Last week I gave you a bit of background on my connection with the deity Lord Ganesha.  As I researched more deeply I found that Ganesha is not only worshipped as one who removes obstacles, he also has the powerful ability to inspire the importance of one’s spiritual life. Many see the union of Ganesha’s body and elephant head as a representation of how the spirit should live in harmony with nature. His large elephant head is also an embodiment of wisdom and understanding. Ganesha  has four hands – one with an axe to cut off attachments, one with a rope to pull a person towards the highest goal,  one to reward with sweets those who live a life of spiritual discipline, and one held with the palm out to give blessings and protect those on the road to spirituality.

All of these elements resonate  deeply within me, especially during the recent pandemic when they proved to be a great source of strength and serenity.   Through the recommendation of Vishal during this dark time I started listening to and reciting a number of mantras. For those of you not familiar, a mantra is a sacred utterance, a  sound, a syllable, word or group of words in  believed  to provide spiritual succor.  You may have heard of the sound OM  which is the sound of the universe and the sound of creation. It’s also related to higher consciousness.

One of my favorite mantras that provides great relief is called Om Gan Ganapataye Namo Namah .  This mantra phrase is be repeated 108 times for maximum potency. It  extols the powers of Lord Ganesha and asks for his help in restoring balance, calming the mind, easing negativity and reducing anxiety.

Another of my favorite mantras is the very powerful Gayatri Mantra which calls out to the one Supreme Creator represented by the sound OM

Om Bhur Bhuvah Swaha
Taat Savitur Varanyam
Bhargo devasya dheemi
Dhio yonah prachodayat


You who are the source of all power,
Whose rays illuminate the world,
Illuminate also my heart and my mind
So that they too can do your work!.

It is quite beautiful as you can hear here:
Now to the most recent experience.   As you know in Madurai we visited the stunning Meenakshi Temple complex. Two principle sanctuaries exist inside – one for the Goddess Meenakshi (manifestation of Parvati) and one for her husband Sundareshwara (Shiva). Each  evening there is a procession where the goddess statue is brought to the sanctuary of her husband so they can spend the night together.  In the morning the procession reverses, bringing Meenakshi back to her sanctuary for the day.  This procession is led by a beautiful Asian elephant.  We weren’t allowed cameras inside the temple – but here are images from the internet (not asking questions on how these exist…):
After the procession, I was given an opportunity to be blessed by this elephant.  Standing humbly before him , I bowed my head and he gently lay the tip of his trunk on my head,  It was a powerful spiritual moment that overtook me and I did cry at the sheer magnitude of it.
There is more to the import of this event.  I had been singing the Gayatri mantra in my head that morning, not knowing what was to come.  A local Kochi guide started singing the Gayatri mantra to me in a most beautiful voice in a tuk tuk a few days after my Meenakshi visit.  And the kicker – for weeks before I started this latest journey through India I had been dreaming of being taken to a temple and blessed by an elephant.
There are no coincidences.

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