26) The Glory of Ganesha

Hi! Today is the festival day of our beloved lord “Gaṇēśa”. A special thing today is that I am uploading, for the first time, a song played by me on my flute! It is a carnatic song on Gaṇapati, composed by Sri Muttuswami Dīkṣitār – “Vātāpi Gapati …”.  I will be commenting on  that song in this article, bringing out the subtle aspects of Ganesha to the light. Enjoy listening and reading 🙂

The Composer:

Sri Muttuswami Dīkṣitār is one of the trinity musicians in the Carnatic style of Indian music. He composed almost all his songs in Sanskrit. His father was the inventor of the “Rāga – Haṃsadhwani” of the present song. Muttuswami is known to have had direct blessings of the goddess Saraswathi who presented him his Vīṇa, which still exists in his home town, even today. Whatever the legend may be, his songs show his uniqueness in style, approach and profundity, suggesting the legend’s truth in one way or the other. He is known to use “Bījā Akṣarās” which is the style of “Mantra – Upāsanā” of Tantra. He utilized the Sāmā way of the Vēda and the Mantra way of the Tantra, mixing them both in the modern era! His songs squeeze the essence of the rāga in which they are composed, they bring out the necessary linguistic beauties of Sanskrit and also the deity’s full glory is brought to light. His “Navāvaraṇa Kṛtīs” are composed on the 9 zones of Śri Cakra, suggesting his mastery and devotion over the Śri Vidya or the King of Tantrās! 

The Song:

The song “Vātāpi Gaṇapatiṃbhajē …“, is one of the most widely known songs of his. Being the song on the lord Gaṇapati, this is generally sung or played at the start of the concert. Most of his compositions are slow and tough, but this one is an exception. This is a fast paced, energetic, flexible and takes the listener into a different domains of ecstasy! 

The song’s lyrics are as follows:

Pallavi:

Vātāpi Gaṇapatiṃ Bhajēhaṃ 

Vāraṇāsyaṃ Vara Pradaṃ Śri

Anupallavi:

Bhūtādi Saṃsēvita Caraṇaṃ 

Bhūta Bhautika Prapaṃca Bharaṇam

Vītarāgiṇaṃ Vinuta Yōgiṇaṃ 

Viśvakāraṇaṃ Vighna Vāraṇaṃ

Charanam:

Purā Kuṃbha Saṃbhava Munivara

Prapūjitaṃ Trikōṇa Mādhyagataṃ

Murāri Pramukhādyupāsitaṃ

Mūlādhāra Kṣētrasthitaṃ

Parādi Catvāri Vāgātmakaṃ

Praṇava Svarūpa Vakratuṃḍaṃ

Niraṃtaraṃ Niṭila Caṃdrakhaṃḍaṃ

Nijavāmakara Vidhṛēkṣu Daṃḍaṃ

Karāṃbujapāśa Bījāpūraṃ

Kaluṣavidūraṃ Bhūtākāraṃ

Harādi Guruguha Tōṣita Biṃbaṃ

Haṃsadhvani Bhūṣita Hēraṃbhaṃ

Me playing the song:

 

The Glory of Gaṇēśa:

Now let us explore the glory of Gaṇēśa through the song.

 

Vātāpi Gaṇapatiṃ Bhajēhaṃ 

Vāranāsyaṃ Vara Pradaṃ Śri

The place of birth of Gaṇēśa is Vātāpi. “Gaṇapati” means the leader (pati) of the “groups (Gaṇa)”. What are the groups? They are the groups of dēvās like Ādityās, Rudrās, Vasūs, Viśvē Dēvās, etc. HE is the lord of all those group-dēvās. Vāraṇa means Elephant and Asyaṃ means face. So HE is the lord who has Elephant face! We all know the elephant face. But why elephant? An elephant’s head and its trunk are symbolic to our head and spinal column. So, Gaṇapati is the lord of our Head-Spine put together. Our spinal column has three nāḍīs: Iḍa, Piṃgaḷa and Suṣumnā. These first two are symbolic to the two canals of Elephant’s trunk and the third is that which pervades its whole trunk, just as in our spine! And HE bestows the most auspicious (pradaṃ) “Śrī Vara (auspicious boons)”. Is it not our spine and head put together that gets us everything? Even without limbs, we can still live, but without spine or head? The inner meaning is that HE is the lord of the electric and spiritual currents of our Nāḍi or nervous system!

