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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :-

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

' Why ' modakas' and why first puja to Lord Ganesha '

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
' Why ' modakas' and why first puja to Lord Ganesha '
Worship stands on a strong ground based on rituals. The rituals, their significance, cause for enacting them -all have references from Puranas or Mythology. With this introduction, let us look into some of the rituals which are prevalent and connected with ' Ganesha Puja ' :-

Eka Dhantham Surpakarnam Gajavakthram Chathurbhujam ,
Pasankusadharam Devam Dyayeth Siddhivinayakam.

Ganesha is addressed as " Jyeshta Rajan" and " Brahmanaspathi " in the Vedas. Jyeshta Rajan means 'First Born' and Brahmanaspathi means ' presiding over all Vedas'. As Thiruvalluvar says in the very first 'Kural', " Adhibhagavan" , Ganesha is like 'a' the first letter in the alphabet. The new borns utter first, the word starting in ' akaras ' -. 'Amma' gets the pride of place in this exercise. Appa, Akka, etc., follow suit. The calf calls ' Amme.." first. The sound of the elephant is like"Omkara". Ganesha has the elephant face . Yoga Sastras address Ganesha as "Pranavaswaroopi'.

Sumuka, Ekadhantha, Kapila, Gajakarna, Lambodhara, Vikata, Vignaraja, Vinayaka, Dhoomakethu, Ganadhyaksha,Balachandra, Gajanana, Soorpakarna, Vakrathunda, Heramba, Skanthapoorvaja are the 16 names of Ganesha first invoked with a prayer that the task which is being taken up will end well.
1) Why ' modakas' and why first puja ?
Once Devas approached Lord Siva when Parvathy, Ganesha, Subhramanya were all present. They brought 'modakam' containing 'Amritham' (nector) as 'poornam' filled inside.
Siva declared that the modakam will be earned by the one who emerges first after getting rid of all sins. He also will get the first place in worship. Subhramanya climbed on his peacock vehicle to go round the worlds to have a dip in the holy waters around to get rid of the sins. Ganesha believed that by performing 'pradhikshana namaskarams' of his parents, he can get rid of all sins. So doing , he not only earned the prestigious 'modakam' but also got the merit to occupy the place as a deity in receiving the puja first.

Performing 'pradhakshanam' is equivalent to writing the word or aksharam 'OHM' by the body. Further Ganesha is in the form of 'OHMkara' as described above. Thus 'modakam' also gets its importance as ' nivedyam' to Lord Ganesha.

There is another version which says that Arundhathi realised that the 'poornam' inside the modakam represents 'nectar' and the white outer thin cover of modakam made of rice flour represents the world. She gave the modakam to Vasishta Maharishi and asked him to offer the same to Ganesha. The Lord was pleased with the thought of Arunthathi about "Ganeshaism" and granted 'jeevan-mukthi' to Vasishta and Arundhathi.
Adi Sankara brought this philosophy in his creation ' Ganesha Pancharathnam' - starting ' mudhakarata modhakam sadha vimukthi sadhakam' .which means the modhakam in the abhaya hastha of Ganesha is something like a jewel for getting emancipation (Vimukthi).

2) Why 'hitting the forehead with both the fists?'

Ravana obtained a 'Sivalinga' from Lord Siva as a reward for his severe penance. He was to install it in Sri Lanka, so that no one can vanquish him in a war. The Devas became afraid and prayed to Ganesha to stop Ravana from installing the Sivalinga. Ganesha in the guise of a 'brahmachari' appeared before Ravana. Ravana wanted to perform 'sandhya vandana'.. He could neither keep the Sivalinga' on the ground , nor carry it with him. He was helpless and requested the bramhachari Ganesha to hold the Sivalinga for a short while. Ganesha agreed but on condition that if Ravana were to delay in coming back even after the three calls from him, the Sivalinga would be kept down by Ganesha. Ravana consented to this Ganesha but could not return to the spot due to the spell of Ganesha's power. The Sivalinga was kept down by Ganesha and Ravana could not remove or take it from the ground.

