The Truth of Sri Ganesha's Form
By Hilda Charlton & Sri Ganesha
"Behind all lore is truth.
While writing this book, I thought, "Can I write about Sri Skanda and not about his older brother, Ganesha, the first son of Siva?" Of course, I can't. With that in mind, my thoughts flew backwards to my early days in the Orient. I remembered saying in jest and fun to a newly found Hindu friend who had a picture of Ganesha, "Who would worship an elephant?" And I merrily laughed in fun, though not in ridicule.
A day later, while sitting in meditation, who appeared in my inner vision but an elephant with laughing eyes. I apologized and never made fun again. I have learned to love Sri Ganesha's form, but rarely in any statue have I seen it correctly carved, especially the face which, though full of mirth, is the epitome of wisdom itself.
When I had learned to appreciate, understand and love Ganesha's elephant form, He gave to me a gift to see Him as His True Self, as He is in His celestial abode. I awakened on the ceremonial day of His birthday. Ganesha stood there on my altar in all His splendor, in His princely celestial form. He looked very much like Skanda. I said, "You are so beautiful, as beautiful as my Skanda," and then I laughingly said, "Well, nearly as beautiful, not quite." He serenely smiled, and all day He remained in this glorious appearance. On the next day, He returned to His elephant form.
In Jaffna in southern Ceylon is an ageless, ancient temple, carved in beautiful stone. Inside is one small shrine which I often visited before going to see Yogi Swamigal, a great saint who lived in Jaffna. When I would go to him, he would always say, "Have you been visiting the stone swamis again?" I would say, "Does it matter?" and he would chuckle, "No."
At this particular time, I was having many troubles and felt I had reached the end of my rope. I wanted to go home, but was not given permission to return to the United States by the Masters. I walked up the three small stairs to the little shrine. It was very dark inside the inner sanctum, where a black carved stone statue of Ganesha in His elephant form was enshrined. I could not see the form in the darkness. With tears running down my cheeks, I heard myself call out, while standing in front of a Hindu shrine, "Jesus! Help me, Jesus! Please, Jesus! Help me!"
I thought I saw a movement within the shrine, as if someone inside was waving a black cape. I peered inside intently. To my amazement, I saw the large stone ears of Ganesha waving back and forth. The stone statue had come alive.
I was surprised, for I had called to Jesus, and both Jesus and Ganesha had heard my prayers. And as I stood there, I remembered the story of a saint who was asked by a woman to petition on her behalf to Mary. The saint then knelt before a shrine of Saint Francis and started to pray. The woman stopped her and said, "You are making a mistake. I asked you to pray on my behalf to Mary, not to Saint Francis." The saint answered, "All shrines are the same, for it is God who hears our pleas and answers them."
I walked away from the temple feeling that the world was all right. And as I went out into the sunshine from the dark, cool temple, I felt as if all the heavens had opened and God was one and had heard me.
I have pondered much on the true meaning of the form of Ganesha and have never found an answer that would clear my soul's yearning to know the truth behind His form.
One day I went to my room and laid down and said, "Ganesha, could you explain what I would like to know?" I fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly I was awakened by Ganesha and I heard Him say, "Take a pen in hand and write."
I did not move. He repeated, louder, "Take a pen and write."
This is what I wrote:
I saw a quick transition from Ganesha's serene face as an elephant back to a princely face like Skanda's, and back and forth, again and again, from one face to another. Ganesha continued:
After Ganesha finished, I came out from my room deep in thought. "Is this true, all that Lord Ganesha has said?" My eyes were drawn to a bright yellow pamphlet in the bookcase. I took it out. It was called The Glory of Ganapati (another name for Ganesha), written by Sri Vasishtha Ganapati Muni.
This book was new to me and I started to read it in amazement, because within this little booklet's pages was confirmation of all Sri Ganesha had said. The Hindu scriptures and the Bible were coming together in truth.
It said, "Ganapati represents the Primordial Sound from which all worlds have taken birth. He is the Lord of the Spoken Word, the Master of Speech." The Lord of Speech represents the sound 'Omkar,' or `Om.' This was reminiscent of the first verse of John in the Bible, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
I turned another page, and Sri Muni said, "The Image may look monstrous, grotesque [the same word used by Ganesha] to the ordinary vision, but to those who can really see, the divine beauty and harmony of form will be unfolded." He called Him "Prince Elder, the first-born." In the Vedas, the Hindu scriptures, the Creator of Word is in charge of creation, because all manifests from sound.
"Counted as first in the Galaxy of Gods, He occupies a unique place in the worship of the realm of yogic sadhana (spiritual effort). To rational minds, the half-animal and half-human form of the deity is the creation for a primitive age when man was first emerging from the subcontinent in an animal state. In this way, the Elephant was understood by those whose evolution was just beginning. To make the Godhead understandable at the time of Lemuria and before, they cast the idea, the power and the purpose of the Godhead into a figure or image. As Sri Aurobindo said, `The spirit in form, the soul in body.'"
Sri Muni continues: "Therefore the Gods came down from the Supreme Ether, to take their part in the cosmic functions, and also to descend to Earth and be born in the heart of man so there would begin to grow a relationship and intimacy and finally an identity between God and Man." Thus, Sri Muni's book confirmed all that had come from the wisdom of the diamond within, as told to me by Sri Ganesha.
The Bible also confirms this: "In those days there were giants in the Earth; and also after that, when the Sons of God came in unto the daughters of men." This was a sacrifice of the Celestials to help hasten the evolution of humankind.
Christian doctrine says that the Lord, the Father, is in heaven and sends the Son of God to bear the cross and lead humanity. This truth also is sustained through the work of the Perfected Beings. These Masters are high above, watching closely the progress of the Earth, and they manifest or send down their emissaries to help at the hour of need. The Planetary Beings are watching over us, ready to come to our rescue if necessary.
Therefore, many parts of the puzzle of life found in various scriptures have come together to make the picture more clear.
O Son of Siva, shining like a resplendent sun, a Prince, please keep Thy word to us and dispel the veil of darkness from all who read this book and let them be triumphant in combat with their inner battles and be unvanquished and know their own True Self.
I humbly bow before Thee,
My Beloved Prince Ganesha.
Charlton, Hilda. Skanda. New York: Golden Quest, 1989.