The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Procedure of Ganesha Worship: Manifestation of Lakshmi which is chapter 11 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the eleventh chapter of the Kedara-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 11 - Procedure of Gaṇeśa Worship: Manifestation of Lakṣmī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Notes: The chapter consists of two topics: (i) The procedure of worshipping Gaṇeśa. (ii) The emergence of various “Gems” during the churning of the ocean.

Maheśvara said:

1. In every fortnight Gaṇeśa should be worshipped on the fourth day. (But) in the bright half of the month a devotee, after taking bath, should worship always with white sesamum seeds.[1]

2. After finishing all necessary daily routine religious duties, the devotee should perform the worship of Gaṇeśa with great care, by means of scents, garlands, akṣatas (raw unbroken rice grains) etc.

3. At the outset, meditation on Gaṇeśa should be performed in. accordance with scriptural injunctions.

4. As the worshippers are of various types having Tāmasa, Sāttvika and Rājasa traits, the names also (of Gaṇeśa) became many in number according to their class (characterized by a particular Guṇa).

5. They are as follows: Pañcavaktra (Five-faced), Gaṇādhyakṣa (Chief of the GaṇasŚiva’s attendants), Daśabāhu (Ten-armed), Trilocana (Three-eyed), Kāntasphaṭika-saṅkāśa (Resembling a shining crystal), Nīlakaṇṭha (Blue-throated), Gajānana (Elephant-faced).

6. I shall describe his five faces correctly.

7. The middle face is fair in colour with four teeth and three eyes. It is beautiful with a long trunk. In the trunk he keeps a modaka (a round piece of sweetmeat).

8. The other faces of Gaṇeśa are yellow, auspicious blue, tawny and grey. The faces are splendid and characterized by good features.

9-10. I shall tell you the weapons in the ten hands (of Gaṇeśa). They are: noose, axe, lotus, goad, tusk, rosary, ploughshare, pestle, varada (mudrā—gesture) (the hand indicating bestowal of boons) and a vessel containing modakas. One should meditate that he is holding the vessel in his hand.

11-14. The meditation is of three types. In Sāttvika meditation contemplate thus: (He is) Laṃbodara (Pot-bellied). Virūpākṣa (of uneven eyes = three-eyed), Nivīta (sacred thread worn like a garland). He is having a girdle. He is seated in the Yogic posture; the crescent-moon adorns his head.

Rājasa meditation is as in the case of men. The deity has pure golden complexion. (He is) elephant-faced and super-natural. He has four hands, three eyes, one tusk and huge belly.

In Tāmasa meditation he holds a noose and a goad (in his hands). The lord holds a tusk and a vessel of modakas. He is blue in colour.

Thus there are three types of Dhyāna. Thereafter, the worship should be begun quickly by you all.

15. Twenty-one Dūrvā grass-blades are (to be) taken. Two blades of grass are offered after uttering one name. (Thus ten names are uttered and twenty blades of grass are offered.) In the end, all the names are uttered and one blade of grass is offered to the lord of Gaṇas.

16. Similarly twenty-one modakas should be offered. I shall mention the ten names intended for worshipping separately.

17-18. The names are: 1. Gaṇādhipa (Lord of Gaṇas), 2. Umāputra (Son of Umā), 3. Aghanāśana (Destroyer of sins), 4. Vināyāka, 5. Īśaputra (Son of Lord Śiva), 6. Sarvasiddhipratdāyaka (Bestower of all Siddhis), 7. Ekadanta (One-tusked), 8. Ibhavaktra (Elephant-faced), 9. Mūṣakavāhana (Mouse-vehicled) and 10. Kumāraguru (The elder brother of Kumāra). At the end of every word namaste'stu (Obeisance to you) should be added. In the case of the last, the words Kumāragurave tubhyaṃ namo’stu, ‘Obeisance to you, O Kumāraguru’ should be uttered. Thus Gaṇeśa should be worshipped with care.

