A Ganesha Puja
The following is provided as an example of a Ganesha Puja. There is much more which can be put into the rite, such as installation of a yantra, etc., but this version is suitable for general use. This version of the puja has been used at open meetings, with as many as forty people participating.
- votive image (such as a small statuette of Ganesha, a picture, or an image created for the rite)
- 3 small bowls - one contains water, the other 2 are empty
- Incense or joss sticks
- Freshly cut red flowers
- Red Candle
- Pot of Red Paste
- Mala (for counting repetitions of mantra)
- Food Offering
- Instrument for making music (i.e. drum, rattle, bells)
Set up place of ritual. The above items may be tastefully arranged around a small altar, if desired. Participants may wish to begin with a relaxation exercise, followed by any preferred opening ritual (i.e. the Shiva Opening Rite or the Dattatreya Rite). Obviously, all participants should have some knowledge of the shape, attributes and qualities associated with Ganesha. As part of the preliminary opening rite, participants may have ritual marks placed on them using the red paste.
- Internal Installation of Ganesha
- External Installation of Ganesha
- Offerings to the god indwelling the image
- The 108 Salutations to Ganesha
- 108 repetitions of the chosen Mantra
- Reading of the Ganesha Upanishad
Internal Installation of Ganesha
The aim of this part of the puja is to meditate upon an image of Ganesha within, and to identify with the qualities associated with the god.
"Feel your belly to be a void within you. As you breathe, see this void beginning to fill with a scarlet mist. Gradually, the mist begins to form a shape - the shape of the Elephant-headed one, Ganesha."
"Ganesha, vermillion-coloured, with the head of an elephant and the body of a man, whose vehicle is a mouse.
Big of belly, with ears like winnowing baskets, he holds a pomegranate in his trunk, and the crescent moon is upon his forehead. In his four hands he holds a tusk, an elephant goad, a noose, and gives the gesture of granting boons."
- "The tusk he holds represents service
- The goad prods us along our path
- The noose reminds us of that which binds us
- To his favoured he grants all boons
- His ears, like winnowing baskets, sift truth from non-truth
- His twisting trunk shows us the power of strength and discrimination
- His vehicle, the Mouse, is for cunning, and subtlety."
"Meditate upon the qualities of the Ganesha within you - he has the strength and wisdom of an elephant; the intelligence of man; the cunning and subtlety of a mouse. He is the Lord of the Gannas, the demon-horde of Shiva. He is the bringer of luck, the remover of obstacles. Son of Shiva and Parvati, beloved of gods and men alike."
This internal meditation may last for as long as is deemed desirable by the ritual leaders. The litanies above are given as examples only.
External Installation of Ganesha
The next step is for all participants to externalise their internal Ganeshas into the image which has been chosen as a receptacle for worship. In a small group, this may be done by passing the image to each person who, upon receiving it, takes a deep in-breath and breathes out their ‘internal Ganesha’ into the form. In a large group however, an alternative approach is for all participants to focus attention upon the chosen form, and, at a signal from the ritual leader, all simultaneously project their internal Ganesha into the form.
Offerings to the Image
The next phase of the puja is to make offerings to the form which contains the power of Ganesha.
- Gam, Obesiance to Ganapati (pour water from 1st bowl into other two)
- Gam this water. Gam Gam Gam Hum Hum Om Gam Ganapati Namah
- [Offer first bowl to Ganesha] - Gam, this is for sipping
- [Offer second bowl to Ganesha] - Gam, this is for bathing
- [Dab perfume on head of Ganesha] - Gam, this is perfume
- [Cense Image around Ganesha] - Gam, this is incense, this is for prayer
- [Offer Candle to Ganesha] - Gam, this is flame, this is for sacrifice
- [Offer Food to Ganesha] - Gam, this is food, this is for sustenance
- [Offer Flower to Ganesha] - Gam, this is flower, this is for experience
- [Make music to Ganesha] - Gam, this is music, this is for enjoyment
- Take these offerings O Sri Mahaganapati, bestow siddhi upon us!
Following this formalised sequence of offerings, we often like to relate one or two of the adventures of Ganesha. This provides a further opportunity for meditation on the God for the participants, also giving a further exposition of the god’s various attributes and qualities.
