The Shukla-Chaturthi of Bhadra and Magh is known as Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh is known by various designations. The significant ones are Ganapati and Vighna-nashana. The word indicating respect in the Hindu dharma, Sri, is used before the name of Ganesh. Vinayaka is also a very famous name of Ganesh. This name is used in the Puranas and Buddhist Tantras many times.
The Temple of eight Vinayakas:
- Mayuresvara Mandir, Pune – This pure dhama of Ganesh is located 75 km from Pune. Sri Ganesh, sitting on a peacock, killed the demon named Sindhurasura. Thus, this temple is called Mayuresvara.
- Siddhi Vinyak Mandir, Ahmednagar – On the banks of the Bhima river in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra is located the Siddhi Vinayaka temple. Here, the two wives of Ganesh, Rddhi, and Siddhi, are present on his two sides. This devis are for attaining wealth, beauty and success. Thus, the temple is named Siddhi Vinayaka.
- Ballalesvara Mandir, Pali – This Siddhi temple is located in Pali, Kulaba district, Maharashtra. It is named after a devoted devotee of Ganesh who was named Ballal. The sun’s rays fall directly on this deity of Ganesh.
- Varada Vinayaka Mandir, Raigad – This temple is located in Raigad, Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. Subedar Ramji Mahadeva Bioalkar constructed the temple in 1725.
- Chintamani Mandir, Pune – This temple is located 25 km from Pune in Theur village. Ganesh’s great devotee, Morya Gosabi, established this temple. The Devi of the temple comes and removes all worries from the devotees who visit this temple.
- Girijatmaja Ashta Vinayaka Mandir, Pune – This temple is located in Lenyadri Village, about 100 km from Pune. This temple was made by digging from a mountain.
- Vighnesvara Ashta Vinayaka Mandir, Ojhar – This temple is located in Junar, Ojhar district. It is 85 km from Pune. The demon Vighnasur was killed here by Ganesh and he bestowed happiness and peace on the residents here. All obstacles are destroyed upon visiting this deity.
- Mahaganapati Mandir, Rajangram – This temple is located in Rajangram, 55 km from Pune. It is a very old temple. It was constructed sometime between the ninth and 10th This Ganapati is also known as Mahotkat.
Sri Ganesha’s role in writing the Mahabharata:
Maharshi Krsnadvaipayana Vedavyasa (Vyasadeva) writes Mahabharata-
Bhagavan Srila Vyasadeva who knew all the secrets of the past, present, and future, and of karma, Upasana, jnana, Veda, yoga, dharma, artha, kama, etc. decided to write history with commentary. Then he contemplated how this great history could be written down.
Vyasadeva meets Prajapati Brahma-
Prajapati Brahma came to remove Vyasadeva’s worries. Vyasadeva was overwhelmed upon seeing Brahma and offered his obeisance. Then, he sat down upon the order of Brahma. Vyasadeva told Brahma with great happiness, “O, Bhagavan! I have composed a beautiful history in my mind. All Vedika and worldly topics are present in it. All the essence of Vedangas, Upanishads, Vedas, Kriyas, histories, puranika tales of the past, present, and future along with old age, death, fear, disease, varnasrama dharma, etc. have been discussed in this text.
Prajapati Brahma chooses Sri Ganesh to write down the words-
Bhagavan Brahma said, “Maharshi! You have tattva-jnana. I think you are the best amongst all sages. You have been discussing the ultimate truth and the meaning of the Vedas since your birth. This great book of yours will be known as a Maha Kavya. It will be known as Mahabharata Mahakavya. No other writing will be as great as this one. In order to put the text into writing, remember Sri Ganesh.” Thereafter, Brahma disappeared.
Vyasadeva gives the task of writing to Sri Ganesh-
Vyasadeva began to one-pointedly meditate upon Sri Ganesh. Upon Saktyavesh Avatara Vyasadeva’s meditation, Sri Ganesh appeared, immediately. Vyasadeva welcomed Sri Ganesh and had him sit down. Vyasadeva requested Ganesh, “O, giver of all perfections, Ganesh! I have composed the Mahabharata in my mind. However, I am worried in regards to writing down this mahakavya. This task is only possible to be completed by you. Kindly accept this task.”
