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Posted on: Aug 31, 2014
Offer To God What He Is Fond Of
No festival in the Bharathiya tradition lacks a deep inner significance. In fact, these festivals, and means and modes of celebrating them have been passed on from generation to generation so that we would pause and reflect on the deep inner meaning of the rituals and of all that is associated with the festivals. No deity is as endearing and widely loved as Lord Ganesha. Bhagawan too never lost an opportunity to remind us to worship and reflect upon this 'Elephant-headed remover of all obstacles', worldly as well as spiritually. Every institution of Bhagawan, be it His schools and colleges, or hospitals and ashrams will always have a duly worshipped Ganesha idol welcoming one and all. Why do we worship Ganesha? What is the significance of certain appellations of Lord Ganesha and what can we learn from them? In a discourse delivered on the occasion of Vinayaka Chaturthi in the year 1997 (6 September), Baba gave us answers to these questions and also spoke about the idea behind the celebration of such festivals. Even as we celebrate this Lord Ganesha, whose very thought fills us with energy, confidence and joy, we bring for you a few clips from that divine discourse!
1. Bharathiyas hail Vighneshwara as; "Oh Son of Parvathi! Master of the Ganas (Ganadhipathi)." Who is this Parvathi? Whose Son is this Ganapathi? What is the relationship between Parvathi and Ganapathi? People do not normally enquire into this Truth. Usually, people say Parvathi is a Mother and Ganapathi Her Son. But no one recognizes the underlying unity between the two.
2. What is the meaning of the name Ganapathi? What are these Ganas? Where are the Ganas? What is their form? When you investigate this, you find that the Jnanendriyas and Karmendriyas (five organs of perception and the five organs of action) are the Ganas. The mind is the master over these ten senses. That which transcends the mind and has the ability of discrimination is the Buddhi (intellect). The ten senses, the mind and the intellect together add up to 12; these 12 entities are called Ganas. In the word Gana, Ga stands for Buddhi (intellect). Na means Vijnana (the higher knowledge or wisdom). Ganapathi 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 for Ganapathi in the outside world. Ganapathi dwells in every human being in the form of intellect and wisdom.
3. The inner significance and adoration of Parvathi and Ganapathi is not of recent origin. Ganapathi is lauded at several places in the Rig Veda. This clearly shows that Ganapathi is as ancient as the Vedas. In several hymns of the Vedas and the Upanishads, Ganapathi's name is mentioned. There are many prayers addressed to Ganapati in the Narayanopanishad. There are prayers to Him in the Thaithiriya Upanishad also. The Ganapathi Gayathri Mantra also figures in the former Upanishad. Vedas explains that Ganapathi is all powerful and all-pervading. As there is no master above Him, Ganapathi has the appellation Vinayaka. He is all powerful and independent. Without recognizing the esoteric significance of the Vinayaka Principle, people look only at the external form and offer worship in mundane terms, forgetting the inner view and understanding the inner significance.
4. Students today worship Ganesha for success in academic studies and for developing and acquiring knowledge. As a matter of fact, all that is learnt by these studies may be termed education or learning but cannot be called Vidya (true knowledge or wisdom). To apply the term Vidya, which has a profound inner significance, to modem academic education is a misuse of language. What we pursue today is education, not Vidya. Vidya is awareness of the power that animates every cell in one's being. From birth to death, all that a man learns and understands is through this awareness. Vidya is in reality, 'A way of life'. Talking, eating, walking, and thinking all these are part of Vidya. Everything you do is part of Vidya. So Vidya is the total awareness of life. What is this awareness? Knowing in bits and pieces is not awareness. Complete, comprehensive knowledge is true awareness. It comprehends everything in its totality. It is for this kind of' knowledge one should pray to Vinayaka. Passing the examination and acquisition of degrees does not constitute Vidya. Even the knowledge of how to give up one's breath in the very end, is also part of this Vidya.
5. There are some inner secrets that should be noted in the worship of Ganesha. Bharathiyas make some special offerings to Ganesha as food offerings. These preparations are made entirely by using steam instead of heat from a burning stove. Combining rice flour with Jaggery and til (sesame) seeds, balls are prepared which are cooked in steam. In Ayurveda this is accorded a high place for its curative properties. The jaggery in the dish is a remedy for various ailments of the human body like bile and phlegm. The til seeds serve to purify the arteries. It also helps to improve the vision. This means that all that is offered to Ganesha this day are healthy and nourishing. It should be noted that food cooked in steam are easy to digest. Even if you were to go to the hospital, you will see that for patients who have just undergone heart surgery, steam cooked idlis (rice cakes) are given, the very next day after surgery. Oily preparations like upma and bonda are not given. Idlis are given because they are easily digested.
The Vinayaka Principle, in short, symbolizes health, bliss, peace, wisdom and prosperity. Unfortunately this truth is not recognized by most people. People are content to offer some kind of ritual worship to any odd figure made of clay and add to the pollution by offering flowers which are full of dirt around them. What should be offered to God are things which will please Him. This is the Idealism, what Mother Parvathi has taught.
6. There is an inner meaning in worshipping Ganapathi for ten days. The idea is that each day should be dedicated to acquiring control over one of the Indriyas (sense organs). Then only we can achieve the control of these ten senses in these ten days.
Students and devotees should understand that control of the senses is quite simple. Since you don't realise this, you struggle. You make it appear a big problem, but in reality it is very easy to control the senses. In fact your approach is negative and opposing. Because of this the senses are becoming even more powerful. What is necessary is a more gentle and positive effort.
Observing festivals like Vinayaka Chaturthi and performing worship are mere superficial activities. They are indeed necessary, but what is more important is to realize the inner significance. You can endlessly perform this superficial worship but it will all have to be given up some day. The inner significance and feelings would remain permanent. That which is impermanent proves the presence of the permanent. The non-living proves the existence of the living. There you see the lion (a brass statue), it is lifeless. Had it been a real lion, none of you would be seated here. That lifeless lion proves the existence of a real lion; it brings to your mind a real lion. Similarly lifeless thoughts and feelings will lead you to the conscious and lively Atmic principle. Realise and act on the basis that the living Divinity is within you, Ganapathi 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 and giving up ill-will and hatred. You should not hate any being in this creation.
- Radio Sai Team
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