Tuesday, July 13, 2010

At the Siva Temple in Polonnaruva a bronze statue of God Pillayaar (Ganesh) has been discovered...!!!


God Ganesh (Ganae Deiyo)
A link between microcosm and macrocosm :

Dr Senarath Tennakoon

At the Siva Temple in Polonnaruva a bronze statue of God Pillayaar (Ganesh) has been discovered.

The God is seen seated on a flowery seat. The statue has a huge long nose resembling an elephant trunk. He has one broken tusk. The torso is that of a man. The body is covered with hair. He sometimes wears a serpent as his sacred thread. The ears are long and big symbolizing erudition.

The huge pot belly symbolizes prosperity. There are four arms. These represent him as the universal ruler of four categories of beings - those that live only in water (aquatic animals), those which can live in both water and land (the amphibians), those which live only on land (terrestrial beings) and those which can fly like birds.

It is also believed that the four arms represent the four castes and the four Vedas. It is said in Vedic hymns that the four arms cause the movement of the four principles of the element.

One arm carries a shell another a discuss, the third a club or a sweet cake and the fourth arm carries a water lily.

The vehicle of Ganesh is a small rat quite a contrast to his huge physical body weight. The rat is successful gnawer and eats it way until the target is reached overcoming every obstacle. The rat represents the skill, courage and potential of Ganesh in destroying every obstacle.

The elephant sized body also depicts his strength and power to pas through thick wildernesses, uprooting trees, smashing every obstacle and reaching the end of every desired objective.

The mouse is also the symbol of the all-pervading Atman (soul) within the heart of every being that lives in the hole called the intellect within the heart of every being (Kailash, 1993).

Ganesh has several names. Some names are, Ganapathi (lord of the tribe or attendants), Vighnesvara (controller of all obstructions/obstacles), Vinayak (the prominent leader) Gajanana (the elephant - faced one), Gajadipathi (the lord of elephants) Lambkarn (the long - eared one) Lambodar (pendent - bellied one) and Ekadant. (One with one tooth). He is also known as Pillayaar and is the brother of God Skanda.

His parents are God Siva (father and Parvathi (mother).

The Elephant God is the unity between microcosm and macrocosm as it represents the Small being the man with the Great Being the elephant (Kailash, 1993).

Ganapathy is looked upon as the Lord of beginning, the very embodiment of the material universe and presides over the intellect.

He is venerated by every Hindu with deep affection.

Ganesha Chaturthi is the traditional Jayanthi/celebration that is observed on the fourth day of the new moon in the month of Avanthi (August-September) when the image of the God Ganesa is invoked by performing abishakam (anointing the image of the God) and alankaram (decorating), offering pujas and prasadams (offering gifts) followed by aarti (waving of lighted camphor during a puja) and namaskaram (worshiping).

This jayanthi is observed with great piety and joyfulness.

It is believed that according to the Puranic version that once during the long dark night of God Brahma, the Great God appeared in the form of OM to recreate the universe. The vibrations of OM appeared in the form of a beautiful soft illumination which is regarded as the first appearance of the Sn. The sound of OM was embodied in the form of Ganesha, or by his numerous other names.

There are several legends about the Elephant Face God. There are three legends about his elephant head. One says that his mother Parvathi asked Shanti (Saturn) to have a look at her child forgetting the evil power of Saturn's looks. Saturn's look at the child completely burnt the child's head into ashes. Brahma advised Parvati to replace the head with any object that she sees first.

It happened to be an elephant and its head was fixed to the child's body.

Another myth observes that Siva (Ganesh's father) once slew Aditya the son of a sage.

One of the seven great Rishis called Kashyap became very angry with Siva. So as to punish Siva, he cut off his son's head and fixed the head of Indra's elephant to the headless torso of Siva's son.

Yet another declares that once Parvathi after taking a bath threw the water to the Ganges river where the elephant headed goddess Malini swallowed this water. She gave birth to a baby with four arms and five-elephant heads. Siva claimed this child to be Parvathi's son. Subsequently Shiva reduced the five heads to one elephant head.

