I would like to begin with the most simple, yet all powerful Sanskrit verse that marks the beginning of all things holy:
shashivarNam caturbhujam |
sarva vighnopa shAntatye ||
शुक्लाम्बर - white(pure) garment
धर - wearing
विष्णुम् - All pervading One
शशिवर्णम् - luminous as the Moon
चतुर्भुजम् - having four arms (also interpreted as 3 dimensions + time)
प्रसन्नवदनम् - One with a benevolent face
ध्यायेत् - Meditate
सर्वविघ्नोपशान्तये - eliminate all obstacles to lead to tranquility.
Typically, this Sloka is assumed to refer to Lord Ganapathi and is uttered with the traditional 'Pillayaar-kuttu', i.e., knocking simultaneously on both sides of the forehead with the knuckles. However, all attributes mentioned in the Sloka can also be associated with Lord Maha Vishnu. The word विष्णुम् is, therefore, cause for some controversy since the Sloka seems to be addressing Lord Vishnu and not Lord Ganapathi. If, however, the word is taken in its literal Sanskrit meaning, it simply refers to an omnipresent force and since Lord Ganapathi is traditionally associated with removing all obstacles, it is assumed to be directed towards him. Another argument in favour of Lord Ganapathi is that Lord Vishnu is always referred to as Neela Megha ShyAmalan, i.e., One who is coloured blue and never as one adorned in white. Without delving into this controversy, it is possible to convey the gist of this Sloka in a non-dualistic sense (this is something I found in one of the online forums) -
Oh pure, all pervading, ever conscious One; covering everything in the cosmos, holding the cosmos with serenity, tranquility (Love), all over (omnipresent) and through all times; having a pure space (face) (internal as well as eternal space with stillness and eternal silence), we meditate upon You so that you make us whole by removing all our obstacles (which are illusory obstacles) and merge us into or make us one with that infinite bliss or may we attain Self Realization.
We are very fortunate to have a religion that can so effortlessly transition from a dualistic view to a non-dualistic view whenever such petty arguments arise!
I will present the gist of the Slokas in future posts also.