tusk and used it as a pen to write down the Mahabharata to the dictation of Vyasa, for the benefit of humanity .Man worships God only for selfish purposes. No one is prepared to sacrifice anything for getting divine bliss." Sai Baba, SS, 11/93, p. 296

Ganesha Is The Presiding Diety Over Intelligence And Obstacles

        "Vighneshwara is the deity presiding over the intelligence. He endows devotees  with purity of intellect and power of discrimination between right and wrong and between permanent and the transient. Mundane pleasures are momentary and fleeting. Your aim must be to seek that spiritual bliss which is enduring and unchanging and which transcends the pleasures of earth and heaven." Sai Baba, SS, 10/89, p. 262

       "He is called Vighneshwara, because he is regarded as the presiding deity'over obstacles. As Yama is the presiding deity for births and deaths, the grace ofGanapati removes all obstacles." Sai Baba, SS, 10/89, p. 263

Worship Of Ganesha

       "Ganapati has been described as 'Aprameya', transcendent and all-encompassing. Hence, he can be worshipped in any manner." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 239

       "The Vinayaka Principle symbolizes health, bliss, peace, wisdom, prosperity and many other things. Unfortunately, this truth is not recognised by most people. People are content to offer some kind of mechanical worship to any odd figure made of clay and add to the pollution around them. What should be offered to God are things which will please him" Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 238

"Shuklaambara-Dharam" Prayer

      "The devout offer worship to Vinayaka with a well known prayer, beginning with the words 'Shuklaambara-dharam' (The one who wears a white garment). Vigneshwara is described as one who is white like the moon, who has four arms (two for giving worldly protection and two for spiritual benediction), who has ever-pleasing countenance and to whom obeisance is offered for removing all obstacles. While the pious used this prayer in a devout spirit, the impious misused the words to distort the meaning and make it a prayer to a quadruped, which is employed for carrying clothes. It is by such misinterpretation that some people have sullied the great culture of Bharat and undermined the faith in God." Sai Baba, SS, 10/96, p. 274

Positive Effects Of Vinayaka Worship

       The Vinayaka Principle protects man from various hurdles in life and ensures peace and security. Hence, on every auspicious occasion Vinayaka is worshipped." Saiiffaba, SS, 10/96, p. 274

     "Students worship Ganesha for success in academic studies and for developing into good scholars." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 236

       "Students like to worship Ganapati. They pray to Ganesha to confer on them Buddhi (intelligence) and Siddhi (the capacity to realise their aspirations)." Sai Baba, SS, 12/92. p. 224

The Inner Meaning Of The Ten-Day Worship Of Ganesha

       "Realise that you have a conscience that is your guide and consciousness which represents your divinity. Ganapati, who presides over the (ten) senses (five senses of perception and five senses of action), should be your guide in acquiring mastery over the senses. There is an inner meaning in worshipping Ganapati for ten days. The idea is that each day should be dedicated to acquiring control over one of the sense organs (Indriyas). Devotees should realise that control of the senses is quite simple. What is necessary is not to encourage negative feelings when they arise, but to adopt positive attitudes. For instance, Buddha confronted the anger of demon with his love and transformed him" Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 241

Universality Of Vinayaka Worship

       "Vinayaka is worshipped not only in Bharat but in many other countries. The worship of Vinayaka has been prevailing from the times of the Rigveda." Sai Baba, SS, 10/96, p. 274

Parvati And Ganapati

       "Bharatiyas (Indians) hail Vigneshwara (remover of obstacles) as 'Oh son of Parvati! Master of the Ganas (Ganaadhipa)'. Who is this Parvati? What is the relationship between Parvati and Ganapati? People do not normally inquire into these matters. Usually Parvati is considered as the mother of Ganapati and no one recognises the underlying unity between the two.

       Where are Parvati and Ganapati to be located? Are they in the external world or are they immanent in every human being? The truth is both of them are all-pervading and convey the message of spiritual oneness (Ekaatma-bhaavam).

