Ganapatya Vidyas

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Shankara Bharadwaj Khandavalli

Ganapatya (tradition of Ganapati worship) is another wide school of Mantra Vidyas. Ganapati as the name suggests is the lord of Ganas or divine hosts. He is the son of Uma and Siva, and the elder brother of Kumaraswamy. He is the elephant faced god with moon adornment and snake garland. He rides over a mouse.

Ganapati is worshiped in different forms, four or eight handed, white or reddish brown or golden in hue. In some forms He is worshiped as a brahmacari, and in some forms He has two consorts Siddhi (the deity of success, accomplishment, achievement, completion) and Buddhi (the deity of wisdom).

In most of the forms He is depicted as having one tusk. However the word ekadantam is explained in different ways. In one breakup of the word as eka-dantam it means having one danta or tusk. In another breakup it is ekadam-tam, meaning The Only You.

Aspects of Ganapati

Ganapati is a vast and mystic Devata, with many facets. His presence is seen in almost all forms of knowledge – mantra, literature, music, dance and philosophy to name a few. He is the giver of wealth, possessions, bliss, knowledge, longeivity, liberation, in short anything and everything that one seeks.

As a Devata, there are two major aspects of Ganapati. One is the Vak/word form of Brahman, or Paravak. Ganapati as the lord of vak is familiar to sadhakas of mantra marga, and those who pursue traditional music. He presides over the four forms of vak – para pasyanti madhyama and vaikhari. The five faced Ganapati is seated in the muladhara as para vak or the eternal/absolute/unmanifest. He rules the other three forms of word that emanate from para. Thus He presides over the path of worship through vak. He is the giver of purity of vak, and control over it. Vak represents word, knowledge and wisdom, both worldly and eternal. Ganapati is the giver of these. In traditional music Ganapati presides over the raga Hamsadhvani.

In this context His name Ganapati serves a different purpose. He is the lord of akshara Ganas or the groups of alphabet.

The other major aspect of Ganapati is that of Vighnaraja or the lord of vighnas or obstacles. He is the one who creates and also absolves people from obstacles. Ganapati is worshiped before beginning anything auspicious/important in life, be it worship or journey or marriage or construction or war or study. Worshiping Ganapati is said to ensure there will be no obstacles in completing anything auspicious. However it is not that everything that is begun by praying to Ganapati will not have any obstacles. The lord of obstacles is also the granter of well being, and He will create/control obstacles in a way that they result in the wellbeing of the devotee.

Worshiping Ganapati before the beginning of any auspicious activity is not specific to Ganapatya but all traditions of Sanatana Dharma. However some traditions worship Him as Ganapati and some traditions have theology that corresponds to Ganapati. For instance Vaishnavas worship Vishvaksena as the ruler of obstacles, the Vaishnava counterpart of Ganapati. Saiva, Sakta, Ganapatya and Kaumara traditions worship Him as Ganapati.

Texts

Earliest reference to Ganapati is found in Rig Veda (2.23.1) as Brahmanaspati, an aspect of Brihaspati or Vacaspati (literally the lord of Vak). The Brahmana and Aranyaka portions of Veda contain praises to Ganapati. Atharva Seersha Upanishad, an Atharva Vedic Upanishad, is completely devoted to Ganapati. It establishes and explains the tatva (nature and philosophy) of Ganapati, and also the beeja and mula mantra.

Puranas narrate the story of birth of Ganapati, His glories and great deeds.

There is a class of Tantras dedicated to Ganapatya. Besides, most of the Vaishnava, Saiva and Sakta Agamas contain Ganapatya vidyas.

Shodasa Ganapati

There are sixteen major forms in which Ganapati is worshiped. These are called Shodasa Ganapatis.

Bala Ganapati

Bala Ganapati is the child form of Ganapati. He has four hands holding banana, sugarcane, mango and jackfruit. He is golden in hue, and seated like a kid with one leg folded and the other partly stretched. He holds no weapons.

Taruna Ganapati

Taruna Ganapati is the adolescent form. He is red in hue and has eight hands, and holds noose, goad, sugarcane, paddy fig, modaka.

Bhakti Ganapati

Bhakti Ganapati is the adorable form, shining in white, holding banana, coconut, mango and payasa bowl.

