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Lord Ganesha is known to be the remover of obstacles, the epitome of success and prosperity and is synonymous with wisdom, intellect and knowledge. Throughout history he has been regarded as the lord of new beginnings and even today when we start a new venture, we begin with Shree Ganeshaya Namah to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Hindu mythology is filled with tales and incidents about the elephant head god, but in this particular article we would be talking about only one scripture – the Ganesha Purana.

The Ganesha Purana is an ancient religious text that is solely dedicated to Lord Ganesha. It talks about stories, tales, historical events and religious rituals related to Ganesha. The Ganesha Purana is considered sacred by Ganapatayas but surprisingly it came into existence rather late. Religious experts and historians say that the two basic scriptures of Lord Ganesha came into being between 1300 and 1600 AD (although this is a matter of debate).Considering the span of the Hindu mythology, this can be considered late by some. During the medieval ages the Ganapataya sect formed their own rituals and religious movement that was purely dedicated to their prime deity Lord Ganesha. It was during this time that the sect made the teachings of Ganesha Purana popular by preaching them. The Purana discussed in detail the stories that emphasized the importance and significance of Lord Ganesha and it also explained lord’s relationship with his devotees and fellow gods and goddess’. It is said that the Ganesha Purana is an Upapurana which means that it is a compilation of various religious texts. It is difficult to summarize any religious text because of various reasons. Almost all religious texts are extremely lengthy and so is the Ganesha Purana so to actually give a summary of the text is next to impossible. The next reason which adds to the difficulties are the teachings that they preach. The Ganesha Purana lists various religious practices that the Ganapataya sect follows closely. It gives a wide array of stories of Lord Ganesha, techniques of worship, philosophical and religious beliefs and other devotional material which is considered extremely important by the people of the Ganapataya sect. The Ganesa Purana is divided into two parts – The Upasanakhanda (section on devotion)which has 92 chapters and the Kridakhanda (section on the divine play) which has 155 chapters. Chapter 138 to 148 of the Kridakhanda is known to be the Ganesha Gita;it is based on the epic Hindu religious text the Bhagwat Gita (almost 90% of the txt is similar). But in this case it is slightly different because the Ganesha Gita is the modified version of the Bhagwat Gita and gives main importance to none other than Lord Ganesha. The four incarnations of Ganesha are discussed in the Kridakhanda. These four incarnations or avatars as they are called in Sanskrit appeared in four different yugas and the explanation of these avatars is given in the 132nd chapter of the Kridakhanda. It should also be noted that the four incarnations that the Ganesha Purana talks about are different from the eight avatars mentioned in the Mudgala Purana. The four avatars are –

Mahotkata Vinayaka 

Characteristics –

  • Red in complexion
  • 10 arms
  • Vahana – elephant or lion (according to different sources)
  • Born in Krita yuga
  • Son of Kashyapa and Aditi
  • In this avatar he killed his demon brothers Narantaka and Devantaka and the demon Dhumraksha

Mayuresvara

Chraracteristics –

  • White in complexion
  • 6 arms
  • Vahana – Peacock (which e later gave to his younger brother Lord Kartikeya)
  • Born in Treta yuga
  • Son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
  • The purpose of this avatar was to kill the demon Sindhu

Gajanana 

Characteristics –

  • Red in complexion
  • 4 arms
  • Vahana – the mouse
  • Born in the Dwapar Yuga
  • Son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
  • The purpose of this avatar was to demolish the Sindhura demon

Dhumraketu

Characteristics –

  • Grey complexion resembling ash or smoke
  • 2 or 4 arms
  • Vahana – a blue horse
  • Experts say that this incarnation would be born to end the Kali yuga

 The text holds great importance for the people of the Ganapataya sect and they closely follow the teachings given in this sacred text.

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