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Ganesha Festival (Vinayaka Chaturthi)

Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated every year on the 4th day of the first fortnight of Bhadrapada month per Hindu calendar, which typically aligns with August or September month of Gregorian calendar. This day is marked in the scriptures as the birthday of Ganesha, son of Siva and Parvathi. The Ganesha festival should be an opportunity for us to understand the significance of His Form and Name and the proper way to adore the Ganesha Principle.

All festivals are pregnant with spiritual significance. One should carefully look beyond external rituals to understand their inner significance. Swami reminds us that while there is need for observing festivals likeVinayaka Chaturthi it is more important to realise the inner significance of Vinayaka worship. Thus the worship helps in the inner transformation.

Who is Vinayaka?

Vinayaka is the leader of the universe; there is no leader above him. He is the leader of all and master of all. Vinayaka or Ganesha or Ganapathi or Vighneshwara---all indicate the elephant God, who is worshipped as the very first deity, before regularly beginning any ceremony, vow, fast or pilgrimage. He is the lord of the ganas or divine forces that exist inside and outside the human body; He is the lord, who masters and overcomes vighna (obstacle), however imminent or eminent. This is the natural effect of the fact that Ganapathi is the God of vidya or buddhi (learning or intellect). He is the image of His parents, Siva-Sakthi, having the power and characteristics of both. He is the Pranava, OM. All words emanate from OM. Why is such a preeminence accorded to Ganapathi? Swami narrates a beautiful story from thepurana (scriptures).

Sathya Sai Baba with Elephant Sai Geetha

"Once upon a time Parvathi (Divine Mother) and Parmeshwara (Divine Father) wanted to decide between Vinayaka and Subrahmanya (their two sons) who was superior. They called both of them and set them a task. They were told that they should go round the cosmos. Whoever came first would be entrusted with the highest office. Subrahmanya immediately got onto the back of his peacock and started flying on its wings. But Ganapathi stayed put. Parvathi and Parmeshwara thought Ganapathi was out of the race. But on seeing Subrahmanya at a distance, Ganapathi got up, circumambulated his parents and sat down. Ganapathi claimed that he had won the race. When Parmeshwara questioned him, Ganapathi replied: "The whole cosmos is a projection of the Lord. The Lord is immanent in the universe. When I have gone round my Divine parents, I have gone round the universe." Ganapathi also asked them: "Show me any place where you are not present. You are omnipresent. You are in everything."

Because of the acute intelligence he displayed, Vinayaka was made the head of the ganas by Parmeshwara".

Sathya Sai Speaks vol 21.26, September 15, 1988

Goal of Human Birth

Gajaanana is another appropriate name for Ganesh. The derivative meaning of Gajaanana is: 'ga' meansgamyam (goal), 'ja' means janma (birth); anana means face. So this name indicates that Ganesh is not merely one who has the face of an elephant as commonly understood. He is the deity that enables us to be face-to-face with God, who is the goal of human birth.

Vinayaka's Vehicle

Swami's penchant for giving new interpretations to old themes can be seen from the following extracts of His divine discourse on the Vinayaka Chathurthi festival day, 6th September, 1997:

"Mouse symbolizes darkness which means ignorance. Mouse moves about in darkness only, and not in light. Therefore the inner meaning of mouse being Vinayaka's vehicle is that he subdues ignorance. Parvati means Prithvi or earth. So when we say Ganapathi is Parvati's son, it means he is son of the earth. Partha, Arjuna's another name, also means son of the soil. Every man is born of the earth. So every one is Ganapathi. Ganapathi means the Master of Ganas. The ten senses, mind and intellect—these twelve are the Dwaadasa Adityas or twelve Ganas of which Ganapathi is the Lord. So he resides in every person in the form of intellect and Jnana or wisdom."

Vinayaka Principle is Same as Atma

In human being there are five organs of perception and the five organs of action. The mind is the master over these ten organs. Buddhi (intellect) is the discriminating faculty above the mind. The ten senses, the mind and the intellect together constitute the ganas. In the word gana'ga' stands for buddhi (intellect), and, 'na' signifies vijnana (the higher knowledge or wisdom). Ganapathi is the master of intellect and wisdom. Swami tells us that Vinayaka exists within every being in the form of the Atma. Like Vinayaka,Atma has no master.