Veera Ganapati

Veera Ganapati is the warrior form, worshiped by the warriors. He is red in hue and has sixteen arms holding weapons like bow and arrow, sword, noose, goad, mace, axe, trident, discus, shield, hammer, plough, conch, thorned mace and spear.

Sakti Ganapati

Sakti Ganapati is of the color of sindur (orangish red), having four hands, associated with and embracing His greed hued consort.

Dwija Ganapati

Dwija Ganapati is the twice-born form of Ganapati wearing a sacred thread, holding a palm leaf scripture, staff, water vessel and bead-garland, and pure hued.

Siddhi Vinayaka

Siddhi Ganapati is the most famous and frequently worshiped form. He is the giver of prosperity, plentitude and success. He is golden hued, holds an axe, sugar cane, sweet and flower and is seated comfortably.

Ucchista Ganapati

Ucchista Ganapati is practiced more in Tantra, especially the Vama tradition. He is blue hued. He has six hands, holding Veena, pomogrenate, lotus, bead-garland and paddy fig and is seated embracing His consort.

There is a resemblance between Ucchista Ganapati and Laghu Syamala. Both are Ucchista vidyas, both hold Veena and preside over art-form of knowledge.

Vighnaraja

Vighnaraja Ganapati is the controller of obstacles. He is golden hued, and has ten hands holding conch, sugarcane, flowers, dagger, rope, discus, His broken tusk and grass blades.

Kshipra Ganapati

Kshipra Ganapati is the quick granter. He is red hued and has four hands holding noose, goad, His broken tusk and a sprig of kalpavriksha.

Heramba

Heramba is one of the sixteen names of Ganapati that praise His features. He is the five-faced, lion riding form, white in hue. He has ten hands, holding noose, goad, axe, hammer, tusk, bead-garland, fruit, and displaying abhaya and varada mudras. He dispels fear.

Sristi Ganapati

Sristi Ganapati is the creator-form, red in hue, rajasic in nature, yet pleasant. In His four hands He holds noose, goad, mango and tusk. He rides His mouse.

Maha Ganapati

Maha Ganapati is three-eyed, red complexioned, has ten hands and associated with His consort.

Bhuvanesa

Bhuvanesa Ganapati is the lord of all worlds. He is pleasant, three-eyed, red in hue, holding noose and goad.

Nritta Ganapati

Nritta or Natya Ganapati is the dancing form. He holds noose and goad, dances under kalpa vriksha and is a pleasant form.

Urdhva Ganapati

Urdhva Ganapati is golden hued, associated with His sakti. He has six hands, holding paddy fig, lotus, sugarcane, bow and arrow, His tusk.

Other Major Vidyas

There are many other vidyas for worshiping Ganapati.

Sri Vidya Ganapati

Sri Vidya Ganapati is a composition of Ganesa Vidya with Pancadasi.

Cintamani Ganapati

Cintamani Ganapati is the wish granter form.

Ekakshara Ganapati

This is the single-syllable mula Vidya of Ganapati. In this form He is red in hue, has four hands, three eyes, moon-adornment and varada mudra.

Tryakshara Ganapati

This is the three-syllable Vidya. In this form He is golden in hue, has four hands.

Runamocana Ganapati

Runamocana Ganapati is the absolver from debts. Like any Vidya, this is kamya and para. While He absolves from monetary debts, He also absolves men from karmic debts thereby liberating His devotees from the cycle of happening.

Sankatahara

Sankarahara Ganapati is the absolver from troubles. He is blue complexioned, associated with His sakti and shows the varada mudra. Though this Vidya is not widely practiced, the worship of this form at popular level is quite widespread. Sankasta hara Caturthi is observed every month by devotees, to please Sankastahara Vinayaka.

Lakshmi Ganapati

Lakshmi Ganapati is white hued and has ten hands. There are variations in this Vidya and in some of them He is associated with Siddhi and Buddhi, while in some He is associated with Lakshmi. This is one of the most widely practiced Ganapatya Vidya.

Haridra Ganapati

Haridra Ganapati is golden hued and yellow-dressed, seated on a throne, holding noose and goad along with a modaka.

Dhunthi Ganapati

Dhunthi Ganapati is a red hued form. It is in this form that Ganapati gave the sloka rendering for Rudra Namaka, the first part of Sata Rudriya for the benefit of devotees who are not Veda learned.

Yoga Ganapati

Yoga Ganapati is in a meditative posture, absorbed in Himself. He has four hands and is orangish red in hue.