It is a time immemorial tradition to pray to Lord Ganesha before starting any new work in India and many other parts of the world. Lord Ganesha is a ‘vighnaharta’ or ‘obstacle remover’ and praying to him gives the strength and courage to face the new task with fortitude and He will guide us forward and also remove all the obstacles that might come our way.
prasanna vadanam dhyayet
sarva vighnopa shantaye
This shloka is recited as the first prayer, dedicated to Lord Vinayaka. Chanting this shloka is said to remove all the roadblocks in your path to help you achieve your goals.
The meaning of this shloka is this:
(We Meditate on Sri Ganesha) Who is Wearing White Clothes, Who is All-Pervading, Who is Bright in Appearance like the Moon and Who is Having Four Hands, Who is Having a Compassionate and Gracious Face, Let us Meditate on Him To Ward of all Obstacles.
Shri Garikipati Narasimha Rao, who I consider as my spiritual guru, has given a beautiful explanation to this shloka that I would like to share with you.
We are wholly responsible for the success or failure of any venture. Lord Vinayaka will not do your work, you have to do on your own. Put in your 100% efforts and that is all you can do. The obstacles of the path will be removed not by chanting the shloka but by following what the shloka says.
Shuklambaradharam: One who wears white clothes.
When starting any task, wear clean clothes. White here signifies pure or clean. When you are clean and fresh, you exude a confidence in yourself and others. That is the first step to achieve success. Imagine going to a meeting in dirty, crumpled clothing. The client is most likely to be put off by your appearance even before you present your case!
Vishnum: One who is All pervading
The Lord is all pervading, omnipresent and always aware. The meaning we must take from this is that we should be fully aware about all the aspects of the work that we are about to embark upon. All possibilities must be thought over and all procedures must be ready. To give an example, the exam will go very well, if you are ready with all the study material in your head!
Shashivarnam: One who shines as bright as the moon
The Lord shines like the full moon. The beauty of the full moon has been described by many a poet. It fills you with joy and hope. The radiance of the moon is a sight to behold. But there is one important aspect of the moon that we all choose to ignore when enjoying its beauty, and that is its mark. Everyone can clearly see that the surface of the moon has a dark mark that looks like a sitting deer, and it covers about half the face of the moon. We never care for that. The light of the moon is enough reason for us to forgive the mark.
The lesson we must take from that is that when we start any work we are bound to meet people or situations that are not entirely up to the mark. There may be imperfections that are glaring, but these have to be ignored and we must concentrate only on their good aspects and move on. The work at hand is more important than the mistakes of the people involved. Find a way around the imperfections.
Chaturbhujam: The One with four arms
Lord Ganesha (veritably all Indian Gods and Goddesses) is depicted with 4 arms, each holding a different thing. If you change the order of the things that the lord holds in His hands, mathematically speaking, there are only 24 combinations that can be made. This number is unique. According to Vedas, there are 24 attributes that make a unique human being.
- pancha mahaboothas or the 5 basic elements (earth, water, fire, wind and sky)
- pancha tanmatras or the 5 subtle energies of matter (touch, form, sound, smell and taste)
- pancha gyanendriyas or the 5 organs of perception (skin, eyes, ears, nose and tongue)
- pancha karmendriyas or the 5 organs of actions (arms, legs, mouth, anus and genitals)
- manas or mind
- buddhi or intellect
- chitta or memory
- ahamkara or ego
All of the above elements constitute each individual and hence the entire universe. All these elements cannot perform any activity without the presence of the soul or jiva. God resides in the soul. This is the essence of Hinduism. God is not different from you. God IS you.
That basically means if the outcome of a work has to be a success then it completely depends of how well you perform it. The matter is entirely in your hands.
Prasannavadanam: One with a gracious, compassionate and pleasant face
The Lord is ever-smiling and ever-loving. No worry lines mar His face. The work that we start must be with an attitude of compassion and graciousness. Of course there are bound to be some problems on the way. But the key is to solve them by being calm.
Dhyayet: we pray
This shloka makes us meditate on the Lord to shower His blessing on us at the beginning of any task. Any task will turn out positive when we keep hope and faith alive.
Sarvavighnopa shantaye: Keep all obstacles away
The compassionate Lord will remove all the obstacles from the task ahead, only if we follow the shloka word by word. The Lord will always guide a shining light only if we put in all the efforts from our side to make the task a resounding success.
May the Lord Vinayaka lead you to success in your every endeavor.