Ganesh Upasana


To be happy in life is the goal of all human beings. All pursuits of all men at all times are directed towards this goal. But very often people find that in spite of the best efforts put in they do not achieve their goals to their expectations. It is then that the mind turns towards God. It arises from the conviction that there is a higher Being, more powerful than us Whose blessings are also necessary for getting the fruits of our actions.

The contemplative sages of yore have given us a number of symbolic representations of that Higher Being to enable us to invoke His Grace and get our desires fulfilled, as well as to ensure our protection and well being. These symbolic representations have been concretised in the form of idols, pictures and mystic diagrams. Any one of these can be used for worship- ping and invoking the grace of the lord.

The great sages, the mystic seers had also laid down exhaustively various methods of worship suited for the particular generations and the times during the various periods of history. Thus the methods of worship during Vedic periods had certain rituals and discipline, and that of the Puranic period had their own rules and regulations. That is to say, there had been reforms in the externals of the rituals of worship from time to time, but the core of it, viz. the worshipper's attitude of rever- ence and surrender to the Lord, had remained the same through- out. The present day worship is a mixed system combining the Vedic and Puranic methods.

Worship again, is basically of two types:

  1. at the individual level ( UPASANA ), i e. worship done by oneself in one's own house daily and on auspicious days and special occasions.,
  2. at social level, i.e. congregational worship (ARADHANA), like in temples or public places during Ganesh Chathurthi festivals, etc.
Upasana (Worship At Personal Level)

Japa

Japa is the simplest and most effective form of personal worship of any Deity. Japa is the mental repetition of a parti- cular Mantra, done in a mood of joy and extreme reverence and self-surrender to the chosen deity, with complete attention of one's mind centred round the remembrance of the Lord and His Glories A rosary of 108 beads is generally used while doing the Japa. This form of worshipping the Lord mentally is suited for all people in all ages. especially so for the busy people of the modern times. It is so effective and so flawless a path, that Lord Krishna has declared it to be the "core of all paths of worship" in the Bhagwad Geata ( Ch. 10-25 ). The Japa is usually undertaken with the recitation of a few Dhyana Slokas of the chosen Deitv as described earlier.

Ritualistic Worship

Though Japa is, thus, the most effective worship at perso- nal level, there are occasions when the Ssdhaka feels like worshipping the Lord in the ritualistic manner with all paraphernalia, to dramatise his love and adoration to the Lord, which in turn gives him a sense of completeness of worship. The logic behind this is not far to seek. When you truly and sincerely love or adore a person, you cannot hold back the gurgling feelings within you exploding into expressions of love, You are not just contented with your contention that you love or adore him, but you certainly wish to demonstrate your love by offering him gifts or inviting him over for a dinner or lunch, and so on. Whenever possible, you would like to spend some time with him leisurely or even go on a holiday with him to some lonely and lovely spot.

It all depends on how much you love and how intimate you are with him. Similarly, when we rise in our understanding about the Almighty Lord, how great His Glories are, how He takes care of the entire world at all times including us, nay our family, our friends, our property and even our interests, how His protecting hands had shielded us in times of danger, —when we thus reflect upon Him, we certainly come across moments in our lives when we joyously give expression to our love and gratitude to Him, by worshipping Him in a number of ways—such as undertaking pilgrimages to terrples, conducting Pujas in the temples, or conducting a Ramayan recitation or Satyanarayan Puja at home and so on. Unfortunately, we do not bother to understand what the priests do, nor the priests explain to us the logic behind the ritualism because they themselves may not know much about the philosophy behind it except the mechanism of the rituals The reason for our indifference lies in our own ignorance about the nature of the Lord, whom we generally consider as some mysterious power, away and separate from us and who has to be pleased somehow, either by vows or through worship. Thus we gene rally "fear" Him or just respect Him for His mysterious powers, rather then befriend Him and love Him as an intimate friend, which He truly is." We foolishly try to keep Him at arm's length for only our protection against adversities in the outside world, whereas the truth' is that He alone is the intimate and ever vigi- lant witness of not only all our actions we perform in the out- side world, but also of all private thoughts and intentions as well I He is the very life that pulsates in each one of us, and in Whose gracious presence alone can we think our thoughts, feel our emotions or work with our bodies. He pervades as much our personal private worlds of thoughts and emotions within as He does the world outside us. It is Him that we are trying to invoke by our worship, however crude it might be, through either the subjective worship of Japa or the objective ritualistic worship.

In fact, it is advantageous in most of the cases to begin with the ritualistic worship to strengthen one's faith, conviction, reverence and love for the Lord before the Japa Sadhana is undertaken in all earnest- ness. This personal worship can be under- taken either at home all by oneself or with the help of a priest, or by offering worship at a temple where the services of the priest is readily available. In the temples, the most common form of worship is in the form of chanting of the glories of the Lord (Mantras) together with the offering of flowers at the chanting of each Mantra, and thereafter offering of fruits, breaking of coconuts, burning incense sticks and the waving of burning camphor in front of the Lord (Arati).

However, when the (Sadhaka) feeis like worshipping the Lord by all himself to give him sense of fulfilment, it is usual for him to perform the worship at home. Again, to begin with it is necessary to have someone such as a priest or an elder to demonstrate the Puja, or get it done by such persons on one's behalf while one watches on the various rituals carefully.




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