(The purport of a speech made by cenetarian Vedic Scholar Pandit Sudhakar ji on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi in Bangalore)
I do not hide the fact that I am a little embarrassed by the thought that you have chosen a wrong person to speak on Ganesh Chaturthi this evening. I know-none among you expects from me a song in praise of the traditional Ganesha, for you are well aware of the fact that I do not believe in the existence of any such Ganesha as is described in the puranas. Even so, I do believe in the Real Ganesha, whose description you may find both in Rigveda and Yajurveda. Let me request you at the outset that you may accept my words in the sense I give them and that you may not feel offended if something that is not in consonance with the traditional belief escapes my lips. I consider any opportunity to sit together, with seekers of Truth, exchange views and add something to our knowledge as a pleasant occasion. I thank those who have been instrumental in providing me with this opportunity.
Now, to the subject matter proper, I was telling you that I also believe in the vedic conception of Ganesha. Here it is :-
Ganaanaam tvaa Ganapathim havaamahé
jyeshtaraajam brahmanaam brahmanaspaté
Aa nah shrunvanootibhih seeda saadanam. (Rigveda :2.23.1.)
Meaning : -
“(havaamahe) we invoke, (tvaa) Thee, (Ganapatim) the most respectable Lord, (Ganaanaam) of the countable, conceivable things and groups, (kavim). The One Truth-seer,(Kaveenaam) among the truth-seers, (Upamashravastamam)the One with the Highest reputation, the Most Praise worthy,and (Jyeshtaraajam) the Most brilliant, (brahmanaam) among the knowers of the vedas. (Brahmanaspate) Oh Lord and Protector of the universe! (shrunvan) acceding, (nah), to our request, (aa seeda) be enshrined, (Saadanam) in our hearts, (ootibhih) with Thy protecting forces.”
This is a clear picture of Ganesha. He is the Most respectable Lord and protector of all that comes under perception. He is the One knower of Truth in its entirety among truth-seers. He is the Most Praiseworthy and He is the Most Brilliant among those well-versed in the Vedas.
Ganaanaam tvaa ganapatim havaamahé
Priyaanaam tvaa Priyapatim havaamahé,
Nidheenaam tvaa nidhipatim havaamahe.
vaso mama. Aahamajaani garbhadhamaa
tvamajaasi garbhadham. (Yajurveda: 23. 19)
”(Havaamahe) we invoke, (tvaa) Thee, (Ganapatim) the Most respected Lord and Protector, (Ganaanaam) of all that is perceivable; (tvaa) Thee, (Priyapathim) the dear Lord and Protector, (Priyaanaam) of all that is dear; (Havaamahe) we invoke, (tvaa) Thee, (Nidhipatim) the Immanent Lord and Protector, (nidheenaam) of all hidden treasures. (Vaso) Oh Real Wealth! (mama) Thou art mine. (ajaani) Let me know Thee, (aa garbhadham) the upholder of the graspable universe. (Tvam) Thou, (aa ajaasi) knowest from all sides, (garbhadham) the universe that is the repository of the creative energy.
With the exception of the last two sentences, the mantra needs no further explanation. In addition to what has been said in the rigveda mantra, it is said that Ganapathi is the Dear Lord and Protector of all that is dear, and the Immanent Lord and Protector of the hidden treasures. In other words, Ganapathi is the Sole Lord and Protector of the whole universe—known and unknown, seen and unseen. In the last two sentences, the word ’garbhadha’ is used both for the creator and the creation, because in both is found the energy of creation.
