Posted on: Sept 01, 2011
Rejoicing and Realising the Ganesha Principle
pArt - 01
Some call Him Vigneshwara, the One who removes all our obstacles; others adore Him as Vinayaka, the One who is second to none. For the ritualists He is the Agrapujya, the One who has to be offered the first worship; for the students He is Vidya Buddhi Pradata, the One who bestows Knowledge and Wisdom. Mooshika Vahana is how His devotees describe Him and His diminutive vehicle; when the devout relate to His exalted family, they call out to Him as Shambu Kumara and Parvati Nandana; when they think of His enchanting form with that elephantine trunk they adore Him as Sundara Mukha Sri Gajanana, as Gajavadana, Gajamukha, Lambodara; and when they contemplate on His cosmic form and hail Him as the source of all sound and learning, the deity who is the primordial one, they offer worship to Him as Pranava Swarupa, as Sri Ganesha - innumerable are the appellations of this enchanting form of the Lord and equally fascinating are the ways by which this captivating countenance of the Almighty has captured the imagination of people from various lands from time immemorial.
That is why Ganesh Chaturthi, the day dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha, is such a lively and reinvigorating festival not only all over India but also in distant countries like Java, Bali, Cambodia, Thailand and so on. In Western India, especially in the state of Maharashtra, the tremendous religious fervour that this festival evokes in the minds of thousands and the way it galvanises multitudes into an ecstatic state of devotional frenzy is to be seen to be believed. Be it a Hindu or a Muslim, a Parsi or a Christian, everyone joins in the slogan “Ganapati Bappa Morya”; to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi is to connect to the spiritual source of joy within.
While this is how this sacred occasion is celebrated in various parts of India, what what happens in Prasanthi Nilayam every year is truly exceptional.
The student's celebrations begin in the Divine presence of Bhagawan in the Sai Kulwant Hall. On the morning of the auspicious day, Bhagawan's students offer a garland of songs and verses in praise of Lord Ganesha. After the program in the mandir the students congregate in the hostel prayer hall where an elaborate and traditional worship is offered to all the Ganesha idols that are to be installed in the various rooms of the hostel. And then with fanfare and rejoicing the Lord is taken to the rooms, which are decorated to welcome their respective Ganeshas. For the next few days these rooms transform into holy shrines. After scrupulously worshipping Lord Vigneshwara, the remover of obstacles for the next few days, the students prepare to take Him to their beloved Bhagawan on the day of the immersion of the idols.
What follows is the most beautiful and vibrant part of the celebrations. Why describe it in words; see it for yourself in the video that follows and be a part of the festivities!
Besides the beautiful statues of this beatific Lord, the innovative and decorative chariots, the vigorous and vociferous belting of chants, the colourful costumes, the dance, the singing and the unmistakable gaiety, what has always distinguished Ganesh Chaturthi in the holy hamlet of Puttaparthi is the deep involvement of Bhagawan in every part of the celebration. In fact, it is Swami who always sent the beautiful idols of Ganesha to every institution in Prasanthi Nilayam; He fixed the date for the immersion of idols including the time, the place and the way it has to be done; even mentioning which class should be doing what, when and how. He always is the sole inspiration for this grand celebration and as with every event that Bhagawan orchestrates, Swami used this occasion too to instill indelible lessons in the hearts of His young brigade. Here is one such, narrated by the current warden of the Brindavan Campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Dr. T. Ravi Kumar:
So that is how interested and involved was Swami even in the making of this celebration. The students were witness to not only yet another instance of His omnipresence and omniscience but also had a glimpse of how significant this festival was, and how much importance Swami attached to observing this festival in its entirety. In fact when the rituals are adhered to with a steadfast and sincere attitude, the results they bestow are absolutely gratifying. Perhaps the best example of this is the experience that Baba granted to Swami Amritananda, a former disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi, which has been duly documented in Baba's biography Sathyam Shivam Sundaram, Volume I. This is what Prof. Kasturi, the author of this volume, writes:
Swami Amritananda came to Baba after the passing away of his guru, Sri Ramana Maharishi of Thiruvannamalai.
When Amritananda first came to Prasanthi Nilayam, Baba accosted him, "Amritam", and Amritananda was genuinely astonished at the familiarity and even affection with which the call was saturated, and said, "Only Ramana Maharshi, with whom I spent seventeen years, accosted me in that manner. The voice and manner were exactly the voice and manner of the Maharshi!"
Later Baba asked the eighty-five year old Swami about a Ganapati Homa, a sacrifice to Lord Ganesha, which he had performed for forty-one days when he was seven years old!
He told the Swami all the details of that sacrifice, including the long mantra involved chanting which the offerings were placed each time in the fire. The mantra, as disclosed by Baba, begins, Om Sreem Hreem Kleem Gloum Gam.
Baba told him that he had repeated this mantra a thousand times a day for forty-one days and made as many coconut offerings in the fire of the sacred sacrifice. "But what is the reward promised in the scriptures?" Baba asked the old ascetic.
He answered that if the sacrifice is done with scrupulous regard for ritual, Lord Ganapati Himself will appear in "the fiery enclosure" (the homa kunda), as the golden-colored effulgent elephant-headed God; that with His trunk He will receive the final and concluding offerings and will grant everlasting bliss by means of His darshan.
Baba asked him whether he had the Vision. Amritananda replied that it was not so easy for a seven year old boy to get the Vision of the Lord by the mere number and quantity of offerings and mantras. Baba interrupted him, saying, "No, no. It is due to all that mantra and all that sacrifice that you have now come to Me. You will today, after an interval of seventy-eight years, get the reward mentioned in the scriptures."
He asked the Swami to look at Him, and when he did, Amritananda saw the golden-colored elephant-faced Lord, Ganapati as described in ancient texts. He was overwhelmed with joy and bliss for four days following this darshan, and forsook food, drink, and sleep.
That is how Bhagawan confirmed the faith of this holy man in his spiritual practices. And to inculcate this steadfastness of devotion in His students, Baba never missed an opportunity to instruct them about the efficacy of the celebration of this sacred occasion so that through this they could inculcate in them devotion towards Lord Ganesha.
- Radio Sai team