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The book, Ganesha: the Auspicious…the Beginning, written by Shakunthala Jagannathan, who passed away in 2000, and her daughter, Dr. Nanditha Krishna, is about the elephant-headed God, Ganesha, who is beloved by all Hindus.

 

In general, a prayer to Ganesha preceeds all occasions of Hindu worship and all events of any importance, such as the dedication of a building or a new business.

 

Ganesha is jovial, kind, and good-natured – he brings success and good fortune to all endeavors. Like the elephant who makes a way through the dense jungle so that other animals can follow, Ganesha overcomes all obstacles, he finds a way where there seems to be no possible way. He is the very essence of positivity and possibility.

 

One of the sects of Hinduism, the Ganapatya sect, worships Ganesha as the ultimate form of God, as Brahman, who is the ultimate reality, as the One Truth, who is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva – the One from whom the entire universe was born.

 

Because, with the proportions of an elephant, he is very big, he contains within him the entire cosmos and all that exists.

 

A more widely held perspective within Hinduism, however, places the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as being the three primary Gods who were present at the beginning, with Brahma having been given the task of creating the universe. From this viewpoint, Ganesha is the son of Shiva and his consort, Parvati.

 

There is no conflict though between these two views. Hinduism has a way of reconciling and including many divergent ways of seeing things. It is rather like the old parable of nine blind men describing the elephant – one who has felt the elephant’s legs says he is like four pillars, one who has felt the trunk says he is long and tubular, one who has felt only the tusks says he is sharp, curved, and pointed, and so on. No one is right or wrong – all are describing reality as they perceive it. Since reality is vast and infinite beyond our imagining, all the different stories that are part of the Hindu tradition serve as ways to add to one’s understanding.

 

Ganesha is the sacred syllable Om, the first sound and the first word, from which all created things spring forth. Ganesha appears at dawn, in joy, dancing in the first light. The mystic syllable Om encompasses the entire universe, extending beyond the boundaries of time and space, and this is the reason it is spoken at the beginning and end of meditation or prayer.

 

The book, Ganesha: The Auspicious…The Beginning is a profound and delightful book, which gives one an insight into the nature of this wonderful God, Ganesha, who brings peace, calm, knowledge, freedom from burdens, and success – who is at once infinitely complex and beautifully simple.

 

Image: “This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.” From a painting done around 1800 by an unknown artist. / Wikimedia Commons / “The five prime deities of Smartas in a Ganesha-centric Panchayatana: Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Devi or Durga (top right), Vishnu (bottom left) and Surya (bottom right).”

 

To see Ganesha: The Auspicisous…the Beginning on Amazon, click here.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2014