Well, nowhere in the Vedas do we find the traditional Ganesha with an elephant’s head, Four hands, pot bellied with a snake tied round, the mouse, and, yes, a broken tusk. God being Omni-Present and Formless, Immanent and un-manifest, has no form whatsoever, save in the idle imagination of the people. If it be said that this traditional Ganesha is a different God different from the One who is the Creator, Protector and Destroyer of the universe, He does not deserve worship, because, it runs contrary to the teachings of the Vedaas. Vedas say: – “yaekait tamu shtuhi krishteenaam vicharshanihi. Patirjajne vrishakratuh” (Rig: 6. 45.16)
(Tamu shtuhi) praise only Him, (ya ekait) who is only one, (vichar-shanih.) the witness, (Kristeenaam) of all the individual Souls. (Iajne) He is, (patih) the Lord and Protector, and (Vrishakratuh) the Creator who showers happiness on all’
I have heard people giving peculiar explanations for the curious figure that the traditional Ganesha cuts. They say—the trunk symbolizes ‘Omkar’, the elephant head signifies a large amount of brain, the ‘trishula’ directed against the head indicates control over the thought, the pot bellied—the bulging greed for worldly pleasures, the snake—the danger that surrounds such pleasures and the mysterious mouse—the intriguing fickleness of mind and so on. Such explanations can be given for any odd figure on Earth, but, they cannot quench the thirst for knowledge that a Truth-seeker feels intensely. .
After all, these imaginations cannot lead us to salvation.
The Vedas say:-
(”Tameva viditvaa) By Knowing Only Him, the man, (mrityum ati eti) crosses over death. (Na vidyate) There is no, (anyah panthah) other way, (ayanaaya) for spiritual progress. When this is the case, how can we first imagine peculiar forms of the formless God and then try to find all sorts of explanations for them? Can we hope to achieve moksha by this unvedic and irrational process?
We are all believers in Vedic Dharma. It is our sacred duty to strictly adhere to the principles as enjoined upon all of us by the Vedas. Being human beings, endowed with a capacity to understand, discriminate and conclude, we should not blindly follow anything that passes for tradition. There are traditions and traditions——good and bad. A bad tradition does not turn good simply because it is antique; nor does a good tradition turn bad simply because it is novel.
Let us lend ready ears to this Vedic call :—
Yatpoorvyam maruto yachcha nootanam
Yaduchyaté vasavo yachcha shasyaté.
Vishvasya tasya bhavataa navédasah
Shubham yaataamanu rathaa avritsata.(Rigveda: 5. 55. 8.)
(Marutah) Oh mortals! (navedasah) You are all possessors of scant knwoledge, (vishvasya tasya havata) Listen to all that, (yat poorvyam) which is ancient, (cha) and, (Yat nootanam) which is modern, (Yat uchyate) which is spoken, (cha) and, (Yat shasyate) which is given as a Scripture. (Vasavah) Oh residents of the world! (Rathaah) Be Progressive. (Avritsata) March on, (Shubham yaataamanu) in the wake of those who move towards well-being and prosperity.
Can there be a nobler ideal, a more liberal outlook on life? But, this ideal of constant vigil and unhampered progress naturally does not appeal to those who are given to blind faith. Faith itself is not bad, but thoughtless faith, blind faith, never brings credit to human beings. Quest of Truth, realization of Truth is the loftiest ideal that a man can set before himself. lt is no use if we appear thorough gentlemen, externally, but have no regard for truth in our hearts. Let me conclude this speech with another mantra:-
Yuvam vastraani peevasaa vasaathé
Yuvorachchidraa mantavo ha sargaah.
Ritena mitraavarunaa sachéthé.(Rigveda: 1. 152. 1)
(“Mitraavarunaa) Affectionate woman and strong willed, affliction-removing man! (Yuvam) Both of you, (vasaathe) put on, (peevasaa vastraani) strong clothes. (Yuvoh) your, (manthavah) thoughts, (ha) similarly (sargaah) actions be,(achchidraa) free from flaws. (avaatriratam) Reject, (vishvaaanritaani) all untruths. (sachethe) be united with, accept,(ritena) Truth.
I do not propose to add anything more to what is said in this mantra. It is self-explanatory. If I have given some food for your thought, I should be satisfied that l have done something useful.
May Ganapathi, the Omni-Present, Omni-Scient, Omni-Potent and Formless Lord and Protector of the universe shower His choicest blessings on all of us, that we may ever be prepared to reject untruth and accept Truth.
(Article contributed by Keshav Arya, Banglore)