Bestower of Divine Power, Intellect and Liberation (Siddhi, Buddhi and Mukthi)

He is also adored as Siddhi Vinayaka and Buddhi Vinayaka. In some texts, Siddhi and Buddhi are referred to as the consorts of Ganapathi. This is very wrong. They are two manifestations of the Divine Power orSakthi that Ganapathi has. When Buddhi supports and guides, Siddhi (divine power) is won. These two are like two wings. They carry out His will. They place obstacles before bad activities and remove obstacles from the path for good activities. Worship Vinayaka (leader); you acquire Buddhi (pure, clear Intellect) and Siddhi and even Mukthi (liberation).

The Ganesha idol that was installed behind the dais on which Bhagawan sat for decades, is now installed in front of the Gopuram gate

Prayer to Vinayaka Awakens Intellect

Just as light removes darkness, the darkness of mind which is caused by ignorance is removed by knowledge or wisdom. Vinayaka, who is also known as Vigneshwara helps us overcome this delusion and enables man to comprehend his inherent divine nature. Vighneswara is the deity presiding over the intelligence and He endows devotees with purity of intellect and the power of discrimination between right and wrong and between the permanent and the transient.

Vinayaka Principle is All-pervasive

"Vinayaka is omnipresent. He teaches through silence and conducts himself in an exemplary manner. Some people think that Vinayaka is worshipped only in Bharat (India) but the Vinayaka Principle is all-pervasive and is worshipped by all. People may follow different paths, but all can experience the Vinayaka Principle. This Vinayaka Principle is present in everyone in the form of breath. It would be sheer foolishness to limit your worship of Vinayaka to idols made of clay and metals. In fact, Vinayaka is your master, who is in you, with you, and around you. By constant contemplation on Vinayaka, all your sins will be destroyed".

Sathya Sai Speaks vol 42.12, August 26, 2009

Ganesha art work by SSE students from USA and Thailand (click to enlarge)


