Ganesh, also known as Shri Ganapati, is one of if not the most popular of all Hindu deities. He’s worshiped and honored regardless of Hindu denomination. So much so, his reverence spreads to even Buddhists and Jains alike. Being the patron of arts & science, remover of obstacles, keeper of wisdom, and lord of beginnings, it’s hard to not like him! Ganesha can be found in just about every Hindu shrine due to these attributes, so here are the most important things to keep in mind when placing your Ganapati murti!
Where to place the Murti in home
Most are not aware, but there are specific places one may place the Ganapati Murti in order to strengthen the vibrations of bliss and success. It is ideal to seat the Murti in the northeasternmost part of the home. If any other murtis are present, it is most proper for Ganesh to be seated to the right-hand side of these murtis if he is not to be the center of the mandir. According to the Vastu Shastra(traditional Vedic architecture), this positioning aids with the flow of chakra in the temple. It is also extremely common to have a small picture or idol of Ganesh next to or above the entryway of the home &|or puja room as it is said this acts as a blessing for those coming and going.
The posture of the Murti
Ganesha murtis come in many postures, & each gives off an entirely different vibration for a completely different purpose. The most common type is the sitting or meditating position. This posture is called lalitasana. Sometimes rather than having both legs folded, one leg will be on the ground while the other rests upon his vahana(his mouse). This denotes that he is concerned with earthly affairs & is here to aid his followers and remove obstacles while his meditating pose where both legs are folded creates an atmosphere of calm and determination. His dancing or standing posture is for those seeking a creative, energetic, & artistic atmosphere. His sitting postures are best for the home while his standing postures are best for work environments.
Position of the Trunk
This is a key aspect of Ganesh murtis that is often overlooked but should never be! When purchasing a Ganapati murti, be very very choosy. The trunk is the most important aspect of this specific murti. There are three main styles: Vamamukhi, Dakshinmukhi murti, and Shushumna. Vamamukhi trunks hang to the left & are the easiest to please and are associated with calmness, success, & happiness. They are also sometimes called Vastu Ganesh because he is perfect for solving vastu related issues. Whereas, Dakshinmukhi murti trunks hang to the right. It is believed that the sun’s energy flows through this murti’s trunk & because of this, owning one is not recommended as they require special care as per Vedic tradition. If one worships this murti properly, it is said to grant immediate results & moksha(liberation from reincarnation); however, if one doesn’t follow the proper tradition then it is said that all the good results gained from the worship are burned away by the sun’s energy. The final kind is called Shushumna. With trunks hanging down straight, these statues are rather rare and considered extremely auspicious.
According to Hindu teachings, Kali is Goddess of time or change, but is most notably known by non-Hindus for her darkness and violence. Much like Shiva in the form of Bhairava, her earliest incarnation was that of an annihilator of evil within the world. She is often depicted in grotesque fashion as her terrifying eyes and shrieking expression horrify. Kali is referred to as ‘the black one’ as she is thought to have been the first creation before light itself and her very presence is said to convey death and destruction.
Within her most famous Hindu legend she comes to the aid of Hindu Goddess Durga and her assistants as they attempt to slay the demon Raktabija. They attempt to wound him with various weapons but come to find that with every drop of blood they inflict he only multiplies in form. His duplicates overwhelm them and they call upon Kali for aid. Instead of Kali being summoned, however, Durga herself manifests into Kali’s form.
‘Out of the surface of her (Durga’s) forehead, fierce with frown, issued suddenly Kali of terrible countenance, armed with a sword and noose. Bearing the strange khatvanga (skull-topped staff), decorated with a garland of skulls, clad in a tiger’s skin, very appalling owing to her emaciated flesh, with gaping mouth, fearful with her tongue lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky with her roars, falling upon impetuously and slaughtering the great asuras in that army, she devoured those hordes of the foes of the devas’
Kali slays the Raktabija by sucking every last ounce of blood from his body and devouring his duplicates. She rejoices in victory and dances upon the fallen in triumph. Her ferocious celebration is said to have consumed her fully, unable to stop herself from stomping on the slain. In order to snap his consort Kali out of her violent elation, God Shiva laid down amongst the dead beneath her feet. The instant her foot touched her beloved Shiva she was able to calm herself. This is why Kali is often depicted standing atop Shiva.
Although Kali is often seen as a terrifying and vicious slayer of demons, in union with Shiva she is said to help create and destroy worlds.