       What is the meaning of the name Ganapati? Where are the Ganas? What is their form? When you investigate this, you find that five organs of perception and five organs of action (Jnaanendriyas and Karmendriyas) are the Ganas. The mind is the master of these ten organs. Buddhi (or intellect) is the discriminating faculty above the mind. The ten senses, the mind and intellect together constitute the Ganas.

       In the word' Gana',' Ga' stands for Buddhi (intellect). 'Na' means 'Vijnaana' (higher knowledge or wisdom). Ganapati is the Lord of the intellect and the higher knowledge. The question may be asked: Are the intellect and the higher knowledge present in the external world or are they to be found within man? The answer is that he is present within each human being. There is no need to seek him in the outside world. Ganapati dwells in every human being in the form of intellect and wisdom.

When Ganapati is described as 'Parvati Tanaya' (son of Parvati), who is this Parvati? Parvati signifies 'Prithvi'. Mother Earth. Everyone is a child of Mother Earth. The meaning of 'Parvati Tanaya' (son of Parvati) is that Ganapati, who is the Lord of Ganas, is the son of Parvati, who symbolizes Shakti (Divine Energy)." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 235

Primacy Of Ganapati

"Once, Parvati and Parameshwara, parents of Ganapati and Subramanyam, wanted to test their intelligence. They summoned both the sons and told them to go around the worlds to find out which of the two would do quicker. The elder of the two, Ganapati, did not stir from his place. The younger son, Subramanyam, mounted his peacock and set out on the round-the-world trip. With a great deal of efforts, he completed the trip and was approaching his parents. Seeing him from a distance, Ganapati circumambulated his parents and claimed himself to be the winner. The mother, Parvati, asked Ganapati:

       "Ganapati! Here is your brother who has gone round the world and you have not stirred from this place. You have made no efforts at all. How can you claim that you have gone round the*world? How can I regard you as the winner?' Ganesha replied: 'Mother! The cosmos is the combination of matter and energy- the unity of father and mother. When I go round you, I have gone round the world itself, as you are the parents of the cosmos. There is no place where you two are not present. I see your omnipresence. By circumambulating both of you, I can claim to have gone round the cosmos.' The moment he uttered these words, Eeshwara (Shiva) was astonished at the high intelligence of his son. He had recognised the truth about the Divine parents. Ishwara then said: "Vinayaka! You are an exemplary son for one and all. Let the world worship you first before they offer worship to me. I am not as intelligent as you are. We are your parents, but not more intelligent than you.' Eeshwara declared: "I have many attributes but not your intelligence. Hence, before offering worship to me, let all people worship you. This is the boon I confer on you." Sai Baba, SS. 10/98, pp. 255-256

Importance Of Ganapati

"Eeshwara is the parent who conferred such an honour of a higher status, than his own, on his son. Hence, Ganapati represents no commonplace principle. He is the embodiment of all potencies. He is the abode of every kind of intelligence. The goddess of wisdom (Saraswati) dwells in his belly. Nothing untoward can happen wherever he is present.

Ganapati occupies the position of one who is the source of all prosperity. Moreover, when he is invoked before any undertaking, there will be no impediments to its completion.

Today every kind of people- the wealthy, the wise, the scholars and the common people- worship Ganapati. Students, with a view to securing the grace of goddess of wisdom and ensuring that there is no hindrance to their studies, place their books before the idol of Ganapati and worship him." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98, p. 256

       "Before we commence any activity we offer prayers to Vinayaka so that the action may be successful without any impediments." Sai Baba, SS, 10/96, p. 274

       "Every music concert begins with a song in adoration of Ganapati like 'Vaataapi Ganapatim Bhaje!' This shows that by worshipping Ganapati, proficiency in any sphere can be achieved. The Ganapati Principle is pregnant with meanings. His story itself is unique. In the Bhagavatam, Potana declares that the stories of the Lord are extraordinary; they are sacred for all the three worlds. They confer all blessings on the listeners and are constantly contemplated upon by saints and sages. This applies to all deities. Every aspect of the Divine is mystery. Whatever the Lord says is full of significance. It is pregnant with sacred meanings." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98, p. 256 & 257

