The Slokas we learn right from the time we are toddlers and little kids stick with us for the rest of our lives. We are taught Slokas to satisfy our every need - study well, stay healthy, give us courage - and what not! Each need is directed towards a specialized deity chosen from the myriad options we have. Therein lies the beauty of Hinduism! I plan to post over the next few weeks as many of these short Slokas as I can recollect.
I will begin the series of Slokas on Lord Ganesha. He is usually a favourite among the kids for his childlike innocence and behaviour, not to mention his immense love for sweets! Lord Ganesha is popular not only in India, but in many countries including Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal and so forth. You can find a really nice summary of his global following here. I will start my series with the following simple Sloka:
गजाननम् भूतगणादि सेवितम्
कपित्त जम्भुफलसार भक्षितम्।
उमा सुतम् शोक विनाश कारणम्
नमामि विघ्नेश्वर पाद पंकजम्॥
gajAnanam bhUtagaNAdi sevitam
kapitta jambhu phalasAra bhakshitam |
uma sutam shoka vinAsha kAraNam
namAmi vighneshvara pAda pankajam ||
गजाननम् - Elephant faced
भूतगणादि - Shiva's attendants
सेवितम् - Worshipped by
कपित्त जम्भु - Wood Apple and Rose Apple fruits
फलसार भक्षितम् - devour the essence of these fruits
उमा सुतम् - Son of Uma (Parvati)
शोक विनाश कारणम् - destroyer of grief
नमामि विघ्नेश्वर - Bow to Lord Vigneshwara
पाद पंकजम् - Lotus feet of the Lord
O' Elephant faced Lord who is worshipped by all of Shiva's Bootha Gana's (symbolic of all living beings), One who devours with pleasure the essence of Apple and Jamun fruits, the son of Uma who is the destroyer of all obstacles, I bow down to thy lotus feet!
The word Ganesha comes from गण + ईशा. The first word refers to a community or group and
the second word means God. So, Lord Ganesha is regarded as the leader of the community of Gods and is always worshipped first during any new effort. There is also a familiar story associated with this tradition.
Lord Shiva decided to have a competition between Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya (his younger brother) to determine who would lay claim to a fruit of gnaana or absolute knowledge. The challenge was to go around the entire universe and return to Lord Shiva. Whoever did so first would be the winner. Lord Kartikeya sped off on his peacock as soon as he heard the challenge. Lord Ganesha, on the other hand, simply went around his parents and told Lord Shiva that he had completed the task, thus symbolizing them to represent the whole universe. Lord Shiva was very pleased with Lord Ganesha’s wisdom and bestowed on the title of the Leader of Gods or गणेशा.
We will unravel over the series of Slokas a lot more of such interesting stories and reasoning behind Lord Ganesha’s seemingly contradictory attributes like a mighty and unbalanced body structure supported by a tiny, hapless mouse!