99 Thoughts on Ganesha : A nice book
Ganesha, Sanatana Dharma’s elephant headed deity is loved by many. Some like him as he is the one who removes obstacles, Some worship him as the manifestation of the Parabrahman, most of us as kids would have just loved the elephant head part of it and loved all those wonderful stories we heard about HIM from our grand parents.
What is the tattva of Ganesha? Why is he called the remover of obstacles? What are the stories surrounding his birth? What is it that makes Him so special in Sanatana Dharma? What is the significance of the various weapons he holds in his hands? What do the symbols and rituals surrounding Ganesha signify? Many questions.. aren’t they?
In his book “99 Thoughts on Ganesha”, Devdutt Pattanaik attempts to answer all these questions. He starts with Creation, moves on to the Family of the Lord, speaks about various Representations of Ganesha, then discusses various Stories and Symbols that surround the beloved son of Shiva and Parvathi. Devdutt then moves on to speak about famous Temples dedicated to Ganesha, the famous festivals we celebrate in reverence to Him, the Rituals we follow and the significance of those rituals. He also goes on to speak about the various literary texts available on Ganesha, then retraces some amount of history before speaking about the Spread of the Ganesha’s worship and concluding with the Wisdom section.
Devadutt is a master in the field of symbols and Hindu mythology, so we get to learn quite as we read the book. Each of the 99 thoughts are very crisp, precise and to the point, this makes reading an enjoyable experience. He provides some valuable insights, gives us some very interesting facts about the worship of Ganesha. Some facts he gives about the Ganesha’s worship outside India are really interesting and good to learn. He takes us all the way from Thailand in the east to Mongolia in the north, it’s worth reading about all those wonderful lands and all those wonderful stories prevalent in those lands.
What did I like the most in the book, I loved anecdotes on temples, I loved the 32 forms of Ganapati described in one of the thoughts, the research that went into the book is also adorable. Ganapati as Morya and stories surrounding Ganapati on the back of a peacock was really informative and some thing I did not know before. The description of AshtaVinayak is also real good and informative to read. I loved the insights Devdutt provided in the book. There are a lot more things I liked but the place here is limited.
Coming to the things I might be in disagreement with the author would be the ones related to the chronology and places where he says that Ganesha was a part of folklore and was not worshipped by the mainstream. I strongly disagree with this school of thought as even recitation of Vedas starts only with a prostration and worship to Ganapati. However, I agree to disagree with the author on this one point as this is one part of the book and the rest of the book has great insights on Ganesha.
Devdutt also speaks about Marathas and the way they carried Ganesha wherever they went. It was nice to read about them. The way Devdutt speaks about Tilakji and his contributions in making Ganesh Navaratri a celebration for everyone is real awesome. Do pick the book you will get to know a lot more about Ganesha.
May Lord Ganesha bestow his choicest blessings on all of us.
Om Gam Ganapathaye Namah
Incidentally this is the 200th post on this blog. May Lord Ganesha bless this blog and me.