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Relevance of Shree Ganesh in the Modern Context by Vardhan Dharkar

Tomorrow is Ganesh Chaturthi. We always see the idol of Shree Ganesh without really thinking about the significance of it. I thought it is high time for us to understand the significance of Shree Ganesh, what does it mean to us. The following article explains the significance of Shree Ganesh and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Significance of Shree Ganesh

Big Head

The big head represents intelligence. It is conveying a message that we need to develop and sharpen our intellect. To be happy in life we need to use our intellect more often so that we take correct decisions. It also tells us to think big. Think beyond self. Think for wellbeing of everyone. Think for long term happiness rather than short term pleasure.

Big Ears and Small Mouth

The big ears convey importance of listening. Listening is a fine art. Often most of us are very impatient when someone else is speaking. We tend to hear rather than listen to the point being made by the speaker. While the other person is speaking, we are preparing our counter arguments thereby not understanding and grasping the points made by the speaker. Most of the conflict will disappear if we start listening. The wise persons speak only when required to and only if they can add value to the discussion. The Mantra of life should be “Listen more and Speak less”

Small Eyes

The small eyes tell us to focus and concentrate. For achieving success and happiness in life, one needs to focus and concentrate.

Curved Trunk

The curved trunk tells us to be adaptable and flexible. The trunk can uproot a tree; it can also pick up a straw. It also tells us to be efficient in everything that we do.

Axe

Axe in the hand tells us to cut off the attachments and ego. Attachments and ego are root cause of all our unhappiness.

Rope

Rope tells us to tie up all the attachments preventing them from running free

Modak

Modak in Sanskrit means small part of bliss and it symbolises spiritual knowledge.Modak is a sweet reward for performing good karma by us. All our actions in life should be performed without any attachment and without expecting any fruit. We should leave the fruit to the Lord Ganesh. He will reward us and we have to accept his reward gracefully and happily.

Blessings

Lord Ganesh is always there to bless us and protect us.

Broken Tusk

The broken tusk gives us the message to retain everything that is good in life and discard anything and everything that is bad in life.

Large Belly

The large belly tells us to peacefully digest everything that comes our way; Life is full of good and bad things. We have to accept everything that comes our way, digest it and move forward in life.

Mouse

Mouse represents the desires in life. To be happy in life, we must keep them in control. Uncontrolled desires can cause havoc in life. In today’s world, we see many examples of lives being ruined due to unbridled desires. Life will be full of happiness if we ride desires rather than allowing desires to drive us.

Significance of Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrating the annual arrival of Shree Ganesh to earth from his celestial abode. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesh’s clay murtis (Idols) privately in homes and publicly on elaborate pandals. The murtis are worshipped and prayers offered to Shree Ganesh for a period of ten days starting from Ganesh Chaturthi and ending on Anant Chaturdashi. In homes the period may vary from one and half days to ten days. On the last day of the festival, the tradition of Visarjan (immersion) takes place. The murtis are taken in procession to nearby well, lake, river or sea and are immersed in water after performing the Pooja and prayers.

There is an interesting story behind the legend of Ganesh Visarjan. It is believed that Lord Ganesh returns to Mount Kailash to join his parents Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati on the last day of the festival. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi also denotes the significance of the cycle of birth, life and death. Ganesh, known as the Lord of New Beginnings, is also worshipped as the remover of Obstacles. It is believed that when the idol of the Ganesh is taken out for Visarjan, it also takes away with it the various obstacles of the home and these obstacles are destroyed along with the Visarjan. Every year, people wait with great anticipation to celebrate the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

The festival is celebrated throughout India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa. it is also celebrated in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora worldwide such as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, U.K, United States and Europe.

The festival comes in the month of Bhadrapad. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls between August and September.

The public celebration was initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Lokmanya Tilak) in Pune in the year 1893. Tilak recognised the potential of Shree Ganesh’s appeal to all sections of the society. He used the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi to mobilise the people against the British rule. At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions were also held.

To summarise

Shree Ganesh is inspiring us to

  • Have big and sharp intellect
  • Think big
  • Listen more and speak less
  • Focus and concentrate
  • Be adaptable, flexible and efficient
  • Cut attachment and ego
  • Retain good and discard bad
  • Digest peacefully, both good and bad
  • Ride the desires instead of desires driving you
  • He will bless us and reward us

In short he is giving us Mantra to live a happy life

Wishing everyone a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

30th August 2022

Musings of a Pioneer: Each One Teach One

“The dreams that the young weave. They were not particularly well-off, had to give up studies and yet they had dreams of a better life for themselves as well as their yet unborn children. Those were the talks of young people very much in love with each other.” – Excerpt from The Gymnast, Book 1 of Street Performers Series.

