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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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


  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