       "Vinayaka is one who has all the five elements under his control. He is embodiment of all potencies." Sai Baba, SS. 10/95, p. 260

Giver Of Siddhi & Buddhi

       "Ganapati is not only the Lord of various activities but is also the presiding deity for all auspicious functions. He can make even inauspicious occasions auspicious. He is always engaged in conferring boons on all. He is giver of prosperity and intelligence. With the grace of Ganapati any desire can be realised." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98. p. 256

       "Ganapati is one who gives us spiritual potency and endows us with Supreme Intelligence. These two are termed as Siddhi and Buddhi respectively." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94. p. 264

       "He (Ganapati) confers happiness and peace (on his devotees). He is the master of all these powers (Siddhi and Buddhi). What is this Siddhi (fulfillment)? When there is purity of mind, you achieve peace (which is Siddhi). Vinayaka is thus the Lord of Buddhi (Intellect) and Siddhi (Self-Realisation). Hence, every being should acquire control over the mind." Sai Baba. SS. 10/95. p. 255

Consorts Of Vinayaka

       "Siddhi and Buddhi are described as his two consorts. As he is the Adhipati or Master of Siddhi and Buddhi, He is regarded as their husband in mundane terms. Vinayaka has no desire and hence, there is no need for him to have wife and children." Sai Baba. SS. 10/94, p. 264

How To Pray To Ganapati?

"In praying to Ganapati, you should not ask for trivial things like passing in examinations or getting jobs. You should only pray: Oh Vighneshwara! Please see that there are no obstacles in what I want to accomplish. I am worshipping you for this purpose." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98, p. 256

"On the Vinayaka Chaturthi Day, students place books in front of the idol of Ganesha and offer worship. They pray to the deity to illumine their minds." Sai Baba. SS, 10/89, p. 264

Ganapati's Vehicle: Mooshika - A Symbolism

        "Some people, out of ignorance, comment upon the big animal form of this Master Deity and question how one with such a huge form can ride on small mouse (Mooshika) . which is depicted as his vehicle. "Mooshika' is symbolic of the darkness of ignorance, while Ganesha signifies the effulgence of wisdom that dispels the darkness of ignorance." Sai Baba. SS, 10/94, p. 264

       "The mouse is the symbol of darkness. Because Vinayaka has control over darkness, he is described as the rider on a 'Mooshika'. He is the one who dispels darkness and sheds light on the world." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 254

       "The mouse (Mooshika) is also a symbol of the sense of smell. The mouse moves about following the direction of the smell ("Vaasana"). Vinayaka is the one who has mastery over 'Vaasanas', that is, desires and ignorance (represented by 'Mooshika'). What is meant by describing the mouse (Mooshika) as the vehicle of Vinayaka? It means that Vinayaka rides on the 'Mooshika', representing desires (Vaasanas) and ignorance (darkness)." Sai Baba. SS, 10/95. p. 254

       "The inner significance of 'Vaasana' in relation to humanity is the heritage of 'Vaasanas' which they bring from their previous lives. These Vaasanas (inherited tendencies) account for the actions of human beings in their present lives. They also signify desires. Without recognising this underlying significance of Vinayaka's mastery over ignorance, people merely wonder how a large being Vinayaka could ride on a tiny creature like a mouse. Vinayaka signifies the triumph of wisdom over ignorance and egolessness over desires." Sai Baba, SS. 9/97, p. 239

       "The mouse is a clever and lively creature. As a symbol, it means that we should be clever and diligent in our actions." Sai Baba. SS. 10/89, p. 263

Vinayaka's Body

       "Vinayaka is known for his high intelligence. The very sight of his figure gives joy to many. The form itself is extraordinary. He has a big belly, a beautiful tusk. penetrating eyes, handsome ears - all these are harmoniously balanced to produce an attractive form.