  1. http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume24/sss24-24.pdf
  2. http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume22/sss22-27.pdf
  3. http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume11/sss11-32.pdf
  4. http://sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume42/sss42-12.pdf
24. Vinayaka worship ranks first One may have mastered the Vedantic texts And perfected the art of expounding them; If his mind is not well filled with good qualities, His scholarship is like the crop grown on barren soil. If you cannot comprehend the Swami in front of you And wander in search of God all over, You are like the man who went in quest of ghee While having butter in his hand. EMBODIMENTS of Divine Love! Prakriti (the phenomenal world) is what is directly apparent to man and which deludes him. It is an aggregation of objects. In its natural state, every object is mutable. Such impermanent objects are incapable of giving enduring Ananda (bliss). The object which gives you pleasure is transient. The individual who experiences that pleasure is also impermanent. How can an impermanent being derive lasting bliss from a perishable object? It is, therefore, necessary at the outset to forget the impermanent so that one may be qualified to. experience the eternal and unchanging Reality. The presence of three gunas in the cosmos The entire cosmos is a manifestation of the three gunas: Satwa, Rajas and Tamas. They have been identified with the three colours: white, red and black. It is impossible for man to conceive of a world without these three qualities. It is not possible to find in Nature a situation in which these three qualities are present in equal measure. When the Satwic quality is predominant, the Rajasic and Tamasic qualities are quiescent. When the Rajasic quality is dominant, the other two are subdued. When the Tamasic quality is dominant, Satwa and Rajas are subdued. It is seldom that all the three qualities are equally balanced and in harmony with each other. Likewise in the human body, these three qualities are present in every limb. It will be clear that these three qualities are manifest in the physical universe, in the human body and in the human mind. The Srutis (sacred texts) have also declared that the universe is made up of these three qualities. With reference to man, there is the view that there are three states: Prakriti, Avidya and Maya. In course of time, the term Prakriti was applied to man's body. In some parts of the country, people are in the habit of referring to individuals as Prakriti. In North Canara, people say: "My Prakriti is not well," when they want to convey that their body is not well. Prakriti refers to that which is subject to all kinds of Vikriti (distortions and changes). This Prakriti is the basis of all creation. The second term is Avidya. Avidya means that which is the opposite of knowledge. Avidya makes one treat what is unreal as real and what is real as unreal and thereby deludes him and makes him pursue sensual pleasures. This Avidya follows Prakriti in the world as a shadow. Because of this Avidya, man is unable to recognise his true nature. Avidya is the cause of man's inability to comprehend his true form. As long as Avidya remains, man can never be free from troubles. Combined power of Prakriti, Maya and Avidya The third term is Maya. Maya is the delusion which makes one imagine the presence of that which is not present. As long as this state of bhrama (delusion) remains, it is impossible to comprehend the Brahmam (the Omni-Self). What is this delusion? Here, for instance, is a rope. But in the twilight of dust, one mistakes it for a snake. When a lamp is brought, it is found that there is only the rope. The snake was never there and the rope was always there. Only the momentary delusion caused the appearance of the snake and the absence of the rope. This is called Maya. It makes one imagine the-presence of what is not there and not perceive what is really there. To believe in the existence of that which is nonexistent and in the non-existence of that which is the real truth is the effect of Maya. It is the combined power of these three--Prakriti, Avidya and Maya which accounts for man forgetting his true nature. Man often imagines that he has accomplished many things. Presuming that all that he achieves are entirely due to his own efforts and abilities, he deludes himself and forges his own bonds. He forgets the truth that there is higher power which is the driving force for action as well as the author of the results thereof. This is the primary nature of bhrama (delusion). Prayer to Vinayaka gets rid of delusion To get rid of this delusion and enable man to comprehend his inherent divine nature, the ancient sages taught a prayer. This prayer is the one that is addressed to Vinayaka. Who is Vinayaka? In the sloka beginning with the words, "Suklaambaradharam Vishnum," only the form of the deity is described. But there is another inner meaning for the name Vinayaka. "Suklaambaradharam " means one who is clad in white. "Vishnum" means, He is all-pervading. "Sasivarnam" means His complexion is grey like that of ash. "Chathurbhujam" means He has four arms. "Prasannavadanam" means, He has always a pleasing mien. "Sarvavighnopasaanthaye" means, for the removal of all obstacles, "Dhyaayeth," meditate (on Him). Vinayaka is the deity who removes all bad qualities, instils good qualities and confers peace on the devotee who meditates on Him. This is how the theistic believers interpret this prayer. The atheists have made a parody of it by construing the prayer as a description of a donkey, which carried white clothes on its back, is ash-grey in colour, wanders everywhere, has four legs, and has a bland look. There is no master above Vinayaka The Vinayaka-principle, however, has only one meaning, which is relevant to everyone irrespective of whether he is a