A Hymn to Him!

Happy Sri Ganesh Chaturthi greetings!

Child Ganesha embracing Shiva-linga, Photo Courtesy: Rishi
Divine darling Ganesha embracing Shiva-linga, Photo Courtesy: Rishi

A Hymn to Him? Him, whom the entire Hindu world remembers before beginning anything anew; Him, whom Gauri-shankar, the parents of the universe (jagatah pitarau) praised for His wisdom ; Him, whom all the Gods, Goddesses, humans and other beings bow for removal of obstacles; today is the auspicious Sri Ganesh chaturthi.

Last year I reminisced my childhood days during Ganesh chaturthi celebration (see here). How the wonderful Lord Ganesha, who shines like a freshly risen sun (nava-udita-arka bhaasvaram) enlightened me of a fact of life! And, alongwith, in a lighter vein, I had talked of kozhukattai, the delectable sweet dish. I must confess here that my complaint(!) was well taken as challenge by one of our devotees of Ladysmith sub-centre, who exactly reproduced kozhukattai to my great wonder and delight too, as per the recipe! Ganesha bestowed on her siddhi (success) in her earnest attempt.

The worship of Ganesha was made an integral part of Hindu tradition by Adi Shankaracharya; It tells us about the panchaayatana puja. Five deities – GaneshaVishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Surya – are taken together for daily worship. Skanda that is Lord Murugan is also added bringing a title of great honour viz., shanmata sthapaka – “Founder of six Faiths” for Adi Shankaracharya.

I find our Centre in SA has published a Prayer Book which is very popular among our devotees and even among other organisations too. It has excellent hymns compiled by Swami Shivapadanandaji, the second President of our Centre. Its contents are neatly classified into Prayers, Bhajans and Kirtans, Stotrams and Aratis.

Generally hymns play a vital role in the evolution of spiritual life. As a child you start reciting it again and again along with the elders in the family and without any extra effort the whole hymn becomes byheart. The ideas of the hymn remain in the mind when you grow up. I remember vividly how I used to join the recital of hymns with my mother and other elders in the family, by the process of which several hymns became strongly embedded in memory. One such hymn was Ganesha Pancha-ratnam. The other was some captivating songs from the enchanting Thiruppugazh.

Now let me tell you about the hymn called Ganesha pancha-ratnam – the Gems-five on Ganesha. The author of this exquisite hymn on Ganesha is our eternal Guru Adi Shankaracharya. The metre, language, and the thoughts are exceptionally elevating to our bhakti mood. This poem is composed in a metre called pancha-chaamaram, which has four quarters of sixteen syllables each, and has a scheme of short-long-short-long syllables. The dance experts say that this ‘tadhIm-tadhIm’ gait endows it with a brisk, marching gait (imagine Ganesha walking!). The learned further add that the poets of the past exactly knew how to choose metres, and sounds which conveyed the import of the poem, not just lilting lyric.

This has been sung, creating a soul-satisfying experience, by no other than Karnatic maestro M S Subbulakshmi.

It would be wonderful if our devotees in SA as well as in other countries who do not know this particular hymn on Ganesha, can learn it. In order to get the tune for this hymn, I give below the youtube link for Ganesha pancharatnam. While listening to the tune, one can follow the words of the hymn given hereunder. I am thankful to Chennaionline.com for the English translation of the hymn.

Mudaa karaatha Modakam Sadaa Vimukti Saadhakam

Kalaa dharaava tamsakam Vilaasiloka Rakshakam

Anaaya Kaika Naayakam Vinasitebha Daityakam

Nataasubhaasu Naashakam Namaami Tam Vinaayakam

Meaning: I prostrate before Lord Vinaayaka who joyously holds modaka in His hand, who bestows salvation, who wears the moon as a crown in His head, who is the sole leader of those who lose themselves in the world. The leader of the leaderless who destroyed the elephant demon called Gajaasura and who quickly destroys the sins of those who bow down to Him, I worship such a Lord Ganesh.

Nateta raati Bheekaram Navodi taarka Bhaasvaram

Namat Suraari Nirjaram Nataadhi Kaapa Duddharam

Suresvaram Nidheesvaram Gajesvaram Ganeshvaram

Mahesvaram Samaashraye Paraatparam Nirantaram

Meaning: I meditate eternally on Him, the Lord of the Ganas, who is frightening to those not devoted, who shines like the morning sun, to whom all the Gods and demons bow, who removes the great distress of His devotees and who is the best among the best.

Samasta Loka Shankaram Nirasta Daitya Kunjaram

Dareda rodaram Varam Vare Bhavaktra Maksharam

Krupaa karam Kshamaakaram Mudaakaram Yasaskaram

Manaskaram Namaskrutaam Namaskaromi Bhaasvaram

Meaning: I bow down with my whole mind to the shining Ganapati who brings happiness to all the worlds, who destroyed the demon Gajasura, who has a big belly, beautiful elephant face, who is immortal, who gives mercy, forgiveness and happiness to those who bow to Him and who bestows fame and a well disposed mind.

