The idea of idol worshipping is an ideal and valuable gift, which we have got from the great sages and philosophers. Before idol worshipping everyone use to do the worshipping of total universal divine knowledge by concentrating mind through meditation. It was very difficult to concentrate on unknown or unexpressed total divine knowledge because it is really difficult for a common person to acquire the power of total divine knowledge. The great sages who had seen the idol shapes or forms in their meditation, tried to built those shapes as idols we see now a days. A human being's mind remembers about anything quickly when it is defined properly, when the object has boundaries of its own or it has a well defined shape. The shape of an object is defined in the form of idol, which can be fixed in the mind. It is easy for a common person to concentrate one's mind on an idol. After practicing to concentrate on idol at one point of time suddenly idol vanishes and feeling of total divine knowledge takes place. The forms of idols are accepted almost in all the religions all over the world. Some important shapes of different gods are accepted and worshipped in Hinduism like Lord Ganesha, God Brahma, God Vishnu, God Shiva etc. In Hinduism there is no specific rule about the shape an idol, but more importance is given to emotions or feelings or sentiments of devotion. Puja or worship to an image of a God with different things like fruits, flowers, water, panchamruta etc. the Sanskrit word puja is come from the Dravidians. 'Pu' means flower and 'ja' means do. The actual meaning is a flower religious service or worshipping. In Hinduism every day, in the morning people have practice of idol worshipping of their adorable God. There is a shrine in every family where one can find the idols of different Gods and Goddesses, which are normally facing towards the direction East or West. One will see 'Panchayatan' in almost every family. 'Panchayatan' means group of five Gods/Goddesses kept together. 'Panchayatan' Gods are Lord Ganesha, God Shiva, God Vishnu, God Surya and Goddess Shakti. The arrangement of the 'Panchayatan' is done in such a way that the particular God is placed in the middle of the other four Gods. (eg. God Shiva's Panchayatan-God Shiva is placed in the middle and others are placed at a fixed location around the God Shiva's idol.)
The importance of namasmaran is endless. Name or Nam is a figure of speech. Nam is name of God and smaran means to remember the God with his name. Great saints of India namely Tukaram,Shankaracharya, Dyaneshwar, Ramdas and many others were doing the propaganda of namasmaran. Namasmaran helps to maintain and to improve mental as well as physical state. One can take nam anywhere anytime and in any situation. There are many names of Lord Ganesha. Nam and God are not different. Namasmaran is not restricted for religion or cast. Anyone in the world can do the namasmaran of any God and can achieve the peace of mind. Nama-jap or namasmaran helps to restrain the mind and cures neurasthenia completely. Gurudev Ranade said nam is a symbol of carrying spiritual energy and therefore the process of namasmaran is the process of constant identification with the divine. One can control the bad thoughts by the potent power of thoughts. This power one can achieve by the namasmaran. Namasmaran helps the students in studying, reading, improving observation, writing and to maintain clear/pure thoughts. Namasmaran helps to improve will power, ones ability, skill, well-versed, practical knowledge and intelligence.
How to do namasmaran ?
One can select any of the following nam and try to practice the same:
- | Shri Ganeshay Namaha |
- | Shri Gajanan Jai Gajanan |
- | Morya |
- | Namo Herambha |
- | Namo Gajanan |
- | Shri Mayureshwaraya Namaha |
- | Shri Mahaganapateye Namaha |
- | Shri SiddhiVinayakay Namaha |
One can do namasmaran anywhere, anytime start doing it from now, everyday. If one doesn't get time in busy schedule of work then try to do when you are travelling or whenever you get thoughts in your mind, or whenever you are taking bath or you are eating. Whenever you are doing namasmaran try to see your beloved idol or photo of Lord Ganesha. One can use any seat for doing namasmaran, which is comfortable. For getting maximum benefits in short time, one can use a seat of wool or a seat made from hey(Darbhasan) or a seat made from skin of tiger(Vyaghrasan). If someone is not well and bed-ridden he can also do the namasmaran in sleeping position. In the early stage of namasmaran one will have lot of thoughts in mind and will not be able to concentrate on nam but keep on doing. Try to forget all the thoughts which comes in mind and try to hear the sound of nam you are saying. This will take you in the stage where you will hear only the nam and see only the beloved God. Nothing can disturb you. One must take the experience and have the peace of mind.
One important way of Lord Ganesha's upasana is Vratas(vows and observances) by which one can try to get blessings form Lord Ganesha and achieve the peace of mind. There are special three days in a year which are celebrated as Lord Ganesha's birthdays. They are different incarnations of Lord Ganesha. One is in the month of Vaishakha(name of the month in the Marathi calendar) and it is the fifteenth day of the month. Second is in the month of Bhadrapada(name of the month in the Marathi calendar), fourth day. Third is in the month of Magh(name of the month in the Marathi calendar), fourth day. There are some puja's which are also known as vows of Lord Ganesha:
- Lord Ganesha's Vrata for Twenty one days - One can start it on Shravana Suddha Chaturthi and ends it on Shravana Vadya Dashmi. Between these twenty one days, one can offer Lord Ganesha 21 durvas, 21 types of flowers/patries, 21 pradakshinas(circumambulation), 21 Ardhya(water), 21 modakas. Give then modaka's to Brahmin and complete the vrata.
- Sankashti Chaturthi - There are two halves of fifteen days each of a month(in Marathi calendar). First half is known as 'Shuddha' and the second is known as 'Krishna'. Sankashti Chaturthi comes in the second half of every month. It is on the forth day of the second half. Sankat means problem. Chaturthi means fourth state. One can overcome all the problems doing this vrata. Lot of Hindus in the state of Maharashtra do this vrata. It is very simple and powerful Chaturthi means fourth state. Lord Ganesha is in the fourth state and one will able to reach up to that state. That is the reason why Chaturthi is so important. A person doing this vrata should do fasting for the entire day. In the morning perform a Panchopachar puja with Panchamrita. Follow the same in the evening after taking bath. One can end the fast in the night after seeing the moon. Try to do nam-jap on that day.
- Angarakhi Chaturthi - Any Chaturthi which comes on Tuesday is called as Angarakhi Chaturthi. One can follow the practice given in Sankashti Chaturthi. There is a story behind this. A great devotee called Bhavme had red skin, who did penance for thousand years and got a boon. Bhaume means son of Earth(Bhumi putra). Bhaumevar is Tuesday. So it is called as Angarakhi.
- Satya Vinayak puja -
- Other simple vratas -
- One can go to Lord Ganesha's temple for 21 days continuously.
- One can go to temple and perform 21 pradakshinas(circumambulation).
- One can do consecration of water with saying 21 times hymn Athrvashirshas.
- One can offer Lord Ganesha 21 durvas everyday before eating anything.
- One can say hymn Sankatnashan Stotra in the morning, afternoon and evening.
- One can go to Lord Ganesha temple every Tuesday.
- One can offer beloved flowers like Mandar, Rose to Lord Ganesha.
- Lord Ganesha Yaga -
- Ashta-Vinayak Yatra - Doing pilgrimage of Ashta-Vinayak is also a vrata. As mentioned in the Shastras one should start the pilgrimage from Morgaon and end the pilgrimage at Morgaon. (Morgaon, Pali, Mahad, Thevur, Lenyadri, Ozar, Ranjangaon, Siddhatek and again Morgaon.) But one can start from any place from the Ashta-Vinayak as per the convenience. There are many travel companies conduct two/three days tour to cover all the places from Ashta-Vinayak.