believer or a non-believer. "Vinayaka" means that He is totally master of Himself. He has no master above Him, He does not depend' on anyone. He is also called Ganapathi. This term means He is the lord of the ganas---a class of divine entities. This term also means that He is the master of the intellect and discriminating power in man. He possesses great intelligence and knowledge. Such knowledge issues from a pure and sacred mind. This knowledge leads to Vijnana (wisdom). Because He is the master of Buddhi (intelligence) and Siddhi (wisdom or realisation), He is described as the Lord of Buddhi and Siddhi. Buddhi and Siddhi are referred to as the consorts of Vinayaka. The mouse is the vehicle of Vinayaka. What is the inner significance of the mouse? The mouse is considered as the embodiment of the sense of smell. The mouse is a symbol of the attachment to worldly vasanas (tendencies). It is well known that if you want to catch a mouse you place a strong-smelling edible inside the mouse-trap. The mouse also symbolises the darkness of night. The mouse can see well in the dark. As Vinayaka's vehicle, the mouse signifies an object that leads man from darkness to light. The Vinayaka-principle, thus, means that which removes all the bad qualities, bad practices and bad thoughts in men and inculcates good qualities, good conduct and good thoughts. Another name for Vinayaka is "Vighneswara." Easwara is one who is endowed with every conceivable form of wealth: riches, knowledge, health, bliss, beauty, etc. Vighneswara is the promoter of all these forms of wealth and removes all obstacles to their enjoyment. He confers all these forms of wealth on those who worship him. Vinayaka is described as "Prathama Vandana" (the first deity who should be worshipped). As everyone in the world desires wealth and prosperity, everyone offers the first place for worship to Vigneswara. It is only when the inner meanings of various aspects relating to the Divine are understood that worship can be offered to the Divine meaningfully. Unfortunately, as only the superficial and worldly meanings of the scriptural texts are expounded these days, men's devotion is growing weaker continually. It is essential for everyone to understand the inner meaning of the Vedantic texts. Faith in God should never waver One may have immense faith in God. But from time to time, the power of Maya may undermine this faith. In Mahabharata even staunch devotees of Krishna like Dharmaja and Arjuna displayed hesitancy in acting upto the advice of Krishna and had to be taught their duty through Bhishma and Draupadi respectively. Faith in God should never waver. In no circumstance should anyone go against the injunctions of the Divine. Whatever worship one may offer, however intensely one may meditate, if one transgresses the commands of the Lord, these devotional practices become futile. The reason is that the Divine has no selfish objective or aim. It is out of small-minded selfish motives that people act against the sacred commands of the Lord. Even small acts of transgression may in due course assume dangerous proportions. Like the clouds in the sky which are brought together or dispersed by the winds, the passage of time brings about for man the union or separation of associates and happiness or sorrow. Time is the form of God. It should not be wasted. It is to understand such sacred truths that festivals like Ganesa Chathurthi are celebrated. Ganesa's intelligence How did Vinayaka acquire siddhi (supreme powers)? His parents held a contest for their two sons--Ganesa and Subrahmanya. They said they will offer their grace in the form of a fruit to whoever came first in circumambulating the universe. The younger son Subrahmanya, set out immediately on his peacock to go round the universe. On seeing Subrahmanya approaching his parents, almost at the end of his trip, Vinayaka, who had been quietly sitting all the while, got up and went round the parents and sat down. Parvathi observed that Subrahmanya, who had taken so much trouble to go round the universe, should be declared the winner. Parameswara asked Vigneswara what was the inner significance of his going round the parents. Ganesa replied: "The entire universe is permeated by both of you. The entire creation is a manifestation of the Siva-Sakti form. It is an act of delusion to attempt to go round this phenomenal universe. To go round both of you is the true circumambulation of cosmos." Then Parvathi exclaimed: "Yours is the fruit." Ganesa became the Lord of ganas (the Divine hosts). Easwara was so much impressed with the supreme intelligence of Vinayaka that he told him: "All those who wish to worship Me, will offer their worship first to you." Such was the grace showered on Vinayaka. What is the reason? Ganesa's faith in the Lord and His omnipresence. The right path for all people is to develop faith in God and lead godly lives. Vighneswara is also regarded as gaja thelivi (one endowed with the wisdom of the elephant). The elephant is noted for its supreme intelligence. It is also known for its absolute loyalty to its master. It is ready to sacrifice its life itself for the sake of its master. The direct proof of this is Sai Githa (Bhagavan's elephant). Ordinarily hundreds of cars will be passing on the road. Sai Githa will take no notice of them. But when Swami's car happens to pass that way, it will instinctively notice it. It will rush to the road raising its familiar cry. What love for Swami! It will be no exaggeration if faith is equated with the elephant. When an elephant moves among the bushes, its path turns into a regular passage for all animals. It is thus a pace-setter for all animals. Vinayaka is a leader for all deities. Faith in Vinayaka should be developed as the exemplar for all deities and he should be worshipped as the embodiment of Divinity Discourse in the Prashaanthi Mandir on 12-9-1991, Ganesh Chaturthi Day

