Ganesh ChaturthiAugust 11, 2020
Om Shreem Hreem Hring Ring
Glaum Gum Bum
When Ganesh is pleased he raises his trunk and flaps his ears.
This tantric phrase referring to Ganesh holds much symbolism as to Ganesh’s significance.
He is the Elephant God of the base chakra.
The trunk raising is indicative of Kundalini Shakti rising up when the base chakra energy is nourished and grounded.
When stray psychic energies are concentrated and given solid form and life they then become sweet nourishment to Elephant who will raise the accumulated power that has been brought home, this he does with a move of his trunk.
Ganesh the Elephant headed God is a favourite amongst the Indian Gods and possibly the widest known of all the Indian deities outside of India.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the New Moon of August. Chaturthi means fourth and refers to the 4th day following a New Moon or Full Moon.
This is the grand Ganesh Moon.
In Tantric cosmology this Moon day is said to be amongst the most psychically destabilizing days and hence the Elephant ritual is a practice that fills the polar opposite of instability by its stability. It is a ritual of grounding and weight that has greatly stabilizing effects. Such ritual practices have been kept preciously by Tantrics and involve many careful formulas for working with focussed energy. Orthodox rites have this day as a very dramatically festive time with much public and private home measures of worship.
The Chaturthi each month is the 4th lunar day and is a Moon phase marked by instability and dwindling power. The Moon energy of the Full and New Moon is potent for the first 3 nights and then on the 4th day its effects starts to subside.
This subsiding corresponds to a subsiding of psychic tension/magnetism within us that is pronounced and potent at the extremes of the New and Full lunar expressions. The subsiding of inner psychic magnetism brings with is a state of psychic instability and uncertainty, hence the solidity of the Elephant energy is invoked on the Chaturthi days.
This is the 4th lunar day each month, where Tantrics invoke the energy of the elephant through internal and external mudras.
Tantricly and most practically calling upon solidity and stability within the destabilizing lunar effects of the 4th day. By looking for and finding the elephant within the unbalance of the psychic nature is to go to the eye of the storm where there is a place of safe and solid ground amidst the moving swirl of effects.
Ganesh the keeper of 4
Ganesh is the Elephant God who guards the Mooladhar Chakra.
This is the Earth Chakra lotus that has 4 petals of 4 syllables along with a central root or Bija (seed) mantra from which the 4 syllables originate.
The utterance of these syllables awaken the physical and psychic sensitivities of this chakra. The physical elephant mudras require slow strength and steady endurance to perform.
When practicing with the elephant energy, one replicates the qualities of the creature. The inner mudras are characterized by weight and heavy focus and have as their outcome a grounding and maturing of psychic energy.
The 4 petals of the Mooladhar chakra are 4 sounds that govern the 4 most physical elements: Earth, water, fire and air.
Working with the Ganesh ruled elephant practices brings stability to the foundations of our primary elements and this will be the focus of our online tantric ritual on the 22nd of August, practicing the secret inner and outer mudras and the 4 sacred mantras.
The slow, strong steady countenance of an elephant is something held in high reverence and esteem amongst the tantrics.
In the field and cultural fabric within which we live and die, many may be the doings so easily and lightly driven by haste and baseless expressions.
The Elephant is a much needed spirit creature within our being.
The steady current of the elephant stands strong in superficialities and is a power to back up every step of our being with a weight of earthly wisdom.
A steady rhythmical step by which the elephant proceeds.
The elephant is the only 4 legged creature that has 4 forward bending knees. The 4 sided yantra of the square is a representation and signification of the base chakra. The square is a pictorial character of equality, formed by the balance of the 4 elements.
10 days of the Elephant
Ganesh Chaturthi is a ritual festival where an earthen statue of Ganesh, or of an elephant is made. Publicly this statue is worshiped and paraded until the 10th day it is submerged in water.
Earth returning to water holds much significance in this rite.
All over India there are tens of thousands of statues of Ganesh offered to the waters at the conclusion of this festival. Some of these statues are of gigantic proportions and luminously coloured and affixed to vehicles as they are paraded proudly towards their watery rebirth.
Tantrics rites of ritual create an earthen form of an elephant with earth and water from ones locality. The elephant form is placed upon a metal base to spread electrical magnetism and then meditated upon and infused with one’s magnetism that one in turn relates to the base chakra through concentrated focus.
It is focused upon intensively for the 10 days until the full Moon.
This invoking life into statue or representation of a deity or principle is known as Pran Pratishtha and is done in formal orthodox rites of setting up statues in temples.
Tantric formulas work in similar ways through imbuing life and energy into statues for specific inner work and healing measures. This form of concentration upon the statue of Ganesh has as its focus the bringing up of one’s base chakra themes so they can come up to be viewed and worked with. By such methods one may get a view of karmic obstacles of Mooladhar chakra to be healed.
