Valuable Lessons I Learnt From the 8 Avatars of Lord Ganesha
I first witnessed the fervour and festivity of the Ganapati Visarjan festival when I came to Mumbai from Delhi for my management studies. It was September of 1995 that I saw normal boring streets getting a makeover for the biggest festival in Mumbai. I saw numerous pandals come up in every nook & corner, and there was a certain kind of buzz in the air. The markets were flooded with beautiful yellow and red floral torans, string lights, diyas and candles ready to welcome Lord Ganesha.
Soon I saw all the by lanes and main roads getting lined up with lights and hoardings with the images of the Elephant God. The pandals were now up and beautifully decorated with various socially relevant themes.
The excitement was palpable as this is not only the much-awaited festival amongst the Hindus, but Ganesha is also the favourite god of many other communities, and his homecoming is celebrated with much fanfare every year.
Why Do We Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi?
For the uninitiated, Ganesh Chaturthi in most places in India is a day to invoke Lord Ganesha, the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. On this day, devotees worship Ganesha idols, perform the aarti, and offer prasad of fruits and sweets, especially modak, which is Lord Ganesha’s favourite.
Ganesh Chaturthi is especially popular in Maharashtra, where the festival was initiated by the Maratha ruler Shivaji and then reinstated by political thinker and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The festivities here last for about 10 days. Ganesha is welcomed into homes and massive pandals in the form of beautiful idols.
This festival lasts for 10 days, and during these days, the family members and other devotees offer prayers in the morning and evening. This is also an occasion for families to get together and spend some quality time. People generally invite their friends and neighbours to seek the blessings of Lord Ganesha and offer delicious food in the form of prasad.
For more details on the festival, please click here.
- Valuable Lessons I Learnt From the 8 Avatars of Lord Ganesha
- Why Do We Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi?
- My First Ganesh Chaturthi
- 8 Avatars of Lord Ganesha
- 1. Vakratunda: In this avatar, Lord Ganesh destroyed Matsarasura, the demon of Jealously.
- 2. Ekadanta: In this avatar Lord Ganesha killed Madasur, a demon of Inebriation and Pride.
- 3. Mahodara: This avatar of Lord Ganesh destroyed Mohasura the demon of Delusion and Confusion.
- 4. Gajanana: In this avatar Lord Ganesh destroyed Lobhasura, the demon of Greed.
- 5. Lambodara: This avatar of Lord Ganesh destroyed Krodhasura the demon of Anger.
- 6. Vikata: Lord Ganesh took the avatar of Vikata to destroy Kamasura, the demon of Desires.
- 7. Vighnaraja: destroyed Mamasura the demon of Attachment.
- 8. Dhumravarna: This avatar of Lord Ganesha destroyed Ahamakasura- the demon of Ego
- To Summarise
- Ganpati Bappa Morya!
- This is why these 8 avatars of Ganesha are important for us.
- Other Life Lessons Blogs
My First Ganesh Chaturthi
Coming back to my first experience, I saw people dancing on the streets while getting the beautiful Ganpati idol at home on my way back from college. The size of the idols varied – huge ones for the pandals and small ones for the houses. All the idols had their face covered, and these would be unveiled on the Sthapana day.
During the coming days, I could feel a sense of joy and revelry on the streets. No matter how big or small their house is, Lord Ganesha’s place is in everyone’s heart, so the size of the house does not matter. People forget all their problems and worries when they welcome Lord Ganesha into their houses, and they eagerly look forward to this time of the year more than Diwali.
Lord Ganesha is referred to by many names, which signify his various avatars or incarnations. It is said that Lord Ganesha took these eight avatars or incarnations to save the world from demons who personified a “dosha” or shortcoming in human nature. These shortcomings are also present in gods, and it is through them that the demons were born. The various avatars of Ganesh destroyed each of these demons and encourage us to destroy these demons within us to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
Scroll down to read about these avatars and what lessons we can learn from each of them.
8 Avatars of Lord Ganesha
1. Vakratunda: In this avatar, Lord Ganesh destroyed Matsarasura, the demon of Jealously.
Jealousy or social comparison has existed since times immemorial. People have a habit of evaluating their worth in comparison to others. These others can be your peers, neighbours, friends, colleagues or even an unknown person next to you. This is the start point of self-deprecating talks, where we continuously belittle ourselves and our achievements. Or it can be the other way around, wherein we belittle the other person. The increased use of social media has aggravated this situation further.
Social comparison is fair if it encourages or inspires you to improve your capabilities or adopt good practices. But if it pushes you down the path of self-loathing or extreme negativity, then it needs to stop.