       Devotees worship Vinayaka in different ways. They address the deity, describing his white robe, his moonlike complexion, his four arms and ever-smiling face and pray for the removal of all obstacles." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98, p. 255 & 257

Symbolism Of Ganesha's Body

       "Vighneshwara is described as one wearing a white cloth. His body is ash-grey. He is depicted as having four arms and a cheerful countenance. The white cloth signifies purity of mind and heart. By worshipping him, you must endeavour to achieve similar purity. Vinayaka always appears serene and calm. By his grace, the devotee must seek to achieve similar equanimity, whatever may be ups and downs in life." Sai Baba, SS, 10/89, p. 264

Mythological Story On Worshipping Elephant Head

       "There was once a demon by name Gajasura. He was a demon king. He performed severe penance. Eeshwara (Lord Shiva) appeared before him. Eeshwara is easily propitiated, and he gives readily whatever one prays for, without examining whether it is right or wrong to confer such a boon. He gives whatever the devotees pray for.

       Gajasura performed penance and prayed to the Lord. Eeshwara (Shiva) appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Gajasura said. 'Lord! You must merge in my stomach.' Shiva granted the boon and lodged himself in demon's stomach. Parvati, not finding Eeshwara, went out in search other Lord and could not find him anywhere. She went to her brother, Vishnu, and appealed to him to trace her missing Lord.

       Vishnu knew that Shiva was in the habit of granting boons indiscriminately and getting into difficulties. He told her, 'Parvati! I know what has happened. Be calm. You go to your abode. I shall bring Eeshwara there.

       Vishnu took Shiva's Nandi and decorated it to appear like a performing bull. Assuming the role of a bull-performer, Vishnu led the bull to the city of Gajasura, playing on a pipe all the way while the bull danced to the tune. The bull was dancing to the music of the divine embodiment of all mysteries. Gajasura was intensely watching the performance of the bull and its master. Pleased with their performance, Gajasura asked the bull trainer, 'What do you want?' The latter said, 'You should not go back on your word. Will you" grant me what I want? You are Gajasura, a great king.'' Yes', he said,' Give me Eeshwara who is in your stomach', said Vishnu. Only Vishnu knew this fact, none else. Gajasura immediately fell at the feet of Vishnu and said. 'Swami! This secret is not known to anybody except you. I will keep my word even at the cost of my life. But there is one condition. My head should be worshipped by all and Eeshwara should wear my skin.' Vishnu agreed to it. This is the reason why Eeshwara wears an elephant's skin. The head of Gajasura is worshipped as Vinayaka' s head." Sai Baba. SS, 10/95, p. 258

Purport Of The Story

       "These are some of the Puranic (mythological) stories relating Vinayaka. They are only stories. But such stories have been related to turn people's minds Godward. If a deep inquiry is made, it will be realised that there is only one God. God is present in all. Vinayaka is not separate from us. The indwelling-Principle of our hearts is the Divine Annie Principle." Sai Baba. SS. 10/95, p. 258

Symbolic Significance Of Ganesha's Elephant Head

       "The symbolic significance of Ganesha's elephant head has to be properly understood. The elephant has profound intelligence. For example, yesterday (8 September 1994) Sai Geetha (Bhagawan Sai Baba's elephant) came running when it heard the sound of Swami's car approaching. Though many cars were following Swami's car. Sai Geeta could unmistakably identify Swami's car from an uncanny recognition of the sound of the car. That is why it is termed 'Gaja Thelivi' (elephantine intelligence). One having a sharp brain is described as having the intelligence of an elephant. It has 'Medha Shakti.' Moreover, the elephant has large ears and it can hear even minute sounds. Shravanam or hearing the glory of the Lord is the first step in spiritual Sadhana for which ears should be sharp. After hearing, one has to ruminate over this and put into practice, (which are termed as Shravana, Manana and Nidhidhyasana). The elephant takes the praise and blame equally. When it hears something bad, it moves its body this way and that way and shakes off the unwanted things while it retains good things quietly." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 265