27. The Ganesa Principle THE world has many exemplary leaders, but none like Vinayaka. He is also called Vigneswara, because he is regarded as the presiding deity for obstacles. Even as Yama is the presiding deity for births and deaths, the grace of Ganapathi removes all obstacles. Ganapathi means the Lord of Ganas. He is the Lord of Sound and has the form of Om (Pranava). What is the esoteric meaning of Ganesa's elephant head? The elephant is noted for its acute intelligence. Ganesa's elephant head symbolises sharpness of intellect and the highest power of discrimination. Because of the purity of his intellect, Vinayaka is also called the giver of Buddhi (intellect). He responds to the prayers of devotees and hence he is known as Siddhi Vinayaka (the Vinayaka who grants what is sought). Once Vyasa embarked upon writing the Mahabharata. Because of immensity of the task of writing down millions of verses, Vyasa sought the help of Brihaspati, the preceptor of the Devas, for a suitable scribe. Brihaspati told Vyasa that none but Vinayaka could carry out the work. Vyasa appealed to Vinayaka for aid. Vyasa stipulated that everything that was written should be understood by the scribe. Ganesa, in his turn, laid down a condition that Vyasa should not pause in dictating the verses so that the stylus with which he would be inscribing the verses on the palm leaves should have no rest. Vinayaka could write down the entire Mahabharata because he was the embodiment of all knowledge. Vyasa could accomplish his prodigious task with Ganesa's aid. Significance of placing Vinayaka in forefront The mouse is Ganesa's vehicle. The mouse is a clever and lively creature. As a symbol it: means that we should be clever and diligent in our actions. There is special significance in placing Vigneswara in the forefront before embarking on any undertaking. In a forest, when an elephant moves through the jungle, it clears the way for others to follow. Likewise, by invoking Ganesa, the path is cleared for our undertakings. The elephant's foot is so large that when it moves it can stamp out the footprints of any other animal. Here, again, the symbolic meaning is that all obstacles in the way will be removed when Ganesa is accorded the place of honour. The journey of life is made smoother and happier by the grace of Ganesa. On Vinayaka Chaturthi day, students place books in front of the Ganesa idol and offer worship. They pray to the deity to illumine their minds. Hence Ganesa is known as "Buddhi Pradayaka", one who grants intelligence. No one should regard Ganesa as uncouth because of his elephant head and his immense belly. Vinayaka is a deity who encompasses the universe within himself. He is a deity of infinite potency. Vigneswara is described as one wearing a white cloth. His body is ash-grey. He is depicted as having four arms and a cheerful countenance. The white cloth signifies purity of mind and heart. By worshipping Him, you must endeavour to achieve similar purity. Vinayaka always appears serene and calm. By his grace, the devotee must seek to achieve similar equanimity, whatever may be the ups and downs in life. Address in the Sathya Sai Institute Hostel, on 4-9-1989. Between the hill of individual life and the region of the Universal, there is the flooded river of Nature, with all its confusions and complexities. It is difficult to discover where it comes from, how it accumulates all that uproar and where it ultimately ends. But fortunately, we have in every human community bridge-builders, who help people to cross. BABA

