Tag Archives: forms of Ganesha

Shree Ganeshaya Namah!

The son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha is an integral part of Hinduism. Popularly known as the elephant deity, he is believed to be the god of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge.  His pot belly, curved trunk and large flappy ears give Lord Ganesha a unique and lovable identity. Lord Ganesha bestows success and removes all obstacles from our path of prosperity. Whether buying a new property or beginning a new venture, seeking Lord Ganesha’s blessings would help the event flourish to scaling heights.

Ganesha Incarnations

According to the Ganesha Purana (the sacred text dedicated to Lord Ganesha) there are four incarnations of Lord Ganesha have or shall appear on earth during different periods (yugas). Their aim is to uphold the principles of integrity and fight against the devils.

These four incarnations are –

  1. Mahotkata Vinayaka – this incarnation with ten arms and red colored body appeared during the Krita yuga. While some sources say that he was mounted on a lion, other believe that he was mounted on an elephant. This incarnation killed the demon brothers – Narantaka and Devantaka.
  2. Mayuresvara – the one with six arms and white complexion riding a peacock made an appearance during the Treta yuga. It is believed that he was born to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This incarnation of Lord Ganesha killed the demon – ‘Sindhu’.
  3. Gajanana – the one who has four arms and was born with a crimson complexion. He was born to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in the Dvapara yuga. His vehicle was a tiny mouse. The incarnation appeared to kill a demon known as Sindura.
  4. Dhumraketu – this incarnation of Lord Ganesha is yet to appear. It is said that he would have two or four arms and a smoke-ash colored complexion. Mounted on a blue horse, he might appear during the end of the Kali yuga. Its aim would be to destroy all evil powers and restore peace and harmony in the world.

Lord Ganesha Names

The Hindu elephant deity, Lord Ganesha is known by numerous names. Given below is the list of the most popular names of Lord Ganesha with their meanings –

  1. Akhurath – the one who has a mouse as his charioteer
  2. Alampata – the ever eternal lord
  3. Amit – incomparable
  4. Avaneesh – lord of the entire world
  5. Avighna – remover of obstacles
  6. Bhalchandra – moon-crested lord
  7. Bheema – gigantic
  8. Bhupati – god of gods
  9. Buddhinath – god of wisdom
  10. Buddhipriya – wisdom
  11. Chaturbhuj – the one with four arms
  12. Devadeva – lord of all lords
  13. Dharmik – one who gives charity
  14. Dhoomravarna – smoke-hued lord
  15. Durja – invincible
  16. Ekaakshara – single syllable
  17. Ekadanta – single tusked
  18. Eshanpura – son of Lord Shiva
  19. Gadadhara – the one who has mace as one of his weapons
  20. Gajanana – elephant faced lord
  21. Gajananeti – elephant faced god
  22. Gajavakra – elephant trunk
  23. Ganadhyakshina – leader of all the celestial bodies
  24. Ganapati – lord of all gods
  25. Gaurisuta – son of Gauri (Goddess Parvati)
  26. Gunina – master of all virtues
  27. Haridra – the golden colored one
  28. Heramba – mother’s beloved son
  29. Kapila – yellowish brown in color
  30. Kaveesha – master of poets
  31. Krti – lord of music
  32. Kripalu – the merciful
  33. Kshamakaram – the place of forgiveness
  34. Kshpira – who can be easily appeased
  35. Lambakarna – large eared god
  36. Lambodara – the one with a huge belly
  37. Mahabala – immensely strong
  38. Mahaganapati – the supreme lord
  39. Mangalmurti – auspicious lord
  40. Manomay – winner of hearts
  41. Mrityunjaya – conqueror of death
  42. Muktidaya – the one who bestows eternal bliss
  43. Namasthetu – warrior of all evils and sins
  44. Nandana – lord Shiva’s son
  45. Nideeshwaram – the one who gives wealth and treasures
  46. Omkara – the form of Om
  47. Pitambara – one with yellow colored body
  48. Pramoda – lord of all abodes
  49. Purush – the divine personality
  50. Rakta – the one with a red colored body
  51. Rudrapriya – lord Shiva’s beloved
  52. Sarvadevatam –
  53. Sarvatam – protector of the universe
  54. Shambhavi – the son of Goddess Parvati
  55. Shashivarnam – the one with moon like complexion
  56. Shoorpakana – large eared lord
  57. Shweta – as pure as white color
  58. Siddhidata – one who bestows success
  59. Siddhipriya – one who bestows boons, wishes and blessings
  60. Sumukha – auspicious face
  61. Swaroop – lover of beauty
  62. Tarun – ageless
  63. Umaputra – son of Uma (Goddess Parvati)
  64. Vakratunda – the curved trunk lord
  65. Varaprada – one who grants all wishes
  66. Vighnahara – remover of obstacles
  67. Vignaharta – destroyer of obstacles
  68. Vinayak – lord of all
  69. Yashvasin – beloved

 

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There are exclusive texts in the Hindu mythology that are dedicated to Ganesha. Apart from the mention of Lord Ganesha in the Shiva Purana the religious texts that are solely dedicated to him are Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana. These are believed to be the core scriptures for Lord Ganesha’s devotees. It is these scriptures that bear the detailed description of Lord Ganesha’s incarnations.