The invocation of this elephant energy is most powerful upon this yearly junction of Ganesh Chaturthi as astral elements are in favour of supporting the Elephant energy ritual.
It is the peak of fire as the Hot season has touched its pinnacle, the opposite element of air is brought forward by fire, the Monsoon of water and humidity at large at this time brings forth its opposite of the earth element. In this way the physical elements are at their peak of stimulation, which in turn activate the subtle reflections of these elements within the base chakra.
10 days following Ganesh Chaturthi takes one to the full Moon. The earthen statue is then offered into water such as a river by Tantrics.
The Tantrics take this as a meditation of releasing blocked or locked shakti to enter to the worlds above in the chakras beyond the base; beginning with the second chakra of Shaktistan.
This offering of the earth statue to the water is a movement that represents the opening of the granthi’s (psycho/physical knots) of the base chakra and the subsequent release of Shakti to the ascent towards the second chakra which is the sexual chakra, which is connected to the water element.
This outer way of working hints at the inner mudras that relate to the elephant.
These mudras are known as Gaja Karana (doing of elephant) and are Mudras that are exercised at this favourable time in order to assist the dissolving of ones earthy knots and karma’s.
Ganesh protector of the Mother
The story of Ganesh tells how he was the son of Shakti and Shiva.
His mother wanted to take a bath but could not find the peace to enter into union with the water element, many disturbing demands came upon her until she finally asked Ganesh to stand guard at the entrance to the home, which he proudly did, refusing any admittance that came their way.
Ganesh’s father Shiva had the habit of disappearing for long periods of time and retreating to the mountains where he would be undisturbed.
In deep solitude Shiva would pursue deep travels into the inner spiritual worlds.
The season was at its hottest and the outer fire of the earth’s atmosphere had aroused the inner fire of Shiva.
The rains of the time had brought the fire down to the watery second chakra and further reached Shiva’s passion.
Passion and determination brought Shiva down from the mountain and he found himself wandering home to his Wife.
When he reached the house, he found a young child standing guard who would not let him enter.
Ganesh had been born in his absence and neither had knowledge of each other. Shiva pushed him aside but Ganesh would not relent.
A vicious slap from Shiva decapitated the boy, sending the head flying into worlds beyond terrestrial reach.
Without the slightest care for what he had just done, Shiva entered into the watery chamber where his wife bathed naked in milky jasmine and rose scented waters.
‘’How did you enter within” she asked of him. ‘Our son should have let no one in”
Shiva realised then what he had just done and his heated passion and one pointed determination started to give way to lament.
The Shiva power from above may carry the fire down to the water-element ruled Sexual chakra of Shaktistan (literally place of the Goddess) but without the inclusion of the Earth element, the fire poses an unwelcome risk to the watery Goddess of the second Chakra.
The milky bath water started to turn red as the blood of the child poured gradually in.
Distraught wails of the mother resounded through the ethers.
Shiva said, ”By the power of Kechari Mudra, I say that the first living being to come this way shall offer life to our son.”
It was a baby elephant that wandered to their home and offered life to the decapitated child’s body, and so Ganesh received the head of the elephant for which he gets the name Gajanan, the elephant faced one.
The elephant has an unparalleled memory that took note of the offence, hence Ganesh is often portrayed as the great record keeper with pen in hand.
The Tantric language of Moon time
In this story the detailing of Ganesh as the protector of the Mother is a significant detail.
The New Moon just 4 days previous to this day of Ganesh’s elephant birth was celebrated as Pithori Amvasya or Mata Puja as it’s known in Tantric ritual – This is the Mothers Moon that brings the mother energy to the solar plexus chakra known as Manipur.
Pithori refers to flour and edible sustenance which is the physical sustenance to the body through the stomach at the level of the fire-ruled Manipur chakra.
If we trace it further back to the previous Full Moon, we find the horse Moon which represents the Air element and the Annahatt heart and its touch upon throat Chakra. The Pran of the heart chakra connects to and is converted into and creates the element of Akash (space) at the Vishudd chakra at the throat.
And previous to the Horse Moon was the Soma Moon (see previous blog) which connects to the upper chakras and to the most subtle ultra-terrestrial element.
When we see the pattern of how the chakras have worked along all the way down through their respective elements we can see that the ritual days have brought the movement down to the Base and second chakra at this junction.
Water and Earth are implicit in this most tangible junction of manifestation to the previous preceding elements.
The energy has come through the chakric line… down from the subtle element of soma through space, air, fire and water to now meet Ganesh at the base of Earth.
