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Ucchishta Ganeshopasana

 

kAraNaparachidrUpAyai namaH
vAgvAdinyai namaH

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] In SrIvidyArNava tantra by Sri vidyAraNya, It is clearly mentioned that the ucciSta gaNapati upAsana will be effective only by the vAmAcAra methods.
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Srividyarnava is a compilation attributed to Sri Vidyaranya, like other works such as sadAchAradIpikA etc. Neither is it a Tantra nor a pramANa by itself. It is a compilation from various Tantras and other compilations, believed to be a work of Sri Vidyaranya. Again, not all accept this to be a genuine work of Vidyaranya. Also, in this compilation, Vidyaranya quotes from a certain Tantra [meru if I remember] which says ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA is effective only through the mode of vAmAchAra. This, is the opinion of one Tantra. But if that Tantra alsone serves as pramANa universally for every aspect of ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA, I am afraid not! There are various Tantras, like trikUTA rahasya, which vehemently declare the futility of srividyopAsanA, when practiced in modes other than uttara kaula. Now, if one were to accept this sole pramANa, daksha/samayAchara-s would need to be `trashed'. Thus, one cannot pick some quote from some Tantra out of context and use that as the `catch-all pramANa' for ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA. Moreover, these Tantras, which are vAma-para tantras, by stating that ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA is possible only through vAma mArga, are glorifying vAmAchAra and ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA and that alone is the intent behind this statement. Literal interpretation in this case, ignoring other pramANa-s, cannot be the right approach here.

uDDAmareshwara tantra, in several chapters, describes the special mode of worship of Sri ucchiShTa gaNesha, as taught by Sri Adi Dakshinamurti to Sanaka and others. Also, baDabAnala tantra lists the 37-lettered mantra of ucchiShTa gaNesha as one of the seven mokShaprada mantras while describing the fifteenth AvaraNa of kAdi krama tantra.

Apart from scriptures, the AcharaNa of satpuruShas and saints is a valid pramANa as well, as shamkha and likhita point out. We have had the glorious history of H H Sringeri Acharyas, the kAnchi paramAchArya, Sri Tanjore Sundaresha Sharma, Brahmasri Chidanandanatha and others who have practiced this mode of upAsanA and achieved Siddhi, which as clearly stated in uDDamareshwara tantra to be the goal of ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA, is swaswarUpa darshana.

So, the statement that ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA is purely vAmAchAra is baseless.

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] When any one approaches his guru for the first time, his intention would be in pursuit of the supreme god and mOkSha. The guru who is "swrUpa nirUpaNa hEtuh" is initiating with a mantra of some dEvata or dEva. This is because one should not/can not say any thing about god in an establishing voice. "kaula pratiShTam na kuryAt"
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The quote, na kaula pratiShThAm kuryAt, from kaulopanishad, simply means this: indescriminate preaching of the kaula doctrine is not permissible. The celebrated commentator bhAskararAya says: yadi kashchinnyAyopanyAsanipuNaH kaulaM sannyAyaireva sthApayituM kShameta so.api nemaM mArgaM pratiShThApayet, pRakaTyabha~NgApatteH | ata eva etat shAstraviShaye granthakArasyApi kaulapratiShThArUpatvena tatrApi niShedhapravR^ittyA sAmpradAyikAnAM katipayAmshAnAM aprakaTanAya gurumukhAdeva j~neyamiti tatra tatra lekhaH sa~NgacChate |

The intent of this pharse becomes clear from the above interpretation. So, what is the basis for the interpetation of the above verse as referring to anything regarding paramAtman or Atma swarUpa?

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] I dont understand how can any other god can give any one the 'mOkSha', when there is Siva and nArayaNa who are considered to be the sole distributors of mOkSha?

Please don't believe any of these gods. They will always be saying nonsensical promises. Trash every thing.
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What is the basis for your statement? Are not Aditya, ambikA and gaNesha as much of saguNa mUrtis of the one brahman as shiva and nArAyaNa? Cannot chitta suddhi required for the assimilation of jnAna be obtained by worshipping any one of these forms with devotion? If not, gaNesha, mudgala, pAdma, bhaviShyottara and other purANas, which are explicit pramANas in this regard, are proved false. There seems to be deep confusion regarding the mode of upAsanA and adhikAra bheda. If every tom, dick and harry were eligible for swaswarUpAnusandhAna, then what was the need for saguNa/pratIkopAsanA or Srividya Upasana or bahiryAga upAsanA? Also, when speaking practically, we need to clearly distinguish between Atma vichAra and upAsana, the latter being the sopAna leading to tattva vichAra. jIvamukhyapranalinganneti chet na upasatraividhyat asritatvadiha tadyogat -says bAdarAyaNa in his Sutra (1.1.31). From an understanding of this Sutra and its relevant commentary, it becomes established that upAsanA is a mental process or activity. Every upAsanA, including Srividya or ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA, are valid paths of worshipping saguNa brahman, and hence can be called as paths `leading' to mokSha. So, how can forms of saguNa brahman like shrI lalitA or shrI ucchiShTa gaNesha be `trashed'. If the scriptures promise `mokSha' by worship of these forms resulting in chitta shuddhi and eventually by tattva vichAra, why should the claim be doubted? If `these' gods cannot be believed, saguNa/pratIkopAsanA would be meaningless. shAstra clearly states, sAdhakAnAm hitArthAya brahmaNo rUpa kalpanA. Though the limitation of saguNa mUrtis is quite established, during the stage of saguNopAsanA, the bhAva of the upAsaka cannot be: "Ok, this form of God is not really the truth! It is only after I strip him of names and forms [of which I am not really capable now! Or else why would I indulge in any kind of upAsanA at all instead of relying solely on tattva vichAra?] that I can really extract mokSha out of him/her/it". Can any upAsaka progess in his upAsanA without a firm belief in his upAsya devata as being all-powerful and filled with anata kalyANa guNas? And would upAsanA lacking such bhAvanA lead one anywhere?