Thus this festival is a great reminder for us to work on our habit of Jealousy and come out victorious.
2. Ekadanta: In this avatar Lord Ganesha killed Madasur, a demon of Inebriation and Pride.
“Eka” stands for “Maya” the embodied and “Danta” for “Truth”. Thus Ekdanta symbolises “The supreme truth”, which wields the Maya.
Ganesha in Ekadanta avatar shows us that intoxication can fill one with pride beyond control.
Applying this to our modern life, any kind of intoxication is harmful. Whether it is alcohol or pride, anything which makes us lose the power of rational thinking and makes us behave unacceptably needs to be brought in check. If left unchecked, this habit can lead to self-destruction and regret.
Therefore this avatar of Lord Ganesha teaches us to stay humble and grounded. It’s important to understand the difference between self-esteem and pride and how they impact our interactions with our ecosystem.
3. Mahodara: This avatar of Lord Ganesh destroyed Mohasura the demon of Delusion and Confusion.
So many times in life, we are at crossroads and confused about what path to choose. At such times, Lord Ganesh advises us to step back, evaluate the pros and cons of each option objectively, and then decide. Any decision taken in a hurry as a result of an outcome of a confused state of mind is not the right decision.
4. Gajanana: In this avatar Lord Ganesh destroyed Lobhasura, the demon of Greed.
Human greed is limitless. History is witness to so many wars fought for the greed of land and power. Even in our day to day lives, our greed for money, high social status and material possessions force us to do things that we may not do otherwise.
Lord Ganesha advises us to give up this self-destructive habit in all forms and learn to be contented with what we have in life.
5. Lambodara: This avatar of Lord Ganesh destroyed Krodhasura the demon of Anger.
Lord Ganesha knows that Anger is the root cause for many broken relationships, and the words said in anger have a deep, long-lasting impact. In this incarnation, he asks us to reign in our anger so that it does not destroy the peace and harmony we deserve in our lives and our relationships.
6. Vikata: Lord Ganesh took the avatar of Vikata to destroy Kamasura, the demon of Desires.
There is no harm in having desires because, after all, desires provide us with the required motivation to take action. But if our actions harm or hurt someone or take us on a wrong path, these desires are not what we should aspire for.
This avatar shows the world that desire has no end. Satisfaction and happiness are not the outcomes of any achievement, but a state of being that comes from within.
7. Vighnaraja: destroyed Mamasura the demon of Attachment.
This is by far the most difficult habit to do away with. We human beings are attached to so many things – our material possessions, our children, friends, and success.
All these attachments have the power to influence our moods, our lifestyle and eventually, our mental wellbeing.
Lord Ganesha advises us that all these worldly attachments will give us temporary joy and pleasure. However, our soul seeks truth and divinity for true happiness, but we continue to look for happiness entangled in this illusionary web.
8. Dhumravarna: This avatar of Lord Ganesha destroyed Ahamakasura- the demon of Ego
So often, we tend to hold on to things and incidents that happened in the past & refuse to move on. Our egos stop us from letting go of incidences and forgive people or ask for forgiveness ourselves. We continue to hold grudges and misunderstand people who cross our paths.
We tend to remain bitter and start brewing negative emotions every time we think about that person or an incident. Is it really worth it? Our ego and the resultant behaviour is most destructive to us than anyone else. This demon we hold inside damages us, nobody else. Hence we need to kill this demon within to realise and accept any positive energies from outside.
Lord Ganesh knows that we human beings tend to turn a blind eye towards our negative habits and continue to demonstrate and practise them in our daily life. Therefore he comes every year to remind us of these demons inside us and asks us to get rid of them.
He encourages us to break the vicious cycle of these self-destructing habits by following these 5 Rs.
Realise – Realise that you are a victim of one of the above habits. Once the realisation comes in, half the battle is won.
Resolve– Be committed to making the change.
React – Take appropriate action in the right direction.
Repeat – Repeat the action every time you face a similar situation. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat till it becomes your new habit.
Reinforce – You will see a change in your attitude towards life and people, further reinforcing this new habit.
For more tips, read my blog 7 Harmful Habits You Need To Stop Now.
Therefore every year when you immerse Lord Ganesha’s idol into the sea, immerse all your negative habits along with him. That will be your true homage to Lord Ganesha.
May Lord Ganesh grant us the strength to do this and fill our lives with happiness and love.
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A big thanks to my sister Dr Minni Chadha for the artwork on the blog header.
The Ganesha paintings have been done by yours truly and my gratitude to my art mentor Shikha Vijai.
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Ganpati Bappa Morya!
This is why these 8 avatars of Ganesha are important for us.
Other Life Lessons Blogs