The mythical explanation of Ganesh's solitary tusk is interesting. Once when Parusuram (an incarnation of God carrying and ace as his weapon) was on his way to Mount Kilash (the anode of Siva). At that time Siva was sleeping and Ganesh was at the entrance. Ganesh opposed the entrance of Parusuram and there was a fight between the two.

Ganesh threw Parusuram with a swift swirl. Parusuram initially lost consciousness. But on quick recovery Parusuram threw his axe at Ganesh which injured one of his tusks. It is said that the axe that Parusuram carried has been gifted to him by Siva and Ganesh recognized it as his father's weapon and tried to receive it with all humility.

Another legend says that the moon and the other twenty-seven asterisms began to cast jokes and laugh at Ganesh's pot belly. Ganesh was very angry. He broke one of his tusks and threw it at the moon. It is believed that the moon gradually became dark due to this injury caused by Ganesh's tusk.

There is a legend to express the high intellect of Ganesh. A competition among all the gods was held. The task was to select the god who could return first after traversing right round the universe. So the gods started to run right round the universe. But Ganesh with his heavy pot belly could not run.

His vehicle too was a small rat. What he did was he just went round his parents (Siva and Parvathi) and stood at the starting point of the run. He was declared the winner as it was held in tradition that one who goes round his parents and touches their feet traverses the whole universe.

Ganesh is worshiped first before other gods in every religious ceremony. It is said that Parwathi cried when her son got an elephant head and Brahma made a rule so as to pacify her grief by asking the devotees to worship Ganesh first and then the other gods.

Ganesh has to wives. One is called Siddi (Success) and the other is known as Riddi (Prosperity).

On all religious an cultural and private functions Ganesh is worshiped first. Except in funerals Ganesh is gratefully respected and honoured.

There is another very interesting legend about his broken tusk and his vehicle the rat.

Once a powerful demon named Gajamukan who has achieved great power and strength through penance was terrorizing the gods and sages. They appealed to Siva for salvation. The task fell on Ganesh who broke one tusk and hurled it at Gajamukan. It hit him very hard and roused his anger.

Gagjmukan rushed at Ganesh in the form of a huge rat the musika hoping to kill Ganesh. Ganesh caught this rat and made his vehicle. This legend also makes a constructive hint about seizing opportunities and making them for ones benefit and never to miss challenging opportunities in life.

The ten-day festival of Chaturthi that includes fasting ends with the ceremonial immersing of Ganesh's images in the sea/water. It symbolizes his return to Satchidananda (eternity-knowledge and bliss, the spiritual qualities of the Lord (Bhagavan) and of the minute, eternal living entities (jivas).

God Ganesh is believed to cause obstacles as well as to remove them, withdraw or bestow success and ignore or satisfy ones desires. In such a manner Ganesh seems to guide the human beings through the universe.

Ganesh is the embodiment of wisdom to whom Vyasa dictated the great epic Mahabharata. The Mahabharata is not merely a historic work but it reflects the dynamic cultural life of India (Radhakrishnan, 1973). Ganesh is accepted as the god of learning and the patron of letters (Kailash. 1993).

His image is seen in the numerous Hindu temples, house entrance gates, business places and numerous other religious as well as civil places. Often his symbol is observed at the commencement of literary works like books and other written and printed documents. Invoking the blessings of Ganesha is an essential step on the occasion of a child is first reading the alphabet.


1. Duraswamy Sivanandini (1997) Remembering Hindu Traditions, M.D. Gunasena & Co. Colombo.

2. Kailash Nath Seth (1993) Gods and Goddess of India, Diamond Pocket Books, New Delhi

3. Radhakrishnan. S (1973) Our Heritage, Orient Paperbacks, Kay Kay Printers, Delhi


More on Saiva Sidhantham
Thilaka V Wijeratnam

There are two songs of Thirumanthiram, the composition of Saint Thirumodar, which seem to talk of the same idea. But a closer look shows there is a difference in thought.

The first song goes as follows:

Ponnai maraithathu Ponnani Poodanam

Ponnin marainthathu Ponnani Poodanam -

These two lines mean - we see a gold ornament. We can see it in two ways - One the design of the gold ornament - next we see the value of the gold itself.

