Ganesha: the Auspicious…the Beginning








The book, Ganesha: the Auspicious…the Beginning, written by Shakunthala Jagannathan, who passed away in 2000, and her daughter, Dr. Nanditha Krishna, is about the elephant-headed God, Ganesha, who is beloved by all Hindus.


In general, a prayer to Ganesha preceeds all occasions of Hindu worship and all events of any importance, such as the dedication of a building or a new business.


Ganesha is jovial, kind, and good-natured – he brings success and good fortune to all endeavors. Like the elephant who makes a way through the dense jungle so that other animals can follow, Ganesha overcomes all obstacles, he finds a way where there seems to be no possible way. He is the very essence of positivity and possibility.


One of the sects of Hinduism, the Ganapatya sect, worships Ganesha as the ultimate form of God, as Brahman, who is the ultimate reality, as the One Truth, who is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva – the One from whom the entire universe was born.


Because, with the proportions of an elephant, he is very big, he contains within him the entire cosmos and all that exists.


A more widely held perspective within Hinduism, however, places the triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as being the three primary Gods who were present at the beginning, with Brahma having been given the task of creating the universe. From this viewpoint, Ganesha is the son of Shiva and his consort, Parvati.


There is no conflict though between these two views. Hinduism has a way of reconciling and including many divergent ways of seeing things. It is rather like the old parable of nine blind men describing the elephant – one who has felt the elephant’s legs says he is like four pillars, one who has felt the trunk says he is long and tubular, one who has felt only the tusks says he is sharp, curved, and pointed, and so on. No one is right or wrong – all are describing reality as they perceive it. Since reality is vast and infinite beyond our imagining, all the different stories that are part of the Hindu tradition serve as ways to add to one’s understanding.


Ganesha is the sacred syllable Om, the first sound and the first word, from which all created things spring forth. Ganesha appears at dawn, in joy, dancing in the first light. The mystic syllable Om encompasses the entire universe, extending beyond the boundaries of time and space, and this is the reason it is spoken at the beginning and end of meditation or prayer.


The book, Ganesha: The Auspicious…The Beginning is a profound and delightful book, which gives one an insight into the nature of this wonderful God, Ganesha, who brings peace, calm, knowledge, freedom from burdens, and success – who is at once infinitely complex and beautifully simple.


Image: “This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.” From a painting done around 1800 by an unknown artist. / Wikimedia Commons / “The five prime deities of Smartas in a Ganesha-centric Panchayatana: Ganesha (centre) with Shiva (top left), Devi or Durga (top right), Vishnu (bottom left) and Surya (bottom right).”


To see Ganesha: The Auspicisous…the Beginning on Amazon, click here.


© Sharon St Joan, 2014




Ganesha: The Auspicious…The Beginning


Review by Sharon St Joan

The book Ganesha, The Auspicious…The Beginning, written by Shakunthala Jagannathan and her daughter Nanditha Krishna, opens with a scene of cosmic dimensions – cosmic, infinite, and yet profoundly charming and down-to-earth.

It seems that among the world’s faiths, only Hinduism can span the farthest reaches of the universe while remaining close to home and endearing, all at the same time.

The book opens with the long, long night of Brahma. The previous world has ended, in an event of great destruction, and Lord Brahma has been sleeping. There was total darkness and infinite, undisturbed peace.

Then, with a faint rustling, the beginning of a new dawn arrived. In the Hindu way of thought, creation is eternal and time is cyclical; every ending is followed by a new beginning.

Through the peace of the night, suddenly there emerged a sound — an immense, beautiful cosmic sound, followed by a soft, gentle light. The sound was the single syllable OM, which is itself the holy presence of the Great God.

The Great God called a meeting with the three Gods of the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and he appointed Brahma to be the creator of the new world. However, Brahma was confused and did not know how to go about such a monumental task.  He meditated on the Great God, in the form of OM. Out of the sound of the syllable OM, the Great God brought forth the four Vedas, the four early sacred texts of the Hindu faith. Brahma, receiving the knowledge contained in these great books, was then empowered to create the present world in which we live, and many other worlds besides.

Those who especially worship Ganesha believe that it is the God Ganesha who is the embodiment of the syllable OM. He is the first Word and the first Cause. Ganesha is the much-beloved elephant-headed God, who brings good fortune, success, a happy, blessed life, and who overcomes all obstacles.


As the first light of the New Age began to shine, Ganesha appeared against the horizon, blowing on his conch the powerful sound of OM, and dancing a wild, joyful dance in celebration of the new dawn. Then Ganesha explained to the three assembled Gods that he was the Universe itself.  They understood that they must first meditate on Ganesha before praying to any other deities, and this practice is still followed today by the faithful.

The three Gods then sang praises to Ganesha as the Ultimate Reality, who is Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva – and who is the Supreme and Eternal Brahman. Then the present universe dawned.

This book about Ganesha gives a beautiful, enlightening, and inspiring view of this delightful God, who is adored throughout India, in all regions and among people of all backgrounds.

The Authors


Shakunthala Jagannathan was born on January 11, 1927 and passed away in 2000.

As Deputy Director General and Regional Director of the Department of Tourism, she extended to India’s visitors and tourists the same warm and welcoming atmosphere for which she was so well known to her friends and family. Her writing also exemplifies a kind and loving presence, as well as a deep, spiritual understanding.


Nanditha Krishna, her daughter and an art historian, has written a great many books and articles about India’s art, culture, and society. As Director of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, she has set up the C.P. Art Centre, the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Institute of Indological Research, the Saraswathi Kendra Centre for children, the Grove School, the CPR Environmental Education Centre, as well as being involved in the governance of several other schools and institutions. For more complete information, please visit

Ganesha The Auspicious…The Beginning is available on Amazon. Click here.


Top photo: Wikimedia Commons / Original uploader was Buddhipriya at en.wikipedia. /  Four-armed Gaṇeśa. Miniature of Nurpur school, circa 1810. Museum of Chandigarh. / “This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.” /

Second photo: Photographer: Quadell / “Seated Ganesha 12th-13th century Hoysala dynasty Chloritic schist H: 88.6 W: 53.7 D: 33.7 cm Halebid, Karnataka, India. This sculpture displays the ornate carving and exuberant decoration characteristic of art created under the Hoysala dynasty (1042–1346).”