Volume 17 - Issue 09
September 2019
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Posted on: Sept 2, 2019

The “Red and Gold” Ganesha

How to Joyously Revel in His Grace

 

“I love Ganesha.

"I don’t know why but I am crazy about Him! I have loads of pictures of Him – really exquisite ones which you might not have seen anywhere! I like anything about Him!”

The Pull of Ganesha

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These are not the words of a Ganesha devotee or a person steeped in Indian culture and spirituality.

They are the words of a widely travelled, international media consultant, who is non-religious and keeps her distance from any discussions on God, rituals and religion.

In fact, when I accidentally mentioned ‘Ganesha’, there was a sparkle in her eyes!

“I do not know why but I love Him! He is adorable! I keep collecting His images,” she added excitedly.

“The Lord knows how to hook each one to the Source,” I said to myself.

What makes creation interesting is its diversity.
It’s the variety in it which makes everything so vibrant.
We all have our own likes, tastes, ideas and perceptions. Maybe it is for this reason that we have so many varied and beatific manifestations of the Divine.

What is awe-inspiring about the elephant-faced Lord, is His universal appeal. Are you aware that Ganesha is on the currency of Indonesia which incidentally is an Islamic state?

 

In the Vedic hymn “Ganapati Atharva Sheersham”, Ganesha is described as ‘Jagat Karanam Achyutam…’ which means that “He, the Imperishable One, descended within the manifested universe for the welfare of the world during the beginning of creation.”

Another description of Ganesha is:

Raktam Lambodaram Shoorpakarnakam Raktvaasasam, Rakta Gandhaanu Liptaangam, Rakta Pushpai Supoojitam

This means – The one “With a round stomach, He is blood red in colour. He has elephant ears and is attired in red clothes. He is smeared with red sandalwood paste and decorated with red flowers.”

This set me thinking, as in this verse everything about Ganesha is described to have a reddish glow. But none of the statues of this Lord at Prasanthi Nilayam are red in colour.

Our adorable Ganesha at the entrance of our Prasanthi Nilayam ashram is black while the one at the Gopuram Gate entrance has a golden hue. The Ganesha who was earlier in the darshan ground in Prasanthi Nilayam was white. (This was before the Sai Kulwant Hall was built.)

When the Vedas describe Him as being red, why then don’t we see more of red Ganeshas? This made me very curious!

The Ganesha Created by The Father

I went to sleep one night with these thoughts, in January 2018. As it was the beginning of a new year, I had begun contemplating on Ganeshas as He is hailed as the ‘Lord of all auspicious beginnings.’
 
The next morning, I woke up with this question still ringing in my mind.

Suddenly my eyes fell on the little library I have in my room.
Almost involuntarily, my hands went to the book, ‘Life is a Challenge, Meet it!’ by Mrs Joy Thomas.

To my pleasant surprise, in it was the chapter called, ‘Ganapati, the Remover of Obstacles’. I settled down right there and eagerly turned the pages.

Imagine my joy and delight when the chapter opened up and I read these lines by the author:

“My first reaction to the image was one of utter delight in its beauty. The craftsmanship is of course unequalled. The red cloisonné and red gemstones which make up His garment are striking against the background of gold.”

This was description of a Ganesha that Bhagawan had Himself manifested for the author. When I turned that page, I froze! I was speechless.

It had the photo of the Ganesha Swami had specially created for Mrs Joy. This Ganesha matched the description mentioned in the Vedas to perfection!

 
The idol of Ganesha materialised for Mrs Joy Thomas in February 1990  

He was shining in red and gold. His garments were made of red stones. Not only His crown, even His necklace was red. His body shone in gold. It was an exquisite piece of art!

The author further wrote, “I wasn’t clear why Baba chose this particular gift for me… of course my husband Raye had asked Swami once again to help with my knees.”

The moment Raye told Bhagawan to do something about my knees, He said, “I know. I know. She doesn’t like having to be in that wheel chair.”

The next second Swami’s hand went up in the air and onto His hand came this enchanting Ganesha. Bhagawan then said, “Ganapati heals all diseases, overcomes all difficulties, solves all problems and removes all obstacles.”

Saying this Swami placed this lovely red Ganesha on her palm and added, “Put it in your bag.”

So Mrs Joy placed it in a small pouch and wore it around her neck. They were leaving for California that day.

The Remover and Creator of Obstacles

Once they got into the plane, there was an in-flight movie going on. It was a good story and Joy started watching it keenly. Suddenly, two kids who were sitting in the front got up on their seats and blocked her view completely. Fortunately after a while, they settled down.

But a few minutes later when a critical plot was unfolding in the film, these two children stood up again. But now they just continued to stand. It seemed as if they were going to stand forever.

Joy was greatly disturbed. She did not know what to do. As a flash came the thought - “Swami said that Ganesha removes all obstacles…” She immediately put her hand into her little bag and prayed, “Ganesha, You should be able to do something about this!”

No sooner had she completed the prayer, than the two kids dropped into their seats as though something had collapsed beneath them! They did not rise again till the movie was over.

