Malas and Mantras – Om Ganesha
“Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha”
This mantra is a salutation to the remover of obstacles Lord Ganesha.
Ganesha is one of the most popular and well known deities honored throughout India and Hindu cultures. Easily recognizable, Ganesha has a large elephant head and pot-bellied human body. Ganesha is also the God of success and revered for his wisdom and cleverness. These qualities combined with the ability to remove obstacles lead believers to a ritualistic practice of invoking Lord Ganesha before beginning any auspicious work or activity, having faith that he will bless the path of new ventures.
I was given this mantra a few months ago from one of my teachers when we sat down for an ayurvedic consultation. As we talked and I confided about where I was in life physically, mentally and spiritually, he suggested beginning each day with this mantra. Hardships and hang-ups are a part of life. Difficulties will always arise, and our choice is simple– we can either face them or run away. Chanting is one way to face the obstacles with a clear vision.
Using Japa, meditative repetition with mantra, I was to chant for an entire mala – 108 times every morning. Mala beads are traditionally used for prayer in Hindu and Buddhist religions, and each strand contains 108 beads or seeds. The number 108 comes from the idea that we have 108 major nadis (energy channels) that meet in the sacred heart center. By chanting a mantra 108 times, the energy is believed to permeate the entire body and energy body.
Sometimes when I sit to chant, I envision my known obstacles, fear/anxiety/self doubt, being crushed by Ganesha’s giant trunk. On other days, I dream imagery of Ganesha walking through a jungle noticing all of these barriers and just moving around them, creating new paths for me to walk down. Chanting this simple mantra only needs a recognition and awareness of obstacles (maybe you don’t even know the exact nature) with the intention for resolve.
Many worry or feel uncomfortable about chanting to different deities because of conflicted beliefs or religions. It’s important to remember that we aren’t so much chanting to them as we are chanting to invoke the characteristics and qualities they embody. In this case, Ganesha represents multiple qualities but specifically abundance, as destroying obstacles creates a clear path between you and your ideal. If chanting Sanskrit still isn’t your thing, you can try positive affirmations or find a word you resonate with. Maybe it is “strong”, or “determined.” Chant that word or phase for a few minutes in the morning and see how it shapes or influences your day. One of the things I like best about yoga is that it’s a continuing experiment– what works for one person doesn’t always work for the other. You have to keep exploring and cultivating your own practice to find what fits your lifestyle and beliefs. Happy exploring… and I’d love to hear what has worked for you!
Mala beads image from Shutterstock