Monday, September 15, 2008

Really, What Are Obstacles?

Ganesha (Sanskrit), is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hind pantheon. His image is found throughout India. Hindu sects worship him regardless of other affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India. Images of Ganesha first appeared in Sri Lanka at least as early as the 2nd century CE. The earliest known image occurs at the Kantaka Cetiya in Mihintale, which is dated to earlier than the 1st century BC.

Although he is known by many other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify.Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles (Vighnesha, Vighneshvara), patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

Ganesha is the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. Paul Courtright says that "his task in the divine scheme of things, his dharma, is to place and remove obstacles. It is his particular territory, the reason for his creation."

According to Kundalini yoga, Ganesha resides in the first chakra, called mūlādhāra. Mula means "original, main"; adhara means "base, foundation". The muladhara chakra is the principle on which the manifestation or outward expansion of primordial Divine Force rests. Thus, Ganesha has a permanent abode in every being at the Muladhara. Ganesha holds, supports and guides all other chakras, thereby "governing the forces that propel the wheel of life".

Ganesha is identified with the Hindu mantra Aum (also called Om). It is said that he personifies the primal sound.

Aum, attired in white and all-pervading,
O moon-hued, four-shouldered One
with smiling face so pleasing,
upon You we meditate
for removing all obstacles.

Shri Adi Sankara prayed in his Ganesha Bhujangam the following invocation. It is particularly suitable for recitation before japa and deep meditation on the highest wisdom of Lord Ganesha, the incomparable Lord:

To You whom the wise exclaim
as the single-syllabled, Supreme sound,
stainless and peerless,
bliss, formless, unconditioned --
the Indweller in the core of
sacred tradition -- to that
Primeval One I bow in adoration.