This Sunday the young child whose studies I am financing came to see us with his father. The child is now in class 9. We sat talking for some time wanting to understand the areas that the child needed assistance in. I also told the father that I would be able to spare my earlier laptop in case the child would need it after a couple of years. It transpired that the parents had already enrolled the child in a local computer academy, and they had wanted a computer at home for the young boy to practice what he learnt in the academy.

The child’s father has studied till class 10, while the mother has gone to school till class 12. The parents are working hard for a dream that they want realised through their child. They are willing to toil hard for the dream. Much like the dreams that we saw for our children, or the dreams that everyone sees. Or the dreams that Chhaya and Budh saw for their yet unborn children in The Gymnast.

It is in our collective power to help the Chhayas, the Budhs, the Roshnis, the Deepas, the Pradeeps, in our society.

Each One Teach One.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Chandausi Junction by Shankar and Preeti Sahay

All of us have grown up listening to tales narrated by our parents or grandparents. If we were not children, we might have discerned a certain fondness, a certain longing, in their tone while telling these stories. But mostly these made us smile or chuckle or laugh heartily with our elders. These were not just stories for them – they were either anecdotes from their own childhood or stories handed down to them by their elders.

Chandausi Junction is a collection of 25 such fables from the lives of the author couple. These span a timeline from before independence till the mid-eighties. All the stories are narratives from the rural, semi-urban and urban India, across different social strata. The beauty of the stories is that they are timeless. Each reader would have gone through similar incidents from at least one story. I certainly felt a sense of déjà vu while reading some of the tales.

My review would not be complete without a special mention of the excellent cover. I believe, and I hope that I am right, the sepia tone of the picture is original and not photo shopped. This certainly would be an old photograph from the albums of those years.

This anthology would appeal to readers across different age groups.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Vow of Parvati by Aditi Banerjee

Many of us have either read or seen on the television the story of Sati and Shiv, their marriage, Sati’s immolation in the ritual fire when her husband was insulted by her father, her re-birth eons later as Parvati, and the coming together of the two.

It is a timeless tale, retold many times by many people. Aditi brings alive the vivid tale of love in her inimitable style. The author has also researched extensively to narrate many events that I was not aware of.

The challenge in narrating stories from the past is that there are no records of what transpired between different characters. We are also biased by the many retellings by our ancestors. The author has given her own unique perspective to the story. The dialogues that the author has attributed to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, or the goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati and Sati, makes the tale relatable to us. They too indulge in banter like we humans do. The intense scenes are also well etched out depicting the sentiments that the characters are going through. That makes the story interesting to read.

This ageless story would appeal to readers across different age groups.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast.

Arjun’s Chariot in Mahabharat war – what does it symbolise? by Vardhan V Dharkar

The five horses: They represent five senses namely, Touch, Taste, Seeing, Hearing & Smell

The Rein: It represents the Mind

The charioteer (Sri Krishn): He represents the Intellect, The Parmatman

The Passenger(Arjun): He represents Jivatma (Individual soul)

The Chariot : It represents body

The path travelled by the Chariot & its surroundings: It represents “The Sense Objects”

“The Charioteer” (The intellect) should hold the “Mind” (The Reins) to control and drive the “Horses”( The Senses) so that “Jivatma”(Individual Soul) travels in right direction & reaches “The Desired destination”(The Moksha). Left to itself the Horses will overpower the mind & go after the sense objects. This is where the role of Intellect comes in. It must hold the mind tightly & ensure that horses go in the right direction.

The lesson to all of us is to ensure that we develop Intellect to such a level that it holds & guide the mind so that the sense objects remain in control & we achieve our ultimate objective.

Current context

The battle of Mahabharat might have been fought five thousand years back, but it has not ended. All of us today are also fighting the Battle of Mahabharat in our mind. In fact the sense objects have multiplied many folds over the years, making it difficult for mind to control the senses! In such a tough scenario it has become all the more important for us to sharpen our intellect to ensure it keeps mind in control and drives the senses in right direction.