A Hymn to Him? Him, whom the entire Hindu world remembers before beginning anything anew; Him, whom Gauri-shankar, the parents of the universe (jagatah pitarau) praised for His wisdom ; Him, whom all the Gods, Goddesses, humans and other beings bow for removal of obstacles; today is the auspicious Sri Ganesh chaturthi.
Last year I reminisced my childhood days during Ganesh chaturthi celebration (see here). How the wonderful Lord Ganesha, who shines like a freshly risen sun (nava-udita-arka bhaasvaram) enlightened me of a fact of life! And, alongwith, in a lighter vein, I had talked of kozhukattai, the delectable sweet dish. I must confess here that my complaint(!) was well taken as challenge by one of our devotees of Ladysmith sub-centre, who exactly reproduced kozhukattai to my great wonder and delight too, as per the recipe! Ganesha bestowed on her siddhi (success) in her earnest attempt.
The worship of Ganesha was made an integral part of Hindu tradition by Adi Shankaracharya; It tells us about the panchaayatana puja. Five deities – Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti and Surya – are taken together for daily worship. Skanda that is Lord Murugan is also added bringing a title of great honour viz., shanmata sthapaka – “Founder of six Faiths” for Adi Shankaracharya.
I find our Centre in SA has published a Prayer Book which is very popular among our devotees and even among other organisations too. It has excellent hymns compiled by Swami Shivapadanandaji, the second President of our Centre. Its contents are neatly classified into Prayers, Bhajans and Kirtans, Stotrams and Aratis.
Generally hymns play a vital role in the evolution of spiritual life. As a child you start reciting it again and again along with the elders in the family and without any extra effort the whole hymn becomes byheart. The ideas of the hymn remain in the mind when you grow up. I remember vividly how I used to join the recital of hymns with my mother and other elders in the family, by the process of which several hymns became strongly embedded in memory. One such hymn was Ganesha Pancha-ratnam. The other was some captivating songs from the enchanting Thiruppugazh.
Now let me tell you about the hymn called Ganesha pancha-ratnam – the Gems-five on Ganesha. The author of this exquisite hymn on Ganesha is our eternal Guru Adi Shankaracharya. The metre, language, and the thoughts are exceptionally elevating to our bhakti mood. This poem is composed in a metre called pancha-chaamaram, which has four quarters of sixteen syllables each, and has a scheme of short-long-short-long syllables. The dance experts say that this ‘tadhIm-tadhIm’ gait endows it with a brisk, marching gait (imagine Ganesha walking!). The learned further add that the poets of the past exactly knew how to choose metres, and sounds which conveyed the import of the poem, not just lilting lyric.
This has been sung, creating a soul-satisfying experience, by no other than Karnatic maestro M S Subbulakshmi.
It would be wonderful if our devotees in SA as well as in other countries who do not know this particular hymn on Ganesha, can learn it. In order to get the tune for this hymn, I give below the youtube link for Ganesha pancharatnam. While listening to the tune, one can follow the words of the hymn given hereunder. I am thankful to Chennaionline.com for the English translation of the hymn.
Mudaa karaatha Modakam Sadaa Vimukti Saadhakam
Kalaa dharaava tamsakam Vilaasiloka Rakshakam
Anaaya Kaika Naayakam Vinasitebha Daityakam
Nataasubhaasu Naashakam Namaami Tam Vinaayakam
Meaning: I prostrate before Lord Vinaayaka who joyously holds modaka in His hand, who bestows salvation, who wears the moon as a crown in His head, who is the sole leader of those who lose themselves in the world. The leader of the leaderless who destroyed the elephant demon called Gajaasura and who quickly destroys the sins of those who bow down to Him, I worship such a Lord Ganesh.
Nateta raati Bheekaram Navodi taarka Bhaasvaram
Namat Suraari Nirjaram Nataadhi Kaapa Duddharam
Suresvaram Nidheesvaram Gajesvaram Ganeshvaram
Mahesvaram Samaashraye Paraatparam Nirantaram
Meaning: I meditate eternally on Him, the Lord of the Ganas, who is frightening to those not devoted, who shines like the morning sun, to whom all the Gods and demons bow, who removes the great distress of His devotees and who is the best among the best.
Samasta Loka Shankaram Nirasta Daitya Kunjaram
Dareda rodaram Varam Vare Bhavaktra Maksharam
Krupaa karam Kshamaakaram Mudaakaram Yasaskaram
Manaskaram Namaskrutaam Namaskaromi Bhaasvaram
Meaning: I bow down with my whole mind to the shining Ganapati who brings happiness to all the worlds, who destroyed the demon Gajasura, who has a big belly, beautiful elephant face, who is immortal, who gives mercy, forgiveness and happiness to those who bow to Him and who bestows fame and a well disposed mind.
Akimchanaarti Maarjanam Chirantanokti Bhaajanam
Puraari Poorva Nandanam Suraari Garva Charvanam
Prapancha Naasha Bheeshanam Dhananjayaadi Bhushanam
Kapola Daana Vaaranam Bhajaey Puraana Vaaranam
Meaning: I worship the ancient elephant God who destroys the pains of the poor, who is the abode of Aum, who is the first son of Lord Shiva (Shiva who is the destroyer of triple cities), who destroys the pride of the enemies of the Gods, who is frightening to look at during the time of world’s destruction, who is fierce like an elephant in rut and who wears Dhananjaya and other serpents as his ornaments.
Nitaanta kaanta Dantakaanti Mantakaanta Kaatmajam
Achintya Rupa Mantaheena Mantaraaya Krintanam
Hrudantarey Nirantaram Vasantameva Yoginaam
Tameka Danta Mevatam Vichintayaami Santatam
Meaning: I constantly reflect upon that single tusked God only, whose lustrous tusk is very beautiful, who is the son of Lord Shiva, (Shiva, the God of destruction), whose form is immortal and unknowable, who tears asunder all obstacles, and who dwells forever in the hearts of the Yogis.