“May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops, who is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus, who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
Within Hinduism, Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge, art, music, and science. Companion to Brahma, it is said that Saraswati was key to his creation of the Universe. As his source of vital spirit and energy, she along with Goddess Kali and Lakshmi played pivotal roles in helping the gods shape and maintain the universe. Saraswati also plays an important role in Buddhism as sacred devotee of Gautama Buddha making sure his teachings live on in practice. She is daughter to Durga and sister to Ganesh.
Saraswati is thought to contain the divine flow of all things serving as a beautiful body of knowledge and catalyst of learning throughout the world. Her sultry appearance is striking and the epitome of feminine and divine beauty. Her beauty is strategic in order to make knowledge and learning alluring to onlookers. She is often depicted in flowing white to symbolize her purity and unmatched mind while seated upon a lotus flower which represents the light in knowledge. By worshiping Saraswati one is able to realize the possibility of infinite knowledge and an endless quest of enrichment. She embodies not only knowledge itself, but the highest of spiritual knowledge, much like Buddhist teaching of the Gautama Buddha reaching enlightenment. Her potential is fully realized and as one follows her example they too can become enlightened.
Many devotees believe strongly in offering honey to goddess Saraswati during worship as a symbol of the purest of knowledge.
Click to learn more about Hindu goddess Saraswati.
‘He under whose supreme control are horses, all chariots, the villages, and cattle; He who gave being to the Sun and Morning, who leads the waters, He, O men, is Indra.’ Rigveda
Originally, Indra was one of the most prominent deities within the Rigveda as the leader of the Gods and Lord of Heaven according to Hindu myth. He was the God of war, storms, thunder, and the ultimate warrior carrying his famous lightning bolt, Vajra, as weapon protecting Dharma alongside Vajrapani, the Chief Defender. Indra, Agni’s twin, was said to be the strongest of all beings defending all the Hindu Gods and humans alike from danger. Indra was described as being very powerful with either two or four very long arms wielding his bolt or at times bow or hook. His parents were the sky god Dyaus Pita and the earth goddess Prthivi. It is even said he was born fully grown and fully armed from his mother’s side ready to defend the world.
His most notable achievement was fighting the asura Vrita who in form of a mighty dragon stole all the water from the earth. When Indra was born he heard of the offenses of Vrita and fought to reclaim the precious water he had stolen form the world. He rode forth to seek him out, smashed through all 99 of Vritra’s fortresses, and battled Vrita as dragon and destroyed him. Water began flowing from his fallen adversary after battle which restored the earth from its perpetual drought. Replenishing the land of its most necessary nutrient, Indra became a hero not only to the people, but to the Gods alike. In show of allegiance the gods elected him as their king.
Although a notable deity within the Rigveda, over time Indras importance as a prominent deity began to diminish in favor of Vishnu and Shiva. More recent accounts of his famous battle even include his rescuing by Vishnu and Shiva in order to defeat the dragon. He was eventually demoted to that of simply god of weather and of the lesser gods.
Click for more information on Vishnu and Shiva from Lotus Sculpture
Shiva as Ardhanari, or Ardhanarishvara, translates to ‘Lord who is half woman.’ Ardhanarishvara is the androgynous combination of Shiva and his consort Parvati, split down the middle as half man half woman. Shiva, usually depicted on the right, is often adorned with headdress of a half crescent moon, serpent earring, third eye upon the center of his forehead, and wears a sacred thread across his chest. Parvati down the left is commonly portrayed with basket shaped crown, kundala earing, red dot matching Shiva’s third eye, and multi-colored or white linen dress. Visually, Shiva and Parvati embody their corresponding gender vigorously so as to starkly contrast their opposing counterpart.
Ardhanarishvara is said to characterize the fusion of the masculine and feminine energies of the world and exemplifies how Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from Shiva, the male principle of God. The merger between these masculine and feminine energies is regarded as the root of all creation.
God is both Shiva and Parvati, “both male and female, both father and mother, both aloof and active, both fearsome and gentle, both destructive and constructive” and unifies all other oppositions of the universe.
It is believed that Parvati is not just Shiva’s consort, but an actual part of him.
Ardhanari is one of the most popularly worshiped forms of Shiva and can be found in virtually every temple or shrine throughout India and south-east Asia. It is often regarded that the ultimate goal of a devotee is to be united with Shiva as Parvati is in the Ardhanarishvara form.
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