He got angry and hit the bramhachari on his head three times in a fist like action. Ganesha appeared before Ravana in his real form. Realising the mistake Ravana bowed his head down and hit his forehead with the both the hands in a fist like action.

This practice exists today also since then when we recite 'Suklam Bharatharum Vishnum Sasivarnam Chathurbhujam..."

3) Why 'topikarnam'?

Gajamukasura was a demon causing disturbances to the sages in doing penance. Lord Ganesha fought with him and brought the demon to his knees. Gajamukasura prayed to the Lord that he would serve Ganesha as his vehicle in the form of a bandicoot. Ganesha was pleased with his prayer and blessed him with a boon. Gajamukasura narrated that when he was ruling his kingdom, he used to pay obeisance to Devas by performing 'topikarnam', by holding the tip of both the ears with his thumb and fore finger of his hands in a scissor like fashion and repeat the action of squatting and standing. Gajamukasuran wished that henceforth devotees of Ganesha do 'topikarnam' before the Lord. Ganesha granted this boon and this practice exists since then.

"Topikarnam' means "Thwabhyam Karna" in Sanskrit " - I listen to your Command ,Oh Lord Ganesha'

Scholars explain that by hitting the forehead in a fist like action as well as by performing ' topikarnam', we are activating the nervous system and the action stimulates flow of fresh blood to the brain. By submitting ourselves while performing these acts, we forget ourselves, forget our ego and the situation leads to peace of mind.

4)Why " Pillaiyar Suzhi " before we start writing anything?
Lord Ganesha is called as 'Ekadhantar'- has one tusk.. The story behind this is that Ganesha removed one of his tusks to kill a demon who had earlier obtained a boon that he could not be killed by any weapon like sword, bow and arrow etc. There is another story which says that Ganesha removed one of his tusks and gave it to Vyasa Maharishi for using it as a pen in response to his prayer to help him to write Mahabharath. Ganesha came to be known as 'Ekadhantha' after this episode.

Lord Ganesha is the first person to invent the letters and start writing. Until then, the transactions were only in the form of sound. He translated the sound form into a written script by showing his tusk in a bent U shape manner (Pilliyarsuzhi). Henceforth before starting to write, people pray to Ganesha to show their gratitude for giving life to the sound form by translating it to a script form.

5) Why 'Doorva' and not Tulsi for Ganesha?
'Doorva' refers to the long tender grass which is considered as superior in Ganesh-Aradhana. Once Ganesha destroyed a demon called 'Analan', by swallowing him. The demon went inside and burnt the 14 worlds situated inside Ganesha, thus causing enormous heat. Ganesha searched for Doorva Grass and wore it as a garland to nullify the heat inside. Doorva is a substance known to create heat and by the principles of two negatives make things positive, the heat was quenched. Doorva Grass is therefore used as a supreme offering in Ganesha Puja.

Why not Tulsi? Tulsi did penance for long years with a goal to marry Ganesha. But the Lord did not like it and advised Tulsi to marry Lord Vishnu. Tulsi was in no mood and compelled Ganesha. Lord Ganesha became angry and cursed Tulsi to become a plant from Ganesha also made it clear that Tulsi is not suitable for worshipping him on the daily basis except on the Vinayaka Chathurthi Day.

Likewise, Moon is not to be seen on Sukla Chathuthi days and also on Vinayaka Chathurthi Day and it is believed that those who see the Moon on these days would earn some bad name.

6)" Vignesa " removes all hurdles ( Vigna ) to his devotees for doing good, at the same time he gives Vigna and thus prevents the wicked from proceeding with their bad actions.

Vakrathunda Mahakaya Kotisurya Samaprabha !
Nirvignam Kuru Me Deva Sarvakaryeshu sarvadha !!

Ganesha Charanam Charanam Ganesha. !!



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