From Back to Godhead
Lord Ganesha is well known for removing obstacles from the path of pure hearted souls.
Gokarna, a temple town in Karnataka, also known as Gokarna Mahabalesvara, is famous for the presence of one of the twelve jyotirlingas of Lord Siva. Lord Ganesha is said to have established this linga. The glories of the deity of Vinayaka Ganesha of Gokarna are described by Sri Vadiraja Mahan in Tirtha prabandhah, paschima prabandhah:
dustanam vighnakarta sucarita
tasmad vighnadhipo ‘ham mata iti
sudhiyam spastam ajnapanaya |
satatam bhuri gauri tanujah ||
Dustanam vighnakarta Vinayaka states: “I spoil the intentions of the bad, wicked and evil-minded people.”
sucarita sujanastoma vighnapaharta “I am the destroyer of the hurdles on the path of sadhus, pious people.”
Tasmad vighnadhipo ‘ham “Therefore I am called the king of hurdles.”
The truth is that Ganesha removes all obstacles on the path of pious, satvik souls, and creates hurdles on the path of evil persons. There is an interesting story in this regard which is related to the establishment of Gokarna. Here Ganesha helped the demigods overcome a great obstacle.
Once Ravana, the great atheistic king, went to Lord Siva’s abode, Kailasha. On reaching there, he began to shake it violently with his mighty hands. This created a great disturbance among the various planetary systems of the universe. On seeing this, Lord Shiva pushed Kailasha downwards thus trapping Ravana’s hands underneath. In great distress, Ravana cried for help and begged forgiveness.
Lord Shiva is also known as Asutosa, one who is easily pleased. On hearing Ravana’s desperate pleas, Lord Shiva forgave him. Ravana then offered prayers glorifying Lord Siva, and Lord Shiva then gave him a siva-linga and blessed him by saying that as long as he possessed this linga, he would be invincible. Siva, however, also warned him not to place this linga on the ground until he reached Lanka because once he placed it on the ground, the linga won’t move. Ravana then immediately proceeded toward Lanka.
When the demigods learned about the benediction Ravana had received, being fearful they requested Ganesha for help. Ganesha agreed. When Ravana was on his way, he stopped to take a bath at Gokarna. Ganesha, in the disguise of a brahmana boy, appeared before him and offered to hold the linga until Ravana finished his duties. So Ravana gave the linga to Ganesha. As soon as Ravana went to take his bath, Ganesha installed the linga at that place.
When Ravana came back, he tried his best with all his might to lift the linga, but failed. While trying to lift the linga, it took the shape of an ear of the cow and so it is known as “Gokarna” and as Ravana exercised all his might to lift it up it is also called Mahabalesvara.
This story is narrated in the Skanda Purana, Brahmottara Khanda, chapter 202.
The Brahma-samhita (5.50) explains how Ganesha derives his power to remove obstacles from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda:
yat-pada-pallava-yugam vinidhaya kumbha-
dvandve pranama-samaye sa ganadhirajah
vighnan vihantum alam asya jagat-trayasya
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
Translation: “I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda. Ganesha always holds His lotus feet upon the pair of tumuli protruding from his elephant head in order to obtain power for his function of destroying all obstacles on the path of progress in the three worlds.”
A devotee who is aspiring to obtain pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead may pray to Ganesha to remove all impediments on the path of spiritual progress.
vakratunda mahakaya suryakoti samaprabha
nirvighnam kuru me deva sarvakaryesu sarvada
Translation: “Vinayaka (Ganesha) is effulgent like millions of suns. In all our matters, we pray to him to remove all our hurdles and impediments.”
Special prayers on Ganesha chaturthi
Srila Madhvacarya describes in his Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya, chapter 20, that Ganesha was born to Rukmini Devi and Sri Krishna as Carudesna.
Lord Krishna married 16,108 queens and settled in Dvaraka. Rukmini, Satyabhama and Jambavati were among the principal queens. Each of the 16,108 queens gave birth to ten sons and a daughter. Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.61.8-13) lists the names of the sons born to the main queens.
carudesnah sudesnas ca carudehas ca viryavan
sucarus caruguptas ca bhadracarus tathaparah
carucandro vicarus ca carus ca dasamo hareh
pradyumna-pramukha jata rukminyam navamah pituh
Translation: The first son of Queen Rukmini was Pradyumna, and also born of her were Carudesna, Sudesna and the powerful Carudeha, along with Sucaru, Carugupta, Bhadracaru, Carucandra, Vicaru and Charu, the tenth. None of these sons of Lord Hari was less than his father. Carudesna mentioned here is an incarnation of Ganesha or Vinayaka.
bhanuh subhanuh svarbhanuh prabhanur bhanumams tatha
candrabhanur brhadbhanur atibhanus tathastamah
sribhanuh pratibhanus ca satyabhamatmaja dasa
sambah sumitrah purujic chatajic ca sahasrajit
viyayas chitraketus ca vasuman dravidah kratuh
jambavatyah suta hy ete sambadyah pitr-sammatah
Translation: The ten sons of Satyabhama were Bhanu, Subhanu, Svarbhanu, Prabhanu, Bhanuman, Candrabhanu, Brhadbhanu, Atibhanu (the eighth), Sribhanu and Pratibhanu. Samba, Sumitra, Purujit, Satajit, Sahasrajit, Vijaya, Chitraketu, Vasuman, Dravida and Kratu were the sons of Jambavati. These ten, headed by Samba, were their father’s favorites.
One who recites the above verses describing the sons of Lord Krishna, and understandes that Vinayaka was born to Rukmini Devi and Sri Krishna as Carudesna, will acquire great virtue.