RAMAKRISHNA MISSION ASHRAMA, BELGAUM

Activities of the Ashrama along the lines laid down by Swami Vivekananda – "Atmano Mokshartham Jagadhitaya cha" or "for the liberation of self & welfare of the world."

Ganesh Utsav 2010

Sri Ganesh Utsav was celebrated in the Ashrama from 11th to 13th September with the usual fanfare and gaiety. Many devotees too participated in this function. A slide of the Visarjana event is given below.

PROGRAMME

11th September to the 13th

10:30 am to 12:00 noon — Special Puja to Lord Ganesh
6:00 pm — Vedic Chanting and Ashtottara Archana
6:30 pm — Arati and Stotras
6:55 pm to 7:45 pm — Arati to Lord Ganesh & Bhajans

13th September 2010 at 7:45 pm
Immersion Ceremony on Monday

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SYMBOLOGY OF LORD GANESHA
(relevant matter extracted from “A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism” by Swami Harshananda)

“Ganapati or Ganesha, also known as Vinayaka is perhaps the most popular of the Hindu deities worshipped by all sections of the Hindus. No undertaking, whether sacred or secular, can get started without first honouring and worshipping him. This is understandable and highly desirable since he is said to be the lord of obstacles (Vighnesvara or Vighnaraja)…

Despite the fact that Ganapati is a highly venerated and all-important deity, his ‘head’ has often been a mystery for others! No doubt, our puranas have easily ‘solved’ this problem, each in its own way. But this has satisfied neither the layman nor the scholar…Let us now make an attempt at unravelling this symbology.

‘Gana’ means category. Everything that we perceive through our senses or grasp through our mind can be expressed in terms of kind, of category. The principle from which all such categories have manifested themselves is Ganapati, the Lord of categories. In effect, it means the origin of the whole creation, God himself.

A common Sanskrit word to denote the elephant is ‘Gaja’. Hence the name Gajanana or Gajamukha (‘elephant-faced’) for Ganapati. But the word ‘Gaja’ has a much deeper connotation. ‘Ga’ indicates ‘gati’, the final goal towards which the entire creation is moving, whether knowingly or unknowingly; ‘ja’ stands for ‘janma’, birth or origin. Hence ‘Gaja’ signifies God from whom the worlds have come out and towards whom they are progressing, to be ultimately dissolved in him. The elephant head is thus purely symbolical and points to this truth. Another factor we observe in creation is its two-fold manifestation as the microcosm (Suksmanda) and the macrocosm (Brahmanda). Each is a replica of the other. They are one in two and two in one. The elephant head stands for the macrocosm and the human body for the microcosm. The two form one unit. Since the macrocosm is the goal of the microcosm, the elephant part has been given greater prominence by making it the head.

Perhaps, the boldest statement concerning philosophical truths ever made is contained in that pithy saying of the Chandogya Upanishd (6.8.7)” ‘tat-tvam-asi’, ‘That thou art’. It simply means: ‘You, the apparently limited individual, are, in essence, the Cosmic Truth, the Absolute.’ The elephant-human form of Ganapati is the iconographical representation of this great Vedantic dictum. The elephant stands for the cosmic whereas the human stands for the individual. The single image reflects their identity…

Let us now try to interpret the other factors involved in the symbology of this god. His ears are large, large enough to listen to the supplications of everyone, but like the winnowing basket, are capable of sifting what is good for the supplicant from what is not. Out of the two tusks, the one that is whole stands for the Truth, the One without a second. The broken tusk, which is imperfect, stands for the manifest world, which appears to be imperfect because of the inherent incongruities. However, the manifest universe and the unmanifest unity are both attributes of the same Absolute. The bent trunk is a representation of Omkara or pranava which being the symbol of Brahman, the Absolute, is declaring as it were that Ganapati is Brahman itself. His large belly indicates that all the created worlds are contained in him…

How we wish that Lord Ganapati had chosen a big bandicoot as his mount. The fact, however, is otherwise and that privilege has been conferred on a small mouse! The word musaka (=mouse) is derived from the root ‘mus’ which means ‘to steal’. A mouse stealthily enters into things and destroys them from within. Similarly, egoism enters unnoticed, into our minds and quietly destroys all our undertakings. Only when it is controlled by divine wisdom, it can be harnessed to useful channels, Or, the mouse that steals, can represent love that steals the human hearts. As long as human love is kept at the low level, it can create havoc. Once it is directed towards the Divine, it elevates us. The mouse that is wont to see the inside of all things can stand for the incisive intellect. Since Ganapati is the lord of he intellect, it is but meet that he has chosen it as his vehicle.”

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This entry was posted on September 19, 2010 by in Festivals and tagged , , , , .