Tamil Hindu Encyclopaedia -11 கணபதி வழிபாடு (Ganapati Worship)—Post No.11,361


Post No. 11,361

Date uploaded in London – 16 OCTOBER 2022                  

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The big debate that is going on for long  in Hinduism is “Ganapati/Ganesh,  A New God or Old God?”

Sanskrit followers answered this question long ago by quoting “Ganaanaam twaa ganapatihum hawaamahe…….” from the Veda. Like Aum, they recite this first and then start Vedic recitation. In 2000 year old Sangam Tamil literature there is no mention of Ganapati/Ganesh. He is also known as Vinayakar or Pillaiyaar in Tamil.

We find more Ganesh temples in Tamil Nadu and more Anjaneya temples in North India. This shows the traditional belief is more important than scriptures. We know Hanuman/Anjaneya is not a Vedic God.

Let us look at Tamil Ganesh/Ganapati first and resume our argument.

No Sangam poet worshipped Ganesh; No Sangam poem mentioned ‘the word Siva’ too! Like we find Nama Sivaaya in Yajur Veda only, Nama sivaaya is found only in Tamil devotional poems from sixth century CE. But like Rig Veda mentioning Siva with other epithets, Sangam Tamils also used other words for Siva.

The reason I am dragging Lord Siva into Ganesh controversy is, one word is not enough to give Yes or No answer.

One must remember neither Tamil Manikkavasagar nor the world-famous Sanskrit poet Kalidasa mentioned Ganesh


Only one reference ஒரு கை முகன் தம்பியே

In Tamil book Tiru Muruka Aatruppadai (tirumurukaatruppatai), one of the 18 Sangam books, the supplementary part has a word ‘Our Kai Mukan’  (literally One Hand Faced) ஒரு கை முகன் தம்பியே

mentioning Lord Ganesh. Since this is in part of the seventh stanza in the Pathikam (decad), later day researchers took it as later an appendix. But all Sanskrit and ancient Tamil literature mentioned Lord Skanda/ Kartikeya/Muruga, younger brother of Ganesh, in several places.


Is there any indirect reference to Lord Ganesh in Tamil?

My personal research shows ‘Yes; there is a reference’.

Kabilar or Kapilar is the most celebrated Brahmin poet in Sangam Tamil literature. Many poets praised him as a Brahmin without five sense dirt . that is, he was a saintly person without any weakness that affect all human beings. He is the poet who contributed largest number of poems in Sangam literature. He is famous for his Sangam book Kurinjip paattu, which mentioned 99 flowers at one go. It is an imitation of Meghaduta of Kalidas (Tamil scholar Reverend G U Pope said it). A North Indian Sanskrit speaker by name Brahma Dutta ridiculed Tamil language. Kapilar became angry and taught him Tamil through Sanskrit and composed Kurinjippattu to show him that he can even beat Kalidas. Brahma Dutta apologised and became a great Tamil poet and his poem is included in Sangam literature.

That famous Kapila’s name is nothing but Lord Ganesh’s name. The 16 names of Lord Ganesh are recited at the beginning of every Puja/ritual in Hinduism. And one of the 16 names is Kapila.

It begins with Sumukais Ekadantasch Kapilo Gajakarnakah………………………….

There is another proof in Sangam literature to show Kapila is Ganesh.

 This poet Kapila translated Bhagavad Gita verse ‘Patram Pushpam Phalam Toyam’ (B G 9-26)  and incorporated into the Purananuru (naanuuru) anthology in verse 106:

கபிலர் (புறம் 106); நல்லவும் தீயவும் அல்ல குவி இணர்ப்

புல் இலை எருக்கம் ஆயினும்,உடையவை

கடவுள் பேணேம் என்னா; ஆங்கு,

மடவர் மெல்லியர் செல்லினும்

கடவன் பாரி கை வண்மையே

Direct translation:

Erukkam puu (flowers of Calotropis gigantea) with inflorescence and leaves is not considered one of the puja flowers; but yet god wont reject it if you offer it. Philanthropist Pari is also like god; he would not reject (send back) anyone bad or poor

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति |

तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मन: || BG 9-26||

patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayachchhati

tadaham bhaktyupahritam ashnami prayatatmanah


BG 9.26: If one offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I delightfully partake of that item offered with love by My devotee in pure consciousness.


