Reflections...              G Venkataraman
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Sai Ram and greetings. This first issue of the Radio Sai Web Journal appears on Vinayaka Chaturthi day, and it is appropriate that I offer some reflections on Vinayaka.

It is a wonderful fact that devotees of Bhagawan Baba who belong to religions other than Hinduism have cheerfully accepted Lord Ganesha as a Deity who ought to be worshipped and propitiated, especially before the commencement of any auspicious function. One can see any number of examples of this in Prasanthi Nilayam. On Christmas Eve, there is invariably a Carol singing program, but the first song is always about Ganesha.Devotees coming from Iran occasionally get the blessing of singing Bhajans before Swami. Their Bhajans are understandably mostly about Allah; nevertheless, the first song is always about Ganesha.So it is with Chinese, Japanese, Russians and so on, who sing Bhajans here. In addition I have seen many, many times, Russians, Mexicans, and so on go around the Ganesha idol near the front gate here in Prasanthi Nilayam.

What is the significance of all this? Who is this Ganesha and why is He so important? One can give a detailed explanation as to who exactly Ganesha is, in terms of folklore, but I shall not do that. Instead I shall refer to something Swami often mentions. He reminds us that Ganesha is VINAYAKA. Vinayaka= Vi + Nayaka. Nayaka means Leader, and Vinayaka means one who has no leader above him. Who is that? God, of course! Hence, when one worships Vinayaka, it simply means that one is worshipping God.
Fine, in that case, why did not ancient Indians simply say, "Listen, before you do anything, think of God and pray to Him."? Why did they make a big issue of asking that prayers be especially addressed to "an Elephant God"? Ah, all that is a matter of psychology! Humans are generally like sheep; they follow very well something drilled into them [but mostly fail to follow something that is explained with logic, argument and so forth]. Knowing this, ancient Indians said, "You shall worship Vinayaka before you start any good work. He will confer His Grace and make your activity fruitful." Needless to say that in order to convey the idea that Ganesha is someone very special, a unique form was given to Him and various explanations too about the significance of this particular form. There is no need for me to repeat all this, since Baba has touched upon them any number of times in His Discourses. But the bottom line is: Vinayaka simply means God. And pray to God we all must, whenever we start any auspicious activity. That is the reason why Swami stresses on the worship of Vinayaka; in other words, he is simply administering a dose of the good old medicine.'

I shall wind up with an anecdote, an experience of mine, if I might say so. Many years ago I was one morning, waiting in the Mandir to make a small prayer about something to Swami and get His approval. I don't remember what it was, but that does not matter. Swami had gone in for the morning session of the Interviews, and I waited near His door on the upper veranda. After the Interview was over, Swami came out and when all devotees trooped out of the room, He wiped His forehead and went to the lower veranda to talk to someone there. After about a minute or so, he came back saying, "No Buddhi!" ("No Intelligence!") He then saw me and said, "You too; no Buddhi!" I smiled and replied, "Yes Bhagavan, that's sadly true. So, please give me Buddhi and along with it, also Siddhi [Purity]."Siddhi and Buddhi, some of you may know, are the two things one prays to Ganesha for, sine He is supposed to be the custodian of these two treasures. Swami looked at me and said, "Buddhi and Siddhi? Why ask me? Ask Ganesha. See, I don't have any trunk!" so saying, swami curled His arm to make it look like a trunk. I wouldn't give in, and replied, "But, Swami, are You not Vinayaka?" Swami smiled and did not say anything; in a matter of speaking, I had the last word!


Volume : PDS / 01 Date : AUG 31 2003