32. Stoop to Serve VINAAYAKA Chathurthi is the name of the festival celebrated today, all over the country, from the Himaalayas to the Cape, and also wherever people of this country owning allegiance to its culture live. Vinaayaka or Ganesha or Ganapathi or Vighneshwara---all indicate the elephantGod, who is popular among young and old, and who is worshipped as the very first deity, before regularly beginning any ceremony or samskaar, any yaaga or yajna, any vow or fast or pilgrimage. He is the Lord of the Ganas or Divine Forces, inside and outside the human body; He is the Lord, who masters and overwhelms vighna (obstacle), however imminent or eminent. This is the natural effect of the fact that Ganapathi is the God of Intelligence, Vidhya or Buddhi (learning or intellect). Ganapathi is a God revered in Tanthric (ritualistic) lore, and also, by various Vedhic manthras. The elephant is proverbially the most intelligent among the mammals and it is vegetarian, indicating its saathwik (balanced or pure) nature. Ganapathi has the head of the elephant, for, it indicates the Intelligence through which obstacles in the path of achievement, secular as well as spiritual, can be overcome. There is a popular verse, used on most occasions when Ganapathi is invoked. It mentions various attributes of this God : Suklambaradharam (wearing white vesture) is the first, this is the symbol of purity, for, ambara means also the sky, the aakaasha of the heart. Ganapathi is pure, having universal love and compassion. Vishnum is the second attribute, ascribed to Him. Vishnu means that He is present everywhere, at all times. Shashivarnam is the third adjective, used. Of the complexion of ash or Vibhuuthi; that .is to say, glowing with spiritual splendour, with the majesty of spiritual attainments, achievements and potentialities. These are also called Vibhuuthis, for, in the Geetha, we find Krishna saying, wherever you see Power, Glory, Majesty (vibhuuthi), know that it is Mine! Ganesha is OM personified Ganesha is bathed in His Divine Glory; that is the significance of the attribute, shashivarnam. Chathur-bhuja (Four-handed) is the next denotation. This means that apart from two visible hands, He has two invisible hands, that are available for the' two divine uses of (1) Blessing the devotee, and (2) Guarding him from danger. The last: of the descriptive word is: Prasannavadhanam (of graceful countenance). The countenance depicts the inner calm, happiness and balance, inner grace and mercy, the consciousness of strength and sovereignty. Without intelligent discrimination, no skill or strength can be profitably used. One must know how fire, for example, or the electric current, has to be used and how far one can deal with it as an instrument for our needs. The senses of man are also like fire; they have to be kept under constant vigil and control. No worship ca succeed unless the heart is pure and the senses are mastered. Ganesha is the God who helps overcome obstacles; but, He will create obstacles when good endeavour is obstructed by bad influences; He will clear the path for the sincere Saadhaka (spiritual aspirant). He is Prasannavadhanam (of beneficial looks) when you pray to Him for good ends; but, He will not be that, when you seek His help for nefarious stratagems! He is Pranava-swaruupa, the Om personified; so, He is auspiciousness itself. When God is adored and man is injured, there can be no auspiciousness in such deeds. Man is God encased in human form; he is the Divine in that form and with that name. If the anu (paro is neglected, how. can the ghana (whole)' be gained? If the paisa is discarded, how can the rupee be gained? It all begins with a single paisa; another added to it makes two, and ninety-eight again make the lump, a rupee! Man is the one; start, revering him; then, you can gain the Grace of the invisible God; neglect the visible paisa, you lose the invisible rupee! The basic defect of man is greed, uncontrolled desire Man loses his status of human-ness, through acts that shame even the beasts. He does not strive towards revealing and manifesting his latent divinity! There is not as big a failing as this sliding back into the animal from which he rose! If he keeps on with his human attributes and capacities, that will deserve congratulation enough. A formidable list can be made of the inadequacies and defects of man, but, the basic defect is 'greed', 'uncontrolled desire'---always clamouring for more, as a result of the ceaseless prompting of the senses! Raavana destroyed himself afflicted by greed. The very Gods were his chamberlains; such was the dread his austerity' invoked, such was the reward for his Saadhana! But, he was not content. The flames of lust rose as fast: as they were fed. Dhritharaashthra, the father of the Kauravas, was enamoured of the greedy plans of his sons, and so he lost all of them, without a survivor, in the field of battle, though their number was a hundred! Let your heart pant for God While moving through the dense jungle called 'life on earth', in the thick darkness of Ajnaana (Ignorance) of the place you have come from and the place to which you should go, and even of your own real identity, six dacoits---lust, anger, greed, attachment, egoism, hate---pounce on you, and you can overwhelm them and save yourself, only by means of the light shed by Jnaana (spiritual wisdom) and weilding the weapon of Bhakthi or Dedicated Living. The Light of Wisdom can shine bright and far, only when Love, pure Love, Love that does not demand any requital, is firm in the heart. He who loves, for the sake of some requital, or for being loved in return, is a coolie, with his eye glued to the wages. You are really loving only yourself; for, there is only You in everyone. Soham, He is I. Whoever you injure, it is you that suffers; whoever you cheat, it is you who are cheated. If you do not do your duty, to the best of your ability and intelligence, and to the full satisfaction of your own conscience, you are cheating yourself. I have known that lecturers in the Colleges have to take lecture only for eight classes of one hour each, per week! And, they do not put the rest of the hours to any beneficial use, either! Service, the utilisation of time and skill to the uplift of society--that is the highest form of adoration which God will reward with Grace. You get the actual experience of Sath-ChithAanandha through service, for, through service, you conquer egoism and convince yourselves of the unity that underlies creation. Everyone, be he an office bearer or not, must gird up his loins and stoop for work. The body must be sanctified through Karma (good action) and the mind through Dhyaana (meditation); in all parts of the country, these units must uphold the ideals and practise them, so that they become inspiring examples for the people. Bhajan must be a felt experience. Do not sing with one eye on the song that makes the effect on the listeners, and the other, on the effect it makes on God. Let your heart pant for God; then, the raaga (musical tune) and thaala (musical beat) will automatically be pleasant and correct. Sincerity will blot out all errors in raaga and thaala! Do not allow even one vice like the vice of conceit to enter and ensconce itself in your heart. All the water in a well becomes undrinkable even if one frog is dead and its corpse floats on it. A hundred live frogs will not render it unpotable; but, a single dead one will! Life has to be lived, through the channel marked out by embankments that slow the. raging flood and direct it into useful fields. Na shreyo niyamam vina--"No progress without rules and restrictions." Blessed are they who obey the commandments for, they will be rewarded. Prashaanthi Nilayam, 24-8-1971