19-20. After speaking thus to Suras, Sadāśiva, Śaṃbhu, the highly splendid lord, eagerly embraced Viṣṇu who abides in the cavity of heart, as well as Brahmā, and (he) immediately vanished. All of them bowed down to Śaṃbhu and then became engaged in worshipping Gaṇādhyakṣa (Gaṇeśa).

21. After worshipping him in accordance with the injunctions, they became engaged in honouring him with various Upacāras (ways of service) and the Dūrvā grass blades separately.

22. Gaṇeśa who was contented and delighted (by their worship) bestowed boons on Devas. They circumambulated him, bowed down to him and propitiated him.

23. Asuras who possessed only Tamas Guṇa did not worship Gaṇeśa.[2] The excellent Asuras were engaged in ridiculing Devas.

24-25. Devas finished worshipping the son of Śaṅkara and went to the Milk Ocean once again. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, the excellent Suras, Devas, Daityas and sages made Mandara the churning rod and Vāsuki the churning rope. Keeping Viṣṇu near them, Devas began the churning.

26. When the ocean was being churned, it was the Moon that came out at the outset,[3] for the purpose of realizing the objectives of all Devas. He was full of nectar.

Śaunaka said:

27-29. O sage of holy rites, was the Moon formerly placed in the ocean? By whom was he placed? It was told by you formerly that the excellent gems like the elephant etc. (had been cast into the ocean). O lord, tell me all these things briefly in the beginning. After understanding these, all of us shall later describe them.

On hearing their words, Sūta began his narrative:

30. Candra (the Moon) is watery by nature, O Brāhmaṇas. He was born as the son of Atri. He was endowed with all good qualities. He was born of Anasūya from a part of Brahmā. Durvāsas was born from a part of Rudra and Dattaka (i.e. Datta) was born from a part of Viṣṇu.

31. On seeing the Milk Ocean being churned, Candra became delighted. On seeing the Moon, the Milk Ocean too became extremely attached to him.

32. Since both of them liked each other, Candra entered the Ocean. Let this be heard, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. In front of and in the presence of Devas, Candra became filled with nectar.

33. On seeing the splendour of Candra, the Nīrājana rite (waving light around the face) was immediately performed by the groups of Devas with respect to Candra, along with the loud and tumultuous sounds of musical instruments, drums of many types and conchs.

34. They all then bowed down to him along with Suras, Asuras and Dānavas. Then they asked Garga about the genuine inherent power of Candra.[4]

35-37. Thereupon, Garga told them, “All the Planets are powerful today. All the excellent Planets are in their central positions. (Therefore they are beneficial) to you. Guru (Jupiter) has come in conjunction with Candra (the Moon). Budha (Mercury) has also come in his contact. So also the Sun, Śukra (Venus), Śani (Saturn) and the great Planet Aṅgāraka (Mars). Hence the power and influence of Candra is very excellent for the realization of your objectives. This Muhūrta (auspicious time) named Gomanta[5] is the bestower of victory.”

38. At this encouraging assurance of the noble-souled Garga, the mighty Devas began to churn the ocean vigorously and roared (lustily in their eagerness).

39. Remembering Maheśa and Gaṇeśa again and again, those noble-souled (Devas) of firm holy rites attained double strength.

40. During churning, Surabhi (divine cow) came out directly for the sake of the accomplishment of the tasks of Devas, from the ocean that was roaring with a rumbling sound on all sides.

41. Tawny in colour and with quite heavy udders, the cow, in a contented mood, came very slowly floating over the waves.

42. On seeing Kāmadhenu (Wish-yielding Cow) coming up, all Suras and Asuras showered flowers on that (cow) of unmeasured splendour.

43. Various kinds of trumpets and musical instruments were played and drums were beaten. She was brought from the middle of the. waters (though) surrounded by hundreds of cows.

44. Among them there were cows of various colours such as blue, black, tawny, partridge-coloured, smoke-coloured, dark-coloured, red ones, wooḍ-apple-coloured and reddish-brown ones. Surabhi was seen accompanied by these cows.

45. Sages who were delighted instantly entreated Devas and Asuras (to give to them) Kāmadhenu which was closely surrounded by them (Devas and Asuras).

