a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m

All About Lord Ganesha
contributed by M P Bhattathiry


All about lord Ganesha

Ganesha is revered as the son of the Universal parents Shiva and Parvati, and is always honored first in most worship services and rituals. Ganesha is also known as Ganapati, Vigneswara, Vinayaka, Gajamukha and Ainkaran.

The huge size of Ganapati represents the Universe (Cosmos), and his curled trunk, the symbol OM. The elephant's head is said to represent superior intellect while the snake around his waist cosmic energy. His broken tusk is symbolic of knowledge, as it is believed that it is with this tusk that he wrote down the Mahabharata, in the capacity of a scribe, when it was recited by the sage Vyasa. The mouse - mooshikam, his mount is said to symbolize the equal importance of the biggest and smallest of creatures, in the eyes of the infinity of creation Bhraman.

Ganesha is believed to have been the scribe who wrote down the text of the Indian epic Mahabharatam as it was recited by the sage Vyasa.

The Ganesa Pancharatnam of Aadi Sankaracharya in sanskrit salutes Ganapati. The tamil works of Tirumoolar and Avvaiyaar (of the 1st millennium CE), also bear hymns saluting Ganesha. So do the Tiruppugazh hymns of Arunagirinathar of the 1st half of the 2nd millennium CE. Several of the sanskrit kritis of the Karnatic Music composer Mutthuswamy Deekshitar salute Ganapati shrines all over Tamilnadu.

Several small temples dedicated to Ganapati adorn all towns and villages of south India. Most of these are modern temples. There are several shrines to Ganesha in all Saivite temples all over south India. Ganesha is taken out at the head of all processions in festivals celebrated in the Saivite temples of Tamilnadu. 

Vinayaka Chaturti is a festival celebrated in honor of Ganesha, and it is celebrated as a community festival in the state of Maharashtra, where Vinayak is held in great reverence, especially in the 8 Ashta Vinayak temples in the vicinity of Pune and in the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai.

Perhaps the most ancient of Ganapati shrines in India, is the well known Karpaka Vinayakar temple in the town of Pillaiarpatti near Karaikkudi in Tamilnadu. This temple with a rock cut shrine, bearing a collossal form of Vinayakar, is over 1600 years old.

The Ucchi Pillaiyaar temple, on top of a hill defining Tiruchirappalli's (Tamilnadu) skyline, enshrines Ganapati, who is said to have been instrumental in enshrining Ranganathar at Srirangam nearby.


Ganesh Chaturthi

In Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most popular festival. Ganesh, the elephant faced deity is the son of Shiva and Parvati and the lord of all auspicious beginnings. He is the remover of all obstacles and is to be propitiated before any other deity. Colossal images of Ganesh are built and carried all round the city before they are finally submerged in water. The city of Mumbai remains in a feverish pitch of excitement throughout this period.


32 forms of Ganesha

As with the 64 forms of Shiva, 32 forms of Ganapati are recognized in the Agamic scriptures.

1. Baala Ganapati - Red colored image of a four armed Ganesha

2. Dharuna Vinayakar: Red colored image of an eight armed Ganesha

3. Bhakti Vinayakar: Grey colored image of four armed Ganesha

4. Veera Vinayakar: Red colored image of 16 armed Ganapati

5. Shakti Ganapati: Red colored image of 4 armed Ganapati, seated with his consort to his left.

6. Dwija Vinayakar: White colored image of four faced Ganesha with 4 arms.

7. Siddhi Vinayakar: Golden colored image of four armed Ganapati.

8. Ucchishta Ganapati: Blue colored image of six armed Ganapati with his consort.

9. Vigna Vinayakar: Gold colored image of eight armed Ganapati

10. Kshipra Ganapati: Red colored image of four armed Ganesha bearing a ratna kumbham.

11. Heramba Vinayakar: Black colored image of ten armed Ganesha with five faces, seated on a lion.

12. Lakshmi Vinayakar: White colored image of eight armed Ganesha with two consorts.

13. Makara Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha with a third eye, 10 arms, bearing a ratna kumbham, with his consort.

