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The stories and legends of Lord Ganesha are referred in many sncient texts and scriptures, out of which Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana are totally dedicated to Lord Ganesha. As per these puranas, Lord Ganesha got manifested in several forms out of which eight forms were referred to as his incarnations. These incarnations over different cosmic ages include Vakratunda, Ekadantha, Mahodara, Gajavaktra (Gajaanana), Lambodara, Vikata, Vighnaraja and Dhoomravarna. Lord Ganesha is said to have fought with a demon symbolizing a human weakness in each of these forms at different times. For instance, Vakratunda, his first incarnation defeated the demon Matsaraasura symbolising ‘Matsara’ – Jealousy. When he took form of Ekadanta, he defeated the demon Madaasura symbolizing intoxication or arrogance. His third incarnation as Mahodara defeated the demon Mohaasura and his weakness ‘Moha’ (delusion). Likewise, Gajaanana defeated the demon Lobhaasura and his weakness Lobha – Greed, Lambodara defeated Krodhaasura symbolizing anger, Vikata defeated the demon Kamaasura representing lust, Vighnaraja (Remover of obstacles), defeated the demon Mamaasura representing ego & possessiveness and his 8th incarnation as  Dhoomravarna defeated the demon Ahankaraasura symbolising pride. It is believed and said that Lord Ganesha was in existence in all the Yugas.

The Mudgala Purana was the first to list the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha. These 32 forms may also represent a co-relation with 32 paths and spheres of the tree of life. The first 16 forms of Ganapati are known as the ‘Shodasa – Ganapati’ and the rest 16 forms are known as the ‘Ekavimsathi.’

Here is a sneak peek into the first 3 forms of Lord Ganesha, their symbolic representation & the mantra to invoke their blessings.

Bala Ganapati:

Bala Ganpati is the first of the 32 forms of Ganesha and also the most widely worshipped in India. It is the child-like of the lord and represents the Earth element signifying abundance and fertility. The colour associated with Bala Ganapati is the colour of rising sun – Red. The idol of Bala Ganapati is elephant faced and has four hands holding the fruits of the Earth – Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and Sugarcane in his four hands. His trunk garners his favourite sweet; the modaka.

Bala Ganapati is to bestow his devotees with good health and help them get rid of ill habits. He is believed to forgive sins help with the progress of children.

The Mantra to invoke Bala Ganapati is:

करस्थ कदली चूत पनसेक्षुक मोदकम्
बालसूर्यप्रभं देवं वन्दे बालगणाधिपम्

Karastha kadali chootha , panasekshuka modhakam,
Bala soorya prabhakaram, vandeham bala ganapathim,

Meaning:

I salute the boy like Ganapati who shines like a young Sun,
Holding in his hands Banana fruit, mango fruit, jackfruit, sugarcane and Modhaka.


Taruna Ganapati :

Taruna Ganapati is second in the 32 forms of Ganesha and it represents the Air Element. This eight-armed form of Ganesha represents youthfulness, progress and newness. His brilliant red colour like that of the mid-day sun, reflects the blossoming of youth. He holds a noose, goad, modaka, wood apple, rose apple, his broken tusk, a sprig of paddy and a sugar cane stalk in his eight hands. Taruna Ganapati is mainly worshipped on Sankashti Chathurti, Ganesha Jayanti, and Durva Ganapati vrat. Worshipping this form is believed to help in getting good health, happiness, joy and remove obstacles.

The mantra associated with Taruna Ganapati is:

पाशांकुशापूप कपित्थजंबू-फलं तिलान् वेणुमपि स्वहस्तैः
धत्ते सदा यस्तरुणारुणाभः पायात् युष्मान् तरुणो गणेशः

Pasangusa apoopa kapitha jamboo phalam thilan venumapiswa hasthai,
Drutha sadasya tharuna arunabha paayath sayushmaan tharuno Ganesa.

Meaning:

May the young Lord Ganapati , who is carrying in His hands the noose, hook, rice-cake, guava fruit, rose apple, own (broken) tusk, bunch of corn ears and sugarcane and who vividly shines forth with His brilliant youthfulness, bless all.


Bhakta / Bhakti Ganapati:

Bhakta or Bhakti Ganapati form of Ganesha is the 3rd form of the Lord. It is the devotee form of Lord Ganesha. Shining like the full moon during harvest season and garlanded with flowers, Bhakti Ganapati is the dearest to devotees. It carries a very calm and soothing energy around it. He holds a banana, a mango, coconut and a bowl of sweet payasa pudding. He represents the Water element and is mostly worshipped on Sankashti Chathurti, Ganesha Jayanti, Durva Ganapati vrat or Putra Ganapati Vrata. Worshipping this form of Ganapati is believed to help in controlling temper, relax the mind, feel joy and remove obstacles.

Bhakta Ganapati Mantra is:

नालिकेराम्र कदली गुडपायस धारिणम्
शरच्चंद्राभ वपुषं भजे भक्तगणाधिपम्

Nalikeramra kadali gula payasa dharinam,
Sarthchandra bhava pusham , bhaje bhaktha ganapathim.

Meaning:

I worship Bhakta Ganapati , who is the Lord of His devotees and who shines like the autumn moon, with coconut, mango, plantain, jaggery and sweets in his hands.

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