THE EDITOR: The poojas to Lord Ganesh have begun around the world. I offer the following piece of reflection on the significance of this festival at a human level.
One of the most important aspects of Ganesh Poojan is the making and installing of a murti of Lord Ganesh. Not only is the murti carefully and lovingly made, but in addition it is duly installed by the recitation of appropriate mantras that breathe life into the murti. As such in the process of installation it becomes for the devotee a living symbol of God. It is then worshipped for many nights after which it is submerged into the sea, pond or river.
The making of the murti of Lord Ganesh is a very important lesson in human development. Man has the power to create, to sustain and to transform. Indeed, every action or thought or word of an individual is either creating something, sustaining something or transforming something.
In the Hindu tradition, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh also recognises the significance of the principles of creation, existence and dissolution (transformation).
The efficiency of the universe will not be possible if those three principles are not operational. Similarly the efficiency and effectiveness of a human being depends on his/her ability to create, sustain and transform. However, such effectiveness and efficiency mean creating purposeful objects or positive thoughts or nourishing and nurturing speech.
The making of the murti of Lord Ganesh is an annual reminder of our ability to create and sustain purposeful objects, thoughts and words. By our own intelligence using the senses we have the power to perceive and envision perfection; by our own creative abilities, we have the ability and skills to create it, using the organs of action. By our own words like the mantras which are used to breathe life into the murti, we can all breathe life into all our relationships, into people.
By our words and actions we sustain life just like by our care and songs of devotion, we revere and worship the murti and sustain and maintain its beauty for the period of the festival. By our discipline and attitudes that uphold the best human values, we maintain an environment of sacredness and order, of harmony and peace of corporation and self-sacrifice in the presence of the murti we created, so too we are reminding ourselves that we are capable of doing the same throughout our lives.
The goal of human beings, the purpose of existence is happiness and (moksha), liberation from sorrow. This is not a wild dream, it’s a reality that is possible and achievable if, like in the making of the murti, we first envision beauty, then create it, and then sustain it. But like all things, when the purposefulness is fulfilled, when conditions change, we must also be prepared to change and transform. And hence there is dissolution, only as a process towards a higher level of perfection.
The making of the murti of Lord Ganesh and its worship and sustenance and eventual return to the waters is all about man’s ability to create, maintain and transform, always towards higher levels of perfection.
DR SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN via e-mail