And which shiva and nArAyaNa are we talking of here? By saying shiva AND nArAyaNa, it seems that the reference here is to two `separate' saguNa mUrtis. How are these two particular mUrtis capable of giving jnAna when other mUrtis cannot?

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] The u. gaNesha worship originally has its origins with gANapatya-s. Please see the following note by a acquaintance of mine. Notes in bracket are mine.
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"The next great Acharya of the sect(gANapatya sect) was herambasuta, who founded the heterodox vAmAchara cult of gaNapati worship. They worship the form of gaNapati termed ucchiShTa gaNapati. He is mediated in a form, which may be viewed by many uninitiated modern Hindus and others as being very obscene."
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Apparently these are not shrIvidya upAsaka-s but worship u.gaNesha. So where does the shrIvidya requirement come from?
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Srividya is really a big umbrella. We have shrIvidyA dakShiNAmUrti, we have shrIvidyA rAjagopAla, and we have shrIvidyArupI ucchiShTa gaNesha. Even mahAgaNapati has been adopted in a Srividya-compatible form by Acharyas like Haradutta, who propagated vAnchA kalpalatA mode etc. Like stated earlier, the pramANa for this particular form of upAsanA is uDDAmareshwara Tantra. Yes, whatever is stated [regarding heterodox vAmAchAra etc.] is generally the *popular* way he is worshipped, but is it correct to assume that is the `only' way? ucchiShTa gaNesha, as explained in the phala sruti of ucchiShTa gaNesha mAlA mantra of rudra yAmala is worshipped as a brahmachAri, as with a consort, as one's own self etc., based on the qualification of the upAsaka. Also, he is worshipped as a pischAcha, yakSha, gaNa, rudra, gaNapati and ultimately as prakAsha-vimarsha samarasa swarUpa, again based on the qualification of the upAsaka. The last form, taught secretly from Guru to Shishya in dakShiNAmUrti sampradAya, insists of pUrNAbhiSheka before undertaking this advanced form of upAsanA. The qualification for undertaking this upAsanA is stated as: ramAdiShoDashIyuktaH dwAtrimshanmantrapAragaH. Here, Sri Lalita is visualised as Sri ucchiShTa mahAgaNapati and Sri Kameshwara as Sri Nila Saraswati. Also, the ucchiShTa pAduka peculiar to this form of upAsanA is called mahA mahA pAdukA or dakShiNAmUrti pAdukA. So, there is the gANapatya aspect and there is the Srividya aspect to ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA. The requirement is *true* in the case of Srividya aspect, both by shAstra pramANa and sampradAya.

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] If mokSha is what the sAdhaka desires there is no need to go this far and he has better things to do. Ex: Studying the shankara bhAShya-s and doing some serious AtmavichAra. Hence above statements are inaccurate IMHO. One doesn't need to specifically worship u.gaNesha to achieve mokSha.
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This again takes us back to the basic question of adhikAra bheda. If everyone were capable of tattva vichAra, where was the need for upAsanA at all? And all those who study bAdarAyaNa's sUtra and debate endlessly would get enlighetend. The Acharyas would not insist on upAsanA or bhakti if that were the case. So, sopAna krama is the only asnwer for most. mokSha can be attained by worshipping any form sincerely in the sense that chitta shuddhi, a pre-requisite for tattva vichAra as also the ShaT sampatti can be accomplished through such upAsanA. However, certain upAsanA modes have been found to be *more* effective by AchAryas and hence have recommended those to their disciples. shrIvidyA can be quoted as an example. Apart from `secular', `text book' statements such as `all paths are same', `all lead to the same god' etc., the energies associated, the time required for progress etc. are distinct. Of course, this is assuming that the sAdhakA is hypothetically a sincere one with all the required lakShaNas. Like jaggery can be described only by the one who has eaten it, the differneces between these various modes can only be realised by one who has practically gone through it. Rest can only be hypothetical. By experience, an ucchiShTa gaNapati upAsaka can vouch for how the movement of kuNDalini is rapid, blissful and foceful when compared to what is stimulated by other mantras. Yes, this is not the only way to mokSha but its validness as a tool for mokSha need not be disputed. One should observe that most Tantras describe along with other mantras, this particular set of mantras as kShipra siddhi prada. Though what is `siddhi' is something debatable, uDDAmareshwara Tantra, which discusses the Vedantic aspect of ucchiShTa gaNesha as the only true aspect, calls the entire set of chapters, `kShipra siddhi paTala'.

