Story of Lord Ganesha and its Spiritual Significance

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha’s birth story conveys something very symbolic. Parvati while taking bath, makes the form of Ganesha with turmeric paste. She breathes life into the form and makes him as a young boy and appoints him as a guard. When Shiva comes in, Ganesha doesn’t recognize him and doesn’t allow him inside. This results in a fight and Shiva severes the head of Ganesha. Finally when the truth is recognized, an elephant’s head is fixed on the headless boy.

Lord Ganesha with Shiva and Parvati

Parvati taking bath symbolizes the first step in the spiritual path: preparing the ground by purifying oneself. Ganesha guarding the door is your awareness guarding the contents of the mind, which symbolizes the second step in the spiritual path where you remain as a witness. When Shiva or the self realization comes, the head or the ahamkara, the feeling that one is the doer of his actions, is severed. Elephant symbolizes wisdom. Wisdom replaces ahamkara.

The story of Skanda and Ganesha quarrelling for the fruit of wisdom or the gnanapalam also has a symbolic meaning. Ganesha symbolizes the type of seekers who realize that Purusha and Prakriti, or the Father and the Mother are within and get the fruit of wisdom instantly. They are like Ramana Maharshi who follow the direct path like self inquiry right away. Skanda symbolizes the type of seekers who go around the world, seeking fulfillment in worldly things, then trying various spiritual practices before attempting to go through the direct method. These people are like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who was more attached to the name and external form of Goddess Kali. After trying various sadhanas, he receives Vedantic instructions from Totapuri and gets the fruit of wisdom.

Lord Skanda or Murugan

Goddess Gomathi Amman, Adi Thabasu and Religious Tolerance

I am always amazed by coincidences in life. As I scientist, I regard them as just coincidences but the poetic aspect of me rejoices in the beauty of the connections. Many such beautiful coincidences happened today; and today is also Adi Thabasu, a festival in Tamil month of Adi that celebrates religious tolerance.

There is a beautiful temple in a town close to my city. The town is Sankarankovil, in Tirunelveli district. This temple has a story behind it. It is not history, but a story. But the story comes with a good message which served to connect Shaivism and Vaishnavism, the two sects into one.

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I am including the story from Wikipedia as It will save me a lot of typing:

“The goddesses is a yogini who was performing her penance on the tip of the needle to please lord Shiva and merge with him. Two snake kings namely “sangan” and “padman”. Sangan was worshipping lord shiva and padman was worshipping lord narayana. One day they had a quarrel on who is great whether lord shiva, the destroyer or narayana, the protector. They were trying to prove their own power and finally went to the yogini and pleaded her to give them a proper judgement.

The yogini grew out of her grace pleaded the almighty to show his universality form so that not only the snake kings but also for every human being. By the intense penance lord shiva appears before the yogini in the form of half shiva and half vishnu showing the world that they are equal and it is with love and sacrifice they could reach them. Hence sangan and padman worshipped the lord and prayed to the yogini for showing them a way to attain the god and they stayed with her. the yogini was none other than goddesses gomathi. Gomathi means repository of wealth. Since the snakes stayed with the goddesses, this place is free from all venomous creatures and praying to this goddesses can eliminate the fear of venom.

One of the 18 siddhas, the great pambatti siddhar worshipped this goddesses as valai kumari and he regarded this goddesses to be the great serpent power which can make miracles in taking aspirant in yogic transformation. Pambatti siddhar samadhi is seen behind the temple.”

My long time readers would know that I am not happy with the hatred spread by RSS and other Hindutva organizations in India. This morning, before I knew that today is Adi Thabasu, I commented on an RSS group in Facebook. Their replies were in Tamil but you can guess what they are basically saying by reading my replies that are in English. Eventually, in between the comments I got to know that today is the festive day that reminds us about religious tolerance, as I was also checking Tamil calendar app in my mobile. And what I notice among RSS members is religious intolerance and hatred. Here are the screenshots:

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There was another coincidence too. Once I finished posting these comments, I saw this in my Facebook feed:

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A birthday of a Muslim friend and a Christian friend. Both are my good friends. And coincidentally, it made me recall a conversation that I had with one of them in a post that I posted a month before:

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The conversation itself was regarding religious tolerance. This is way too much of coincidences today. I am not sure if they have any other significance other than being coincidences but they are beautiful and poetic. They make me smile and I enjoy them!

 

Happy Karthigai Deepam 2018

Karthikai Deepam is a Hindu festival celebrated on the fifteenth lunar day of the month of Kartik (November–December). This year it falls on today, November 23rd.

The festival is celebrated at night by decorating various parts of the house and balcony with oil lamps. These days some use candles too. It is beautiful to look at the neighbourhood in Tamil Nadu, India after 6:30 PM. Stairs, walls and windows of every house can be seen as an ocean of light.

The following images show some example decorations (the images are from Google image search):

Last year, on this same day (Nov 23) I published my first book ‘The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta‘. (But last year Karthigai Deepam fell on Dec 2, 2017). So, it has been exactly one year since the book was made live! The book is doing quite well and I thank all the readers who bought this book for  supporting. 🙂

I am working on another book titled ‘The Story of God: A History of World Religions and Spiritual Enlightenment‘. This book is going to be a long term project and it is going to present the history of spirituality as accurately as possible. I am going to adopt a pure historical method. This book is not just going to be a history book, but a guide to spiritual enlightenment from a historical perspective. I am pretty sure that this book will give a totally new and fresh outlook on the past. I think it may take another year (or two, if necessary) to complete it.

I wish everyone a happy Karthikai deepam!

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