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Thread: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

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    Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Namaste,

    I wonder why Ganapathi pooja is very important even for Vaishnavas... Not only Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated, but also Ganapathi is worshiped in many poojas, such as Satyanarayana pooja. Infact, almost any pooja I can think of begins only with an invocation to Sri Ganapathi. I wonder why this is so for Vaishnavas? Does anyone know?

    Thank you.

    BTW: I like Ganapathi very much and include him in my daily prayers.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Namaste,

    None who is serious in pursuit of moksha through SriVaishnavam is supposed to worship a deity other than Lord Narayana, as instructed clearly and unanimously by the Alwars and Acharyas. The instruction is Ananya shEshatvam to Lord Vishnu only or absolute dedication without deviating even in dreams. Statements from Bhagavad Gita is pointed out where Sri Krishna denounces worship of other gods and say that they get their powers only from Him and so there is no need to go anywhere else.

    You may, however, find quite a few iyengars that are Sri Vaishnavas by birth only and not by heart worshipping Lord Ganesha, Navagrahas, Sai etc due to family/society influence. I was once told by an iyengar that her family tradition is to visit Lord Vaideeswaran (Shiva) temple when a child becomes an year old.

    Many Hindus subscribe to a popular belief that Lord Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles is to be prayed to before starting any task. We don't see any pramANA for this in the shAstrAs.

    Also I can't speak for other Vaishnavas but with what I have observed I am sure that none of their Acharyas like Madhvacharya, Sri Chaitanya etc require them to worship Lord Ganesha first.

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Thank you, jignyAsu, that clarifies my doubt.

    In my family, we observe Ganesh Chaturthi, and it seems many Vaishnavas do so too, for example, I even checked the "Iyengar Calendar" online at https://www.trsiyengar.com/id36.shtml and it lists Vinayaka Chaturthi. (I am a Sri Vaishnava by birth).

    It is not that I am against worshiping Ganesha, but I do find it strange that why Vaishnavas should worship Shaiva deity, when Shaivas do not celebrate any Vaishnava festival. I like Sri Ganesha (for that matter, I like all Hindu deities), but my ishta-devata is Sri Rama and I do not even worship other forms of Sri Vishnu (except for celebrating appropriate festivals), so it is quite strange to me we are observing Ganesh Chaturthi.

    I noticed that even in Pittsburg Sri Venkateswara temple, there is a sanctum for Sri Ganesha. Why this is so?
    Last edited by Viraja; 20 August 2013 at 12:44 PM.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Viraja,

    I think I skipped a point here. As SriVaishnavas we do worship other deities but only in Vedic Yagnas, Sandya Vandanam etc and not outside of this. To worship a deity other than Sriman Narayana or consuming prasad in their temples where they are worshipped as being a Jagat Karana (original cause) or Moksha Pradana is actually considered a downfall.

    Many including iyengars would remark at this as begin intolerant of other deities but that is just sheer nonsense. Sincere one pointed devotion cannot be hatred. I was a former devotee of Lord Ganesha myself. The last time I was at his temple, I bowed down to him and said that I don't think I will return - that was indeed my last.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    I do find it strange that why Vaishnavas should worship Shaiva deity, when Shaivas do not celebrate any Vaishnava festival.
    Your observation is correct. There is a lot of misinformation floating around. There's nothing wrong in being a Shaiva or a Vaishnava but half baked knowledge is the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    but my ishta-devata is Sri Rama and I do not even worship other forms of Sri Vishnu (except for celebrating appropriate festivals)
    Parasara Bhattar Ghostiyo?

    One thing I would like to add about Madhva Sampradaya is that even though Sriman Narayana is the highest for them, as far as my understanding goes if one worships Him directly then it is considered arrogance. One has to respect the "soul" hierarchy and report to Him through their next highest only like Indra, Rudra, Brahma. But definetely Lord Ganesh is not in the list.

    Gaudiyas like Iskcon do not care about worshpping other deities but don't consider it as being counter productive either.

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    I noticed that even in Pittsburg Sri Venkateswara temple, there is a sanctum for Sri Ganesha. Why this is so?
    The reason is very obvious. In USA, we don't have many Hindus required to generate the revenue for maintanence of a temple. Therefore we have temples having different deities to attract the crowd. For me personally I don't like temples where all deities are in the same temple but most Hindus actually prefer that.

    Pomona Sri Ranganatha temple is amazing in the sense that it has managed to acheive a solely dedicated Lord Vishnu temple but with great struggle and efforts, I hear. Even then Pittsburg temple doesn't deviate much from the tradition, with Lord Ganesha installed in a separate sannadhi downstairs. The upcoming Sri Venkateshwara Lotus temple in Virginia is also solely dedicated Vishnu temple.

    One should clarify SriVaishnava practices not from these US temples but from our 80 or so South Indian Divya Desas only. None of these have Lord Ganesha. Some do have other deities like Lord Shiva etc but due to some specific reasons mentioned in the Sthala Purana.

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Thank you, jignyAsu, a great post!

    I like Pomona Sri Ranganatha temple very much, although I've been there only once about 5 yrs ago.. Really that temple underwent much struggle being dedicated only to Sri Vishnu? I heard they do every Vaishnava function there very thoroughly and especially near Vaikunta Ekadasi, those festivities are of very grand scale and elaborate (the 'pagal-patthu' and 'raa-patthu'). Surely Sri Vishnu has all the blessings for such a grand temple!

    You must be very correct, saying out here in USA, they have sanctums devoted to many deities from several traditions together. That is why I wondered about Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh, because the only sanctums there are of Ganesha, Sri Venkateswara and mother Mahalakshmi. But Pomona temple would be a good example for a proper temple for Sri Vishnu!
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Namaste

    Shrimad BhAgvad Canto 11, Deity Worship.


