Sri Mahaganapati, the primordial puruSha known as brahmaNaspati, created four kinds of universe and initiated Mahadeva, Mahavishnu and Brahma with fourteen gANapatya Mahavidyas. The mantra of Mahaganapati, chief among these, is considered to be a mahAvidyA because of the following five reasons:
1. mahAgaNapati mantra is perfected before every other vidyA as it is the mUlAdhAra vidyA which is the starting point of one's spiritual journey [agrapUjyatva].
2. upAsaka of every other deity has to worship mahAgaNapati to get rid of obstacles. Without the grace of mahAgaNapati, upAsana is filled with obstacles [vighnAdhipatitva].
3. The mantra of mahAgaNapati originates from swAnanda loka, the abode of mahAgaNapati, which is indicative of the fruit of reciting the mantra – swAtmAnanda – bliss of the self [swAnandalokasthatva].
4. mahAgaNapati mantra is the essence of the four great mahAvAkyas – each of the four parts of the mahAmantra representing a mahAvAkya [mahAvAkyaswarUpatva].
5. mahAgaNapati is the Lord of the two shaktis – siddhi and buddhi, who represent bhoga and mokSha or Bhakti and jnAna. Thus, an upAsaka of mahAgaNapati mantra is blessed with both [siddhibuddhipatitva].
Sri mahAgaNapati assumed the form of gaNaka and initiated Sri Shiva into the royal path of gAnApatya. In satya yuga, 1000 gANapatya tantras were revealed by Mahadeva to Vishnu and Shiva. These were condensed by Shiva in the age of Kali into eleven gANapatya Tantras: gaNesha yAmala, siddhi yAmala, buddhi yAmala, siddhIshwara tantra, siddhisAra tantra, buddhisAraswata tantra, gaNesha tantra, ucChiShTagaNesha tantra, vakratuNDa tantra, mahAgaNapati tantra and DhuNDhi tantra.
The letter `ga' represents saguNa Brahman and `Na' – nirguNa Brahman. The primordial Lord who appears in both these forms is called `gaNapati'. As he is the Lord of pancha brahmas [Brahma, viShNu, rudra, maheshavara and sadAshiva], he is referred to as brahmaNaspati. The primordial Lord mahAgaNapati is present in his own universe, situated beyond other universes, called swAnanda loka. The imperceivable mAya of the Lord is present in the form of the shaktis, siddhi and buddhi. By the power of one's upAsana when chitta shuddhi [purity of the mind] is attained, siddhi and buddhi dissolve in the Lord and the resplendent form of mahAgaNapati shines brilliantly in one's heart as one's own self. The world without names and forms which is the residence of brahmaNaspati is called swAnandaloka [the universe
of the bliss of the self]. brahmaNaspati is worshipped by uttering the single lettered mantra revealed in atharvashIrShopanishad. gaNaka is the Rshi for this mahAmantra and Chandas is gAyatrI. The mantra should be recited after displaying the fourteen gaNesha mudras: danta, pAsha, ankusha, vighna, parashu, modaka, varada, abhaya, chakra, gadA, padma, chApa, laDDuka and bIjApUra.
From ekArNa gaNesha emanated 51 forms of the Lord representing the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet [mAtrkA-s]: vinAyaka, shivottama, vighnakrt, vighnahartA, gaNapa, ekadanta, dwidanta, gajavaktra, niraMjana, kapardI, dIrghajihva, shankukarNa, vrShadhwaja, gaNanAyaka, gajendra, shUrpakarNa, trinetra, lambodara, mahAnanda, chaturmUrti, sadAshiva, Amoda, durmukha, sumukha, pramoda, ekapAda, dwijihva, shUra, vIra, ShaNmukha, varada, vAmadeva, vakratuNDa, dwirada, shrIsha, kAmAndha, matta, vimatta, chanchala, jaTI, muNDI, khaDgI, vareNya, vRShaketana, bhaktapriya, gaNesha, meghanAda, vyApI and gaNeshwara.
The great Lord brahmaNaspati propitiated by the one lettered mantra is also called swAnandesha and from him originate four mUrti-s: gaNeshwara, gaNakrIDa, gaNanAtha and gaNAdhipa. Also, there are eight avatara-s of swAnandesha: vakratuNDa, ekadanta, mahodara, gajAnana, lambodara, vikaTa, vighnesha and dhUmravarNaka. From these mUrti-s, 100 forms of gaNesha originate resulting in 108 avatAras of swAnandesha.
gaNeshwara is always said to be immersed in yoganidrA. gaNakrIDa represents the life force of swAnandesha and the bliss aspect of gaNesha. gaNanAtha represents the formless [nirguNa] aspect of swAnandesha and gaNAdhipa, his saguNa [with attributes] form.