46. “These cows aloṇg with Surabhi should be given to all Brāhmaṇas belonging to various Gotras. There is no doubt about it.”

47. On being requested by them, Suras and Asuras gave those cows to them in order to gratify Śiva. Those Surabhis (cows) were accepted by the noble-minded sages of great auspiciousness and excessive merit.

48. Then Puṇyāhavācana[6] (the formal religious declaration ‘This is an auspicious day’) was performed for Suras by all those sages in order to enable Devas to achieve their objects and to cause the destruction of Asuras.

49-50. All of them once again exerted themselves very well and churned the Milk Ocean. From the ocean that was being churned rose up Kalpavṛkṣa, Pārijāta, Cūta and Santānaka. They set apart those trees on one side, like the city of Gandharvas. Immediately those wise (Suras and Asuras) resumed the churning of the Milk Ocean powerfully in all earnestness.

51. From the ocean that was being churned emerged a highly refulgent, extremely bright, most excellent gem having the brilliance of the Sun. It was called Kaustubha.

52-53. With its brilliance, it illuminated the three worlds. Keeping the Cintāmaṇi (a miraculous stone) in front, they saw the Kaustubha brightening the worlds. All those Suras gave the Kaustubha to Viṣṇu. Suras and Asuras of enhanced strength lustily roared again and began to churn the ocean keeping Cintāmaṇi in the middle.

54-58. From the ocean that was being churned rose up Uccaiḥśravas, the wonderful gem of a horse, and then Airāvata, the gem of an elephant, along with sixty-four other white elephants each with four tusks and in the rut. They set apart all these in the middle and churned once again. Many precious things then arose from the ocean that was being churned, viz. the wine Vijayā, Bhṛṅgī, garlic, turnip, the poisonous and highly intoxicating Dhattūra (Datura Alba) which causes too much of madness, and Puṣkara. All these were placed on the shore of the ocean without any hurry. Again those great Asuras churned the ocean along with the excellent Suras.

59-61. As the ocean was being churned once again, that divine Lakṣmī,[7] the sole protector of the worlds, rose up from it. Those who are the knowers of Brahman call her Ānvīkṣikī (Metaphysics). Others praise her as Mūlavidyā. Some competent persons call her Brahmavidyā. Some call her Siddhi (Success), Ṛddhi (Prosperity), Ājñā (Command) and Āśā (Hope). Some Yogins call her Vaiṣṇavī. Some exponents of Māyā always engaged in Yogic practice call her Māyā. All people call her Kenasiddhāntayuktā (the one associated with Brahman—the Principle spoken of in the Kenopaniṣad). Those who are equipped with the power of knowledge call her Yogamāyā.

62-69. They saw Mahālakṣmī coming slowly. She was very fair, youthful and tender with the filaments of the lotus for her ornaments. She was sweetly smiling with beautiful teeth. A lady of slender shade, she had the fresh youthfulness as an adornment. Her garments and ornaments were variegated with the refulgence of many gems. Her lips were red like the Biṃba (Momordica monadelpha) fruits; the nose was very beautiful and the neck and the eyes were very splendid. She was very slender with fine waistline and splendid buttocks. The hips were large. Her lotus-like face was brilliantly illuminated by means of a number of gems that served the purpose of the lights in a Nīrājana rite for her face. Her face was fascinating and delightful. She was remarkably splendid with her necklaces and anklets. An umbrella was gorgeously held above her head. She was being fanned with chowries gently shaken by the waves of Gaṅgā. She was riding a white elephant and was being eulogized by great sages. With the ends of her hands, she held a garland of the flowers of heavenly trees along with jasmine flowers.

On seeing her Devas were eager to look at her at close quarters. But she, Mahālakṣmī, the chaste lady, looked at Devas, Dānavas, Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Serpents in the same manner as a mother looks (affectionately) at her children.

70. Devas were glanced at by that Lakṣmī. So they became prosperous instantaneously and were characterized by those indications of attainment of the kingdom. Daityas who were not glanced at by Lakṣmī became devoid of splendour (royal glory).