Akimchanaarti Maarjanam Chirantanokti Bhaajanam

Puraari Poorva Nandanam Suraari Garva Charvanam

Prapancha Naasha Bheeshanam Dhananjayaadi Bhushanam

Kapola Daana Vaaranam Bhajaey Puraana Vaaranam

Meaning: I worship the ancient elephant God who destroys the pains of the poor, who is the abode of Aum, who is the first son of Lord Shiva (Shiva who is the destroyer of triple cities), who destroys the pride of the enemies of the Gods, who is frightening to look at during the time of world’s destruction, who is fierce like an elephant in rut and who wears Dhananjaya and other serpents as his ornaments.

Nitaanta kaanta Dantakaanti Mantakaanta Kaatmajam

Achintya Rupa Mantaheena Mantaraaya Krintanam

Hrudantarey Nirantaram Vasantameva Yoginaam

Tameka Danta Mevatam Vichintayaami Santatam

Meaning: I constantly reflect upon that single tusked God only, whose lustrous tusk is very beautiful, who is the son of Lord Shiva, (Shiva, the God of destruction), whose form is immortal and unknowable, who tears asunder all obstacles, and who dwells forever in the hearts of the Yogis.


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20 thoughts on “A Hymn to Him!

  1. Greetings Swamijee!
    I found your explanation of the hymn to be beneficial. Your interpratation has done justice to the glory of Ganesha and has taught me about His splendour.
    om namo narayanaya!
    your student
    Deven Panday
    Pietermaritzburg, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Devan
      Welcome to this blog!
      Happy to know that you were inspired by the Divine hymns! From time immemorial, we do not know how many devotees like you have been continuously inspired by these ever-lasting hymns! The power of Acharya Shankara is eminently working through them.
      May Lord Ganesha continue to bring Auspiciousness to you and your family.
      Please convey my good wishes to Sadhna and your three wonderful girls!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  2. Om Namo Narayanaya!
    My prostrations at the Feet of the Holy Trinity, Swamiji Maharaj, Swami Saradaprabhanandaji Maharaj and Pravrajika Ishtaprana Mataji!
    How delighted I was to stumble upon this new post when I paid my obligatory visit to my “place of pilgrimage”!
    May we be blessed with the removal of obstacles, particularly those that inhibit our spiritual progress! However, even obstacles have their purpose, don’t they, Swamiji Maharaj? Are they not part of the Lord’s magnificent and oftentimes incomprehensible Maya?
    I am happy that Swamiji Maharaj was able to get a taste of kozhukattai ! I am certain that the hand that lovingly prepared the sweetmeat must have derived greater pleasure than the One eating it. How Lord Ganesha removed all obstacles to ensure that our Swamiji Maharaj received a taste of India right here!

    Hari Om Tat Sat !
    Nirmala Balkaran
    Ladysmith, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Nirmala
      It is heartening to note, in spite of your busy schedule, you always have time to visit my blog and leave a comment.
      You are perfectly right when you say that “obstacles have their purpose,” and they are “part of the Lord’s magnificent and oftentimes incomprehensible Maya.” Lord Ganesha has the name “Vighneshwara” (vighna-obstacles, Ishwara-Lord). Lord of Obstacles does mean that He has full control over them. To the non-devoted He brings them and to the devoted He removes them.
      Thanks indeed! Yes! It was Master’s wish for me to taste the wonderful delicacy Kozhukkattai and of all the places at Ladysmith! Well, I have to humbly disagree with you when you say that “the hand that lovingly prepared the sweetmeat must have derived greater pleasure than the One eating it”. Not at all. The person who fed and the person who was fed – both were happy because the maker made it as offering to Master and the beneficiary ate it as Master’s prasad!
      Jai Sri Ramakrishna!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  3. Revered Maharaj
    Wonderful indeed! But I cannot understand why MS sung another hyme Oum Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje after reciting the first paragraph of this Ganesha Pancharathnam (i.e. Muda karatha… Vinayakam), and what is the source of the next hymn i.e. Vatapi Ganapatim?
    Pronam Maharaaj!


