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Indian Culture Topics..

You are here : home > Indian Culture > Indian Festivals and occassions > Ganesh's Various Names

Ganesh's Various Names

Every Hindu god is known by numerous names and Ganesh is no exception. What is the significance of each of these terms?

'Ganpati Bappa Morya' (O Hail Lord Ganesh!) is the raucous refrain heard in every street of Maharashtra during the festival called Ganesh Chaturthi. The famous astrologer Bejan Daruwala holds 'Lord Ganesh' to be his guiding force. 'Gajanan' is the loving name that many attach to this food-loving Hindu god. According to Hindu tradition, all the names of Ganesh are to be uttered before embarking on a task, for success. However, there is a fascinating story behind every moniker.

1. Sumukh
This is a Sanskrit term meaning 'one with a beautiful face'. Ganesh is said to possess the beauty of the moon. His trademark long trunk indicates wisdom and intelligence, small eyes denote seriousness, and long flat ears (Deergha karma) signify that he gives equal attention to important events as well as complaints of devotees.

2. Ek Danta
This literally means 'one with a single tooth'. Apparently, once, before taking a bath, Parvati instructed Ganesh to guard the entrance. Lord Parashuram arrived while Ganesh was standing guard. He became furious and abused Ganesh which incited him to attack Parashuram in return. The Lord returned his attack and Ganesh ended up losing one of his teeth. Thereafter, Ganesh came to be associated with the doctrine called Adwaita, which maintains that reality is non dual.

3. Kapil
Kapil means 'of smoky grey colour'. This name has a metaphorical significance. Kapila in the scriptures is a cow of this colour. A cow provides us with healthy foods like milk, ghee, curd, etc. In the same way, Ganesh is said to give us knowledge (ghee), wisdom (curd), and expression (milk). This would make us mentally healthy and devoid of any worries or negative influences.

4. Gajakarna
The meaning of this name is 'one with ears of an elephant'. Ganesh's large ears denote that he is ever ready to listen to everyone's troubles. He, however, is said to pay no regard to useless matters such as gossip, which do not benefit mankind in any way. Devotees of Ganesh are to avoid hearing evil things, just like the god.

5. Lambodar
It means 'one with a large stomach'. This again is a metaphoric name. Humans can be divided into two categories. Some people can digest and retain in their minds all things of goodwill. But others are unable to assimilate anything. Ganesh's huge stomach denotes a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom.

6. Vikat
'Vikat' means ferocious or 'to be feared'. Ganesh has a fearful form as his torso is that of a human while the face is an elephant's. However, this fear is inspired merely to deter all evil forces and defeat them. It is a classic demonstration of the motto that people must be treated in the way that they themselves employ. Thus Ganesh is the lord of bravery.

7. Vighnanash
This means 'destroyer of all evils and calamities'. A related name is 'Vinayak' which means the same. Ganesh is said to remove obstacles in the path of those who pray to him honestly. Devotees also look to him to rid their minds of fear and cowardice.

8. Dhoomra Ketu
This means Agni (fire) or a shield of smoke. Just as Agni can destroy everything in its path, Ganesh demolishes all that hampers the philosophical and scientific progress of mind. A devotee seeks to gain strength from Lord Ganesh to achieve success in his endeavours.

9. Ganadhyaksha
This name has two meanings. The first is 'a controller of those things that can be counted'. The other is a controller of ganas (general public), nar (men) asurs (demons), nag (snakes), and chaturveda, that is, all the four Vedas. The popular name Ganapati is a diminutive of Ganancha Adhipati, which means, controller of the entire universe.

10. Bhalchandra
Bhalchandra means 'one who holds the moon on his head.' With the moon on his head, Lord Ganesh is said to ensure pleasure, peace, and coolness in the world. A peaceful mind doubles one's efficiency and chances of success. The moon is said to be a king of Brahmins (priestly caste of Hindus). Thus another symbolism would be that Ganesh holds with him all the knowledge of Brahma (The Creator).

11. Gajanana
The twelfth and the last name of Ganesh means 'one with the face of an elephant'. The small eyes imply that Ganesh misses nothing and views everything critically and acutely. It also points towards a generous nature. In a book called the 'Ganapat Sambahav' it is stated that both man and elephant have longevity of 120 years. Even men can reach this limit with dedication. Thus, Ganesh is believed to have formed a link between men and elephants through his incarnation.

Thus, known by any name, Ganesh remains as lovable and as inspiring as ever.

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Lovelu.6 years ago
wow interesting names of Ganesha. Each name has a unique meaning...I was glad to know the meanings of names of Ganesha
Parvarik.6 years ago
Each name of Ganesha has a story associated with it which is very fascinating. Ganesh fulfills all the wishes of his devotees, so we must worship him whole heartedly.
Jigna.6 years ago
Ganesha and his various names are really amazing. Like his names, he is unique and the most loved God. Worshipping him helps to get rid of all the worries and obstacles in life.
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