       "The elephant is highly intelligent. The elephant is known for its fidelity and gratitude. In any circumstances, it will not forget its master. Even in its last moments, if it hears the voice of its master, it will open its eyes and look for him. It will sacrifice its life for its master. These are the lessons man should leam from the elephant. Intelligence without gratitude is valueless. Every man should be grateful to those who have helped him." Sai Baba. SS, 9/97, p. 238

       "The elephant is well known for its intelligence. Among animals it has a prodigious size. No other animal is cast in such a big mould. The elephant's foot encompasses the footprint of the lion, esteemed as the lord of the animal kingdom. In the jungle, hunters follow the footprints of the lion to trace it to its lair. But if an elephant has walked over those footprints, they are totally erased. Moreover, the elephant is the pathfinder for human beings. In a forest covered with dense bushes, humans cannot easily find their way. But once an elephant has gone through the jungle, its trail becomes a path for others to follow. All these traits of the elephant show that in the journey of life, one can find one's way if one has intelligence of the elephant. Because Ganapati is endowed with the form of an elephant, he is associated with the qualities of intelligence." Sai Baba, SS. 10/98. p. 255

       "Vinayaka is endowed with exceptional intelligence. His elephant face is symbolic of supreme intelligence. Those of you who are staying in the hostel, notice cars going up and down the road. On the other side of the hostel is Sai Geeta (Bhagavan's elephant). Sai Geeta takes no notice of the innumerable cars going on the road. But, without any notice, it smells, as it were, the passing of Swami' s car and immediately comes out with a roar to greet Swami. That is the devotion of Sai Geeta to its Lord. The faith of the elephant is as strong as its intelligence. His love for the master is equally strong. It has steadfast love. These qualities of devotion, faith and intelligence are associated with the elephant. Whoever has these qualities can be regarded as endowed with the head of an elephant." Sai Baba, SS, 9/92. p. 223

       "Vinayaka is the Lord of life. Men should leam to shed selfishness and cultivate love of Supreme Self. This is the truth about Vinayaka. Vinayaka should not be considered as merely an elephant-headed deity riding on a mouse." Sai Baba. SS, 10/95, p. 259

Offerings To Ganesha

       "There are some inner secrets that should be noted in the worship of Ganesha. Bharatiyas (Indians) make some special offerings to Ganesha as food offerings. These preparations are made entirely by using steam instead of heat from stove. Combining rice flour with jaggery and til seeds, balls are prepared which are cooked in steam." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97. p. 238

       "On this auspicious day of Vinayaka Chaturthi, what is it that we offer to Vinayaka? All offerings to Vinayaka are free from the use of oil in their preparation. Boiled rice is made into balls, which are filled with til seeds and jaggery. They are then mixed with rice flour and cooked. In this offering, there is no trace of any cooking oil. Hence, the offerings are called oil-less edibles." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98. p. 255

Importance Of Special Offerings

       "Even the offering that is made to Ganesha has great significance because it is prepared with gram flour and jaggery or pepper and enclosed in an outer covering made from flour paste and then cooked in steam without using oil. This is supposed to be a healthy and delicious food item according to the Ayurvedic system. Modem doctors also recognise the importance of such steam-cooked idlis (rice cakes), which they recommend, as post-operative diet for patients as it is easily digestible. Jaggery too has the property of controlling gas formation and this food item gives relief from eye troubles and prevents gastric troubles. In the ancient traditional mode of observing these festivals, great emphasis was laid on good health as the pre-requisite for spiritual pursuits with a healthy mind. For achieving the four goals of human life, Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth). Karma (desire) and Moksha (liberation), one should have basically a healthy body. If you want to earn wealth by righteous means and cherish desires which lead to liberation, you should have sound health." Sai Baba, SS, 10/94, p. 265

"It is found that oil-less edibles are easily digestible. The til seeds serve to keep down the bad effects of phlegm, bile and wind in the body. The jaggery in the preparation is conducive to the improvement of the vision. All these preparations are intended to promote health and are not designed to propitiate the Divine. The energy derived from these edibles is conducive to the promotion of longevity." Sai Baba, SS, 10/98. p. 255