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sucheta
      Good question! Mudaa karaatha was written by Adi Shankara and Vaataapi Ganapatim was by Muthuswaami Dikshitar. Both songs are on Lord Ganesha. In one of her concerts, MS has sung only one, that is, the very first verse of Mudaa karaatha and proceeded to sing Vaataapi…Its alright as the main song was Vaataapi and not the former at that time of the concert. But the links that I have provided just contain only mudaa karaatha and NOT vaataapi.
      The song Vaataapi was composed by one of the Three pillars of Carnatak music Muthuswaami Dikshitar. If you want to know the full lyrics of this wonderful song in Hamsadhwani raaga, with of course notations and other technical details, please visit here.
      Always be inspired to what is good, for good thoughts and good deeds are “ready with the power of a hundred thousand angels to defend” you always and forever!
      May the Holy Trio be the Shining Light in your chosen path!
      May music help you in your spiritual progress!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  4. My Humblest Pranams to Maharaj
    Thank you for the most beautiful Ganesha Pancharatnam poem. I also thank Lord Ganesha for his wonderful gift of hand picking you to grace our land here in SA. My levels of devotion, spirituality and religious enlightenment has soared since your arrival.
    May Lord Ganesha and the Holy Trio Bless you!

    Prof Anil Chuturgoon
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Anil
      I am happy that you enjoyed the Divine hymn! Yes! I too am happy to spend time with sincere devotees, and take part in lively “Talks on God”. Your levels of devotion to the Lord has soared, not because of me but because of “His Grace”. It is indeed joyful to note that spiritual talks uplifts you.
      May your devotion to the Lord increase a thousandfold!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  5. Revered Maharajji
    Please accept my sincere pranam.
    I really feel blessed to read your blog, as I am away from Kolkata. I am missing many of our religious functions. How beautifully you named “THE HIT THAT DOES NOT HURT” for “JANMASTAMI”.
    Here in UTAH, life is so fast for my daughter that your blog really fills my longing for something which I myself don’t know. I will try to read your write up when I go back to Kolkata. I really feel blessed to think that our GURU MAHARAJ remembers me through you.
    With loving pranam,
    Utah, Salt Lake City, USA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Gurubon Jayita
      If this blog has brought even some semblance of solace to you, know well that it is by the Wonderful Grace of Thakur!
      Our Lord is Omnicient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent. So wherever you are, He is with you all the time, guiding and protecting you. Always remember that! Living in a far away place from homeland should, instead of creating depression, afford you more time in intensifying your spiritual practice. Please read our Holy scriptures, like the Gita, Ramayana, Bhagavatam. This will give you immense peace of mind, furthermore this is a good way to keep Holy Company – Sadhu sanga.
      May Master give you peace of mind and keep you happy!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  6. Revered Swamiji
    Salutations to Master, Holy Mother, Swamiji and revered Maharaj!
    Aum Namo Narayanaya
    I really enjoyed your discourse Ganesh Chaturthi evening at HQ on this wonderful “appearance” day of Lord Ganesh. You made it clear that our Gods do not have birthdays but only days when their special “manifestation” takes place. Your mail also answered my question very thoroughly.
    I have listened to this beautiful stotram. It is so soothing to the ears. I will check with Kamini (local karnatic singer) if she does know this song, else, if she can learn it.
    with love always
    Tongaat, SA


    1. || Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
      Dear Yogan
      It is not generally easy to develop any taste for spiritual discussions. It comes only by His grace. You are one of those rare devotees who is blessed to attend Satsangs regularly. Yes, people sometimes ignorantly call such special days as ‘birthdays’ for Gods and Goddesses. These are “manifestations” of the Supreme Power in many forms and names. Gods are unborn, eternal and ever living. Incarnations (avatars) do have birth tithis because they came in human forms. Even to them our sages would always add that the birthless Brahman has taken the form of Rama, Krishna etc.
      Yes, if Kamini could sing this hymn, that would be wonderful.
      May Lord reveal His true nature!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  7. Respected Maharaj
    Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Please accept humble pranam at your feet!

    “Generally hymns play a vital role in the evolution of spiritual life. As a child you start reciting it again and again along with the elders in the family and without any extra effort the whole hymn becomes byheart”

    In my opinion, this is perhaps the most important paragraph. The Centre’s publication of the Prayer Book contains so many wonderful hymns, which are so easy to understand and recite. It is our duty, as parents and teachers, to recite these hymns and mantras daily so that together with our children we can reflect and remember these wonderful mantras for a lifetime! I thank Maharaj for his wonderful discourse on Ganesh Chaturthi. The story on Kubera, the Lord of wealth and Lord Ganesha was truly wonderful. On our way back to Pmb, there was an interesting discussion amongst the devotees on Maharaj’s Talk.
    Many, many thanks for affording us the opportunity to be in Maharaj’s holy company!

