[Advaita-l] Vinayaka(s)

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Sep 8 23:18:19 CDT 2016

On Tue, 6 Sep 2016, Kathirasan K via Advaita-l wrote:

> Namaste Bhaskarji,
> The Manavagrhyasutra states the names of the four Vinayakas: athāto
> vināyakānvayākhyāsyāmaḥ. śālakaṭaṅkaṭaśca kūṣmāṇḍarājaputraścosmitaśca
> devayajanaśceti. (2.14.1-2)
> which are śālakaṭaṅkaṭa, kūṣmāṇḍarājaputra, usmita and devayajana.
> Those of you who are familiar with Sanskrit can find full text here:
> http://gretil.sub.uni
> goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/1_veda/5_vedang/2_grhya/manavgsu.htm (look at
> 2.14 onwards for the section on Vinayakas and the effects they create)
> The Yajnavalkya Smrti states 6 Vinayakas: mita, sammita, śāla, kaṭaṅkaṭa,
> kūśmāṇḍa and rājaputra (1.285). It also states that the Brahma and Rudra
> appointed the Vinayaka to be the remover of obstacles (1.271). Look at the
> effects of Vinayakas curse in verses 1.272 - 276. However, this text
> eventually relates that Mahaganapati needs to be worshipped daily along
> with Aditya to overcome the obstacles.  The Yajnavalkya Smrti is available
> here:
> http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/6_sastra/4_dharma/smrti/yajn2_pu.htm

While in certain contexts specific lists of named Vinayakas may be given 
they should be probably thought of as numberless.  An analogy is how 
the Rudras are sometimes  spoken of as 8 or sometimes 11.  Or the 
Rudradhyaya of the Yajurveda speaks of the 10 Rudras of the east, 10 of 
the south etc.  The devata of these mantras is simply described as 

In many cultures of the world there are traditions of spirits who 
are multiple, mostly anonymous, yet intimately connected with rural life. 
They are not really "evil" per se but they are mischievous and capricious 
and if angered they must be appeased or they will cause problems and 
obstacles.  This is why Shankaracharya calls their worship as tamasik 
bhakti.  They are being worshipped out of fear that bad things will 
happen.  Rajasik bhakti such as towards the pitrs is worship done for an 
ulterior motive - to get wealth or blessings etc.  A Rajasik bhakta is a 
fair weather friend.  Happy to pray when the going is good but turning on 
Bhagavan the moment things take a turn for the worse.  Sattvika bhakti is 
done out of love only with no expectations of reward.

Panini mentions the grammatical rule that e.g Panchala can mean the people 
or land of Panchala or the King of Panchala.  Similarly Ganesh Bhagavan is 
called Vinayaka because he has power over these vinayakas.

Another significant observation that came up the last time this issue was 
discussed is that the examples given by Shankaracharya are not random. 
The Vinayakas, Matrkas and Chaturbhagini are part of the pantheon of the 
Vamashrotas.  This is not to be confused with Vamachara but one of the 5 
"streams" of Tantras emanating from Sadashiva.  (In this classification, 
Shrividya is part of the Dakshinashrotas.)  Unlike the troublesome spirits 
of folk religion this was a sophisticated sampradaya once prevalent from 
Kashmir and Nepal to the South.  It was however not Vedic.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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