Tag Archives: Mudgala Purana

The marital status of Lord Ganesha is uncertain based on mythological texts. Lord Ganesha is the Lord of the Brahmins and hence by this virtue a celibate. The vedic mantra- Aum, is believed to be the mantra to lead Brahmins and is synonymous with Lord Ganesha. His celibacy is more commonly known in the South of India (states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerela). Since Lord Ganesha was created out of Goddess Parvati alone and not Lord Shiva, he was born out of the female desire to procreate. Hence the relationship of Lord Ganesha with his mother is believed to be unique and special. This devotion and respect is the reason Lord Ganesha is believed to have never found a woman as perfect as his mother.

However, particularly in northern India, Ganesha is believed to have consorts. He is believed to be married to Brahma’s daughter Buddhi and Siddhi. “Buddhi” means intellect and “Siddhi” means spiritual power. Since Lord Ganesha is believed to be the Lord of wisdom and spiritual knowledge, the consorts are befitting.

The scriptures that are dedicated to Lord Ganesha (the Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana) depict the presence of Siddhi and Buddhi. According to the Ganesha Purana Lord Brahma was performing a ritual in honour of Lord Ganesha and offered his prayers to him. Two of the offerings were his daughters, Buddhi and Siddhi that Lord Ganesha accepted graciously as his wives. Various deities offered gifts to Lord Ganesha in his honour but Lord Brahma offered what was born from his mind. It is also mentioned in the Ganesha Purana that Narada (the son of Brahmin) suggested the nuptials of Ganesha with Riddhi and Siddhi, to Brahma. Some ancient texts indicate that Siddhi and Riddhi are avatars of Shakti, but the Matsayapurana contradicts this claim. The Brahmavaivartapurana also mentions Lord Ganesha’s marriage to Pushti (another name for Siddhi).

Siddhi and Buddhi are known as Siddhi and Riddhi in Shiva Purana. As per the Shiva Purana, Lord Ganesha won his consorts as a prize during a race with his elder brother Skanda (Lord Kartikeyan). The race was declared by their mother Parvati who promised the winner an auspicious marriage that will bring him prosperity. The race was to travel the universe three times. Skanda mounted on his peacock to encircle the world. Lord Ganesha went around his parents instead. For his guile, Lord Ganesha was married to Riddhi and Siddhi.

The consorts of Lord Ganesha are an extension of his existing virtues and accentuate the same. Riddhi accentuates prosperity and intellect and Siddhi highlights spiritual power of Lord Ganesha. It is believed that whoever receives the blessings of Lord Ganesha is also blessed by his wives. Hence one may say that Lord Ganesha’s consorts complete him.

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There are two dedicated scriptures for Lord Ganesha, the Mudgala Purana and the Ganesha Purana. Both the scriptures contain stories of Lord Ganesha’s childhood, his marriage and his various avatars. In Hinduism an avatar is a direct descent of a deity which is born for a purpose. Apart from Hinduism, only Sikhism and Ayyavazhi religions believe in the concept of avatar or incarnations. Thus, Hinduism believes in the principle of Avatarvada.

As per the Ganesha Purana, there are four incarnations of Ganesha, one for each “yuga” (cycle of life). The Mudgala Purana describes eight incarnations of Ganesha which are popular. This article talks about the eight incarnations of Lord Ganesha.

All the avatars of Ganesha have specific attributes. They differ in physical qualities like colour of the skin or the vehicle they use. However the purpose of all the avatars was one, to slay demons. All the avatars symbolize abstract qualities but have similar purpose of existence. The Mudgala Purana preaches that the importance of the stories of the eight avatars is not in their literal recitation but it is in the understanding of their purpose.

The first of Lord Ganesha’s manifestation is called Vakratunda. The name is derived from the physical attributes of this manifestation of Lord Ganesha. Since the avatar has a twisted trunk it is called “Vakratunda”. The reason this avatar was born was to defeat the demon Matsaryasura. Symbolically Matsaryasura is the demon of envy and his defeat by Lord Ganesha is a testimony to triumph over envy.

The second incarnation was Ekdanta. The incarnation got the name because of Lord Ganesha being single tusked. This avatar was born to defeat the demon Madasura. The demon Madasura represents intoxication.

The third manifestation of Lord Ganesha is Mahodara or the big bellied one. He was born to kill the demon of delusion, Mohasura. This incarnation of Lord Ganesha also destroyed Durbuddhi (negative thought) and Jnanaari (Ignorance). Mohasura was born out of momentary confusion of Lord Shiva.

Gajanana, was the fourth incarnation of Lord Ganesha. The name of the avatar is coined after the “elephant face” of Lord Ganesha. He was born to slay the demon of greed, Lobha.

