In Hinduism every divine being has the male as well as the female form. That is, every divine deity has a male and female avatar signifying the circle of life. The male avatar denotes the mental state of power while the female avatar denotes the physical state of power or ‘shakti’. For instance Lord Vishnu’s shakti (female avatar) is known as Vaishnavi, Lord Indra’s shakti is Indrani, Lord Brahma’s shakti is Brahmini and so on. Lord Ganesha’s female shakti is called Vinayaki, according to the Matsaya Purana and the Vishnu-dharmottara Purana. The Vana-Durga-Upanishad refers to the female form of Ganesha as Ganeshvari.
The female form of Ganesha came into prominence in the 16th century when a separate sect of religious group called the tantric emerged. The popularity grew as this sect preferred worshiping the female avatar of Ganesha more than the dominant male form. Tantric practitioners believe that the female form is the source of generative powers. While the male is responsible for implanting life, the female nurtures and nourishes it. In metaphysical theory, the female was considered the source of all material resources that is responsible for continuity of life.
The Puranas mention Malini, the elephant headed companion of Goddess Parvati. She is believed to be the nursemaid of Lord Ganesha. Therefore some scholars think that the female avatar of Ganesha is nothing but an exaggerated description of Malini.
The birth of the female avatar Vinayaki is mentioned in the Matsaya Purana. It is believed that the demon Andhaka wanted Goddess Parvati to become his wife. He tried to take her by force from Lord Shiva, who injured the demon with his trident. Andhaka had a boon that when blood dripped from his body and touched the ground, every drop would turn into a new Andhaka. The only way to stop this was to not let the blood touch the ground.
Parvati called out to the other deities and asked them to fight the demon along with their female forms. So Indrani, Vaishnavi and Brahmani came forward to fight Andhaka and absorb the blood before it touched the ground. It was Lord Ganesha’s female form, Vinayaki, who finally drank all the blood which helped the deities to destroy Andhaka.
Over the years, the debate has been afloat among sages, whether mental potential is more important over tangible and material resources. The sages, who believed that mental strength held more importance, associated themselves with Vedic practices and worshiped the male form of Lord Ganesha. The group that veered towards material resources worshiped the female form Vinayaki and practiced tantric activities. So the female form, Ganeshvari, also gained popularity.
The stories and the references are debatable as there isn’t any concrete evidence supporting the same. The acknowledgement of the female form of Ganesha happens on the occasion of Vinayaki Chatturthi. It occurs on the fourth day after the new moon appears.
There are many stories which involve Lord Ganesha. From the stories of his birth to the stories of his powers and later destruction of demons, these stories not just make up for an interesting read but also teach us lessons of life.
The Ganges or Ganga is the most important river of India. The river not only serves as an important water body but is also considered holy in Hinduism. The river Kaveri is considered to be the most important river in the southern part of India. Kaveri is also known as Dakhsina Ganga which means “Ganga of southern region”. The river Kaveri is also known as “Kaveri amma” in the southern region.
The origin of the river Kaveri is the work of Lord Ganesha. This makes for an fascinating story to read. One day sage Agastya went to Lord Brahma to help get water to the barren southern regions. The southern region of India was parched and everyone was suffering due to the lack of water. Lord Brahma suggested Agastya to go to Lord Shiva and ask for help. With the blessings of Lord Brahma, Agastya went to Lord Shiva hoping to find a solution. Lord Brahma asked Agstya to carry a kamndalu (a vessel made of copper or bronze to carry liquid) to Lord Shiva. On top of the Kailasa, Agastya began to pray for Lord Shiva to appear before him. Impressed by Agastya’s devotion Lord Shiva made an appearance and asked Agastya what he wanted. When Agastya informed Lord Shiva about the parched southern lands, Lord Shiva poured a few drops of the sacred water in to Agastya’s vessel. Agastya was sceptical about the amount of water in the vessel and wondered how it would help him. But Lord Shiva assured Agastya and asked him to trust Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva told Agastya to un-turn the vessel at a suitable spot to get water in the dry lands.
He began his journey back to the southern region of India. He was looking for a suitable place to un-turn the vessel. When he reached Kodagu Mountains (Coorg) he met a young boy on the way. Agastya was tired and wanted to relieve himself, so he requested the boy to guard the vessel for some time. The boy was actually Lord Ganesha in disguise. He had come to help Agstya to pick the right spot. When Agastya left the vessel to Lord Ganesha, Ganesha picked the right spot and placed the vessel there and left. Agastya came to find the vessel on the ground and a crow perched on it. Agastya accidently un-turned the pot when he attempted to drive the bird away. The water began to flow out of the vessel and became the massive river Kaveri enriching the parched southern lands. The point where Kaveri started is known as Talakaveri. The place is considered sacred in India.
According to a different version Goddess Vishnu Maya became a dwarf and got inside the vessel. Agstya carried the vessel to the spot where it was un-turned by Lord Ganesha. Vishnu Maya then became the river Kaveri.
