According to the Shrutis and Smritis, Sanatan Dharma is based on our ancient Vedas and Puranas. The Parabrahma principle is worshipped in 5 different forms. In reality, the Prahmabrahma is the only one principle, but due to the different moods of the devotees, the supreme presents himself in 5 different forms to attract the minds of people. A devotee can dedicate himself to one particular form of his liking and that form shall be the topmost for him. The Smarta Dharma propounds the worship of the Pancha Devatas or 5 principal deities. These include 1) Ganesha 2) Surya 3) Mahashakti 4) Shiv 5) Narayan. This gives rise to 5 different Sampradayas which revolve around each individual deity- 1) Ganapatya 2) Saur 3) Shakta 5) Shaiva 6) Vaishnava. Due to differences in the moods of each deity, the Sampradaya began to differ in their faith systems.
The Ganapatya Sampradaya accepts Lord Ganesh as Paramatma and has now become less-popular. The main center (Pradhan peeth) for the Ganapatya Sampradaya lies in the Moreshwar Kshetra of the Maharashtra state in the village of More. Parabrahma Paramatma is eternal. He is neither subject to birth nor death. By his own sweet will, he appears and disappears time and again on the material plane.
The Story of the birth of Ganesha (Ganpatya Sampraday)
As per the Ganapatya Sampradaya, Ganesh is the supreme authority and controller. The story of his birth is given as follows- Lord Shiva and Parvati performed severe penance to have Lord Ganesha as their son. Their eldest son Kartikeya had graduated to the heavens since he had accepted the post of being the commander-in-chief of devas. Besides, the Kritka sisters were always there to display their motherly affection for him. Once when Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati were sporting, an old brahman came at their door step and begged for alms. Parvati devi went to get some alms for the mendicant. As she came to the doorstep, that Brahmana disappeared from sight. She was bewildered and called out for Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva came forward and revealed the true identity of the seer. He said, it was Ganesha himself who had come to bless them. When they returned back, they found a cute, plump reddish hued baby playing happily on the cradle. This is how Ganeshji appeared as their son.
Lord Shiva cuts off Ganesha’s head
Once, a maidservant was applying a cosmetic paste for Parvati ji. Parvatiji sculpted a beautiful mold with the paste that went discarded from her body and inquisitively threw life into the idol. That lively kid immediately paid respects to his mother and enquired- “Mother, How can I serve you?” Then Parvatiji said- “Son, you keep a guard. Make sure no one enters inside without my permission.” The child friskily carried a stick and was on duty. As Lord Shiva came forward to enter the quarters, the child blocked his way. Then Lord Shiva ordered his Ganas to move the kid away from the doorway. But the ganas returned back with their bones broken by the harsh hitting of the kid. Even the Devates came to extend help, but none could stand before the son born out of the strength of Mahashakti. At Last, Lord Shiva was compelled to behead the kid with his Trishul and he then entered the chambers. Parvatiji enquired- “Didn’t anyone stop you?” Then Lord Shiva said- “Yes someone did stop me, your foolish doorkeeper. Their lies his uprooted head.” My son has been killed? Uma Devi goes running to the door and her form changes to the Gory Mahakali. She roared heavily and raised her Khadga weapon. She could only be pacified when Lord Shiva replaced the child’s head with an elephant one and awarded him the positon of the leader of Ganas. Thus came our Gajamukha Ganapati, the Lord with an elephant head.
According to some versions, during the war between Lord Ganesha and Swami Kartika (In some Kalpas, it is Parshurama) Ganesha lost one teeth, thus he came to be widely known as Ekadanta.
Why is Ganesha worshipped first?
Who should be worshipped first? There was an argument between the Devatas, and at last Lord Brahma announced the rules of the competition. He said- The one who circumambulates the entire earth and returns first shall be declared as the winner. Everybody mounted on their vehicles and set off, but what could the big bellied, dwarf, and the Modak lover Ganapati do? He has a tiny mouse as his vehicle. Seeing the Lord in low spirits, Sage Narada came and offered him a solution. As per Sage Narada’s advice, Ganesha wrote the name Rama on the ground, circumambulated it 21 times and reported back to Brahma. The creator Brahma then declared that Ganesha had circumambulated the entire universe a twenty one times and hence he was universally accepted as the first worshippable lord.
There is another story in this regard. Swami Kartikeya and Ganesha were fighting over who should get married first. Lord Shiva then announced that the one who circumambulates the entire earth shall first get married. With the consent of Saga Narada, Lord Ganesha circumambulated his parents Shiva and Parvati 7 times taking them to be the personification of the ruler Parameshwar and his universe. He was thus declared as the winner. So, he got married to Ridhhi (Prosperity) and Siddhi (Success).
What does Ganesha mean?
The word Ganesha literally means that he is the chief of all the Shivaganas including Ghosts (भूत), goblins (प्रेत), evil spirits (पिशाच), ghouls (डाकिनी), fiends (यक्षिणी), demons (भैरव) and all the destructive elements of the universe.
Ganesha helps in the churning of the ocean
The gods and demons collaborated to churn the ocean, but at the very start, they forgot to invoke Ganesha, the Lord who removes all obstacles. The gods could do nothing to prevent the Mandrachal from drowning in the ocean. Then Lord Narayan got the deity of Ganesha worshipped and he himself assumed the form of tortoise and shouldered the mountain on his back, thus the churning was successfully accomplished.
