There are many mantras dedicated to various deities in the Veda. It is due to this that they who do not understand the Veda assume it teaches polytheism. The Veda also proclaims that there is only one supreme Lord who is immanent in all. He displays his powers in many aspects and in doing so, he appears as the Lord of that particular aspect. When creating – he is Brahma, when preserving – he is Vishnu and when absorbing – he is Shiva. For example: a man is a father to his son, a husband to his wife and a brother to his sister. The man remains the same but he appears in various guises to the son, wife and sister. The same applies to the Lord who is antaryaami and pervades all.
This Lord is called Ganapati when he is the master of the ganaas (groups) at the beginning of creation. The word Gananayaka means the “Lord of Groups”. The planets revolve around the Sun in groups. Scripture says that there are 12 Suns in all including ours which revolve around an even greater Sun in the center. The aspect of the Lord immanent in creation who rules and regulates these groups in the cosmos is Ganapati.
Humans exist as 7 groups on earth. These groups are again sub-divided into races, sub-races and families and undergo constant development. The shakti which drives and governs these groups is again Ganapati.
Speech only becomes meaningful when divided into groups of words. The Word and it’s meaning exist separately as Parvati and Parameshwara. They come together to give birth to Ganapati – the meaning of the word. The divine couple exist as two lines travelling from the same source which can only be joined by the third line which is Ganapati. This forms the triangle which is Ganapati’s yantra. We cannot form a shape with two lines, we need a third line to join them which is why the first geometrical shape in the cosmos is a triangle. Other shapes like the square, diamond etc. can only be formed after this.
There is a difference between vocalized sound and speech. This sound when broken up into parts forms vowels and consonants. These, when joined together form words and these in turn form sentences. A collection of sentences forms a story. This story is life itself. If this life is to be made joyous, one should know where to pause and where to start. This knowledge of pausing and starting is granted by the Lord of obstacles – Vinayaka. We require brakes when driving a motorcycle or a car. It can be deadly if they are non-functional. The vocal chords in us which produce sound are called Graavaanaa in the Veda. Ra represents the agni bija or the Ignition principle. ‘g‘ is the Ganapati bija or braking principle. This means the braking principle, represented by Ganapati, constantly regulates the flow of speech to produce meaningful alphabets, words and sentences. This is why he is called by names such as Vighnanayaka, Vighneshwara etc.
There is a parallel between the spoken word and creation. The word eternal means to have no beginning or end. Tamarind, water and salt exist separately as ingredients but when mixed together in the right proportions create Sambaar. This is apuurvam (a new manifestation of matter that has no existence in the past). In the same way, the manifestation of creation is a continuous process of being re-created at every instant. The energy or Shakti that powers this process is called Hasta – the Nakshatra with the same name being one of it’s manifestations. This is why Ganesha is also called Hastimukha.
This Shakti also provides the impetus for the anugraha or grace of the Guru in our solar system. He is also called Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati and is the purusharuupa or male form of Saraswati. He is to be propitiated before all new beginnings, whether they be studies or auspicious occasions. Those who seek aishwaryam (that which you need comes to you unasked for) or material or spiritual comforts will find these within each reach if they worship Ganapati.
The practice of performing udvaasana (sending away the deity) at the end of Ganapati puja is a practice that is of recent origin and has no Vedic sanction. It may be that a section of society felt they can go back to their vices once the divine presence has left the place of worship and so added this step to the ritual.
The very act of worship must involve performing aavaahana or invoking the presence of the deity into oneself. The Ganapati mantra must be chanted while visualising the deity in our heart and brow centers. Gam is the Mantra, the form of the deity is the Yantra and the act of visualizing Ganapati is the Tantra. The state of mantra siddhi is experienced when these three come together as one. Those who experience this find their individuality melting into and becoming one with Ganapati – this is called the Gyaana stithi and they are then elevated into the state of samaadhi from here. The saadhaka or aspirant then himself becomes Ganapati. The grace of the Lord flows into the world through him as a conduit.
We need shakti to rise from the bottom. This concept is true whether it be applied to an object we are lifting with our arms or to raise our level of consciousness to experience higher planes of existence in dhyana. This act of raising is called uddhara. This shakti which is inherent in Ganapati is called his Vakratunda. Those who possess this shakti can raise themselves as well as others.
The story goes that mother Parvati created Ganesha out of the paste she applied to her body before bathing. The divine mother is Paraaprakriti. Her paste symbolises the parorajas lokaa (the supermundane or undifferentiated consciousness beyond the three gunaas). It is the state of existence before the creation of multiple lokaas (planes of consciousness).
Creation (the form she created from the paste) then manifested in globular shapes firstly onto the etheric and then onto the physical plane. These are the laddoos we see in Ganesha’s hands. There are many such secrets of Vedic symbolism which are known to those who venerate Ganesha. He is the giver of buddhi (discriminative intellect) as well as siddhi (ability to materialize wishes). These are two shaktis under his control which are commonly symbolized as his two wives according to scripture.
He who surrenders himself to Ganesha through daily worship is blessed with a keen intellect and the ability to materialize his desires whether they be mundane or spiritual.
-Master MRL Rao