12. Vinayaka Principle Is All-Pervasive Bharat (India) is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great name and fame in all the continents of the world. This is the land of valorous people who vanquished foreign rulers and attained independence. This is the land which excelled in music, literature and other fine arts. Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh boys and girls, it is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage. (Telugu poem) THE festival of Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated the other day. Our students also had a celebration, which was full of beauty, splendour and bliss. All can experience the Vinayaka Principle Embodiments of Love – Students! First of all, you should know who Vinayaka is. Vinayaka is the leader of the universe; there is no leader above him. He is the leader of all and master of all. It would be your misfortune to forget such a leader and master. He eats only simple food, which is cooked without oil. The food he eats is called kudumulu, which is prepared by grinding various types of food grains, making the mixture soft by mixing it with water, and cooking it in steam. He eats only such simple food. This preparation is also called undrallu. Those who eat such food will not suffer from even a minor illness at any point of time. Vinayaka has two consorts, Buddhi and Siddhi. Being in the constant company of Vinayaka, they have acquired all types of knowledge from him. They also eat simple food like Vinayaka. Vinayaka is omnipresent. He teaches through silence and conducts himself in an exemplary manner. Some people think that Vinayaka is worshipped only in Bharat (India) but the Vinayaka Principle is all-pervasive and is worshipped by all. People may follow different paths, but all can experience the Vinayaka Principle. This Vinayaka Principle is present in everyone in the form of breath. It would be sheer foolishness to limit your worship of Vinayaka to idols made of clay and metals. In fact, Vinayaka is your master, who is in you, with you, and around you. By constant contemplation on Vinayaka, all your sins will be destroyed. Inner meaning of immersion of Vinayaka idol Yesterday, our students brought the idols of Vinayaka in decorated chariots and took them out for immersion in a procession. What is the significance of immersion of idols in water? When the idol of Vinayaka is immersed in water, it loses its form, and the Vinayaka Principle becomes all-pervasive. If you put sugar in water, it will mix with water, permeating its every molecule. Likewise, the merger of the idol of Vinayaka with water signifies His all-pervasiveness. Vinayaka is the divine parent of all and loves all His children. He considers them as His only property. Emulating his example, all parents should consider their children as their property. Similarly, the children should also have utmost regard for their parents. Never forget your mother, never forget your father. Vinayaka is the bestower of intellect and spiritual attainments (buddhi and siddhi). If your intellect (buddhi) is good, everything will become good for you. Therefore, when you commence your studies or start any new work, first offer worship to Vinayaka. Even before eating your food, pray to Vinayaka. All Bharatiyas (Indians) pray to Vinayaka before undertaking any new venture. When they construct temples, they usually install the idol of Vinayaka in the front. It is a tradition of the Bharatiyas (Indians) that whenever they have to start some work, they do it only after offering worship to Vinayaka. A singer wanting to present a concert first offers prayer to Vinayaka. Our students also dedicate their first bhajan (devotional song) to Vinayaka when they start their bhajan programme. Vinayaka is the master of your life. There is no leader other than him. Vinayaka is the Master of the Universe Worship of Vinayaka should not be limited to Vinayaka Chaturthi day only. You should worship him at all places and at all times, whether it is the fourth, eighth, or ninth (chaturthi, ashtami, or navami) day of the new moon or any other day. "Everywhere, at all times, under all circumstances contemplate on God (Sarvada sarva kaleshu sarvatra Hari chintanam)." However, there is a special significance of worshipping Vinayaka on Vinayaka Chaturthi day. As it will be difficult for people to perform this elaborate ritualistic worship regularly on all days, a certain number of days have been fixed for the special worship of Vinayaka like three, five, or ten days. Moreover, it is difficult for people to prepare the food offerings (naivedyam) to Vinayaka on all days, although the food of Vinayaka is very simple and easy to prepare. His food is cooked only in steam without putting it directly on fire. Such food keeps us healthy and free from diseases. Though Vinayaka has a big belly, it does not mean that he eats much. He takes only limited food. When people sing songs in praise of Vinayaka, they describe him as "one with big belly". But he does not eat all that is offered to him. He sanctifies those offerings and confers his blessings. Vinayaka is ever on the move to bless his devotees. God is like that only. Vinayaka is the leader of all beings. He is the controller and sustainer of the entire creation. If Vinayaka does not sustain and control creation, there will be total destruction. It is only Vinayaka who protects creation from destruction. He is present everywhere. Whether you are aware of it or not, he is always with you, in you, around you, above you, and below you. Vinayaka and breath control People cannot live without air. It is their life principle. Vinayaka permeates the life principle of humanity. People celebrate Vinayaka Chaturthi with great joy and prepare a number of delicious dishes. But Ganesha is not interested in eating all the delicious items offered to him. He is happy to live on air. Here, air symbolises the life principle (prana). There can be no