Sri Rudra

Earlier last week a coworker introduced me to a game / app that, depending on your phone is either free or very inexpensive. It’s called Plague, Inc. and it’s essentially a game of strategy. The game goes like this: You’re a disease (fungus, bacteria, virus, etc…you get to choose) and your goal is to spread throughout the planet employing various transmission methods, symptoms, and “abilities” until all of life on the planet is not only infected, but also extinguished.

I love this game right now and I may well have a temporary addiction to it. No joke.

I like the game because it’s based in potential reality and it makes you think and well… it’s fun. At the start, you go through a few steps to “build” your disease and this includes naming it. One of the first names I gave my disease was Kalki. This is the name of God’s “End of Days” avatar, for the not-so-really end of days. I thought it was fitting because I’ve read that it’s possible Kalki will come as a virus or something that will pretty much wipe out humanity at the end of the Kali Yuga.

Since I’m not very much of the vaishnav persuasion, I’ve switched the name of my disease to Rudra, a fierce form of Mahesh / Shiva. Since Kalki, being of Vishnu, comes more to restore / balance dharma on the planet and not so much to wipe the so-called slate (entirely) clean, it seems more fitting that one of Mahadev’s names would be used (at least by me). Mahadev is, after all, the one who’s dance brings actual, lasting balance as it eliminates the entirety of phenomenal good and phenomenal bad, the result of which is the Mahapralaya – when everything phenomenal and causal is finally given rest.

I can see, given that folks raise hell over our gods showing up increasingly in secular usage, that some would be offended by the idea that a devastating disease would be named after something holy. I’m not, although I did hesitate to share all of this because I know many non-saivas already have an inaccurate and incomplete understanding of Shiva to be that He’s primarily known for destruction – and even then the common understanding of that word, destruction, is misapplied. However, in regard to gods in secular settings, in my opinion this isn’t the same as putting god on a pair of socks or a bikini bottom. What do you think?

For your viewing pleasure I’ve included many shots of different parts of the game in its progression.







Eradicate (1)



Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti


Christmas in California, in April



So…I’ve been writing an essay pertaining to the importance of a Hindu American identity. It’s been a good little journey so far. I was reading some in The Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism today when I came across an interesting tidbit of information I can’t not share with you.

I say the following ENTIRELY WITHOUT disrespect to the Christians of the United States: It’s absolutely amazing how many people in this country truly and genuinely believe that America was founded by Christians and is a Christian nation. Neither is true. The Pilgrims were certainly Christians of their own kind, but most of the “founding fathers” were definitely not. Theists, yes. But not Christian. Anyone who yearns for truth and finds value in not only discovering it, but in thinking on their own can do minimal research and find this fact. The same can easily be done with so many other misconceptions many Americans “know” is true. Having said that, here’s what I recently learned about the history of the naming of the state of California. (As a wordy, this the stuff I LOVE to read!)

According to historians, the state of California is named after a dark-skinned woman warrior named Calafia, who was a character in a famous sixteenth-century Spanish novel. Aggressive, half-naked Native American women reminded the Spanish conquistadors of Califia, and of the Amazons, too, which is why they named the Amazon River after them! But where did the figure of Califia come from?

This fictional queen was based on an ancient European goddess named Koliada, who represented the winter solstice. She was black-skinned because she symbolized the darkest time of the year and fierce because winters in the Northern Hemisphere are often brutal. But she was honored, too: her festival was celebrated with extravagant feasts and lavish gift giving. When Christianity replaced the old religion in Europe, her winter festival was changed into a new holiday called Christmas.

The name Koliada means “goddess of time,” appropriately enough for a solstice deity. Her names in Greek(Kalanda) and Latin(Calenda) are the source of our word “calendar.” In antiquity she was worshipped throughout the entire Indo-European world. In Russia she was known as Kolyada. In northeastern India she was called Kalika. Hindus today still worship her as the fierce, dark goddess Kali.

There you have it!



I love playing the Devil’s Advocate. When you google the definition of that term, here’s what you get: 1- A person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments. 2- The popular title of the person appointed by the Roman Catholic Church to challenge a proposed beatification or canonization…

I could easily be either of those things, but usually just #1 applies to me. The intent of this post isn’t necessarily for the purpose of advocating devilishly, so much as just making my own point about something.

Not long ago I received an email that a blog I subscribe to had been updated. Naturally, when I had free time I went there to read the new news. What I read was manifold-ly bothersome. This blog is maintained by someone I know little about, but respect in a way that kind of surprises my own self. Tandava-ji is well-enough read, writes well, and almost always seems balanced in his approach to whatever is appearing on his blog. He does a great job at showcasing other Hindu bloggery and as such has proven to be a great resource for someone like myself. However, a recent post on his blog (click here to see it) has me scratching my noodle.

The post is about an abrasive young smartass who maintains her own blog and apparently is “wrong in so many ways.”

The drama concerning this smartass goes back a ways… to her own blog, actually, and a “shitstorm” (her own words) that she started there. If you visit the link to her place that I provided above you’ll see a little of what I’m talking about. Here’s a basic timeline for your own understanding: Karol posts something inflammatory on her own blog, she later comments on Tandava’s blog (generally in support of what he’s written, I might point out), and then Tandava takes her comment and her blog and makes an additional post to his own blog detailing how “in so many ways” she’s terribly wrong.