There are sixteen avatAra-s of gaNeshwara: siddhi-buddhipati, DhuNDhi, parAsharasuta, kashyapasuta, mayUresha, jnAnesha, panchakanyesha, panchadevavarapradesha, omkAresha, yogesha, kapila, vedanAyaka, sankaShTahAraka, dUrvA gaNesha, sindUra gaNesha and varada gaNesha. hiraNyagarbha, pashwesha, varada gaNesha, virAT-pati, puShThIshwara, mantrapati, jnAnesha, daityanAshaka, skandAgraja, vighnahartA, tattvesha, shaktinAyaka, mUshakesha, shaktisuta, shrIshavarada, shrIshaktivarada, prabhApati, ekAkshara, sUryarUpI, sUryaputraka, raktesha, shwetArka gaNesha, shUrpakarNa, chaturbhuja, lakShmIshwara, viShNurUpI, viShNvIsha, dharaNIdhara, dhUmravarNa, shambhurUpI, maheshavarada, kAla, pArvatIgaNanAyaka – these are the thirty-two avatAra-s of gaNakrIDa.
The sixteen avatAra-s of gaNanAtha are: shwetArka gaNesha, shamI gaNesha, gavya gaNesha, mandAra gaNesha, sumangala gaNesha, gajadanta, shoNabhadra, malaja gaNesha, kaTankaTa gaNesha, avimukta gaNesha, yakSha gaNesha, haridrA gaNesha, chandana gaNesha, sudhA gaNesha, lakSheshwara and lAbheshwara.
sahasravadana gaNesha, bIja gaNesha, trimukha gaNesha, ShaNmukha gaNesha, panchAsya gaNesha, sumukha, durgA gaNesha, kalpaka gaNesha, durmukha, kukShi gaNesha, bAla gaNesha, nidhida gaNesha, mahAgaNapati, aghora gaNesha, shAradesha guNesha, bhUtIsha, nRtta gaNesha, kRShNa gaNesha, lakShmI gaNesha, bhUmipati gaNesha, AshApUraka gaNesha, pAshapANi gaNesha, dhUmaketu, vahni gaNesha, vAyu gaNesha, vyoma gaNesha, AjnA gaNesha, jyeShTharAja, satya gaNesha, kShipraprasAda, (a)bhayaprada gaNesha, simhavaktra gaNesha, chaturAnana gaNesha, vrddha gaNesha and taruNa gaNesha – these are the thirty-six avatAras
There are also 32 forms of gaNapati known as the anga mUrtis of swAnandesha: bAla gaNesha, taruNa gaNesha, bhakta gaNesha, vIra gaNesha, shakti gaNesha, dwija gaNesha,, siddhi gaNesha, ucchiShTa gaNesha, vighna gaNesha, kShipra gaNesha, heramba gaNesha, lakShmI gaNesha, mahA gaNesha, vijaya gaNesha, nrtya gaNesha, Urdhwa gaNesha, ekAkShara gaNesha, vara gaNesha, tryakShara gaNesha, haridrA gaNesha, ekadanta, srShTi gaNesha, uddaNDa gaNesha, RNamochana gaNesha, DhuNDhi gaNesha, dwimukha gaNesha, trimukha gaNesha, yoga gaNesha, durgA gaNesha and sankaTahara gaNesha.
Each of these forms of gaNesha have different mUla mantras, veda mantras, gAyatri-s, yantras and AvaraNa krama-s. There is a particular fruit associated with the worship of each of these forms. These 112 mUrtis of mahAgaNesha are worshipped with their mUla mantras in the fifth AvaraNa of Srichakra [or in gaNesha panchAvaraNI yantra] along with gaNesha gurumaNDala, the four gaNesha yugamUrtis, and the five gaNesha AmnAyas. This worship of 116 mUrtis of brahmaNaspati is called mahA yAga in the vainAyaka tantra. Remembering these mUrtis of Bhagavan mahAgaNesha grants one the merit of visiting every tIrtha and kShetra on earth [gaNesha yAmala, 8-96]
kandarpAnantakAntam pRthutarajaTharam pItavastrottarIyam
vINAchakrAkShamAlA trishikhashukadhanuHpustakeShUn dadhAnam |
aShTabhirbAhupadmaiH shashadharamakuTam kIravAham trinetram
dhyAye vetaNDatuNDam marakatamaNibham bhImachaNDIgaNesham ||