Mrs Joy was in joy, needless to say. But when she shared this with her husband, they discussed about it and concluded that it was just a coincidence. “Ganesha is not going to be bothered with such trivial requests,” they said to themselves.

They were going to Maui, in Hawaii, to rest and relax for a few days, before returning to their home in Los Angeles.

After spending a week in this beautiful island, they flew to the US via Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital. When they disembarked at Honolulu and went to the international terminal, Mr Thomas checked whether their bags had arrived.

He was told that their bags were on another airline and had not yet arrived.

 In case there was a delay, the bags would be sent to him on the next flight, which would be two days later.

The couple became anxious. They needed their luggage when they landed at Los Angeles

Just before they boarded the plane, a steward came up to Mr Thomas once again, to say that they had done everything possible but were unsuccessful in having their bags on board.

It was at this point that Joy remembered her Ganesha again. She put her hand into the pouch and said, “Everybody else has done all they can do. Now it is up to You, Ganesha!”

She completed this prayer and in the next instant there was an announcement by the pilot: “The control panel is showing a light. So, the plane is going to be delayed by a few minutes.”

Five minutes passed, and the captain came on air again: “Now we will take off.”

 
  Swami accepts the manuscript of her book from Mrs Joy Thomas, Kodaikanal 1991

At that moment, a steward came hurriedly to Mr Thomas to say: “We are so happy to inform you that your baggage is on board. During the short delay, they were delivered. They are safe in the luggage compartment.”

Mr and Mrs Thomas looked at each other in wonder: “Was this another coincidence?”

“This time the circumstances were not as trivial as before, still it was not an earth-shaking matter,” Joy thought and felt, “Perhaps my dependence on God on everyday affairs had been too limited. Maybe this is what Baba wants me to learn.”

Once they reached home, there was a mountain of mail to be seen and cleared.

One was from the Internal Revenue Service. This was not a welcome thing; everyone dreaded a mail from the IRS.

The couple wondered as to why this was happening to them as they were diligent in paying their taxes and complying with the rules of the land.

The cover of that letter said: “To the Trustees under the Will of Shirley Jean Kennedy”.

Mrs Shirley was Mrs Joy’s friend and co-worker who had a huge estate and a 14-year-old daughter. Before she passed away in 1974, she gave the management of the estate as well as the guardianship of her daughter to Mrs Thomas.

When the daughter of Mrs Shirley turned 25, Joy transferred the estate and all the assets to her and dissolved the trust. Even though all the accounting was done and the relevant  documents had been submitted, for some reason the government was asking for some papers concerning tax returns.

Mrs Joy called the IRS office multiple times to clarify but their phone was always busy. Finally, she sought her Ganesha’s help and tried one more time. Still, to her utter dismay, she could not get through the connection.

This was the first time her prayers to Ganesha had not worked.

Now this  was an important matter unlike the previous occasions.
She wished that she could trace some papers relating to the estate.
Once the final accounting was done and the transfer was complete, she had discarded all the documents.

In a desperate attempt, she once again randomly put her hand into her records closet. To her amazement, her fingers fell on a document which was vital for that transaction. She had no clue how it got there as she had destroyed everything concerning the estate.

Having got this important paper, she called the IRS office again. Now the line connected! With the help of the document, she answered all the queries and the problem was solved right there and then.

In fact, a few weeks later, there was even a polite note from the IRS thanking her and complimenting her for her diligence.

Pondering over this incident, Mrs Joy writes, “I wondered whether or not Ganesha had given me the help that I needed, even though it was not the help I asked for… I learned that Ganesha not only clears the path for our dharmic activity, He also blocks our way when we are not choosing correctly.”

Many people told Mrs Joy that when it comes to the IRS, a telephone call will not do, one has to submit everything in writing. But in her case, instead of her writing to the IRS, the IRS wrote to her praising her conscientiousness!

Prayer Must be a Call of Love

In the Ganapati Atharva Seersham, Ganesha is also described as “Bhaktanu Kampinam Daivam” meaning, “The Lord whose heart throbs for His devotees!”

When His devotee is in trouble, the Lord is restless; His heart indeed beats only for His devotees.

Mrs Joy further adds, “I began to realise that Swami was increasing my faith in a God of Love who was willing to help each one of us even in the smallest of difficulties in our lives. He was also bringing me closer to the ideal of ‘Praying Without Ceasing’. He once told in a group interview, ‘Prayer is everything’.”

They say, prayer is not a spare wheel that you put out when you are in trouble. It is a steering wheel that directs the right path throughout your life.

Often, we look at our resources in comparison to our challenges and become anxious. But when we pray, we see the enormity of God’s resources, then all our fears just melt away.

Bhagawan beautifully says: “Prayer alone makes life happy, harmonious and worth living in this universe.”

It does not matter which colour Ganesha we have in our altar. Red, black or white. What matters, according to Swami, is our prayers to Him. And our faith in Him.

Let our ceaseless prayers to Lord Ganesha – the One who converts all our tragedies into triumphs – confer on us peace, strength and serenity.

Let us pray. Let us love. Let us give and forgive.
Let us sacrifice. Let us smile and be delightful like Lord Ganesha!

- By Bishu Prusty
Team Radio Sai

 

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