Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Know Your Ganesha

Interesting facts about Lord Ganesha

Ganesha: The first deity to many, the beautiful child GOD, the naughty looking kid next door and the giver of knowledge, the remover of obstacles. Lord Ganesha is every kid's favorite. His very face is cute and attractive. The elephant face gives him a special aura and this has given the elephant, as an animal, a special status.

We pray to Ganesha as he is believed to be the one who removes obstacles. So, he is the First God getting our first obeisance. Any start to make it good and auspicious, we invoke Ganesha' blessings. There are various kinds of enacting done while praying to this lord. Tapping our temples with our knuckles, doing thopukaranam are some of them. There are enough reasons for this.

Why do we tap our temples with our knuckles?

When Lord Ganesha was entrusted to bring Kaveri from the kamadalam(water pot) of sage Agastya, he took the form of a crow. As the sage was meditating, the crow flew by and hit the kamandalam. The pot fell and water flowed out as the river Kaveri. This upset the sage and he set out to catch the crow. When he was about to catch the bird, the lord revealed his true form as Ganesha. Some stories say that the sage folly and as an act of seeking pardon, tapped his temples asking for forgiveness. This is why, we do the same act of tapping our temples asking the lord to pardon our sins. As we do, we have to say the following sloka:

"Shukla ambara dharam, Vishnum, shashi varnam , Chaturbhujam
Prassan vadanam dyayeth, sarva vigna upa shantaye"

Why do we do thoppu karanam?. 

A rather funny act of holding the right ear with the left hand and vice versa, cross our legs and do some sit-ups. This also has an interesting story.

Once, when Lord Vishnu came to see Shiva, the Lord in his playfull mood, snatched the Sudarshana chakra from Vishnu and put it in his mouth, Lord Vishnu did many things to get it back. Even Lord Shiva could not help him. Finally, Vishnu held his ears with his hands crossed, and started to do some sit ups. This amused lord Ganesha and he laughed out loudly, when the disc fell out. In this way, lord Vishnu got back his chakra. But there are certain things which people do in a wrong way.

How many times should we tap our temples? 

Not too many times. Exactly five times corresponding to the 5 attributes of the lord in the slokam

"Shukla ambara dharam - One who is wearing a white dress"
Vishnum - all pervading
shashi vranam - who is as fair as the moon
chatur bhujam - The four armed
Prasanna vadanam - who has a pleasing face"

This action is said to stimulate certain nerves within the head to catalyze the flow of amrita (nectar) from the sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head.

According to shastras, the thoppu karanam must be done only by men and not by women.
And when we do pradakshinam, one need not do 3 or 5 or 7 etc.

Every GOD has a count of pradakshinams. For Ganesha , it is just one. So, you see, He is an-easy-to-please child GOD. Just like how kids are overjoyed by small gifts, Ganesha also gets extolled by our small acts of prayers.

How do we do pradakshinam?

Well, for many of us, it is a marathon race, fast and quick steps. We all do it as a mundane act. Actually, pradakshinam to any god must be done very slowly just like the walk of a fully pregnant woman. And while doing it, we must recite the slokas and concentrate of the meaning of it.

So, the next time we visit a Ganesha temple, let us remember these points and try practicing them.



  1. Hi I am researching for the Thoppu karanam practice. May I ask if you have sources used in this blog? thank you

  2. The information on Ganesha is from upanyasams heard and books read. There is a book "Sandeha pariharam" by Shri. Rajagopala ganapadigal. It is a good book for clearing out doubts