The fifth incarnation of Lord Ganesha is Lambodara who killed Krodha, the demon of anger. The name Lambodara means “potbellied God”.

Vikata, “the misshaped one”, defeated Kama, the demon of desire. Vikata is the sixth incarnation of Lord Ganesha.

The seventh incarnation, Vighnaraja destroyed Mama, the demon of ego.  In Sanskrit, Vighnaraja means the king of obstacles.

The last or the eighth incarnation of Lord Ganesha is Dhumravarna (smoke colour). The incarnation got victory over the demon Ahamkara (narcissism).

The purpose of the incarnations was to gain victory over vices. Lord Ganesha helps his devotees to overcome bad qualities and walk the path of righteousness.

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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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Ganesha - Iconography

The symbolic meanings of various mudras of the icons of Lord Ganesha vary to a great extent. We can see idols of Lord Ganesha in various poses like standing, seated or reclining. The Mudgala Purana (an ancient Indian text giving details about the life of Lord Ganesha) lists 32 forms of Ganpati in various poses.  In this article we discuss the general iconography of the idols.

Starting with the elephant head-it was Lord Shiva (Lord Ganesha’s father) who in a moment of anger had beheaded his son and later fixed the head of an elephant on his body. The elephant head is characterized by large flappy ears, tusks, large eyes, a small mouth and a long trunk.

His big and flappy ears are typical elephant ears and symbolize that we should listen more. The mouth is small and is hidden under his trunk which means that we should speak less. He is commonly known as Ekadanta (the one with one tooth) since his left tusk is broken. When Lord Ganesha was angry at the moon mocking at him and making fun of how he looked, he broke one of his tusks and threw at the moon. Ever since he has only one tusk. The protruding belly of our beloved Ganpati is like his trademark. Due to this feature he is also referred to as Lambodara (meaning Pot Belly) or Mahodara (meaning Great Belly). It is believed by many that his huge belly actually signifies that an individual must have a large capacity to face all the pleasant as well as the unpleasant situations in life. His eyes have a unique characteristic that is similar to the eyes of an elephant. The eyes of an elephant possess natural deceptiveness that makes them perceive objects bigger than they usually are. This property signifies that we should look at people with humility and never consider any person small or incapable.

In the Hindu mythology, there has always been a debate over the number of arms that Lord Ganesha had. According to the ancient texts, he had 2 – 16 arms. However, the idols are commonly shown with just four arms. These four arms signify four different attributes of the subtle body namely- mind, intellect, ego and conscience. His four hands have different things each of which has a meaning attached. There is an axe in the upper right arm. The axe is said to cut all the bonds of attachment, sufferings and pain. There is a flower in the lower left hand. The third upright hand symbolizes aashirwaad (blessing). He holds a rope in his upper left hand. The rope is meant to pull you towards your goal and also is used by the Lord to pull his devotees closer to himself. Lord Ganesha has a tilak on his forehead in the shape of a crescent moon.

There is also a close relation between Ganesha and serpents. Once when he was travelling around the world on his vehicle – the rat, a snake had suddenly appeared in front of the rat. The rat got scared which lead to Lord Ganesha falling off from the rat. This is the reason that moon had also laughed at him. Seeing this the Lord became extremely angry, cursed the moon and tied the snake around his belly. Therefore, in some representations of Ganesha, holds a serpent in his hand, or has serpents coiled around his ankles. His vehicle is the rat which signifies speed and the ability to reach every nook and corner of the world.

ganesha symbolism

Lord Ganesha’s, trunk is curved to the left side. It indicates power, intellect, efficiency and adaptability. There are offerings at his feet in the form of a tray of his favourite sweet, modak (made up of coconut, jaggery and nuts) and flowers that depict that the world can be at your feet-you just need to stay strong and work towards achieving your goal. While he sits comfortably on his throne, his right foot dangles over his left foot.

Many mythological experts say that the left side of his body symbolizes emotion and the right side symbolizes reason and knowledge. The right foot dangling over the left foot indicates that in life we should face all the situations with reason and knowledge overcoming emotions.

Lord Ganpati is a perfect blend of human and animal like characteristics which help us to understand the situations in our lives in a better manner. The fact that we should consider reason over emotion is such a simple thought but extremely relevant in today’s world. His elephant like head makes us realize that it is the inner beauty that is most important and not the physical appearance. Even though Lord Ganesha, has a head of an elephant he is one of the most loved Gods among the people and it is because of this elephant head that he got the powers of wisdom and knowledge.

In a world full of people who want to look best even with their behaviour being not up to the mark, Lord Ganesha teaches us to be a perfect human by being humble and confident at the same time.

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