Gaṇa

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Gana, GaNa, Gana


Gaṇa literally means ‘group’.

The word gaṇa has been used in several senses. The most general meaning is ‘an assemblage or a group.’ In the puraṇas the word is widely used to indicate the pramatha gaṇa.[1] Gaṇapati or Gaṇeśa, the famous and popular deity of the religion, is their leader.

Gaṇa in Purāṇas

Sometimes, the purāṇas also mention ‘gaṇadevatās,’ which are the special classes of deities. They are 422 in number distributed among nine classes as follows:

  1. Ādityas (12)
  2. Viśvedevas (10)
  3. Vasus (8)
  4. Tuṣitas (36)
  5. Abhāsvaras (64)
  6. Anilas (49)
  7. Mahārājikas (220)
  8. Sādhyas (12)
  9. Rudras (11)

Gaṇa in Military Science

In the military science it indicates one of the four formations of an armed force. It consists of the proportion of the four aṅgas or limbs being as follows:

  1. 27 elephants
  2. 27 chariots
  3. 81 horses
  4. 135 foot-soldiers

Gaṇa in Nakṣatras

The nakṣatras or groups of lunar mansions are also divided into gaṇas such as:

  1. Devagaṇa - Aśvinī, Mṛgaśiras etc.
  2. Naragaṇa - Bharaṇi, Ārdrā etc.
  3. Rākṣasa-gaṇa - Kṛttikā, Citrā etc.

This grouping helps the astrologers to match the horoscopes of the boy and the girl for marriage.

Gaṇa in Poetry

Sanskrit prosody has eight gaṇas each comprising of three syllables. By the permutation and combination of these, several meters are obtained. For instance, the ‘ya-gana’ has three syllables, one laghu(short) and two gurus (long). Similarly the other gaṇas like ma-gaṇa, ta-gaṇa, ra-gaṇa and so on are also defined.

Gaṇa in Sanskrit Grammar

In grammar it is used to indicate the groups of certain padas or words like gaura, utsa, dhātus or verbal roots like bhu-ādi, ad-ādi and so on. They have various utility in the various grammatical processes.

Gaṇa in Law

‘Gaṇa’ is also a term signifying a certain type of courts administering the laws of republics.

References

  1. Pramatha gaṇa is the group of demi-gods and the associates of Śiva.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore