I can say, the largest worshipped deity in India is Ganesha. Almost every street will have a Ganesha temple. You don’t need a big ritualistic pooja from him. A village lady after her bath, comes, offers water to the Ganesha deity on the banks of the river, worships and goes. You cannot worship any other God like this without much ritual. His very form is a powerful representation of the cosmos.
Ganesha is still the sweetheart of Hindu children, especially the exam-going children! He is pleased just by a coconut. From the time I remember myself all the examinations are written by Ganesha only! He is a powerful divine being.
Ganesha is also the lord of the Muladhara Chakra the basic energy center at the bottom of the spine. He is a very powerful expression of the cosmic intelligence. He has four hands – the upper right hand holds the ankusha – the elephant goad, the left upper hand holds the pasha – noose, the lower right hand holds his own tusk and the lower left hand holds a sweet.
The ankusha – is a very small instrument which can goad a huge elephant. It actually represents unclutching (simply dropping the shaft of thoughts continuously being formed by the mind). It means that an elephant-sized mind can be controlled by a small key – unclutching! The mind which is a wild elephant can be controlled with just a small ankusha, a small tool like unclutching.
Pasha or the noose signifies ‘attachment’. When you add attachment to thoughts, they become engrams (engraved memories). It means that because attachment is under his control he does not allow the thoughts to become engrams. So on the one side, thoughts never become engrams because the pasha is under his control, and on the other side, because of the ankusha, even with thoughts, unclutching happens! So his inner space is completely under his control.
The lower right hand holds his own tusk. You need to know the history of the tusk. Once, Vyasa wanted somebody to pen down the Mahabharata, the longest Hindu epic. Vyasa is a genius. He was not able to find anyone for his speed. He finally requested Ganesha to pen it down. The Mahabharata is the largest and longest poem written on planet earth even now. Nobody is able to cross Vyasa’s achievement till now. We have so much technology, computers but Vyasa still stands! His record is unbroken.
He asks Ganesha, ‘Can you pen it down?’ Ganesha replies, ‘Sure, I will pen it down. But the speed with which I write will be too much. If you cannot cope with my speed, I will stop writing and go away.’ Vyasa replies with a condition, ‘Alright, I agree, but you should also write only after you have understood every word.’ Ganesha agrees. The agreement was ready. Vyasa was supposed to match the speed of Ganesha and Ganesha was supposed to understand and only then pen down.
It started and went on and on and on. Neither Vyasa nor Ganesha got up for anything. Whenever Ganesha finished quickly, Vyasa put in some complicated words, so that Ganesha would have to understand it, catch up and then pen down. It was a big game going on.
Suddenly, Ganesha’s pen broke. Now, this clause was not there in the agreement: what to do when the pen breaks? Whose responsibility is it? Naturally not Vayasa’s because Ganesha is the one penning down. But Ganesha cannot miss even one word. Vyasa’s expression was happening in full speed. The whole thing happened in Badri – the source of the sacred river Saraswati, the place where she emerges out. She is the source of Ganga, Yamuna and all the other Himalayan rivers. Saraswati here is not Lord Brahma’s consort. No! Here, she is the feminine consciousness. I had darshan of Saraswati in Badri – such beauty and grace! The enchanting grace….I made our Anandeshwari (presiding female deity of the mission) exactly in the same mould and jewels as her! Anandeshwari is made out of my darshan of Saraswati in Badri. The face, structure, jewels, especially the shoulder jewels….you will never find them anywhere else.
So, on the banks of Saraswati the writing is going on, and suddenly the pen broke. What to do now? Ganesha has to complete, he cannot miss; and he cannot run for a pen also! If he runs for one more pen, he may miss a few words. He cannot ask Vyasa to stop either. Ganesha immediately breaks his own tusk and starts writing!
Understand, this shows two things: one, his spontaneous decision making, and two, his courage to sacrifice for the cause. He does not tell Vyasa, ‘Stop, I will run and get a pen.’ No! It is just spontaneous decision making and courage to sacrifice – his own tusk. See, this writing is a small part of his life. He could have asked Vyasa to wait. But the courage to sacrifice! Therefore the tusk symbolizes the courage to sacrifice and the spontaneous decision making power.
So his two upper hands represent his pure blissful inner space while the lower right hand represents his courage and spontaneous decision making. When these three are there, life is sweet which is represented by the sweet in his lower left hand!
His elephant face represents the extraordinary awareness and sensitivity. It is also the symbol of Omkara. The elephant’s eye sight or its ability to smell, is extraordinary. His big pot belly represents the whole cosmos. The whole cosmos is inside him! He is the cosmic intelligence. His mouse represents the playfulness! With the mouse, even though you have a little fear of it, it always creates playfulness in you! Whenever you see it, you start laughing! The mouse can create a playful feeling inside you. That is why Tom and Jerry is so popular. SO Ganesha is doing this whole thing so playfully. That is what it means.
When you tune into Ganesha, you can imbibe these three things: unclutching from the mind, not being attached to thoughts and allowing them to become engraved memories, and having spontaneous decision making and courage to sacrifice. Then the whole cosmos will be in you and you will have extraordinary sensitivity to live life in the inner and outer world. And naturally your life will be sweet like Ganesha’s modaka (name of the sweet he holds).
Ganesha means Ganapati, the Vigneshwara. He represents extraordinary power of achievement, the pure efficiency. When you understand the sacred truth of pure efficiency…Please understand pure efficiency without obstacles is Ganesha. If you imbibe the idea which I expressed now, pure efficiency with no obstacles, just pure efficiency, means life, you will experience Ganesha in you. When you meditate on this sacred truth of pure efficiency, the non-mechanical parts of your brain will be awakened which will look exactly in the form of Ganesha. You may think what mystery it is? It is mystery but truth.
I can say, that in Hinduism, the largest celebrated festival is Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of the happening of Ganesha. Ganesha is the only god worshipped by Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shaktas, and his own group – the Ganapatyas. Even the Kaumaras, followers of Subrahmanya worship Ganapati!
There is only one god who is worshipped by all these seven sampradayas – traditions, and that is Ganesha! Usually, the Shaivites don’t even look at the Vishnu temple! By mistake they may look! But Vaishnavites, even by mistake they won’t look at a Shiva temple! If they look at a Shiva temple, they will do completion!
So understand, Ganesha is the only god worshipped by all the seven sampradayas. Even in Vishnu temples Ganesha has a place with the name ‘Tumbikkai Alvar’. That is why I say, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most celebrated festival in Hinduism, or I can say, in the whole world!
Ganesha outlives all philosophies. He feels all philosophies are boredom. He is like a modern day teenage kid who eats left and right, and sits with the Facebook all the time and does not bother about any serious philosophy, but who has all the powers!
Ganesha doesn’t come under any rule or regulation but he has all the powers and he is the embodiment of Satchitananda – the auspiciousness, intelligence, and energy. Above all, he is a close being to our heart. There cannot be any philosophical explanation about him. He is just a part of us, that’s all.