Significance of Ganapati and 'Makkhan-chor' Gopalnanda
language, there are more than one meaning attached to a word. For example, the
word GO means cow as well as sense organs. Gopal means cowherd. Gopal also means
a yogi w...
hose sense organs are completely under his
control. This dual meaning enables poets to bring out their best on the physical
plane as well as on the spiritual plane.
We have Krishna the cowherd boy
in Vraj and Vrindavan, and we have Gopalnanda Krishna, the yogeshwar, milking
the Upanishads, and the milk is the great nectar of the Bhagavad Gita.(Gita
Dhyanam, verse 4, usually found at the beginning of Bhagavad Gita books). The
maakhan (cream) or the gist or essence of the Upanishads is presented in the
Bhagavad Gita. This is what the `makkhan chor' took from the Upanishads and
distributed for the benefit of mankind.
Similarly, a common Sanskrit
word to denote elephant is GAJA. Here Gajanan means elephant faced - a name for
Ganapati. But the word Gaja has a much deeper connotation. GA indicates gati,
the final goal towards which the entire creation is moving, whether knowingly or
unknowingly. JA stands for janma, birth or origin. Hence GAJA signifies GOD from
whom worlds have come out and towards whom they are progressing, to be
ultimately dissolved in Him. The elephant head is thus purely
We observe creation in its two fold manifestation as the
microcosm (sukshmanda) and the macrocosm (brahmanda). Each is a replica of the
other. They are one in two and two in one. The elephant head stands for the
macrocosm (representing vastness or bigness), and the human body for the
microcosm. The two form one unit. Since the macrocosm is the goal of the
microcosm, the elephant part has been given greater prominence by making it a
The Chandogya Upanishad has pronounced a philisophical truth as
TAT-TVAM-ASI, THAT- THOU -ART. It simply means "You, the apparently limited
individual, are in essence, the cosmic Truth, the Absolute". The elephant-human
form of Ganapati is the iconographical representation of this great Vedantic
dictum. the elephant stands for the cosmic whereas the human stands for the
individual. The single image reflects their identity.
Vedanta is the
synthesis of the `within' and the `without'; the macrocosm and the microcosm.
The study of this `within' of nature through an inquiry into the `within' of
man, who is the unique product of nature`s evolution, is religion according to
Indian thought. The synthesis of the knowledge of the `without' , which the
physical sciences give, and the `within' which religion gives, is what India
achieved in her Vedanta. This she calls BRAHMA - VIDYA or philosophy; God or
Brahman(`BRAHMAN' is the Upanishdic term for the Supreme Reality, God) standing
for the totality of reality, physical and non-physical. Brahma - vidya is Sarva
- vidya- pratishtha (philosophy is the basis and support of all knowledge) says
the Mundaka Upanishad (i.i.i.).
The Ganapati Upanishad identifies Lord
Ganesh with the Supreme Self. Lord Ganesh represents the Pranava (AUM) which is
the symbol of the Supreme Self. Taitiriya Upanishad (1.8.1.) states: "AUM ITI
BRAHMAN -AUM is Brahman(GOD). AUM is all this . Nothing can be done without
uttering it. This explains the practice of invokong Lord Ganesh before beginning
any rite or undertaking any project.
Lord Ganesh removes all obstacles
on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as
spiritual success. So he is called VIGNA VINAYAKA or VIGHNESHWAR.
said to Vyasa:
I esteem thee for thy knowledge of the divine mysteries,
before the whole body of celebrated Munis distinguished for the sanctity of
their lives. I know thou hast revealed the divine word, even from its first
utterance, in the language of truth. Thou hast called thy present work a poem,
wherefore it shall be a poem. There shall be no poets whose works may equal the
description of this poem, even, as the three other modes called Asramas are ever
unequalled in merit to the domestic Asrama. Let Ganesha be thought of, O Muni
(Sage), for the purpose of writing the poem.
Sauti said: Brahma having
thus spoken to Vyasa, retired to his own abode. Then Vyasa began to call to mind
Ganesha. And Ganesha, obviator of obstacles, ready to fulfil the desires of his
votaries, was no sooner thought of, than he repaired to the place where Vyasa
was seated. And when he had been saluted, and was seated, Vyasa addressed him
thus: ‘O guide of the Ganas! Be thou the writer of the Bharata which I have
formed in my imagination, and which I am about to repeat.’
hearing this address, thus answered: ‘I will become the writer of the work,
provided my pen do not for a moment cease writing.’
And Vyasa said unto
that divinity: ‘Wherever there be anything thou dost not comprehend, cease to
Ganesha having signified his assent, by repeating the
word Om! proceeded to write. And Vyasa began and by way of diversion, he knit
the knots of composition exceeding close; by doing which, he dictated this work
according to his engagement.
three gunas Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas are present in all beings.
mind, intellect and sense organs remain calm due to the predominance of Sattwa
guna, and develops a taste for spiritual knowledge and austerities, it is Krita
Yuga. Krita is another word for Satya.
When the mind is devoted to
materialistic pursuits of acquiring wealth (artha) and fulfilling one’s desires
(kama) in the righteous manner (dharma), it is Treta Yuga in which the Rajo guna
When under the influence of Rajas and Tamas, the
mind is beset with greed, discontent, pride, hypocrisy, rivalry, etc., then it
is the Dwapara Yuga.
When due to the domination of Tamas, mind is driven
to deception, untruth, indolence, excessive sleep, violence, sullenness, sorrow,
delusion, fear and wretchedness, know that to be the Kali Yuga.
Yugas are not only epochs at cosmic levels, but also periods of upheavals at the
individual levels. Thus all of us, individually, as well as collectively pass
through these epochs in our personal, social and national lives.
various Asuras (demons) represent the devilish forces created by the Rajasic and
Tamasic tendencies. There are eight such imperfections or defective traits of
the mind (vikaar) identified in the Mudgal Purana. These are described as the
enemy of man. Of these eight, six are kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, and
matsarya; and their two faithful allies mamata and abhimaan.
to Mudgal Purana, there are eight important avatars or manifestations of Lord
Ganesh. Each having a particular significance.
The order in which these
are narrated start with the grossest manifestation Matsarya and goes down to the
core Kama, and then to the subtlest viz., Mamata and Abhimaan.
incarnation of the Lord in the form of Vakratunda, riding a lion, is the nature
of Deh-Brahma. He takes this avatar to subdue the demon Matsarya (rivalry).
The incarnation Ekdanta is of the nature of Dehi-Brahma, with a mouse for a
vehicle, intended to subdue the demon Madasura (conceit).
Mahodara is of the nature of Jnana-Brahma, to overpower the demon Mohasura
The Gajananda incarnation is to bless the Sankhya Yogi by
vanquishing the demon Lobhasura (greed).
The Lambodara incarnation is of
the nature of Sattwic Shakti Brahma to subdue the demon Krodhasura
The incarnation Vikata, riding a peacock, is of the nature of
Sour-Brahma, to subdue the demon Kamasura (lust).
riding the celestial serpent Sesha, is of the nature of Vishnu-Brahma and is
intended to conquer the demon Mamatasura (attachment).
incarnation is of the nature of Shiva-Brahma
to conquer the Asura Abhimaan