21 leaves and 21 sweets and 21 mantras.
The sum of 7 x 3
That the subconscious mind is accessed by symbols and emotion has been known to Tantrics for aeons. Much of the tantric work is to access the out of sight granthis (knots) and karmas that affect the foundation of one’s being.
Tantric work partakes of much more than blind ritual of tradition, but has a very clear focus upon the symbol being worked with and what it represents within oneself.
The Bhar (outer) mudra is recognized and focused on with its corresponding Anthar (inner) mudra. Whether this focus is on asana and inner meditation or upon ritual offerings and gestures.
Tantra is a very focused and practical undertaking – it focuses and ‘practicalizes’ subtle energies through symbolic concentrations on intangible or far away realities so they can be brought closer within tangible range.
Focus requires the inner fire of Tejas and at the same time focus stokes this fire, the steadiness of the flame of Tejas is dependent upon our usage or wastage of our Pran (breath).
When Tejas is nurtured and cared for then Tantra becomes powerful.
Tejas builds Soma and in turn manifests as Ojas in a more embodied and tangible level of being.
Tantra shows and teaches subtle care experientially by its very methods of practice. It shows us areas where we do not take care of the subtle elements, without the subtle care Tantra cannot begin.
It is said that Ganesh is very fond of eating sweets. He is often pictured with a tray of Indian delicacies.
Modhak sweets are a coconut filled dumplings and in many regions of India are said to be the favourite of Ganesh. He is sometimes called Modhakapriya for this reason, which means ‘the one who loves to eat Modhak’.
The form of a modhak is like a small conical mountain and represents the weight and solidity of the Mountain. The form of Ganesh also represents a mountainous conical shape that spells out solidity and earthed power.
21 sweets are offered to Ganesh in many forms of Ganesh puja (ritual). 21 is a number sacred to Ganesh for several reasons as we shall see.
Ganesh represents the mountainous base and foundation of all the chakras, for this he is known as Chakravatin.
There are 7 major chakras in the body that physically are connected to the 7 major endocrine glands that create and distribute hormones. When there are said to be 8 major glands one must note that the male and female reproductive glands are both included in the list, and except in the rare cases of physical hermaphrodites, there are 7 predominant with a man or woman.
These hormones of the glandular system condition our physicality to a great extent. The suppression or increase of a single hormonal substance can radically alter our bodily health and chemistry and also our consciousness.
By working with conscious and focus, we effect change in the physical level via the hormonal system – this also works the other way around.
By working with physical mudra, Asana (movements) and Pran (breath) we approach the spirit world through the balancing of chemical constituents.
Ganesh is the Chakravatin who balances the whole psycho/physical structure of the chakras. The chakras are 7 and exist in the physical world, they exist in the ‘astral’ and effect the emotional/mental levels of our being, and they extend beyond terrestrial reach into causal world and beyond to the spiritual world. The chakras can be seen as doorways to these levels of existence.
All in all the 7 chakras exist in these three worlds which are known by various names such as Bumi, Patala and Swarga.
That equals 21 levels of the 7 chakras when we see them as 7 x 3.
Each of these 21 chakra levels has a name and that is a name of Ganesh.
Rituals of Ganesh often work with these 21 mantras made up of various forms of his name.
The 21 mantras work with the science of Naad (sound) to activate the potentialities of the 21 levels of chakra.
Within each of the 21 names of Ganesh is encoded a meaning that pertains to a particular level of the chakras.
Here is a list of the 21 names of Ganesh:
- Siddhi Vinayaka
The first name in the list translates as the lord of the whole structure, and the last name in the list translates as the one who successfully brings magic and power.
In Tantric ritual each of the 21 sweets is offered along with each of the 21 mantras and concentration upon the 7 chakras in the 3 worlds.
Ladhus or Modhaks being the most common offerings with the mantras, but all manner of sweets can and are be used as offerings to the energies and spirits of the 21 levels of awareness.
The sweets represent the physical tangible level.
Aside from the sweets, 21 types of leaf are offered and often made into incenses in Tantric ritual, the incense of the leaves represents the astral level by its more subtle form of matter.
For example jasmine leaves, Dhurbha grass, and several other leaves are offered, some of which have slight psychoactive effects when specially prepared as incense.
The gaseous level of the scent connects to the more subtle astral levels and spirits so that the various incenses further stimulate the 21 chakric levels.
Ganapati is a common name of Ganesh and translates as the pati (friend or master) of the Gana (spirits who preside in the 21 worlds) In the orthodox rituals the leaves are not usually burned, but offered whole. It is most common to offer 21 offerings of the Dhurbha grass alone. This is a leaf amongst the 21 that has a profoundly cooling effect on the body and is a preparation in many yogic remedies. The Dhurbha grass is to be offered with 3 strands that represent the 3 spinal channels, the scent and ingestion of this grass removes heat in the 3 main Nadis (meridians) so that Shakti can flow without burning obstructions.