The next two lines go as follows:
Thannai maraithathu than karanamgalam,
Thannin marainthathu than karanangalai.

In these lines the saint says when one is worldly and is involved in materialism, one forgets oneself - one's Athma, When one thinks of the Athma, the world and all its delusions (Maya) are forgotten. While this is so in this stanza the next stanza has a similar thought.

Marathai maraithathu mamatha yanai,
Marathin marainthathu mamatha yanai

We see an elephant (yanai) sculptured in wood

If one looks at the handiwork and sculpture one misses the wood

If one analysis the quality of the wood, one misses the sculpture.

The next two lines say,
"Paraithai' maraithathu Parmuthat Pootham,
Parathin marainthathu Paarmuthat Pootham

These lines mean the Supreme spirit. Superimposes the world if you think of that supreme spirit, and if you think of the world the supreme spirit is superimposed by the world.

These thoughts in the two stanzas are explained thus:

A person is neither a male or a female - ali or hamaphodite. If the male characteristics are more prominent the individual is considered a male, and if female characteristics are more prominent the individual is a female.

This is a simple explanation to bring out the fact that what we see, feel or realise is due to our mental state the maturity or rather spiritual maturity.

According to saint Thirumoolar, that Athma is hidden by thoughts of the world and worldly pleasures.

Spiritual Maturity
Thiru Meikandar says nothing can be in space without a support. The Athma is like a swing. The tree is its support . If the rope breaks down, gravity will pull it down. Same way athma is dangling between delusion (maya) and God.

The swing is the athma. The tree that supports it is Maya. Once this bond is broken that is, on spiritual maturity, then the pull of the Divinity will bring it down to God.

Thiru Meikandai quotes another example. The flood waters is held back by a bund. Once the bund is broken, the water rushes out to merge with the sea. So is the athma held back by so many desires and attachments which are referred to as 'Pasam' in Saiva Sidhanatham. When the athma becomes spiritually mature, it, the athma - the jeevathma merges with the Paramathma - the supreme spirit.


In this book 'Psalms of a Saiva Saint' the author, T Isaac Thambyah, Christian scholar referred to the hymn of saint Thayumana Swamygal. Thambyah translated 366 songs composed by the saint in English in verse form.

In his book of 500 pages Thambyah speaks of the antiquity of the Thamil Language the Sidhanthams, the saint's life history, and such relevant facts. It took 15 years for the book to be completed and published.

It is no surprise that a christian wrote on Saiva Sidhantham. Arumuga Navalar a strong and staunch Saivaite translated the Bible into Thamil. Scholars are above petty differences be it caste, creed or religion. Now what made Isaac Thambyah write on Thayumanavar's holy songs!

In his own words:

Of all the beautiful and meaningful songs composed by poets in Thamil Nadu, Thayumanavar's songs give me much pleasure to read. The choice of words in which he speaks of Saivasidhantham, the sweet sounding words, the meaningful words, are actually a garland of words for God to wear. He had spoken of the religion as a means of lifestyle. That is why in any country where Thamil is spoken, his songs are praised by all and sundry.
Isaac Thamyah quotes the song:
Thayumanavar's song that touched the
heart of the scholar -
Sollatkariya Paramporule
Sugavarithiye 'Sudarkolunthe'
Vellatkariya mayalil enai
Vittenku Olithay? Ah! ketten;
Kallil pasiya naar urithuk
Kaduhil periya kaal adaikum
Allil kariya anthahanarku
Aalakinayo ariyene!

The meaning of the song:
O! Lord none can describe thee
Thou art well placed O! bright flame
Thou has left me in delusion
Which cannot be defeated
And then thou art hiding
Oh! I am lost

I have been made as one blinded by ego to think

Fibres can be pulled out of a stone

And the wide ocean could be blocked by a mustard seed

Thou hast made me such a man blind with ego -

I know not why

Thambyah says the saint speaks from the heart words flow spontaneously echoing the feelings of his heart. That is why his compositions are well received and appreciated.

Lake House Copyright © 2010 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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