And now I’m pissed and sorely disappointed. Although, in all fairness I’m pissed at and disappointed with just about everyone, regarding this. What follows is my meager attempt at detailing how I feel about said suchery.

1) Karol is a grown human and should have known to take a better approach. I understand precisely where she’s coming from because some of my own experience as a non-ethnic Hindu seems to mirror her own. Still, that doesn’t warrant free license to offend as one wants. She should already recognize, as a white Hindu, that eyes are on her from both sides of the fence: ethnic Hindus will be skeptical (thus her frustration) and non-ethnic Hindus will think her every misstep reflects on them directly, or on the blessed Faith of their choosing. Otherwise, she’s simply misguided. The frustrations she’s expressing are unique to no one. As such, no one has any room to hate on her for them, and in fact it would be far more productive and beneficial to all, literally to ALL, if those who are a bit farther on the journey would guide her instead of judge her.

2) The online Hindu community would be better served if Tandava-ji would ignore the things he finds to be so immensely offensive and stick with posting what he appreciates. (I do realize that, in the context of the last sentence, the very nature of this post makes me a hypocrite. I’m okay with that.) For one, that’s why his blog is what it is. I go there because I know I’ll find useful material for my own betterment. And now that’s not as true. His first point seemed two-fold: we should be sympathetic to those who feel their religion/culture is being appropriated and be careful so as not to offend them. Umm… Anyone who feels something has been stolen from them is likely to feel insulted no matter the subsequent usage of what might have been stolen. For one, I don’t think we need to offer sympathy for ethnic Hindus who feel their religion/culture is being appropriated. That’s essentially apologizing for loving what they’ve brought to the table. I’ve never apologized for asking someone for the recipe to a dish after openly adoring his cooking. Sympathy to someone who is offended when outsiders adopt his/her way of life? That’s bullshit.

I agree with Tandava that we shouldn’t necessarily use someone else’s symbols and then insult them. But I don’t think Karol is insulting anyone but herself. She’s showing her ass, for sure, and if she wants to get in someone’s face I’d say she’s succeeded. Otherwise, all her words amount to, regardless of how crass they are, is that she’s a western Hindu and anyone who doesn’t believe her can go to hell. She’s abrasive, and she’s sloppy, but she’s not wrong.

Tandava’s next point dealt with ethnic Hindus who don’t agree that outsides can also become Hindu and how we shouldn’t insult them. Again, I agree that insults are unnecessary and wrong, but again I don’t see Karol’s words as an attack on anything except the ego of those who, for no good or valid reason, refuse to welcome her. It can’t be stated enough that she should have used a different and more responsible approach, but beyond that I’m with her. Maybe it’s because I’m a gay non-ethnic Hindu in religiously-barren old Indiana that I can relate to the effort required by one having to “prove” one’s own validity. I don’t know. Sometimes people say things and use the wrong words. Karol has certainly used the wrong words. I suspect, though, that all she’s saying is, “I don’t care what you think, I am one of you.”

Tandava’s last point really gets me. He first correctly distinguishes that a Hindu can be either cultural or spiritual and that, when it comes to ethnic Hindus, if one doesn’t act very spiritual then they’re assumed to be merely cultural. I don’t know why this can’t apply to everyone. I’ve known a number of ghetto thug idiots who go around representing what many consider the worst of my society, yet they may well be wearing a gold cross around their neck. Are they Christian, or just in a Christian culture? It could be either or both – it doesn’t matter. If culture and religion can be adopted by anyone, and truly they can, then it also doesn’t matter if Karol is a cultural Hindu or a spiritual one. She’s not ethnic, but she’s still Hindu either way. Asking why a westerner would wear Hindu symbols without strong faith is assumptive and stupid. Many people, in many cultures, in many religions – everywhere- do this very thing. The reasons vary widely and include every excuse from shallow fashion preference to sweet, sublime devotion. The only reason I care about, in this context, is why do I wear what I wear and do what I do. I would encourage the same for everyone.

3) Ethnic Hindus and non-ethnic Hindus alike need to step back and take a look at what Hinduism means. Aside from a sad little handful of basic tenets held in common by almost all Hindus, Sanatana Dharma is too big for anyone ever to say, “You gotta be like this or you’re a bad Hindu.” And, in fact, that aspect of the Faith is part of what makes it supreme among man’s religions. Modern Christianity is undergoing an immense struggle currently. It’s flailing as it tries to maintain what it thinks its image is, while grappling with modern issues – a struggle that, according to Depak Chopra, could push it into extinction. A result of the internal conflict within Christianity that I’ve experienced is that whenever one Christian group misbehaves, many of the others are quick to distance themselves saying, “Those people aren’t true Christians.” This is horrible and disgusting. A family that turns on itself will not survive. The sentiment expressed in Tandava’s post and in the comments that followed are dangerously Christian and it almost makes me sick.