There is a story that encapsulates the importance of the cooling effect of this important yogic herb that is used widely in many types of remedy and ritual invocation.
One there was a bothersome demon called Anlasur. He represented the heating nature of many of the pursuits that humans take that consume Soma (psychic elixir).
The demon Anlasur breathed fire and was causing catastrophe for humans.
The Gods and Yogis invoked Ganesh for help with this disturbing foe who was consuming life power.
The mighty Ganesh simply swallowed him whole and that seemed to be the end of that.
But soon after Ganesh was overcome with heat and burning sensations in his stomach. The fire was so great that he gained a voracious appetite to appease it.
The awakening of the Manipur (solar plexus chakra) finds form in Ganesh’s powerful belly and is further exemplified in the Ladhu sweet which is a heating yellow sweet ball that represents the sun.
The burning only abated when the clairvoyant sages ‘looked’ for a cure to the heat and saw the cooling nature of the Dhurbha grass that grows so commonly and abundantly. Having been covered in the Grass the heat in Ganesh’s belly subsided.
21 sprouts or bundles are offered in orthodox worship, often wrapped upon the statue of Ganesh in a way that mirrors and gives honour of the story.
Tantric mats are sometimes woven from this grass and used for executing the heating mudras and practicing without overheating the system. The asan (blanket) of the yogi is of the utmost importance in mudra practice. Substances that do not conduct the electric generated by yogic practice(such as rubber yoga mats) work counterproductively on the electrical nervous system.
Ganesh and the honouring of the ancestors
As already noted, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival takes place after the Mother’s New Moon festival known as Prithori amvasya (see previous blogpost).
It is a new Moon of honouring the Mata Tattva.
The Mothers Moon follows on logically to the Ganesh Chaturthi to give a deeper grounding and earthing to the ancestral work set in motion on the New Moon.
In the Story we have already seen how Ganesh was the protector of the Mother as he stood watch over the watery world of the second chakra as his Mother wished to bathe undisturbed.
Another story that points to Ganesh’s significance as an honorary of the ancestors is one that tells of him as Chakravatin.
The literal meaning of Chakravatin is the one who causes all the chakras to spin.
This is a word assigned to a ruler in a spiritual or a mundane sense and refers to ‘one who circles the world’
The story goes that in their youth, Ganesh and his brother Skanda were finding ways to test their super powers. A bet was set up between them – that the one who circles the world the fastest would win a plate of sweets.
The fast paced brother Skanda, was highly confident that he wound win the bet over the elephant paced Ganesh.
On the go! He set off at lightning speed and circled the world.
When he returned he saw that Ganesh had not even left the house.
He prepared to take the prize of the sweets for himself, when Ganesh interjected and said, ”you were slower than I thought my dear brother.”
Skanda was not quite understanding until Ganesh clarified the situation.
Ganesh told how his world was his parents Parvati and Shiva and he did not need to race across space and time to circle them as Skanda had done. In fact he stayed home and took a few steps around them and completed it before Skanda had returned.
Skanda understood this and accepted Ganesh’s success.
Ganesh happily got the sweets and smiled at being able to communicate a secret about grounding energy.
When Ganesh Circles and concentrates on his parents as his ‘uni’verse he is honouring the ancestral lines. Ganesh grounds energy by setting free the astral knots that link us to blocked ancestral imprints. Ancestral work is a big part of Tantra and some of the mudras quite literally involve circling the ancestry and resolving issues on the spiritual levels. Our ancestry lives in the psychic atmosphere of our being and is acknowledged as a key by the tantric for grounding and solidifying stray energies.
Ganesh in this story presents himself as the guardian to the world of the ancestors and the honouring of the lines from which we come.
Quite conveniently and without chance, as we flow our way through the Tantric years calendar, Ganesh carries us to the next major ancient tantric festival of Ancestral healing.
At the September Full Moon, we come upon the festival known as Pitri Pakasha, which literally translates as ‘the fortnight of the ancestors.’
At the time of the Pitri Pakasha the constellations of astral energies and influence are such that the spirit world of the ancestors comes close to the earth and Tantrics pay homage with healing rituals particularly on the Full, half and New Moon throughout the two weeks of the Pitri Pakasha festival time.
It is a time of healing deep seated issues along the ancestral line. We will be gathering on specific dates in September too to join in ritual. For now we hope you will join us of these august dates to celebrate the child-mother connection.
Wisdom is a heavy subject with a heavy price that the Weight of the Elephant formed Ganesh reminds us of.