The 108 Salutations to Ganesha
The 108 Salutations is a call-and-response sequence, i.e. one person calls out the Salutation and the other participants repeat it back.
- Salutations to him who is our refuge
- Salutations to the one with the wondrous form
- Salutations to the foremost presider
- Salutations to him who is the fire within
- Salutations to the first born
- Salutations to the unborn one
- Salutations to him who is without impurity
- Salutations to him who is worshipped by all
- Salutations to the manifestation of the unmanifest
- Salutations to the inexhaustible one
- Salutations to the inexhaustible one
- Salutations to the granter of devotees’ desires
- Salutations to the destroyer of devotees’ obstacles
- Salutations to the one who loves pomegranates
- Salutations to him who is celibate
- Salutations to him who is free from aversion to the Divine
- Salutations to the foremost knower of Brahman
- Salutations to him whom intelligence is dear
- Salutations to him who is powerful
- Salutations to him who wields the discus
- Salutations to the wearer of the moon on his head
- Salutations to the ingenious one
- Salutations to the one with four arms
- Salutations to the skilful one
- Salutations to the self-controlled one
- Salutations to the compassionate one
- Salutations to the resplendent one
- Salutations to the courageous one
- Salutations to him who is fond of durva (grass) and bilva (tree)
- Salutations to him who has two mothers
- Salutations to him who is fond of the twice-born
- Salutations to the one with a single tusk
- Salutations to the lord of the multitudes
- Salutations to him who has an elephant’s face
- Salutations to him who wields the mace
- Salutations to the son of Gauri
- Salutations to the lord of planets
- Salutations to him who transcends all qualities
- Salutations to him who is lion-like
- Salutations to the rapturous one
- Salutations to him who hold the sugarcane bow
- Salutations to the bestower of Indra’s power
- Salutations to the one with matted locks
- Salutations to the embodiment of wisdom
- Salutations to him who works incessantly
- Salutations to the bestower of absolute happiness
- Salutations to the destroyer of Kali’s impurity
- Salutations to the embodiment of time
- Salutations to him who is love
- Salutations to the beloved one
- Salutations to him who upholds the mountains
- Salutations to the one with the big belly
- Salutations to the source of all illusory power
- Salutations to him who is praised by sages
- Salutations to him whose vehicle is the mouse
- Salutations to he who wears a cobra as a sacred thread
- Salutations to him who is without blemish
- Salutations to the destroyer of wickedness
- Salutations to him for whom there is no other
- Salutations to the wielder of the noose and goad
- Salutations to him who is feared by ambitious men
- Salutations to the blissful one
- Salutations to the pure one
- Salutations to the God worshipped by Rama
- Salutations to the creator
- Salutations to him whose form is existence/ knowledge/bliss
- Salutations to him who is fond of playing with his mother Parvati, daughter of the mountain lord
- Salutations to the powerful one
- Salutations to him who is fond of the Sama Veda
- Salutations to the attentive one
- Salutations to the supporter of the worlds
- Salutations to the dearest son so Shiva’s spouse
- Salutations to the bestower of all perfections
- Salutations to the bestower of all fulfilment
- Salutations to the son of Siva
- Salutations to the omnipresent Self
- Salutations to the peaceful one
- Salutations to the peaceful one
- Salutations to the unchanging one
- Salutations to him whose lotus feet sage worship
- Salutations to the bestower of fulfilment
- Salutations to the auspicious one
- Salutations to the first-born, Skanda’s brother
- Salutations to him whose eyes are the sun and moon
- Salutations to the bestower of prosperity
- Salutations to him with the beautiful throat
- Salutations to him who manifests prosperity
- Salutations to the lord of Lakshmi
- Salutations to him who has a stout neck
- Salutations to he who is pleased with praise
- Salutations to the pure one
- Salutations to him with ears like winnowing fans
- Salutations to him who is a vast ocean of sweetness
- more charming than the god of love
- Salutations to him who acts independently
- Salutations to the self-established one
- Salutations to the content one
- Salutations to him who holds the blue lotus
- Salutations to the lord of speech
- Salutations to the bestower of boons
- Salutations to the bestower of speech
- Salutations to the lord of the wise
- Salutations to the controller of destiny
- Salutations to the lord of obstacles
- Salutations to the remover of obstacles
- Salutations to him who is free from fear
"Gam" is the ‘Seed-Mantra sacred to Ganesha. All of these offerings can be infused with power through meditation on their subtle levels and significance.
