THE GANAPATI ATHARVASHIRSHA A SYNOPSIS AND TRANSLATION
The Ganapati Atharvashirsa is a hymn recited in praise of Lord Ganapati.
Ganapati as an elephant- faced deity was first recognized around the
fourth century A.D. and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa was composed
during the seventeenth century A.D. In Sanskrit, everything that exists in
the cosmos is called “gana” “pati” means lord. Thus, “gana pati”, is the
“ Lord” of all ganas or of all creation.
How did Ganapati attain this unique position?
The basic concept in Hindu mythological symbolism is the principle: That man is the image of God or in Sanskrit: “Tat Tvam Asi”. This is often referred to as the “Mahavakya” in the Upanishads and the Puranas.
“ Tat” is the truth or the ultimate reality. God “ Tvam” represents all the creations or the “Ganas”. “ Asi” is the synthesis that binds tat and tvam together. In the Chandogya Upanishad and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa this central position of “Asi” that participates in both creation and death has been assigned to Ganapati. “ Tat Tvam Asi”, means, “Thou Art That”. “ Thou, the living person, art the image of God
In the Ganesha Purana, Ganapati is also depicted as two different deities. As “sukhakarta-dukhaharta”, or as “vighnakarta-vighnaharta.” He either creates or removes obstacles or allows those already there to exist. In each case for a reason specific to the worshiper. Ganapati is probably the most worshiped and popular god in India. His popularity stems from the powers and premises that have been attributed to him. Extensive manuals were thus produced in the Puranas to guide the worshiper and much stress was put on the mechanics of ritual to fulfill his devotees hopes and desires. In addition to that 96 years ago Lokamanya Tilak used the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi as a political movement to collect an audience for his anti British cause. This propelled Ganapati to the highest position in the hierarchy of Hindu Gods making him the premier deity in all Hindu ceremonies of worship. Because of all these attributes and glorification it is easy to see why Ganapati enjoys such a high status in the ranking of all the Hindu gods put together.
GANAPATI Hindus believe that Ganapati unites man to god both at birth and death. We also believe that all of creation started with Ganapati’s intervention. Hence, we always bow to Ganapati first and worship him at the beginning of every enterprise. As a protector, his image is always placed at the entrance of every house and temple.
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Ganesha is not easily defined. He contains within himself a variety of combined presence somehow manages to appear natural. Ganesha has everything that is fascinating to anyone who is interested in the Hindu religion. He has charm, mystery, popularity, political importance, everything you can think of. One can start from Ganesha and work from there in an unbroken line to almost any aspect of Indian culture.