life without the life principle. You can see that you breathe in and breathe out. You cannot live without breathing. When you take the breath in, you experience the sound "So", and when you breathe out, you experience the sound "Ham". In this way, one's breathing signifies "Soham (That I am, or God I am)." In the science of breath control (pranayama), the inhalation of breath is called puraka, exhalation is called rechaka, and retention of breath is called kumbhaka. You can attain the state of meditation only when the durations of inhalation, exhalation, and retention are equal. Inhalation, exhalation, and retention are the three main aspects in the practice of breath control, which can be learnt only by the grace of Vinayaka. These processes of inhalation, exhalation, and retention are directed by the will of God. But people do not understand the secret behind this and celebrate Vinayaka Chaturthi in a ritualistic way. Vinayaka bestows intellect and spiritual attainment Vinayaka is called Siddhi Vinayaka because he bestows buddhi (intellect) and siddhi (spiritual attainment). Both of these are very essential for people. Vinayaka has the head of an elephant, which has a great significance. Since the elephant is considered very auspicious, all big temples keep their own elephants for ceremonial processions. The elephant is the biggest of all animals. The footprints of all animals like lion or tiger will be erased when an elephant walks over their path. When an elephant passes through a thick forest, it creates a path even for cars, buses, and chariots to pass through. Likewise, Vinayaka makes the path for all to follow. When people were going from Ayodhya to Mithila for Rama's wedding, the procession was headed by elephants. The grand procession was led by elephants, horses, and chariots. The entire army of Dasaratha followed the elderly Sage Viswamitra. King Dasaratha was accompanied by his ministers and vassal kings. It appeared as though the entire Ayodhya moved en masse toward Mithila. It was a wonderful and blissful sight to behold. (Telugu poem) The elephant is so powerful that when it trumpets, all barking dogs will be silenced. Without understanding the real significance of the elephant head of Vinayaka, we make an idol with a trunk and take it out in a procession Not only Vinayaka, but all gods transcend physical forms. There can be no birth and death for the one who transcends physical form. God has no form. If you ask God, "Who are You?", He will reply, "I am Brahman (Aham Brahmasmi)." Who is Brahman? He signifies inhalation and exhalation, which have no form. Nobody can question who begot Brahman? Where is He? Likewise, the primordial sound Om has no form. It has no beginning, no end. How can there be an end of something that has no beginning? Inhalation and exhalation are two related processes. Similar are happiness and sorrow, merit and sin. God is beyond all these. One who is born will also die. But God has neither birth nor death. Never forget this divine principle, which signifies the unity of the entire creation. The answer to the question, "Who is God?" is that God is the principle of oneness in the entire diversity of the creation. Therefore, students! It is your delusion to limit God to the idols of Rama, Krishna, and Vinayaka and worship them. Did you see Krishna anywhere? Where is He? You have seen the picture of Krishna made by artists like Ravi Varma and created His idol accordingly. Did Ravi Varma see Krishna before painting His picture? No. He imagined the form of Krishna by reading the description given in the sacred texts and made the picture. No one has seen God. However, the physical form in which God incarnates has a great significance. God does not assume physical form without a reason. Therefore, never forget His physical form. God assumes the physical form to strengthen the moral fabric of the world. I was very happy to see the enthusiasm of our students yesterday when they brought decorated idols of Vinayaka here. It was heartening to see that our students understood the real significance of Vinayaka Chaturthi and celebrated it in its true spirit. It is not possible to experience the divine principle without understanding the spirit behind these celebrations. Therefore, try to know the inner significance of celebrating festivals. When you understand that Vinayaka is the omnipresent divine principle, you will be celebrating this festival in its true spirit. In fact, all festivals should be celebrated with proper understanding of their significance. (Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the bhajan, "Vinayaka Vinayaka".) Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam, 2009-08-26. Righteousness (dharma) is the code of conduct that will promote the ideals of each stage of the human being — learner, householder, earner, master, servant, spiritual aspirant, renunciant, etc. When the code is distorted and people undermine their earthly careers, forgetting the high purpose for which they have come, the Lord incarnates and leads him along the correct path. That is to say, He comes as a person to restore the principles and re-establish the practice of dharma. This is what is referred to as Dharma-samstapana in the Gita. Among these forms assumed by the Lord, there is no higher or lower. Sri Sathya Sai Baba I f you have faith and if you keep the name of Rama as constant companion, you are in Vaikunta, Kailas, or Heaven, all the time. These are not distant regions that have to be reached by tortuous travel; they are springs of tranquility that are in your own heart. You cannot have this chance of the proximity of the greatest of all sources of joy in any other place. Here it is so near, so easy to attain, so full of grace. If you fall back, you will seldom get the chance again. Ask and get what will save you, not what will bind you. Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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