Mudgala Purana and the avatars of Ganesha

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Mudgala Purana

The Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana are the two main scriptures of the Ganapataya sect that are exclusively dedicated to Lord Ganesha.  Mudgala Purana is an ancient religious text that discusses various aspects of Lord Ganesha and his life in detail. It gives tales, historical events, religious beliefs and customs and legends about the elephant head deity. Like the Ganesha Purana, this is also an Upapurana which means that it is a compilation of various texts and is usually considered as a secondary purana.

Experts believe that this was one of the last works written on Lord Ganesha and was written after the Ganesha Purana, around 1100 and 1400 AD.  The text mentions that the Ganesha Purana is one of the four Puranasthe Brahma, the Brahmaṇḍa, the Ganesha, and the Mudgala describing Lord Ganesha. The text is divided into eight parts each of which discusses the eight incarnations or avatars. Although the manifestations of Lord Ganesha are innumerable but out of them the following eight are considered the most important. It should be noted that these eight incarnations are different from the four incarnations mentioned in the Ganesha Purana. Each of the avatars was born in a different age and portrays a significant journey of creation. The avatars have different philosophical meanings and symbolic representations. The avatars are as follows –

  1. Vakratunda 

This is the first avatar and the name actually means a twisted trunk. This particular incarnation is a form of aggregation of all embodied souls, the Brahman. In this avatar his vahana was the lion and the purpose of this incarnation was to demolish the demon Matsaryasura, the demon of envy and jealousy.

  1. Ekadanta

The second avatar represents an aggregation of individual souls and the name itself means the one with a single tusk. It is believed that Lord Ganesha broke one of his tusks to use it as a pen to write the Mahabharata. Some experts also say that he broke his tusk in a fit of anger when moon was mocking at him and his pot belly. Since Lord Ganesha could not find anything else, he broke one of his tusks and threw it at the moon. Is vahana in this avatar was the mouse. The sole purpose of this avatar was to kill a demon known as Madasura, the demon of arrogance.

  1. Mahodara

The meaning of Mahodara is big belly or pot belly. It is an amalgamation of the first two avatars, the Ekadanta and the Vakratnda. The vahana of Lord Ganesha in this incarnation was the mouse and the reason for the birth of this avatar was to demolish the demon of confusion and dilemma, Mohasura.

  1. Gajavaktra 

It means the elephant head and it is almost similar to the Mahodara avatar. Like the previous two incarnations, the Lord rides the mouse as his vahana. He demolished the demon of greed known as Lobhasura in this avatar of his.

  1. Lambodara

Lambodara actually means big belly. This avatar corresponds to supreme or ultimate power of the universe, Shakti. He rides the mouse as his vahana and was born to kill the demon of anger, Krodhasura.

  1. Vikata

Vikata means the unusual or the not normal form. Lord Ganesha is considered equivalent to the sun (surya) in this avatar. Symbolically it means that like the light from the sun fills light in the whole world similarly in this form Ganesha is the one who shall enlighten the entire universe with his wisdom. His vahana was the peacock and he was born to eradicate and demolish the demon of lust, Kamasura.

  1. Vighnaraja

It means the king of obstacles and in this avatar Lord Ganesha corresponds to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu is believed to be the preserver of the Brahman. Lord Ganesha in this incarnation of his preserves the world and removes all the obstacles from the path to success and prosperity. His vahana in this avatar was the divine snake, Shesha. The purpose of this incarnation was to overcome the demon of possessiveness, Mamasura.

  1. Dhumravarna

It actually corresponds to grey colour which symbolizes destruction of the universe. In this incarnation Lord Ganesha is often corresponded to Lord Shiva because out of the trinity, Lord Shiva represents destruction.Ganesha rides a horse in this avatar and killed the demon of pride and attachment, Abhimanasura in this avatar.

 The teachings are vast and hold great importance for the Ganapataya sect. For them  Lord Ganesha is the prime deity and since the time it came into existence the text has undergone many interpolations according to the region in which it was studied, but the main aim remains wellness, success and prosperity of all beings.

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