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] Undoubtedly this is an elevating interpretation. It gives a glimpse of the vedAntic(which is really a great thing)mind of the interpreter.

I personally like to know if there is any textual basis or atleast a traditional(sAmpradAya) basis for interpreting like above.

There seems to be a trend where everything has to be interpreted along vedAntic lines regardless of whether the texts warrant such an interpretation or not. There is no need to mix things as there is enough confusion already.
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Yes, kAdi dakShiNAmUrti krama tantra insists, as detailed in uDDAmareshwara and baDabAnala Tantras, on abheda between Srividya and ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA, in many ways. It establishes unity between Srichakra and ucchiShTa gaNesha mantradwaya, abheda between mUrtis of ucchiShTa gaNesha and Sri Lalita, aikya between navachakra - navAvaraNa - mantradwaya - Sridevi - Sriguru and upAsaka. The `avashiShTa' brahma vastu after the nAma and rUpa are dissolved, which is the prakAsha vimarsha samarasa swarUpa called Brahman or Sri Guru, is described as the swarUpa of ucchiShTa gaNesha. Again, the pramANa here is both shAstra and sampradAya. The same is described in guhya sahasranAma as utkR^iShTa shiShTa sadvastu, commented upon by H H Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrsimha Bharati Swamigal of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, faithfully recorded not only by Brahmasri Chidanandanatha of Guhananda Mandali, but also by Sri Balaganapati Bhatta, AshthAna vidwAn of Sringeri Sharada Peetham who was initiated into this upAsana by H H Acharya himself. One can also refer to the kriti in kAsIrAmakriyA, ucchiShTa gaNapatau, by Sri Muttuswami dikshitar, where he describes Lord thus: sacChabdavAchAswaRupiNi shabalIkrtabrahmaswarUpiNi chicchaktispUrtiswarUpiNi chidAnandanAthaswarUpiNi [in Venkataramana Iyer's version, it is chidAnandanAda swarUpiNi, also the version adopted by pAtti (DKP)].

The method of identification with Lord is taught through identification of:

1. Atman - Guru and Lord
2. Srichakra and 37/32 lettered vidyas
3. Mahashodashi and Srichakra
4. Mahashodashi and 37/32 lettered vidyas
5. Mahashodashi and Navachakras of the body
6. 32/37 lettered vidyas and Navachakras
7. Ucchishta Maha Guru Paduka with Srividya - Srimata - Srichakra - Sriguru and Sri Ganapati

This identification is described as Aikya Saptaka by Sarvamula Guru Sri Adi Dakshinamurti to SanakAdi Panchaka.

Also, I see vedAntic interpretation of upAsanA, while not deviating from it in essence by `trashing' saguNa swarUpa as useless, to be helpful and rather the right approach. It keeps one grounded, enculcates vairAgya and keeps reminding one of the need for AtmAnusandhAna when ready and brahmAvApti as the only goal of upAsanA.

 

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[Mr. Sceptasmo] The modaka or tAmbUla offered to the devata should be eaten and japa done without cleaning the mouth. Trying to fit it in above view of uchChiShTa will just get complicated here. Let us also not forget the context of the statement.
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As stated earlier, the rites and rituals prescribed vary based on the approach of the aspirant. This is what is prescribed in one Tantra, and for that mantra of ucchiShTa gaNesha which is not associated with Srividya. But how can this be the only approach to ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA? Moreover, the same Tantra which describes these also states that there are absolutely no rules for ucchiShTa gaNeshopAsanA [in the mantroddhAra chapter of rudrayAmala, which is one of the parishishTas of the pUrva tantra]

H H Paramacharya blessed Kalakkad Ramanarayanan with initiation into this secret form of upAsanA:

A saint whose realization can be compared only to Ramana – Sri Tanjavur Sundaresha Sharma - was another great exponent of this Vidya, honored by H H Acharya of Sringeri as 'Upasaka Shiromani'.

There is absolutely no need to justify the authenticity of this mode of upAsanA but I thought this would help the initiated upAsakas in getting all their doubts cleared. Finally, while delaing with upAsaka dharma, the Sruti says: lokAnna nindyAt. The Sutra also recommends, sarvadarshanAnindA. upAsaka who does not follow these cannot be called an upAsaka and those who are non-initiates have no authority/adhikAra in discussing modes of upAsanA due to lack of eligibility.