    With loving and respectful Pranam!
    Pietermaritzburg, SA


    1. || Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
      Dear Avithaa
      I fully agree with your opinion on the usefulness of our Prayer Book. I must admire your steadfastness in the readings of my blog!
      The para that you highlighted is really important, but I am glad to say that in many homes here the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa, Durga Saptashati, Mahalakshmi Ashtakam and various other hyms are chanted in family units. Sitting together as a family and reading the Gospel Sri Ramakrishna, Gita and Ramacharitramanas is also of vital importance to keep families together. The important teachings that are taught should be discussed amongst family members.
      Yes, the story of Kubera is indeed interesting. How Ganesha, the Lord of Wisdom in His inimitable style brought Kubera to his knees and made him realize the impermanence of his wealth that he flaunted before everyone! And how Ganesha is ready to accept a simple grass (dhurwa) when offered with love and devotion and never satisfied with all the rich that one offers with egoism!
      I am happy that when you devotees come in group, you all discuss the points from my Talks while returning. Instead of useless gossip, such discussions energize the mind and make us stuck with godly thoughts. Well done!
      Please continue with your regular sadhana and daily readings from the Gospel!
      May the Master always guide you all!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  8. Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Revered Maharaj,
    Shri Ganesh Chaturthi was simply amazing ! After morning hawan we could feel the presence of Lord Shri Ganesha. My daughter’s best friend is Lord Vinaayaka. She sings to him and talks to him the whole day. She is only two years old but she can sing five different bhajans (Thanks to her loving Grandmother!). I have learnt that it is so important to teach our children the beauty of having a relationship with God.
    It is also very important to take care of our elders, since it is our elders who teach us and instill good values in us. I remember the race between Lord Ganesha and his brother Kartik. Lord Ganesha won because he considered his parents to be his world.
    My daughter has shown me about the meaning of “true devotion”. When children are young they are so innocent, they are not materialistic or greedy and jealous. They are pure little human beings.
    It is so interesting to hear about your childhood days Maharaj !

    Jai Shri Durga, Jai Shri Durga, Jai Shri Durga!

    Natasha and Vishal
    Newcastle, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramamkrishna sharanam||
      Dear Natasha and Vishal
      How elevating and peaceful to feel the “presence of God” in one’s home! One can actually feel the “Oneness” of God and the whole world.
      I am happy indeed to hear that Lord Vinaayaka is your little daughter’s best friend! Instilling the teachings of our great religion, which is the Mother of all religions, to children from a tender age is the best medicine for the materialistic affliction of this day and age. She is also blessed to be tutored by her loving and caring grandma. A sincere, spiritual upbringing can only intensify the child’s love for God! I hope and pray that you constantly teach her about the Love of the Lord.
      There are wonderful Pictorial story books at the Centre’s bookshop, (I hope you have by now come across) which can aid in teaching children of her age about Gods and Goddesses.
      May Mother Durga endow you and your family with noble and loving traits!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  9. Dear Swami
    Aum Namo Narayanaya!
    Thank you for that inspirational talk at your Ashram on Ganesh Chaturthi evening. It was simplified for even my little kid to digest the importance of the scriptures and Ganesh prayers that we perform. Swami caters for audiences leaving them most motivated and fulfilled with food for thought leaving the Ashram.
    I must thank Prabha for introducing me to Swami as I feel that you are really brought me in line of the Hindu practices which I had gone astray as concentration was not balanced from work to spiritual hood.
    Adhikar Nagessur
    Durban, SA


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Adhikar
      Yes, I was happy to see your entire family among the congregation on Ganesh Chaturthi function day. You are all most welcome to attend the satsangs that are regularly held every Saturday at 4 pm and other important religious festivals. It is wonderful to hear that your little son, Darshan could also enjoy the story and its significance. That shows that he has good samskaaraas and we believe that religious education from early childhood helps foster development of a strong personality that can meet all future challenges in Life. For your information, many of our branches do conduct Sunday Schools wherein basic things about our religion are taught according to age and the grade that a child is studying.
      Yes, Prabha is a long standing devotee of our Centre and an active member of Sri Sarada Devi Women’s Circle too. Her husband Kemmy Ramjathan is the present Chairperson of Durban Central branch. A lamp once lit can light up other lamps. Thats how devotees spread the holy word ‘Kathamritam’ amongst others.
      May Master Sri Ramakrishna guide you ever is my prayer!
      Swami Vimokshananda


  10. Adarneeya Maharajji,
    Saadar Pranaam!
    I have one question to ask:
    According to me, saying THANK YOU to GOD or even one HOLY PERSON IS NOT “CORRECT”.
    There has to be a better way for expressing your gratitude! Or better still, WHY SAY ANYTHING AT ALL!
    So, I say, humble pranaams and nothing else.
    Please keep on passing BLESSINGS OF HOLY TRIO TO ALL OF US.
    Bharat Churiwala
    Mumbai, India


    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Bharat
      Yes, you are very correct in saying that no thanks need be said to God or even to a holy person. God takes care of His devotees out of His boundless grace and He does not expect thanks from them. However, from the devotees side, they find joy in expressing their gratitude. If this blog has been liked by you, informing others about this blog and encouraging them to read and comment is a better form of thanks-giving! And verily, I find from your writings – you are doing that!
      May all be guided by the Master’s wisdom!
      Swami Vimokshananda


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