14. Vijaya Vinayakar: Red colored image of 4 armed Ganesha on the mooshika mount.

15. Nritta Vinayakar: Gold colored image of Ganesha in a dance posture.

16. Urdhva Vinayakar: Gold colored image of six armed Ganesha with his consort.

17. Ekakshara Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha with a third eye, seated on a lotus.

18. Vara Vinayakar: Red colored image of 4 armed Vinayaka with a third eye.

19. Dhryakshara Vinayaka: Gold colored image of four armed Vinayakar, decorated with Chaamara ear rings.

20. Kshipraprasaada Vinayakar: Red colored image of six armed Ganapati.

21. Haridra Vinayakar: Yellow colored image of four armed Ganapati.

22. Ekadhanta Vinayakar: Blue colored image of four armed Ganapati.

23. Srishti Vinayakar: Red colored image of four armed Ganapati seated on his mooshika mount.

24. Utthanda Vinayakar: Red colored image of 10 armed Ganesha with his consort to his left.

25. Ranamochana Vinayaka: Crystal image of four armed Vinayakar.

26. Dundi Vinayakar: Four armed image of Ganesha bearing a tusk, a garland, an axe and a gem studded vessel.

27. Dwimukha Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha with two faces and four arms.

28. Trimukha Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha with three faces and six arms seated on a golden lotus.

29. Simha Vinayakar: White colored image of Ganesha with eight arms (with an arm bearing a lions face).

30. Yoga Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha in the posture of a yogi.

31. Durga Vinayakar: Red colored image of Ganesha with eight arms.

32. Sankatahara Vinayakar: Red colored image of four armed Ganesha clothed in blue, seated on a lotus peetham with his consort to his left. 


Ashta Vinayak

Ganesh Chaturti is celebrated with an extra measure of grandeur in the state of Maharashtra. The Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai is visited by hundreds of thousands of devotees throughout the year.

Also in Maharashtra are eight temples dedicated to Ganesha, related to various episodes from the puranas and other legends - and these deities are collectively known as Ashta Vinayak.

Moregaon enshrines Ganapati as Mayureshwar (Moresh) or the peacock rider, who slew the demon Sindhu in response to pleas from the Gods.

Mahaganapati at Ranjangaon is believed to have come to the aid of Shiva in destroying the citadels of the demon Tripurasura.

Mahad enrhsines Varadvinayak (the bestower of boons), in commemoration of a legend related to Rukmangada.

Chintamani Vinayak relates to the legend of Kapila Muni and the Chintamani gem that he had obtained from Shiva.

Girijaatmaja Vinayaka is enshrined on Lenyadri Parvat, and is believed to be a manifestation of Ganapati as an infant.

Vigneshwara at Ozar is regarded as the slayer of the demon Vignaasura.

Ballal Vinayak at Pali, is associated with a legend where Ganapati is said to have come to the aid of a young lad, who was a fervent devotee of Ganapati.

Siddhi Vinayak at Siddhatek is said to have come to the aid of Mahavishnu as he was engaged in a long battle with the demons Madhu and Kaitabha.


108 names of Lord Ganesha

Akhuratha  : One who has Mouse as His Charioteer

Alampata  : Ever Eternal Lord

Amit         :Incomparable Lord

Anantachidrupamayam :Infinite and Consciousness Personified

Avaneesh :Lord of the whole World

Avighna :Remover of Obstacles

Balaganapati : Beloved and Lovable Child

Bhalchandra :  Moon-Crested Lord

Bheema :Huge and Gigantic

Bhupati :Lord of the Gods

Bhuvanpati :God of the Gods

Buddhinath :God of Wisdom

Buddhipriya : Knowledge Bestower

Buddhividhata : God of Knowledge

Chaturbhuj : One who has Four Arms

Devadeva : Lord! of All Lords

Devantakanashakarin : Destroyer of Evils and Asuras

Devavrata : One who accepts all Penances

Devendrashika : Protector of All Gods

Dharmik : One who gives Charity

Dhoomravarna :Smoke-Hued Lord

Durja  : Invincible Lord

Dvaimatura : One who has two Mothers

Ekaakshara : He of the Single Syllable

Ekadanta : Single-Tusked Lord

Ekadrishta : Single-Tusked Lord

Eshanputra : Lord Shiva's Son

Gadadhara : One who has The Mace as His Weapon

Gajakarna : One who has Eyes like an Elephant

Gajanana : Elephant-Faced Lord

Gajananeti : Elephant-Faced Lord

Gajavakra : Trunk of The Elephant

Gajavaktra :  One who has Mouth like an Elephant

Ganadhakshya :  Lord of All Ganas (Gods)

Ganadhyakshina : Leader of All The Celestial Bodies

Ganapati :  Lord of All Ganas (Gods)

Gaurisuta : The Son of Gauri (Parvati)

