Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lord of Created Categories

This week end is the tenth day culmination of Ganapati puja. The immersion of the statues of Ganesa, which were adorned with great pomp with jewels and silk, takes place in many places today. Many would question why we resort to this practice of immersion in the pond, lake, river or sea.

To understand this ritual one has to look at the meaning of Ganesa or Ganapati. ‘Gana’ in classical Sanskrit means ‘tribal’ and ‘Isa’ means Lord and ‘Pati’ means protector. Here one has to go deeper into the spiritual context. There have been aberration in interpretation, assigning Ganesa to be the deity of Sudras. This is due to a reference to Manu Smriti.
Manu instructs (Manu Smriti iii.164) that those who performed the ‘ganayajña’ should be excluded from the funeral feast. What was meant by ganayajna? Govindaraja, the traditional commentator of Manu, interprets it to refer to the rituals of the followers of Ganapati. Of course, many modern scholars--under the changed attitude towards Ganapati--are reluctant to accept this straightforward interpretation. Why?

To properly understand ‘ganayajña’ one has to understand the true meaning of Gana. Tribal means groups or categorization. Hence Ganesa is the ‘Lord of the created categories’ and those who perform yajña or sacrifice {sacrifice means ‘to make holy’ – comes from the Latin ‘sacrare’ ‘facere’ meaning to make holy} to material categories are of the lowest category of spiritually advanced human beings.
True iconic symbolism of Lord Ganesa must be understood by the yajña-bhāvana or as one who is understood by performances of sacrifice.
This is why the goal intention of yajña is of prime importance and must be targeted at the supreme and highest reality.

Commenting on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.13.34 His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda says:
“The Lord can assume any form He likes, and in all circumstances He is the cause of all causes. Since His form is transcendental, He is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as He is in the Causal Ocean in the form of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Innumerable universes generate from the holes of His bodily hairs, and thus His transcendental body is the Vedas personified. He is the enjoyer of all sacrifices, and He is the unconquerable Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is never to be misunderstood to be other than the Supreme Lord because of His assuming the form of a boar to lift the earth. That is the clear understanding of sages and great personalities like Brahmā and other residents of the higher planetary systems.”

True meaning of the ritual of immersion of Ganesa idol is to understand that all creations must one day return to the very source from which they came.

In delivering his address at the America’s cup crews in 1962, John. F. Kennedy said
“it is because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.”

There is a natural tendency of all creation to return to the source and this life that we have on this planet is an extremely short existence. This is what the ritual of immersion of Ganesa, the Lord of all categories, must mean to us. Dissolution of all categories and duality is the ultimate realization of the Divine.

Love to you all.

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