 

Bhūtādi Saṃsēvita Caraṇaṃ 

Bhūta Bhautika Prapaṃca Bharaṇam

Bhūta+Ādi = All that is made of bhūtās. Bhūtā implies the five states of existence: Pṛthvi (Earth), Āpas (Water), Tējō (Fire), Vāyu (Air) and Ākāśa (Space). These are called Paṃca Bhūtās. Anything in this creation is made from these five states. One need to be sure to not mistake them to be “elements”. For example, Vāyu does not only mean the physical air we breath, but also implies the pulsations of our body (heart beats, lungs breath, etc.), of this creation (the pulsations of sun’s radiations, etc.). It seems that all those which are made of “Bhūtās” are at his service (Saṃ Sēvita), prostrating at his feet (Caraṇaṃ). “Bharaṇaṃ” means gloriously support. Every aspect of this creation glows with HIS radiance (that means HE exists in all) and HE is the supporter of the very bhūtās and hence the whole physical (Bhūta Bhautika) cosmos (Prapaṃca) itself!

 

Vītarāgiṇaṃ Vinuta Yōgiṇaṃ 

Viśvakāraṇaṃ Vighna Vāraṇaṃ

Vītameans a negation or something that is not there.Rāgiṇaṃmeans the rāga or attachments. When we have attachments, we get affected and afflicted by the associated cause-effect relations. But the LORD exists in all untouched by none! So, he is said to be “Vīta Rāgiṇam” – Having no attachments.Vinutameans to bow in a praise. Generally yōgīs (yōginaṃ) are those who do not have likes and dislikes. But even they “praise” the lord it seems! When can some one praise, especially the yōgis? When they see something as the highest. Gaṇapati being the Lord of all, is being praised by them implies that HE is the ultimate goal of the YŌGA path of yōgīs. HE is the cause of this worlds. Earlier it was said HE is the supporter. Here, HE is being depicted as the very cause (Kāraṇaṃ) of this cosmos (Viśva)!Vighna means an obstacle. What is an obstacle? In our goal to reach or achieve something, an obstacle either delays or changes our course of actions and hence the results. But speaking in terms of series of life times (many lives or Janmās), every obstacle is a step to our evolution. So, an obstacle is a necessary agent for our ultimate goal of evolution. But, in so facing the obstacles, Gaṇapati can alter or modify the nature of obstacle or HE can bestow us with the capacity to positively take the obstacle and thus fasten our process of evolution. In this sense, HE is said to be the remover (Vāraṇaṃ) of Obstacles.

 

Purā Kuṃbha Saṃbhava Munivara

Prapūjitaṃ Trikōṇa Mādhyagataṃ

Purā” implies in the past. “Kuṃbha” means a pot (of consciousness) and “Saṃbhava” means to be born. In our purāṇic lore, Sage Agastya is born out of the pot of consciousness. He is a sage of highest order. It is to him that the incarnate Hayagrīva expounded the glory of “Lalitā Sahasra Nāma”. Such a sage and others in his level of superiority are named “Munivara” – Best among the munīs/sages. Pra+Pūjitaṃ means to specially worship. Whom do all these greatest of the sages worshiping? It seems the one who is at the center (Madhyagataṃ) of triangle (Trikōṇa). A center of a triangle is a point or biṃdu. In Tantra, that is the seat of Lalitā or goddess. GaṆēśa being son of Pārvati, sits on her lap and is inseparable from her – meaning, he is verily HER. Thus, it is said that Gaṇēśa sits at the center of the triangle. It also means that he is the cause as well as the one who is beyond the threefold natures of this creation – Past,Present,Future; Creation,Sustenance,Destruction; Satva,Rajas,Tamō Guṇās; etc. All these form a triangle where, the lord of ALL presides at the center of it – which is not perceivable but resides as the very source!

 

Murāri Pramukhādyupāsitaṃ

Mūlādhāra Kṣētrasthitaṃ

Mura+Ari means the one who defeated the demon named “Mura” who is Viṣṇu. Pramuka+Ādi means such very important ones. Upāsitaṃ means worshiped. So, Gaṇēśa is not only worshiped by sages and yōgīs, but is also worshiped by the foremost of the deities like Viṣṇu and others! It is to suggest the sublime and root nature of Gaṇapati that this expression is used here. So, he should not be understood as other purāṇic lords who have specific functional characteristics, but is to be thought of as the SUPREME lord who stands above all the manifested deities! It seems that HE resides (Kṣētra+Asthitaṃ) inMūlādhāra“. According to the kundalini yōga, we know that “Energy Kuṃḍalini” is what resides in the root cakra of Mūlādhāra. Here it is being said that Gaṇapati resides there. So, again the equivalence of the Kuṃḍalini, the Universal Energy and the lord Gaṇapati is being drawn and brought to our notice.