Legend has it that on Ganesh Chaturthi if anyone looks at the moon, misfortune follows that person. More specifically the person who looks at the moon on Lord Ganesha’s birthday is falsely accused of a crime. This legend comes from a tale of Lord Ganesha. On his birthday Ganesha, the little kid, was happily stuffing himself with all the sweets made by his mother. After finishing the sweets made by her he went to the places of gods who had invited him for a meal. They served Ganesha modakam and the choicest of sweets. After eating all of it, Ganesha’s belly grew enormously. He did not show his discomfort to those who had invited him and continued to eat. In the night, Ganesha could not bear it anymore and had to go out. He hopped on to his vehicle, the mouse, and went about. After going a distance, the mouse could not bear the weight of Ganesha and tripped over a snake. The contents of Ganesha’s stomach fell out and Ganesha stuffed everything back in. He picked up the snake and tied it around his stomach so that the contents would not fall out.
Witnessing this scenario, the moon found it extremely hilarious and started to laugh hysterically. Lord Ganesha felt insulted and cursed the moon. After the moon apologised, Ganesha revised the punishment and said on the occasion of his birthday no one should look at the moon. If anyone would, the only way to avert the misfortune will be to tell the tale of the Syamantaka jewel.
Satrajit was given the Syamantaka jewel by Surya (the sun. Satrajit considered the stone to be so precious that he didn’t part with it even when Lord Krishna (incarnation of Vishnu) asked for it. One day Prasana, the brother of Satrajit, went out hunting wearing the jewel. He was killed by a lion and the lion took the jewel as well. Jambavan (of the Ramayana fame) saw the jewel, killed the lion and gave the jewel to his son. When Satrajit falsely accused Krishna of killing his brother for the jewel, Lord Krishna decided to find out the truth. After days of searching, Krishna found Jambavan’s cave and the jewel. Before Krishna could explain why he was there, Jambavan mistook him for an intruder and started to fight him. The battle lasted for 28 days before Krishna defeated Jambavan and made him realize that Krishna was Lord Rama’s rebirth. Jambavan profusely apologised and offered the jewel to Krishna who gave it back to Satrajit. Satrajit also realized his mistake and offered his daughter Satyabhama’s hand in marriage along with the jewel. Lord Krishna did not accept the jewel but married Satyabhama.
It is believed that if anyone recites this story he not only averts the misfortune but is also blessed with luck.
Lord Ganesha is depicted with his family (Shiva, Parvati and Kartikeyan) as well as consorts (Riddhi and Siddhi). There are many paintings that depict Lord Ganesha with Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. This article scrutinizes the relationship between Lord Ganesha with Saraswati and Lakshmi.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is the wife of Lord Vishnu and also known as Mahalaxmi. She is the source of strength to even Lord Vishnu, who is considered the strongest God in the Hindu religion. Lakshmi is also known as Thirumagal because she has six divine qualities. She is often shown with a lotus and dressed in a bright red sari. According to the Vishnu Purana, Lakshmi is the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyati. The goddess of misfortune, Alakshmi, is the sister of Lakshmi.
Saraswati is goddess of skill, knowledge, music and arts. She is the consort of Lord Brahma. It was with the help of her wisdom that Brahma created the universe. She is often shown along with a peacock, a swan and is dressed in white. She is also known as the guardian deity in Buddhism. Earlier she was known as the river goddess and evolved with the qualities such as knowledge, skill, music and arts.
Many stories revolve around the relationship between Ganesha, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Certain theorists believe that Lakshmi and Saraswati are Ganesha’s siblings. Lakshmi and Saraswati are also called Ganesha’s shaktis or consorts. A more popular theory however relates Lord Ganesha to Lakhsmi as her son. This is how the story goes.
When Lakshmi was bragging about her powers to Lord Vishnu, he told her that she will always be devoid of one power all her life- the power of motherhood. When Lakshmi realized the same she went to her friend Parvati to seek help. Parvati suggested that Lakshmi could adopt one of her sons and hence experience motherhood. In a random selection, Lakshmi chose Lord Ganesha and gave him her powers of prosperity and wealth.
Lakshmi and Saraswati were always competing for supremacy against each other. Wherever Saraswati went, Lakshmi used to follow her. It is believed that if one prays for Saraswati, Lakshmi will follow. If Saraswati leaves, Lakshmi will leave with her. Lakshmi will leave behind her elder sister Alakshmi which will bring misfortune. Symbolically, prosperity or money follows when we hone our skills.
Logically, Lakshmi and Ganesha have a common quality of bringing in wealth and prosperity. Also Saraswati and Ganesh have a common trait of being patrons of art and music as well as blessing devotees with skills. Hence the three deities are worshipped together as they denote common qualities. The nature of their relationship is not given in any scriptures. There are only glimpses of their relationship in ancient texts that supports the above hypothesis. All debates apart, the importance of invoking the names of these three deities together makes sense.
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