Lord Ganesha wins the race
As we know, Lord Ganesha is the Lord of Intelligence. He saw ‘Ram Nama’ as the pure underlying Knowledge principle. There is predominance of discrimination or Viveka in his approach. Once a contest was held. The stake was – “Which god should be given the privilege of being first worshipped.” So Lord Shiva decided that whichever Devata circumambulates the entire universe and reaches first shall be declared the winner.
Who are devatas? They are different types of virtues. The position of Devata is attained only after accumulating a hefty bank balance of pious deeds. So worshipping a Devata foremost simply means that out of all virtues, which virtue we value the most in our lives.
Lord Shiva is the judge. All devatas sat on their speedy vehicles and set off with the speed of wind. Even Lord Ganesha actively participated. But Ganeshji’s vehicle is Mushukraj, the slowest of all vehicles. Yet he continued his journey without feeling the least disappointed.
On the way, the Devatas happened to see Narada Muni. In spite of seeing the sage, the Devas hid from his vision. They thought “Where is the time to meet the sage. At the moment we are striving to win the race. If we talk to him and offer our respects, we will lose out on time. They feared they shouldn’t report late and lose the competition.
Naradji understood that he was purposely being avoided. As Ganeshji came that way, he got down from his vehicle and very submissively bowed before the sage. They then had a hearty question-answer session on various spiritual topics.
Sage Narada advises Lord Ganesha
Naradji then said- “Scientifically speaking I see negligible chances of your winning the race. Your vehicle is so slow. Why are you wasting your time?”
Lord Ganesha is the lord of intelligence, he gave a very beautiful reply. He said- “That knowledge which makes one inactive, is of no use.” Actually there should be perfect harmony between thought, emotion and action.
The churning of the ocean- a perfect balance
Let us take the churning of the ocean as an example-
The Mandarachal mountain was used to churn the ocean. In the word ‘Mandarachal’, the word ‘Achal’ means non-motile. The Mandar-achal mountain represents thought or idea.
A mountain is always static. Thought should always be still. But, Lord Vishnu says- मुदिताँ मथै बिचार मथानी | “No, Move the Mandarachal Mountain. Unless you move the mountain you cannot derive the nectar.”
Thought must be set to action. If thought just remains in the mental plane, you cannot taste the elixir. You need to churn it. You need to move the churner. A thought must have momentum. This is the role of Purushartha or Karma.
Role of surrender
You find another very beautiful teaching-
When the Mandarchal Mountain was plunged into the ocean, it began to sink due to its weight. Bhagavan had to incarnate as a tortoise and shoulder it on his back. Thus the task of churning the ocean went on successfully. What does this indicate? Inspite of having thought and action, the devas lacked surrender. Unless one surrenders all thoughts and actions unto Bhagavan, one’s efforts won’t’ bear results. This is the primary teaching. Bhagavan is not overtly evident from the outside, yet he is the one who is shouldering the task on his back. See, how beautifully all the three have united. Knowledge, devotion and action. Jnana, Bhakti and Karma.
Many times we see people working in extremes. Those people who think a lot don’t perform action. Those who act, don’t think properly. The ones who are immersed in thought lack the ability to enjoy the beauty of life. All the three must work in harmony.
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Lord Ganesha’s example
You find a perfect harmony of Jnana, Karma and Bhakti in the life of Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesh said “If I had earlier itself anticipated my failure in the contest, I wouldn’t have made it till here. He then says a very beautiful thing- “This contest of circumambulating the universe is merely a medium. Lord Ganesha’s words are soaked in insight. We find a similar instance when Shri Rama meets Sage Valmiki,
Lord Rama told the sage-
तात बचन पुनि मातु हित भाई भरत अस राउ |
मो कहुँ दरस तुम्हार प्रभु सबु मम पुन्य प्रभाउ ||
“The exile was not at all painful for me, I have only gained from this journey. I am the most fortunate, had I not been exiled, how could I have got your darshan?” Valmikiji said- “If there is an adept definition-maker like you, then all sorrows shall totally disappear from one’s life.”
Even Lord Ganesha said the same thing to Narada muni. He said. “Oh sage! I have already reaped the benefits of circumambulating the universe. I have got your Darshan, Is it less in any way?” Naradji understood that Lord Ganesha innately possessed the eye for Viveka. He is bulky, even his vehicle is slow, yet he didn’t remain actionless. He even realizes the greatness of Satsanga with a sage.
Naradji being pleased with Lord Ganesha, offered him a solution. He said “Inscribe the name ‘Rama’ and circumambulate it. Then report to Lord Shiva that you have finished circumambulating the entire universe.” Ganeshji did what was told. If Naradji had rendered the same sermon to the other devas, they would have shirked his advice. They would instead say- “Do you wish to foil our chances. We don’t listen to you.”
Lord Ganesha recognized the subtle principle hidden in the name and exclaimed- “Excellent, What a brilliant idea you have suggested.”
The sage is referring to the underlying origin of the entire universe from where the gross has expanded. The Divine name of Bhagavan is the source of the entire universe. The divine syllables form the basis of creation.
The story of guru and shishya
A guru once instructed his disciple to bring the entire banyan tree to his hermitage. The disciple went and brought the seed of a banyan tree. The guru was pleased and lovingly hugged the disciple. The disciple had grasped the underlying meaning of his words.
Getting a banyan tree doesn’t mean uprooting it. The context was to bring the seed, the very origin from which the tree had emerged. Lord Ganesha is extremely intelligent.
Goswami Tulsidas explains the underlying principle of the name-
बंदउँ नाम राम रघुबर को |
हेतु कृसानु भानु हिमकर को ||
बिधि हरि हरमय बेद प्रान सो |
अगुन अनुपम गुन निधान सो ||
Rama nama is the very source of the form principle, formless principle, fire, sun, and moon.
Lord Shiva pleased with Lord Ganesha
When Lord Ganesha returned from his tour, Lord Shiva held him in a tight embrace. He said- “We have been having a father-son relationship since many days, but it is only now that you have grasped the underlying meaning of my words.”
This is how Lord Ganesha acquired the position of being the first to be worshiped.
There is another anecdote in this regard. As the devatas crossed the various terrains, they could see the tiny footprints of Mushakraj awaiting them. They would wonder that Lord Ganesha was the slowest of all, yet how are these footprints leading them.
When a Jnani takes refuge under the name, he analyses the syllables.
नाम निरूपण नाम जतन तें
सोउ प्रगटत जिमि मोल रतन तें ||
‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ appear physical but a jnana studies its underlying meaning as the cosmic sound. Thus a Jnani delves into the nature of existence with the precision of his discrimination.
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