 

Parādi Catvāri Vāgātmakaṃ

Praṇava Svarūpa Vakratuṃḍaṃ

Parā + Ādi + Catvāri means the four stages of vāk: Parā, Paśyaṃtī Madhyamā and Vaikharī. I have already explored these aspects in Lalita Sahasranama (names:1 to 30) and 5) Vedic mysticism and Indian Trinity. Please have a look there. So, our beloved Gaṇēśa is the sublime substratum of the four stages of the Vāk (Vāk+Ātmajaṃ). What is teh substratum of these stages of consciousness or vāk or utterances? It is called Praṇavaṃ or Nādaṃ. This is the underlying current of the uttered ‘OM’. It seems that the form (Svarūpā) of this “OM” is our Vināyaka! Vakra+Tuṃḍaṃ means the one having a bent trunk of the elephant. This is nothing but our nāḍīs that we explored earlier. They are bent or they are curvy, and hence called “Vakra Tuṃḍaṃ”. 

 

Niraṃtaraṃ Niṭila Caṃdrakhaṃḍaṃ

Nijavāmakara Vidhṛtēkṣu Daṃḍaṃ

Niraṃtaraṃ means forever. Niṭila means forehead. Caṃdra + Khaṃḍaṃ means the crescent moon. So, it seems that he has the crescent moon on his forehead at all times! Moon is symbolic for mind and that is why he wears it on forehead – the seat of our mind. One can refer to 11) Spiritual Symbolism of a Woman for more details on the symbolism of Moon. Nija+Vāma+Kara means in the left hand and Vidhṛ+Ikṣu+Daṃḍaṃ means to hold the sugar cane. Sugarcane is symbolic for the sweetness of our existence. Vāma also signifies the “created worlds” and that is why, “Śakti” who is responsible for the creation to emerge sits on left side of Śiva (who is just a source of creation). So, holding a sugarcane on left hand signifies that HE is the cause of “bliss of existence” in the created worlds!

 

Karāṃbujapāśa Bījāpūraṃ

Kaluṣavidūraṃ Bhūtākāraṃ

Kara+Aṃbuja means the lotus like hands. Pāśa means a rope and Bījā+PūraṂ means a pomegranate fruit. But this is a highly symbolic line. A lotus is symbolic for evolution. Pāśa is symbolic for attachment or rather, “link”. Bīja+Pūraṃ can also signify the whole city or abode of “Bīja” or the seed syllables that form the basis of whole “Mantra Śastra”. So, he holds the process of evolution of every being in the form of linking his inner self to his outer worlds through the from of seed principles of sound and utterances. Pomegranate has many a seed. Thus, it also signifies how HE links through his pāśa to the manifested world of evolution in multitudinous ways! Bhūta+Ākāraṃ means the physical form or the manifested worlds! Kaluṣa means a flaw. Thus HE is far far away (Vidūraṃ) from any flaws. So, it means that neither HE nor his creation has any flaws or blots. This implies that HE is pure and his creation is also filled with him and hence there is no distinction or a second thing to compare and suggest that there is a flaw!

 

Harādi Guruguha Tōṣita Biṃbaṃ

Haṃsadhvani Bhūṣita Hēraṃbaṃ

Guruguha is the signature style of Muttuswami. In all his songs, one can see this signature! It implies the brother of Gaṇapati – Kumāra Swami. Hara+Ādi implies all the deities like Hara (Śiva) etc. Tōṣita means to be pleased. Biṃbaṃ means a reflection or round form. It seems that his father and others are happy to see his round form. His round form is the globular structure of this creation. Any thing in this cosmos is globular. Even space is globular – it has a curvature. Thus, to suggest that this cosmos got its “bending” nature (like light bends in space as it travels and planets or suns are all globular due to gravity, etc) from HIM and that this  is pleasing to all the gods of this creation, it is said that Śiva and others are pleased to see him in this way! Hamsadhwani is the rāga in which this song is composed. It also implies the OM utterance, because hamsa is symbolic for Soham and thus the OM – please refer to 25) Universal Symbols. It seems that HE, the Vighnēśvara (Hēraṃbaṃ) is adorned (Bhūṣita) with the beauties of this rāga ie., OM.

Conclusion:

Thus we see how majestic, beautiful and alluring this composition on Vināyaka is. On this auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, I am happy to have commented on this song and have offered my play at his lotus feet! I wish and pray for his blessings unto all of you!

 

Thank You!

Advertisements

8 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s