The name of the poet is Ganesh/Kapila. He mentioned only Erukkam Pu; that is offered only to Lord Ganesh in Tamil Nadu; on the day of Ganesh Chaturthy we find garlands of Erukkam flowers sold in nook and corner of Tamil Nadu. Other days no one would touch it; exactly what Kapila said in verse 106. Why should Kapila suddenly remember this flower? the reason is he himself offered it to Ganesh; and God did not reject it. His name being Ganesh, the compiler included this poem in Purananuru.

And though the original commentary mentioned only Erukkam flower plant, Tamil grammar allows me to split it into three புல், இலை, எருக்கம்,

Pul is grass; Arukam Pul, most favourite grass to Ganapati; Ilai is leaf; 21 different types of leaves offered to Ganesh on the Chaturthy Day (I have given the list in one of my articles). Since Kapila put all together in one line, he remembered only Ganesh Chaturthy when he composed this very short poem.

What is my conclusion? Ganesh worship existed even during Sangam days. But it became very popular when the army Commander in Chief of Pallava country Siruththondar brought it from Vatapi (vaataapi). That made Muthu Swami Dikshitr, one of the Music Trinity, to compose Vaataapi Ganapatim Bhaje. That is the first song taught to all music students in South India.


How Gods become popular in India?

Hinduism is very flexible. That is the basis for its success in the world. The whole of South America became Catholic Christian at one stroke by the atrocious barbaric attack of the Portuguese and the Spanish. The whole of Africa and North America changed to Muslim and Christian religions after the invasion of the Muslim and Christian armies. But after one thousand year “Kindless, Loveless Rule” (Bharatiyar’s words; not mine—aayiram varushaththu anbilaa anniyar aatchi), the Muslim army and the British army could not change Hindu India. The reason is it is very adaptable.

One God would come to forefront during one age and destroy the evil force. When the famous actor cum politician M G R donated one Diamond Sword to Goddess Mookambika in the remote Agumbe tropical forest of Karnataka, that Goddess became popular; now millions visit that forest temple. When actor Nambiar and Sivaji Ganesan started visiting Sabarimalai Ayyappa temple, God Dharma Saasthaa became popular. Now millions visit. When actor Rajni Kant started projecting saint Raghavendra through films, Mantaralaya became a tourist spot. When my Guru Swamiji Krishna started projecting Achankoil, that Ayappa temple started attracting lakhs of people. Great Nayak King merged Saiva and Vaishnava festivals in Madurai and made millions to visit Chitra Festival in Madurai. Bala Gangadhara Tilak made Ganesh Festival in Maharashtra a national festival. Now RSS made it a greater festival spreading it to the hole of South India.

Adi Shnakara established Dhana Aakarshana Chakra and Jana Aakarshana Chakra in Tirupati Balaji temple and Kasi Viseanatha temple respectively, and made them money pouring and People thronging temples. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi made Kasi more attractive. One Santoshi Maa film can make that Goddess more popular than others. Veera Sivaji made Bhavani Maataa more popular. So Hindu Gods have their own Ups and Downs. Indra, Mitra Varuna who were mentioned in Turkey Bogazkoi inscription of 1340 BCE are relegated to back and Brahma Vishnu Siva are brought to the front. But the underlying Hindu thread is never damaged. It is eternal- Sanaatan- no one can destroy it.

Of course, Vedic worshippers worshipped Ganesh with little sand or turmeric powder in every ritual. Now the little ‘cones of turmeric or sand Ganesh’ have taken Gigantic shapes in Mahrashtra with millions chanting Ganapati Bapa Morya!

தமிழ் மேற்கோள் :—

ஒரு கை முகன்

தம்பியே — முருகு வெண்பா 7


முருகனே! செந்தி முதல்வனே! மாயோன்   

மருகனே! ஈசன் மகனே! – ஒரு கை முகன் 

தம்பியே! நின்னுடைய தண்டைக் கால் எப்பொழுதும்   

நம்பியே கைதொழுவேன், நான்.   முருகு வெண்பா 7

முருகு = திரு முருகாற்றுப்படை


Ganapati, Ganapati worship, ஒரு கை முகன் , கபிலர், கணபதி வழிபாடு

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