Gunina : One who is The Master of All Virtues

Haridra :  One who is Golden Coloured

Heramba : Mother's Beloved Son

Kapila : Yellowish-Brown Coloured

Kaveesha : Master of Poets

Krti : Lord of Music

Kripalu : Merciful Lord

Krishapingaksha : Yellowish-Brown Eyed

Kshamakaram : The Place of Forgiveness

Kshipra : One who is easy to Appease

Lambakarna : Large-Eared Lord

Lambodara :  The Huge Bellied Lord

Mahabala : Enormously Strong Lord

Mahaganapati : Omnipotent and Supreme Lord

Maheshwaram : Lord of The Universe

Mangalamurti :  All Auspicious Lord

Manomay : Winner of Hearts

Mrityuanjaya : Conqueror of Death

Mundakarama : Abode of Happiness

Muktidaya : Bestower of Eternal Bliss

Musikvahana : One who has Mouse as His Charioteer

Nadapratithishta :One who Appreciates and Loves Music

Namasthetu : Vanquisher of All Evils and Vices and Sins

Nandana : Lord Shiva's Son

Nideeshwaram : Giver of Wealth and Treasures

Omkara :One who has the Form Of OM

Pitambara :One who has Yellow-Coloured Body

Pramoda :Lord of All Abodes

Prathameshwara :First Among All

Purush : The Omnipotent Personality

Rakta : One who has Red-Coloured Body

Rudrapriya :Beloved Of Lord Shiva

Sarvadevatman :Acceptor of All Celestial Offerings

Sarvasiddhanta : Bestower of Skills and Wisdom

Sarvatman :Protector of The Universe

Shambhavi : The Son of Parvati

Shashivarnam : One who has a Moon like Complexion

Shoorpakarna :Large-Eared Lord

Shuban :All Auspicious Lord

Shubhagunakanan : One who is The Master of All Virtues

Shweta : One who is as Pure as the White Colour

Siddhidhata : Bestower of Success and Accomplishments

Siddhipriya : Bestower of Wishes and Boons

Siddhivinayaka : Bestower of Success

Skandapurvaja : Elder Brother of Skand (Lord Kartik)

Sumukha : Auspicious Face

Sureshwaram :Lord of All Lords

Swaroop : Lover of Beauty

Tarun : Ageless

Uddanda : Nemesis of Evils and Vices

Umaputra : The Son of Goddess Uma (Parvati)

Vakratunda : Curved Trunk Lord

Varaganapati : Bestower of Boons

Varaprada : Granter of Wishes and Boons

Varadavinayaka  : Bestower of Success

Veeraganapati : Heroic Lord

Vidyavaridhi : God of Wisdom

Vighnahara : Remover of Obstacles

Vignaharta :  Demolisher of Obstacles

Vighnaraja :  Lord of All Hindrances

Vighnarajendra : Lord of All Obstacles

Vighnavinashanaya : Destroyer of All Obstacles and Impediments

Vigneshwara: Lord of All Obstacles

Vikat : Huge and Gigantic

Vinayaka : Lord of All

Vishwamukha : Master of The Universe

Vishwaraja : King of The World

Yagnakaya : Acceptor of All Sacred and Sacrificial Offerings

Yashaskaram :Bestower of Fame and Fortune

Yashvasin : Beloved and Ever Popular Lord

Yogadhipa : The Lord of Meditation


The Story of lord Ganesha's birth

Ganesha the elephant faced God is one of the most popularly worshipped forms of divinity - as a remover of obstacles and the embodiment of good luck, in the Indian system of beliefs and practices.

Ganesha is regarded as the son of Shiva and Parvati (Shakti), the Universal parents, and the brother of Skanda.

Legend has it that Parvati, created a beautiful boy from the dirt of her body, treated him as her son, and gave him the responsibility of guarding her home. Shiva, upon returning home was affronted by this lad, hitherto unknown to him. The lad, true to his word to his mother, refused to let Shiva into his own home.

An enraged Shiva sent his Bhuta Gana attendants to scare the lad and to obtain entry into his own home. The lad single handedly defeated the Bhuta Ganas in battle. A clash of egos followed, as Shiva sent several of the Gods, to fight against Ganesha and an equally enraged Parvati sent several of her attendants to fight them. In the resultant fight, the valorous lad's head was chopped off by Nandi deva, and the lad lay lifeless.

Parvati's grief knew no bounds, and Shiva sought to assuage her, by promising to bring the boy to life. Alas, his head could not be found in the battlefield. A quick fix was sought, and it was decided that the first available head would be used to bring the boy to life. Accordingly, the boy was fitted with the head of an elephant and brought back to life.

Even this did not placate Parvati, who sought that this boy (who successfully created obstacles to his father's mission) now fitted with the head of an elephant, should be regarded by one and all, as the remover of obstacles, and should be offered worship first, before any form of worship was offered to any other manifestation of divinity.

This boon granted, Ganesha, the lord of the attendants of Parvati, came to be regarded as Vigneshwara the remover of obstacles.



Copyright 2001 - All Rights Reserved.

a r t i c l e s    o n    h i n d u i s m