Repetition of Mantra
Participants then begin the chosen mantra, such as "Om Ganapati Namah" which is repeated 108 times. During the mantra, each participant may, if desired, approach the altar or image in order to perform individual devotions to the God (making personal requests for granting boons or removing obstacles from their path, for example), afterwards returning to their place and continuing the mantra.
The Ganesha Upanishad
A reading of the Ganesha Upanishad closes the formal proceedings of the Puja.
- Om Lam I bow to Ganesha
- You are clearly the Tattva. You alone are the Creator. You alone are the Maintainer. You alone are the Destroyer. Of all this you are certainly Brahma.
- You plainly are the essence.
- Always I speak Amrita. The Truth I speak.
- Protect me. Protect the speakers. Protect the hearers. Protect the givers. Protect the holders. Protect the disciple that repeats. Protect that in the East. Protect that in the South. Protect that in the West. Protect that in the North. Protect that above. Protect that below. Everywhere protect. Protect me everywhere!
- You are Speech. You are Consciousness. You are Bliss. You are Brahma. You are Being-Consciousness-Bliss. You are the Non-Dual. You are plainly Brahma. You are Knowledge. You are Intelligence.
- You create this world. You maintain this world. All this world is seen in you. You are Earth, water, Fire, Air, Aethyr. You are beyond the four measures of speech. You are beyond the Three Gunas. You are beyond the three bodies. You are beyond the three times. You are always situated in the Muladhara. You are the being of the three Shaktis. You are always meditated upon by Yogins. You are Brahma, you are Vishnu, you are Rudra, You are Agni, You are Vayu, You are the Moon, You are the Sun, You are Brahma, Bhur-Bhuvah-Svar.
- 'Ga' the first syllable, after that the first letter, beyond that 'm', then the half-moon all together. Joined with "Om" this is the mantra-form.
- letter Ga the first form, letter a the middle form, m the last form. Bindu the higher form, Nada the joining together, Samhita the junction. This is the Vidya of Lord Ganesha.
- Ganaka is the seer, Nricad-Gayatri the metre, Sri Mahaganapati the God. "Om Ganapataye Namah."
- Let us think of the one-toothed, let us meditate on the crooked trunk, may that tusk direct us.
- One tusk, four arms, carrying noose and goad, with His hands dispelling fear and granting boons, with a mouse as his banner.
- Red, with a big belly, with ears like winnowing baskets, wearing red, with limbs smeared in red scent, truly worshipped with red flowers.
- To the devoted a merciful Deva, the Maker of the World, the Prime Cause, who at the beginning of creation was greater than gods and men.
- He who always meditates thus is a Yogin above Yogins.
- Hail to the Lord of Vows, hail to Ganapati, hail to the First Lord, hail unto you, to the Big-Bellied, One-tusked, Obstacle-destroyer, the Son of Shiva, to the Boon-Giver, Hail, hail.
- He who studies this Atharva Shira moves towards Brahma. He is always blissful. He is not bound by any obstacles. He is liberated from the five greater and the five lesser sins. Evening meditation destroys the unmeritorious actions of the night. At both evening and morning he is liberated from the bad and he attains Dharma-Artha -Kama and Moksha.
- He who wants something may accomplish it by 1000 recitations of this. He who sprinkles Ganapati with this becomes eloquent. He who recites this on a 4th day becomes a knower of Vidya. This an Artharva saying "He who moves towards Brahma Vidya is never afraid." He who worships with fried grains becomes famous and becomes intelligent. He who worships with sweet-meat (modaka) gains the desired fruit. He who worships with samit and ghee by him all is attained, all is gained by him. He who makes eight Brahmanas understand this becomes like the sun’s rays. In a solar eclipse, in a great river, or in front of an image having recited this he gets accomplished in the mantra. He becomes liberated from great obstacles. He is freed from great misfortunes.
We like to close a puja by moving into diverse feasting and revels. Following the puja, any image created specifically for the rite may be immersed in one’s local stream or river. Making this a processional the following day can be a nice way of rounding off the puja.