Offerings Of Flowers And Green Grass To Vinayaka

       "Vinayaka is pleased with an offering of flowers of no value ('Jilledy' flowers). It is said that anyone who eats these flowers will become insane. Such flowers are offered to Vinayaka. Vinayaka is also worshipped with an offering of green grass." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95. p. 256

Mythological Story On Offering Grass To Vinayaka

       "In one Puranic (mythological) story, it is stated that once Shiva and Parvati were playing a game of dice. For any game, there has to be an umpire who has to declare who is winner. Shiva and Parvati agreed to have Nandi (the divine bull) as the umpire. Nandi is a favourite of Shiva, as he is a Shiva's vehicle. Although Shiva lost the game, Nandi declared him the winner. It is stated that Parvati was indignant over Nandi's partiality for Shiva and cursed him that he should die from an incurable disease. Thereupon, Nandi fell at the feet of Parvati and pleaded for forgiveness. 'Mother! Forgive me. Should I not show at least this amount of gratitude to one who is my master? Is it not humiliating for me to declare that my master has lost the game? To uphold his honour, I no doubt uttered a lie. But am I to be punished with such severity for such a small offence?' Nandi prayed for forgiveness in this manner. Parvati forgave Nandi and taught him the means to atone for his lapse. She told him, 'The Chaturthi day in the month of Bhadrapada is the day when my son's birthday is celebrated. On that day you have to offer to my son what pleases you most (green grass).' This means that one atones one's sins when one offers to the Lord what is most pleasing and enjoyable to oneself. For Nandi the most enjoyable and relishing food is green grass. As directed by Parvati, Nandi worshipped Ganapati by offering green grass. Nandi was then relieved of his dreaded disease. His health improved and, by the grace of Parvati, he was redeemed." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 256

Symbolic Meaning Of The Story

       "This incident is the basis for the practice recommended for pilgrims to Gaya, Benaras and other places that they should give up something they love most as an offering to the Divine. This means that they should give up something which they love most and not something, which they do not like. Whether it be fruit or vegetable, what you should choose to give up as an offering to God is what you like most. This means that you give up consuming thereafter that vegetable or fruit. This practice has been prevailing from ancient times among pilgrims going to Benaras, Prayag or other sacred places for a holy bath in the Ganga or Yamuna.

People should offer to give up what they relish most as the best offering to the Lord. But they offer something, which they do not like. The Lord seated in the heart declares: 'Be it so!' As you have not offered what is most dear to you but what you dislike most, the Lord also offers to you what you dislike most. The reward for such dubious offerings to God is that instead of health you get disease. If you offer to God what is good, will not God give you what is good for you." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95, p. 257

Offer To Ganesha Which Is Most Pleasing To You

       "What should be offered to God are things which will please Him. This is what Parvati enjoined on Nandishwara. She told him: 'Offer to my son what will please him and what is most pleasing to you.' The Vinayaka festival is designed to celebrate the offerings of such pleasing things to Ganesha." Sai Baba. SS. 9/97. p. 238

What Should You Offer To Ganesha On Ganesha Chaturthi?

       "What is it that you have to offer to Vinayaka on this day of Vinayaka Chaturthi? Today people spend a lot of money in offering various fruits and preparations to God. All these offerings are made only as a ritual. Ultimately, people themselves consume them. No benefit occurs from making these offerings. Patram, Pushpam. Phalam, Toyam - these are the four things you should offer to God. Here Patram (leaf) means body. This body may wither away at any moment. So, never develop attachment towards the body; instead offer it to God. Pushpam (flower) mean Hridaya, the flower that will never fade. Mind can be compared to Phalam (fruit and Toyam (water) stands for tears of joy. All these should be offered to God. This is the offering that God expects." Sai Baba, SS, 10/99, p. 267

Ganesha's Universality

"What is the inner meaning of these kinds of offerings? It means that earlier Vinayaka was used to be worshipped by animals. His face is that of an elephant. His vehicle is mouse. These are symbols from the animal kingdom. They indicate that even birds and beasts worship Vinayaka. Vinayaka is thus worshipped by all beings and is the Lord over all beings. He does not belong to one country or one nation or one period of time. He is related to all places and all times." Sai Baba, SS, 10/95. p. 256

Teachings Of Ganesha

"Only Vinayaka teaches the lessons that are essential for mankind. You should not stop with installing the idol and doing Pooja for a few days. You should make efforts to become a Nayaka or Master over yourself.