    SB 11.27.27: One should worship, in order, the Lord's Sudarśana disc, His Pāńcajanya conchshell, His club, sword, bow, arrows and plow, His muṣala weapon, His Kaustubha gem, His flower garland and the Śrīvatsa curl of hair on His chest.

    SB 11.27.28: One should worship the Lord's associates Nanda and Sunanda, Garuḍa, Pracaṇḍa and Caṇḍa, Mahābala and Bala, and Kumuda and Kumudekṣaṇa.

    SB 11.27.29
    durgāḿ vināyakaḿ vyāsaḿ
    viṣvakṣenaḿ gurūn surān
    sve sve sthāne tv abhimukhān
    pūjayet prokṣaṇādibhiḥ

    With offerings such as prokṣaṇa one should worship Durgā, Vināyaka, Vyāsa, Viṣvaksena, the spiritual masters and the various demigods. All these personalities should be in their proper places facing the Deity of the Lord (abhimukhAn)

    PURPORT by Shrila PrabhupAd
    According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the Gaṇeśa and Durgā mentioned in this verse are not the same personalities present within the material world; rather, they are eternal associates of the Lord in Vaikuṇṭha. In this world Gaṇeśa, the son of Lord Śiva, is famous for awarding financial success, and the goddess Durgā, the wife of Lord Śiva, is famous as the external, illusory potency of the Supreme Lord. The personalities mentioned here, however, are eternally liberated associates of the Lord who reside in the spiritual sky, beyond the material manifestation. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī quotes from various Vedic literatures to prove that the name Durgā may also indicate the internal potency of the Lord, who is nondifferent from Him. The external, or covering, potency of the Lord expands from this original Durgā. The Durgā of the material world, called Mahā-māyā, assumes the function of bewildering the living entities. Thus a devotee should not fear becoming polluted by worshiping the Durgā mentioned here, who has the same name as illusion, but rather the devotee must show respect to these eternal servitors of the Supreme Lord in Vaikuṇṭha.

    _/\_

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post

    PURPORT by Shrila PrabhupAd
    According to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, the Gaṇeśa and Durgā mentioned in this verse are not the same personalities present within the material world; rather, they are eternal associates of the Lord in Vaikuṇṭha. In this world Gaṇeśa, the son of Lord Śiva, is famous for awarding financial success, and the goddess Durgā, the wife of Lord Śiva, is famous as the external, illusory potency of the Supreme Lord. The personalities mentioned here, however, are eternally liberated associates of the Lord who reside in the spiritual sky, beyond the material manifestation. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī quotes from various Vedic literatures to prove that the name Durgā may also indicate the internal potency of the Lord, who is nondifferent from Him. The external, or covering, potency of the Lord expands from this original Durgā. The Durgā of the material world, called Mahā-māyā, assumes the function of bewildering the living entities. Thus a devotee should not fear becoming polluted by worshiping the Durgā mentioned here, who has the same name as illusion, but rather the devotee must show respect to these eternal servitors of the Supreme Lord in Vaikuṇṭha.

    _/\_
    Namaste Smaranamji,

    Thank you for the clarification, I now understand that Sri Ganesha is an eternally liberated associate of Sriman Narayana in Vaikuntha, who lives in the spiritual sky. But this view is not so much heard-of in Vaishnavam? I have not read any work anywhere about Sri Ganesha's association in any kind with Lord Sriman Narayana? Where can I learn more about this?

    Thank you.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    All I have heard of is that some Vaishnavas view Sri Ganesha as the amsa of 'Vishwaksena' or 'Senai Mudaliyaar', the chieftain of Sri Vishnu's army. Infact, it has been said once Shaivas and Vaishnavas fought over a vigraha of Sri Ganesha, with Shaivas claiming it is theirs' as it was Ganesha and Vaishnavas claiming it saying it is Vishwaksena. Is what you are saying, that Sri Ganesha being a liberated associate of Lord Sriman Narayana in Vaikuntha same as Ganesha being Vishwaksena?

    Thanks again.
    jai hanuman gyan gun sagar jai kapis tihu lok ujagar

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    Re: Ganapathi pooja in Vaishnavism

    Quote Originally Posted by Viraja View Post
    All I have heard of is that some Vaishnavas view Sri Ganesha as the amsa of 'Vishwaksena' or 'Senai Mudaliyaar', the chieftain of Sri Vishnu's army. Infact, it has been said once Shaivas and Vaishnavas fought over a vigraha of Sri Ganesha, with Shaivas claiming it is theirs' as it was Ganesha and Vaishnavas claiming it saying it is Vishwaksena. Is what you are saying, that Sri Ganesha being a liberated associate of Lord Sriman Narayana in Vaikuntha same as Ganesha being Vishwaksena?

    Thanks again.
    The verse that Smaranam posted seems to indicate that Sriman Narayana has to be worshipped along with His eternal associates, whom we refer to as Nitya Suris. I am not able to map the Names properly but in general the Nitya suris are many. One thing to note is that these associates are not worshipped seperately as a prime deity of a temple but only as His subordinates using Vaishnava Agamas. Sri Vishwaksenar is worshipped as the leader of all the Suris in yagnas etc, at the start of all Vishnu Yagnas.

    Regarding elephant faced Nitya Suri, the Sri Vaishnavas worship one called Gajananar - He has a Thiruman and His tusk is not broken. He is celebrated as Vishwaksenar's minister in Vishnu Sahasrana slokham - yasya dwirada vaktrAdyAH.... NathamunigaL is considered to be His amsam. I believe there is a Sannadhi of the Nitya Suri somewhere - in Tirumala or so. He is not to be confused with the Rudra GaNa Vinayaka.

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