Monday, January 04, 2010

Ganesha and Berry

Shree Ganeshaaya Namaha! Salutations to you, O Ganesha.

Virtually all Hindu prayers are preceded by this invocation, according to Royina Grewal

Ganesh, the Hindu god with the head of an elephant, is perhaps the most popular of the Hindu deities. Although he is one of the newer gods—recognizable in texts only as old as the 4th or 5th century of our Common Era, at least 1,000 years younger than some of his fellow goddesses and gods—that youth has served his myth well, as his followers could place him in significant roles in many of the previous stories, so that he is now known as Lord of Beginnings.

Originally, the elephant-headed one was probably one of the Vinayakas, four minor demons who created obstacles for humans and gods alike. People prayed to him to remove obstacles, and he quickly moved from demon to deity to primary deity.

So, at the beginning of this new year, we echo the centuries-old invocation by Someshvara Malla: “I prostrate myself before you, O Ganeshvara, your icon is a hallowed charm that assures fulfillment of all desire. With the fanning of your broad ears, you scatter away all obstacles, as though they were weightless as cotton.”

Wendell Berry wrote

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

Perhaps my prayers to Ganesha should not ask him to remove all obstacles, but to place only carefully-selected obstacles into my life path, so that I may feel both challenge and satisfaction, both occasional failure and real victory, both wounds and cures, both nurturing solitude and enriching community.


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