One of the most popular deities in the Hindu pantheon is Vinayakar (or Ganesa or Ganapati), the God of good beginnings, who embodies knowledge and spiritual growth, as much as prosperity and happiness. In this feature, we explore the concept of Vinayaka through stories – some known, some new, but all interesting.
This feature is spread across 6 pages, and you can use this index to jump to a section, or read sequentially (this index is on all pages).
1 | Vinayakar Lore
2 | Origins of Vinayakar
3 | Vinayakar Iconography
4 | In the World of Gods and Celestials
5 | Vinayakar Worship
6 | Vinayakar in Tamil Nadu temples
1 | Vinayakar lore
In the south, particularly in Tamil Nadu that this blog focuses on, Vinayakar is not just a secondary deity. While there may be fewer temples dedicated to Him, virtually all Siva temples, and even some Perumal temples (more on that, below), feature Vinayakar. This means that there is often some legend or puranam connected with Vinayakar.
In Vedic literature, there is of course, the Ganesha Puranam. While not one of the 18 main puranams, is an upa-puranam, and deals with the mythology, genealogy, yoga, metaphors etc associated with Vinayakar. In addition, every region of India has its own stories on Vinayakar (who is also known by different names).
Finally, Vinayakar’s influence can be seen beyond India too – perhaps because Bharata Khanda covered a vast expanse of land – across modern-day countries such as Afghanistan, Tibet, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. He is also present more than sporadically in places like Mauritius, Fiji, and parts of West Indies, where Indians migrated to in the past. Again, each of these places has their own specific lore on Vinayakar, and each is as interesting as the next.
For the purposes of this feature, and in keeping with the theme of this site, we will confine ourselves mainly to Vinayakar in Tamil Nadu, and some interesting information, insights and related puranams.
Notes: Most links work, but some may not, if I have not yet written about those temples; these will be updated in the near future. Hope you and Vinayakar will pardon this. Also, in many cases, I have appended names of Vinayakar as the heading for the story. These are not necessarily the actual reason behind the name, but the one I felt was most appropriate for the context.
Next: Origins of Vinayakar