2 Birth stories of Lord Ganesha
The Puranas mention two birth stories of Lord Ganesha-
1) Lord Shiva and Parvati worshiped Lord Vishnu to beget a son. At last lord Vishnu granted them their boon. The couple invited all the demigods to Kailas to participate in their joy and bless their son. Shanidev was standing at the doorstep. Lord Shiva was adamant to have him in. Even on entering inside, Shanidev stood with his head cast low. He had very clearly told Parvatiji- “I have been cursed by a woman, that whomever I glance he shall be burnt to ashes. Bhavani ji took his words lightly and forced him to see her son. At the very glance of Shani, the child’s head was blown apart. Lord Vishnu was then invoked. Lord Vishnu then brought along with him the head of a newborn elephant. The elephant head was thus attached and the child was brought to life.
2) A demon named Sinduri entered the womb of Parvati ji during her eighth month and beheaded the son nurturing in her womb. However the child didn’t die. He was born in the headless state. So Narad Muni was perturbed and prayed to the child as follows- “You are all-capable, You should definitely have a head.” This child later on killed the demon Gajasura and attached his head to his neck.
51 forms of Ganesha
In the Tantrashastras, Lord Ganesha has been described in 51 forms-
1) Vighnesh (विघ्नेश) 2) Vighnaraj (विघ्नराज) 3) Vinayak (विनायक) 4) Shivottama (शिवोत्तम) 5) Vighnaruta (विघ्नरुत) 6) Vighnaharta (विघ्नहर्ता) 7) Gana (गण) 8) Ekadanta (एकदन्त) 9) Adanta (अदन्त) 10) Gajavraka (गजव्रक) 11) Niranjana (निरञ्जन) 12) Kapardi (कपर्दी) 13) Deerghajivha (दीर्घजिव्ह) 14) Shankukarna (शंकुकर्ण) 15) Vrishabhadhavaja (वृषभध्वज) 16) Gananayaka (गणनायक) 17) Gajendra (गजेंद्र) 18) Suryakarna (सूर्यकर्ण) 19) Trilochana (त्रिलोचन) 20) Lambodara (लम्बोदर) 21) Mahananda (महानन्दा) 22) Mritamoorti (मृतमूर्ति) 23) Sadashiva (सदाशिव) 24) Aamod (आमोद) 25) Durmukha (दुर्मुख) 26) Sumukha (सुमुख) 27) Pramodaka (प्रमोदक) 28) Ekapada (एकपाद) 29) Dvijivha (द्विजिव्ह) 30) Puraveera (पुरवीर) 31) Shadmukha (षड्मुख) 32) Varada (वरद) 33) Vamadeva (वामदेव) 34) Vakratunda (वक्रतुण्ड) 35) Hirandaka (हिरण्डक) 36) Senani (सेनानी) 37) Gramani (ग्रामणी) 38) Matta (मत्त) 39) Vimatta (विमत्त) 40) Mattavaahaka (मत्तवाहक) 41) Jati (जटी) 42) Mundi (मुण्डी) 43) Khadgi (खड्गी) 44) Veranya (वेरण्य) 45) Vrushaketana (वृषकेतन) 46) Bhakshapriya (भक्षप्रिय) 47) Ganesha (गणेश) 48) Meghnada (मेघनाद) 49) Vyaapi (व्यापी) 50) Ganeshwara (गणेश्वर) 51) Uchhishta (उच्छिष्ट)
The names of his powers or Shaktis are given below in an order-
1) Hi (ही) 2) Shree (श्री) 3) Pushti (पुष्टि) 4) Shanti (शान्ति) 5) Svati (स्वति) 6) Saraswati (सरस्वती) 7) Swaha (स्वाहा) 8) Medha (मेधा) 9) Kanti (कान्ति) 10) Kamini (कामिनी) 11) Mohini (मोहिनी) 12) Nati (नटी) 13) Parvati (पार्वती) 14) Jvalini (ज्वालिनी) 15) Nanda (नंदा) 16) Sushma (सुषमा) 17) Kamaroopini (कामरूपिणी) 18) Uma (उमा) 19) Tejovati (तेजोवती) 20) Satya (सत्य) 21) Nighneshini (निघ्नेशिनी) 22) सुरूपिणी (Suroopini) 23) Kamada (कामदा) 24) Madajiha (मदजिहा) 25) Bhooti (भूति) 26) Bhautika (भौतिका) 27) Sita (सिटा) 28) Rama (रमा) 29) Mahishi (महिषी) 30) Shrungini (श्रृंगिणी) 31) Vikarnapa (विकर्णपा) 32) Bhrukuti (भृकुटी) 33) Deerghaghona (दीर्घघोणा) 34) Dhanurdhara (धनुर्धरा) 35) Yamini (यामिनी) 36) Ratri (रात्रि) 37) Kamandha (कामंधा) 38) Shashiprabha (शशिप्रभा) 39) Lolaakshi (लोलाक्षी) 40) Chanchala (चंचला) 41) Deepti (दीप्ति) 42) Subhaga (सुभगा) 43) Durbhaga (दुर्भगा) 44) Shiva (शिवा) 45) Bharga (भर्गा) 46) Bhagini (भगिनी) 47) Shubhada (शुभदा) 48) Kaala raatri (कालरात्रि) 49) Kalika (कालिक) 50) Lajja (लज्जा) 51) Pishachini (पिशाचिनी)
Lord Ganesha can be meditated upon in the forms of Lambodar, Gajamukha, Ekadanta, Chaturbhuja, Trilon, Shashishekhara, Kharvatanu, Chote charan and Sindur arun.
He holds a lotus, goad, coil and seeds in his hands. He adorns the ornament of snakes.
Lord Ganesha writes the Mahabharata
It is said, that on Vyasadeva’s request, Lord Ganesha initiated the difficult task of writing the lengthy Mahahbharatha. Vyasji kept reciting the shlokas while Ganeshji without a break continued the writing work. Lord Ganesha is the Lord of intelligence, he is the one who removes all obstacles and in yoga, he is the ruling deity of the base Chakra of Muladhar. His extensive characterization is given in the Ganesh Purana.