The Ganesha Purana describes four incarnations of Ganesha that have appeared over four eras. The first incarnation is called the Mahotkata Vinayak that has a red skin and ten arms. This incarnation is not shown with the humble mouse as a vehicle but a lion. Some depictions show an elephant instead of a lion. The incarnation killed the demons Narantaka, Devantaka and Dhumraksha. The second incarnation born in the Treta Yuga (era) is called Mayuresvara. The complexion is white unlike its predecessor and the Lord is shown mounted on a peacock. This incarnation was born to Shiva and Parvati for killing the demon Sindhu. The peacock was then given by Ganesha to his brother Kartikeyan (also known as Skanda). The third incarnation is again shown in red and with mouse as his vehicle. The incarnation was born Dvapara Yuga and is called Gajanana. The purpose of this incarnation was to destroy the demon Sindura. The fourth incarnation Dhumraketu is yet to be born and will end the Kali Yuga (the era of vice). He is shown mounted on a blue horse and is grey in colour.

As per the Mudgala Purana there are eight incarnations of Ganesha that are different from the ones mentioned above. The purpose of these incarnations was also to destroy demons in different lifetime of Lord Ganesha. The first incarnation with a twisted trunk was Vakratunda whose purpose was to overcome the demon Matsaryasura (Jealousy). Ekadanta or Ganesha with a single tusk was born to destroy Madasura. His mount was a mouse. Symbolically both these incarnations are considered to overcome jealousy and arrogance. The third incarnation or Mahodar, killed the demons Mohasur, Durbuddhi and Jnanari. The fourth incarnation, Gajanan, is also shown mounting a mouse. This personification destroyed Lobha, son of Kuber. Lobha was also the demon of greed. Lambodar, the fifth embodiment of Lord Ganesha with a long belly, represents Shakti. The purpose of this demon is to overcome anger or the demon Krodhasur. The sixth incarnation finished the demon Kamasur, the demon of desire. It is called Vikata. In this incarnation Ganesha is shown riding a peacock. The seventh incarnation Vighnaraja is the most popular one. It is the remover of all obstacles and rides a snake. The demon that he slay in this form was Mamasur (the demon of ego). The last incarnation is called Dhumravana and is grey in colour. Unlike all the other incarnations representing Brahmin (the sage), this one embodies the destructive nature of Brahman. This form of Ganesha killed Abhimanasur or the demon of pride.

Interestingly all the forms of Ganesha though different in countenance have the elephants head. All the incarnations exist to triumph demons. The 12 incarnations together form the 12 zodiac signs in astrology.

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Every God in Hindu mythology is believed to have different forms or incarnations or avatars. Every avatar symbolises something unique. Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, has displayed himself in 32 forms, each form having special powers and characteristic features. Two shaktis of Ganesha, Siddhi and Riddhi, are often depicted on images of the mighty God’s forms.

The 32 forms of Lord Ganesha are as follows:

1.    Bala Ganapati
2.    Taruna Ganapati
3.    Bhakthi Ganapati
4.    Vira Ganapati
5.    Shakti Ganapati
6.    Dwija Ganapati
7.    Siddhi Ganapati
8 .   Ucchhishta Ganapati
9.    Vighna Ganapati
10.  Kshipra Ganapati
11.   Heramba Ganapati
12.  Lakshmi Ganapati
13.  Maha Ganapati
14.  Vijaya Ganapati
15.  Nritya Ganapati
16.  Urdhva Ganapati
17.  Ekakshara Ganapati
18.  Varada Ganapati
19.  Tryakshara Ganapati
20.  Kshipra Prasada Ganapati
21.  Haridra Ganapati
22.  Ekadanat Ganapti
23.  Sristhi Ganapati
24.  Uddanda Ganapati
25.  Rinamochana Ganapati
26.  Dhundhi Ganapati
27.  Dwimukha Ganapati
28.  Trimukha Ganapati
29.  Sinha Ganapati
30.  Yoga Ganapati
31.  Durga Ganapati
32.  Sankatahara Ganapati

Every avatar is depicted as a red, golden, blue or white image. The names of these 32 forms suggest what each of them symbolises. For example, ‘Bala’ means child-like, ‘Bhakti’ means devotion and ‘Nritya’ means dance and ‘Lakshmi Ganapati’ is the Giver of Success. While some say Ganesha was an unmarried bachelor, others say that he was married to Siddhi (spiritual power) and Buddhi or Riddhi (intellectual power). But Lakshmi Ganapati has two consorts –Saraswati, goddess of culture and arts and Lakshmi, goddess of luck and prosperity. Vighna Ganapati is the Lord of Obstacles. Destruction of obstacles for those who are on their way to glory is one of Ganesha’s important tasks. On the other hand, Bhakti Ganapati is calm. Hence, each name of Ganapati has a specific quality attached to it. From these 32 forms of Ganesha, we can observe that Ganesha switched from one form to another to show his greatness. From being a valiant warrior (Veera Ganapati) to fulfilling his duties as a protector of the weak (Heramba Ganapati) to enforcing Dharma (Uddanda Ganapati), Lord Ganesha has many magical incarnations.Ganesha’s might is displayed through these 32 forms. Even though he was blessed with so many powers and incarnations, he did not misuse them. Instead, he always put them to good use.

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