Ganesh CyberShrine

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108 Holy Names
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The Meaning of Ganapati
Shree Ganapati Darshan
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 Of all of the Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, Ganesh is perhaps the most loved -- and the most interesting. The mere sight of him sets one's mind churning. For all of those curious, here is the story of how Ganesh came to acquire his elephant head.
     Once, in ancient times, the Goddess Parvati began her daily shower. Before she could begin, however, she was rudely interrupted by her husband, the Lord Shiva.
     Time and time again the Lord Shiva interrupted her bath. Very angrily, she posted a guard outside of the room.
The guard, however, was very afraid of Lord Shiva and was no help in deterring him. In anger, she told the guard to kill anyone who tried to enter there.
     When Shiva returned once again, she took her soap and created a little boy, sending him to guard the door.
     The boy, Ganesh, informed the guard that he was the replacement. Annoyed, the guard did as he was told and chopped the boy's head off.
  Shiva appeared, and recognizing the child as Parvati's creation, informed the guard of his mistake. Knowing that Parvati would somehow blame everything on him, he offered to help.
  He asked the guard to find the head of any man or animal to place upon the body. However, for Shiva's magic to work, the bearer had to willingly give up his head -- and all of this before Parvati was done with her bath!
  The guard searched as hard as could, and could find no donor. Finally he rested against a tree trunk to catch his breath. He was amazed to find he was leaning not against a tree, but an old elephant.
  "What is your trouble, that you tire yourself so?" asked the gracious elephant.
  The guard explained his troubles to the elephant, and gracious as he was, the elephant offered his head.
  The guard rushed back to the palace and left Shiva to heal Ganesh. Ganesh, having the elephant's head, had inherited some of his wisdom, and used and expanded it. He came to be known as the wisest of all Gods and God of Wisdom. In addition, his "rebirth" allowed him the title of God of New Beginnings.
  Of course, to this day, he is still said to carry the head of an elephant upon his shoulders.
Ganesha is the firstborn child of Form and Emptiness, Shiva and Shakti. As such, he sits on the Muladhara Chakra of our own subtle body, controlling the entire collection of elements of both the "outer"and "inner" worlds. As such, he embodies Compassion and Wisdom, and by controlling the elements, removes obstacles from the path of our endeavors to benefit beings. His practice steadies the mind and opens doors to transformation. According to Narada Muni, whoever repeats the names of Ganapati, "for them there is no fear of failure, nay, there is constant good fortune." Shakyamuni Buddha says that even to hear Ganapati's mantra benefits one's health and leaming and "all one's tasks will be accomplished. Have no doubts about it."

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