       You have the nine-fold path of devotion - Shravanam (hearing), Keertanam (singing God's glory), Vishno-naama-smaranam (thinking of and chanting God's name), Paada Sevanam (serving at His Lotus Feet), Vandanam (obeisance), Archanam (worship), Daasyam (servitude), Saakhyam (befriending God), Atma-nivedanam (surrendering body, mind and soul to God). The elephant signifies combining of the first and the last, that is, Shravanam and Atma-nivedanam, so that all other paths in between are covered fully."

Sal's Messages On Ganesha Chathurthi

       "Today we are celebrating 'Ganesha Jayanti', the birthday of Vighneshwara. We celebrate the Jayanti but do not make any effort to understand the principle (tattwa) behind it. His supreme teaching by his own example is oneness of the universe. When he was asked to go round the universe to get a prize from his parents, he just circumambulated his parents. Lord Shiva and Parvati and claimed that he had completed the trip around the universe by going around them, as Lord Shiva and Parvati represented the universe." Sai Baba, SS, 11/93. p. 296

       "There is a need for observing festivals like Vinayaka Chaturthi for external satisfaction, but what is more important is to realise the inner significance of Vinayaka worship which is likely to be a lasting effect. The worship of inanimate idols should lead to contemplation on the subtle spiritual entity represented by the idol. This is the process by which realisation of the Self (Anna) takes place. Realise and act on the basis that the living divinity is within you. Ganapati represents the ideal person who is guided by intelligence and wisdom. Engage yourself in acts which will please the Divine such as moderation in speech, giving up ill-will and hatred, eschewing all bad thoughts, and restraints on desires." Sai Baba, SS, 9/97, p. 241

       "People look upon the Vighneshwara festival as some routine affair. But Vighneshwara embodies all the forms and all the powers of all the deities. It is not enough to worship Ganesha once a year. We must worship him always. We must think of God every moment of our lives." Sai Baba, SS. 10/98. p. 258

       "Today few persons understand the true spirit of the Ganapati Principle (Tattva). They are concerned about the outer forms and ignore the inner esoteric meaning. This applies to the way many festivals are celebrated. The birthday of Rama is celebrated without understanding the qualities represented by Rama. To be real devotees of Rama, people should cultivate his qualities." Sai Baba, SS. 10/98. p. 257

       "Consider Vinayaka as the Indweller in your heart. He is constantly warning you against what is bad. You ignore the warning and get into trouble. How much will you benefit if you follow the Master within you. Your conscience is the Master. Above all, heed the dictates of the Divine. That will be your best safeguard." Sai Baba, SS. 10/95, p. 260

Glimpses Of Ganesha Chaturthi Celebrations At Prasanthi Nilayam - 1999

       "On this sacred day, 13th September 1999, Bhagavan came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 6.45 a.m. After blessing the devotees with His Darshan, Bhagavan graciously permitted the programme to be started. The students chanted Stotras and hymns in praise of Lord Ganesha and Bhagavan Baba. This was followed by an excellent presentation of devotional songs by famous playback singer and an ardent devotee of Bhagavan, Smt. P. Susheela. At the end of the programme, Prasadam was distributed and Arati was offered to Bhagavan. The programme came to a close at 8.30 a.m.

       The afternoon programme started at 3.25 p.m. with Veda chanting by the students. Thereafter Sri Sandipan Chatterji introduced three speakers who were permitted by Bhagavan to make brief speeches before His Divine Discourse.

