वक्रतुंड महाकाय सूर्यकोटिसमप्रभ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा॥
"Vakratunda Mahakaaya, Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Mey Deva, Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvada"
Meaning of Sloka: Lord Ganesha has a curved trunk with a powerful body. He has the brilliance of a million suns. May the Lord, remove all the problems from the actions I aim to achieve.
Today is Ganesh Chaturthi--the festival that honors the Hindu God, Lord Ganesha. With the body of a human and the head of an elephant, Lord Ganesha is probably the most recognizable Hindu God in the world. He is the God of knowledge and wisdom. He is widely worshiped as the remover of obstacles; He is called Vighnahartā, which literally means obstacle-averter.
What most of us don't appreciate is Ganesha's role as Vighnakartā (i.e., obstacle-creator). As Vigneshvara (i.e., Lord of Obstacles), Ganesha is not only responsible for removing obstacles from our path but also for creating them. Does anyone pray God to create obstacles on our path? Most of us don't. Some wretched souls might pray that obstacles be created on the paths of the people they are envious of, but rarely, if ever, do we solicit for obstacles on our own paths of success and happiness. I definitely have never prayed for impediments to be placed on my path, but needless to say, I have had enough of them in my life. In fact, sometimes it has felt like I got more than a fair share of bumps in my life, and during these times, I have complained, "Why me?" "Why is life so unfair to me?" But with the wisdom of hindsight, I can say confidently that I am extremely grateful for all the problems that I have encountered on my life's journey. I sincerely believe that they have made me stronger and a little more compassionate. They have taught me to be more patient. And most importantly, they have led me to appreciate the fact that failure can sometimes be the best gift one can ever get. If I had not faced repeated bumps on the path leading to fulfillment of my desires, I probably would have ended up in a dump of indolence and arrogance.
Thus, on Ganesh Chaturthi, as I wish for hurdles to be removed from our paths of success and happiness, I also wish for enough difficulties that help us become better human beings. Let us have the wisdom of not getting overly frustrated when we encounter impediments in our life. As Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said, “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” I believe the opposite is also true, i.e., "There are two blessings in life: one is getting what one wants, and the other is not getting it." From this perspective, tragedies and blessings are nothing but two sides of the same coin. And as we get showered with these coins of tragedies/blessings, we only get richer.
In the video below, my cousin is reciting the Vignavinayaka Stotram. As will be obvious to you, he suffers from cerebral palsy and is intellectually disabled, but he has an exceptional ability of being able to remember and recite even super-long and complex Sanskrit slokas.
Happy Ganesha Chaturthi!