Sri Ganesh accepts the task of writing down the Mahabharata-
Sri Ganesh, having come from Kailash, spoke keeping the welfare of the three worlds in mind, “O, Mahatma! Do not worry. I accept this task. However, my condition is that my pen cannot stop for even a short period of time. If my pen must stop, then I will stop writing and write no more.” Vyasadeva said, “Alright but you cannot write a single word without understanding its meaning.” Ganesh said, “Let it be so” and accepted the task.
Sri Ganesh’s Avatar-
Just as Mahadeva and Bhagavan Sri Vishnu, Sri Ganesh also takes many incarnations to remove the negative elements from the world and to establish peace. Eight incarnations are most loveable out of the many. This information is gotten mainly from a Upapurana known as the Mudgal Purana. In some avatara, Ganesh’s vehicle is a peacock and in other places, his vehicle is a rat. His incarnations are to remove eight faults of man, namely desire, anger, greed, illusion, stupor, envy, ego, and ignorance. The eight avataras are Vakratunda, Ekadanta, Modara, Gajanana, Lambodara, Vikata, Vighnaharta/ Vighnaraja, and Dhumravarna.
- Vakratunda – The meaning of this word is he who as a bent trunk. This is the first incarnation. Here, Ganesha’s vehicle is a lion. Here, he defeated the demon, Matsarasura. Matsarasura was a devotee of Mahadeva and taking the permission of Devaguru Shukracharya, attacked the devatas. Ganesh, using his bent trunk, destroys the envy of man.
- Ekadanta – In this avatara, there are four hands, one tusk, and a huge elephant head. According to the Purana, Ganesh did not allow Parashuram to go to meet Shiva. A war ensued between the two and Parashuram attacks Ganesh with his axe. Ganesh could have saved himself but he knew that this axe was given to Parashurama by Mahadeva, himself. Thus, as an act of respect, Ganesh accepts the blow of the axe. In this way, he loses a tusk. In this avatara, Ganesh kills the demon, Madasura. This demon was using his strength to torture the devatas.
- Mahodara – Herein, Ganesh kills Mohasura. Herein, Ganesh has a huge belly and a tiny rat as his vehicle. Here, he has a bent trunk and one tusk. According to the Purana, after Kartikeya kills the demon, Tarakasura, Shukracharya creates the demon, Mohasura to destroy the planet of the devas. Then, the devatas worship Ganesh and he incarnates to kill Mohasura.
- Gajanana – Herein, the incarnation has a human body and elephant head. In this incarnation, he kills Lobhasura. His vehicle is a rat. The devatas were tortured by Lobhasura and prayed to Ganesh. Sri Vishnu meets the demons as the messenger of the devatas and tells the demons to stop going towards war. The demon then surrenders.
- Lambodara – Krodhasura is a demon born from the anger of Mahadeva. He was a worshiper of the sun and had gotten the boon to be the ruler of the universe. When he started torturing everyone, Ganesh incarnates and defeats the demon. In another description, it is said that under the influence of anger, man makes many mistakes. Ganesh saves one from the anger in this incarnation. This huge Ganesh is accepted in this form.
- Vikata – In this incarnation, he destroys Kamasura. When this demon had become the ruler of the three worlds at some point in time, everyone was in danger of losing his life. Rishi Mudgal tells the Devatas to perform Ganesh Puja. Being pleased with their puja, Ganesh incarnates as Vikata to deliver them. Herein, his vehicle is a peacock.
- Vighnaharta/ Vighnaraja – In this incarnation, Sri Ganesh’s vehicle is Sesa-naga. Once, Mother Parvati was speaking with her friends and at that time, she laughs. From that laugh, a Sudarshan Purush is produced. Parvati names him, Mama and tells him to perform Ganesh Puja. Mama goes to the forest and begins to worship Ganesh. At that time, he meets the demon, Samvara. Mama gets diverted from his path through the association of Samvara and becoming extremely powerful, takes over the three worlds. His name becomes Mamatasura. Then, Sri Ganesh incarnates as Vighnaharta, destroys Mamatasura, and establishes law and peace.