       The first speaker was Sri Shiv Raj Patil, former Speaker of the Lok Sabha and an ardent devotee of Bhagavan Baba. Sri Patil said, 'Bhagavan Baba is the embodiment of all Divine Names and Forms. He is also the embodiment of all powers, knowledge and love. He is all in one and one in all. He is the Living God. We are fortunate to be in His presence. He showers love on one and all. The only way to express our gratitude is surrender to Him.' Referring to the Ganesha Chaturthi festival, Sri Patil emphasised its great cultural values in uniting Indians.

       The second speaker. Dr. G. Venkataraman, said that Ganesha worship was very ancient. Referring to unusual form of Lord Ganesha, Dr. Venkataraman said it was customary to associate intelligence with elephant. He further elaborated that intelligence was of two types - worldly intelligence (Medha Shakti) and higher intelligence (Buddhi). The problems arise when we depend on Medha Shakti and ignore Buddhi. Without Buddhi, Medha Shakti can be extremely destructive as in the case of scientific applications.

The third speaker, Sri S.V. Giri, dwelt, in detail, on the symbolism of Lord Ganesha's form. He said that elephant possessed very powerful memory and perception faculties. but it was always careful in its reaction. We should note that Lord Ganesha always rode Mushika (rat), which represented attachment, ignorance and confusion. Ganesha's head is shaped like AUM, which is auspicious and divine. He also taught the lesson of hard work as a scribe of sage Vyasa.

       After these brief speeches, Bhagavan Baba delivered His Divine Discourse and concluded it with the Bhajans "Hari Bhajan Bina..' and 'Pibare Rama Rasam..." The programme came to a close with Arati to Bhagavan at 5.15 p.m.

       As a grand finale to the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations, a large number of colourful processions carrying the consecrated idols of Lord Ganesha converged in Sai Kulwant 'Hall in the afternoon of 15* September 1999 in the Divine Presence of Bhagavan Baba. The processionists all along chanted Veda Mantras and sang Bhajans, which charged the atmosphere with devotional fervour. These processions started arriving at 3.00 p.m. and continued coming one after the other up to 3.30 p.m. They all circumambulated the Mandir and stationed their vehicles with Ganesha idols in front of the Mandir in a row. Bhagavan Baba blessed all the groups of students, teachers and other staff members and posed for photographs with them. In the end, Bhagavan broke coconuts in front of the all Ganesha idols while the entire Mandir reverberated with Bhajans and Veda Mantras. The programme came to a close with Mangala-Aarati to Bhagavan." Editor, SS, 10/99, pp. 277-279

Glimpses Of Ganesha Chaturthi Celebrations At Prasanthi Nilayam - 1995

       "This year's Ganesha Chaturthi, on 23 August 1995, was marked by the presence of a very large number of overseas devotees. There was a slight drizzle in the morning, but that did not deter the devotees from assembling early enough for morning Darshan.

       Bhagavan walked gracefully at precisely 7 a.m. After going round the Darshan lines took His seat in the swivel chair under the awning in front of the Ganesha idol in the Mandir verandah. Immediately the Institute orchestra started their special musical programme, including well-known hymns in praise of Ganesha and some special songs in praise of Bhagavan in different languages. This was followed by a few Bhajans and the distribution of Prasadam blessed by Bhagavan. The morning function concluded with Aarati to Bhagavan. In the afternoon, Bhagavan gave a memorable discourse in the Sai Kulwant Mandap, giving new interpretations to the worship of Vinayaka.

       The Ganesha festival was simultaneously celebrated in the various hostels where different kinds of idols had been installed by the students for worship on five successive days. On the last day, 3 September, the different groups of students brought their Ganesha idols in procession to the Mandir and marched past in front of Bhagavan, singing Bhajans and shouting 'Moriyas' full-throatily. Bhagavan blessed the boys as they passed carrying their Ganesha idols for immersion in the Chitravati River. Bhagavan was obviously pleased with the bubbling devotion of the boys and the enthusiasm with which they were celebrating the festival." Editor, SS, 10/95, p. 266


(From the Book - Festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam and Their Significance)

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