71-72. She glanced (lovingly) at Mukunda who was blue in complexion like Tamāla (Xanthochymus pictorius), whose cheeks and nose were very handsome, who shone brilliantly with his superior person and was characterized by Śrīvatsa and looked (at everyone mercifully).

On seeing him, Lakṣmī suddenly got down from her elephant with the garland of forest flowers (still in her hands). With a broad smile, she put round the neck of the Supreme Being Viṣṇu, the garland that was wreathed by Śrī herself and wherein bees swarmed together.

73. She then sat there leaning on the left side of the great Ātman. On seeing them both, Suras and Daityas experienced a wonderful joy. So also Siddhas, Apsarās (celestial damsels), Kinnaras and Cāraṇas.

74. At that union of Lakṣmī and Nārāyaṇa, the delight of everyone was very great. All the worlds, all the people everywhere were simultaneously happy and joyous.

75. Mahāviṣṇu was sought and wooed by Lakṣmī. Lakṣmī was wooed by him alone. Thus through mutual love they became absorbed in looking at each other.

76. The sound of the various musical instruments and drums sucḥ as Paṭahas, conchs, Mṛdaṅgas, Ānakas, Gomukhas, Bherīs and Jharjharīs was very tumultuous.

77-79. The songs of the musicians were immensely splendid. With the four types of musical instruments, viz. Tata, Vitata, Ghana and Suṣira, the groups of Gandharvas and celestial damsels propitiated the all-pervading Lord Hari in every way. Gandharvas, being proficient in the art of music delighted the lord. Nārada, Tumburu and other Gandharvas and Yakṣas then sang sweetly. The groups of Suras and Siddhas served thus lord Nārāyaṇa who is in the form of the Supreme Ātman and whose enlightenment was boundless, deep and profound.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

VV 1-18 describe the procedure of worshipping Gaṇeśa. It may briefly be outlined as follows:

(1) Special day—every fourth day in a fortnight (vv 1-2).

(2) Materials of worship (v 3).

(3) Names of Gaṇeśa (v 5).

(4) The five faces of Gaṇeśa—their different complexions etc. (vv 7-8).

(5) Weapons in Gaṇeśa’s ten hands.

(6) Three types of Gaṇeśa image for meditation:

(A) Sāttvika (vv 11-12a).
(B) Rājasa (vv 12b-13).
(C) Tāmasa (v 14).

(7) Offering of twenty-one Dūrvā grass blades—one pair of blades per name of Gaṇeśa and Modakas (sweet eatables) (vv 15 and 16).

(8) Ten names of Gaṇeśa for worshipping as above (vv 17-18).

[2]:

Due to their negligence in worshipping Gaṇeśa, Asuras did not get the fruit (Ratnas—jewels) of their labour of churning the ocean.

[3]:

The following is the serial order of the ‘Gems’ that were churned out from the ocean:

  1. The Moon.
  2. Surabhi—Wish-yielding cow and other cows
  3. Kalpavṛkṣa (Wish-yielding divine trees)
  4. Kaustubha, Cintāmaṇi
  5. Uccaiḥśravā horse
  6. Airāvata elephant
  7. Wine and intoxicants
  8. Lakṣmī.

[4]:

This is known as ‘Candra-bala’. All Planets became favourable due to this.

[5]:

Gomanta—It may mean at the time of sunrise.

[6]:

Puṇyāhavācana—When a person intends to perform an auspicious rite, he invites Brāhmaṇas, honours them, requests them with palms folded: “May you declare the day auspicious for such and such a rite”, and the Brāhmaṇas respond “Om, may it be auspicious.” Each of the Brāhmaṇas is to repeat it with words, ‘Svastṛ’, ‘Puṇyāham’ and ‘ṛddhim’ (Āpastamba Dh. 5. 1.4.13.8; cf. Baudhāyana Gr. Śeṣa Sūtra L.10).

[7]:

Lakṣmī is identified with Brahma-vidyā, Ānvīkṣikī, Vaiṣṇavī, Ṛddhi, Siddhi and also with Umā as in the Kenopaniṣad 25 (umāṃ haimavatīm). She, being the mother-goddess looked with affectionate glance at all beings but married Viṣṇu.

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