- Dhumravarna – In this incarnation, Ganesh destroys Ahanakarasura. This demon was extremely powerful due to a boon gotten from Suryadeva. Ego is such a power within man that it removes man from the proper path. Man does not become free from ego until the very last minute when he is in great danger. By killing Ahankarasura, Ganesh uproots ego from within man in this incarnation.
Sri Ganesh is worshiped as the destroyer of obstacles-
Sri Ganesh is worshiped in the world as the remover of obstacles. The pranam-mantra of Ganesh from the scriptures describes him as the remover of obstacles –
ekadantam mahakayam lambodaram gajananam
vighnanasakaram devam herambam pranamamyaham
I offer my obeisance to Heramba who has one tusk, has a huge body, has a big belly, whose face is that of an elephant, and who destroys obstacles. Ganesh is worshiped with this mantra. In another place, the following is found
Om sarvavighna-vinasaya sarvakalyana-hetave
parvati-priya-putraya ganesaya namo namah
Ganesh is the Lord of perfection. People desire success before starting any work. Therefore, Ganesh is worshiped before all gods. Rats can cut through various things. Therefore, the destroyer of obstacles has a rat as his vehicle. Obstacles are darkness and Ganesh, who is the light, has a complexion of red sindoor. Just as an elephant takes water as it pleases with its trunk to drink or blow out, Ganesh can pick up and throw out obstacles as he wishes. Thus, he is known as the one who has an elephant face, Gajanana. He has kept all perfection within himself and thus, is known as the one with a big belly, Lambodara.
Sri Ganesh’s godliness is dependent upon the desire of Sri Govinda-
Sri Brahma Samhita states,
“Yatpadapallavayugam vinidhaya kumbha
dvandve pranamasamaye saganadhirajah
vighnan vihantumalamasya jagattrayasya
govindamadipurusam tamaham bhajami”
In order to remove the obstacles of the world, Ganesh bows down to Govinda, and Govinda’s feet hold the horns present on the head of Ganesh. I worship that original Purusha, Govinda. The purport is that everyone prays to Ganadhiraja or Sri Ganesh to remove all types of obstacles. Ganesh bows down to Paramesvara Sri Govinda’s lotus feet for this ability to remove all obstacles. Therefore, Ganesh removes obstacles by the power of Govinda. The opinion that Ganesh is Paramesvara and can destroy all obstacles on his own merit is disproved, herein. Thus, Shiva became auspicious by holding the water that emanates from the feet of Govinda. Sri Govinda’s lotus feet which have the power to destroy all obstacles remove all of Ganesha’s obstacles and make Ganesha able to remove the obstacles of everyone.
Srila Prabhupada’s conclusion on the worship of Ganesh-
The whole world worships Ganesha who is a disciple of Nrsimha. Through worshiping Ganesh, one understands the qualities of matter (Jada-savishesh) and then ultimately enters the realm beyond qualities (nirvishesh). However, Nrsimhadeva who is the expansion of the cit-vishesh-tattva is different altogether. Ganadhipa means leader. Ganesh is the leader. Nrsimhadeva is Ganadhipadhipa, meaning the leader of leaders. The greatest desire of man in the world is to become Narayan or Brahma. These insignificant desires are fulfilled by Ganesh.
Sri Jagannath taking on the form of Ganesh-
Jagannathdeva appeared on Purnima of Jyestha month. It is his birthday. According to Jagannath’s desire and the rule of Indradyumna Maharaja, Jagannatha’s appearance is celebrated annually. It is known as Snana Yatra. After Snanayatra, Sri Jagannathdeva is dressed up as Ganesh or as an elephant. There is an old story in regard to this. Once, Ganapati of Kaniyari village from Karnataka comes to Nilachala on Snanayatra day. He was a worshiper of Ganesh. After the bathing of Jagannath, he goes to see Jagannath but he is unable to see his worshipful Ganesh within Jagannath and decides that Brahma is not present in Nilachala. Bhaktavatsal Sri Jagannathdeva, overcome by the faith of Ganapati Bhatta, decides to take the elephant form. According to Ganapati Bhatta’s desire, Jagannath promises to take the form of Ganesh after Snanayatra.