This might sound mean and shallow, but something about her physical appearance tells me that, in person, I’d likely be annoyed by her. Although, in all honesty, if we get past the fact that she has boobs and no penis, she and I are likely far more alike than we’re not. She seems to like challenging where people think they stand. I couldn’t begin to speculate her reasons for this, but I know I do the very same for my own reasons. Let me be clear: the path she and I walk, however differently we walk that path, is not easy. Throughout most of humanity, throughout most of human history, people have loved the very chains that bind them. Anyone committed to using their own brief human existence for the cause of shaking folks out of their ignorant slumber should be commended, not ridiculed by others who not only have no room to ridicule, but also have more in common than not.

Ekam sat…, right? Truth is One. It seems like we’re all good with that part. The other half is “vipraha bahudha vadanti” The wise call It variously. Like no other religion in the world, Hinduism alone offers the richest pool of methods, margs, icons and ishtadevatas for the aspirant to draw from. In a faith where it’s acceptable to live a worldly life, to retreat to a mountain cave and let everything fall away, or to wander around nude and covered in ash foregoing all of society’s norms, I promise you -like it or not – one of God’s names is Karol.

Om Shanti

P.S. My apologies for the lengthiness of this post. In all honesty, everything that contributed to it gave me quite a bag of mixed feelings. I did my best to convey those feelings and thoughts in as orderly a manner as I could, while under the influence of cold medicines. My intention wasn’t to attack any one person, but to attack the principles I perceived to be in action and which I perceive to be mostly adharmic in nature. Please, spare us all, and before commenting read the last bit of this for the rule I have about comments.

Bhaktam-idam Aham


In the last two posts I began hinting at my understanding of the nature of bhakti as a path to the divine and some of why it’ll likely never be my main source of connection. The goal of this post is to further detail why, for me, bhakti can never be more than supplemental in its nature. As with the two posts in this series, please allow me to re-iterate that my attempt is neither to bash any one method of aspiring toward the Divine nor anyone using the method of bhakti. Beyond that, I’ll try to stay as focused as possible and make quick work of this.

A few weeks ago, shortly after posting the Rig Veda quote on Facebook (which I mentioned in prior posts and will revisit below), I began polling people of different backgrounds on their definition of the word devotion (bhakti). Without exception, even if round-about-ly, all indicated that devotion is commitment, plus emotion or intensity. Usually, in my questioning, the deeper I prodded the more similar the various answers became. All, independently, agreed that devotion is more than mere commitment. I found this encouraging, actually, as it made my research easier and simpler to sort. In my poll, I asked white Hindus, ethnic Hindus, Athiests, Agnostics and Christians.

Below are some points that, for me, indicate that devotion can’t be my main path back to Godhead/Source/Brahman.

1) The Rig Veda states, “Give prominence to intellect over emotion.” I feel like this is pretty cut and dry. We inherit the Vedas, eternal Truth on The Eternal Reality, from the rishis. Those guys knew more than a little about the nature of the Supreme Reality. They also understood the human existence and all that comes with it. Humans are emotional creatures. Animals possess mostly instinct, with varying degrees of emotional capacity. Humans go one better: our instincts have atrophied some in favor of greater emotional capacity and an intellectual capacity that is greater still than that of our emotions. Emotions are not meant to be neglected, but they are meant to be controlled. It’s precisely when a person acts based on emotion that additional karma is generated. Only through well-reasoned (and thereby balanced) action can a human hope to progressively develop vairagya (detachment, renunciation) and hold hope of attaining moksha when, at last, all karmas are exhausted.

2) “In most cases the disciple becomes too attached to the Guru’s external form and forgets the Guru’s all-pervasive nature. Attachment to the Guru’s form with a firm awareness of his omniscience and all-pervasive nature is the perfect attitude. If there is attachment without proper awareness of the Guru’s infinite nature, the disciple can fall an easy victim to all kinds of negative tendencies. Devotion to the Guru backed with the understanding of his higher nature is real devotion.” This is a quote from one of the objects of my own devotion, Mata Amritanandamayi Ma. I understand this to mean that bhakti isn’t meant to be self-standing. She details, briefly, an instance of bhakti gone awry and some of the potential results. She concludes that bhakti is only real when upheld by a strongly developed jnana (proper awareness and understanding of the higher nature).

3) Although the Bhagavad Gita is often cited as a scripture that promotes bhakti as a supreme means for reaching God, I find throughout the work that jnana is invaluable to the aspirant regardless of bhakti. After all, in the overall dialogue of the text the context is that Arjuna is mentally and emotionally shaken – to the point of utter despondency. Krishna never once said, “Let’s chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra and dance ecstatically. Then you’ll see and experience Truth. That’s how we’ll fix your insecurity and impart Self-Realization.” He did, however, consistently refer to jnanic means of realization and living life. Even when speaking of devotion and its different aspects, God often speaks in terms of that devotion being governed by qualities of jnana.

4) In the book, “Shuddha Bhakti,” by Swami B.V. Tirtha Maharaja, one finds an admission that is not only typical and true of organized bhakti, but that I find very discouraging. Swami states that bhakti is entirely about relationship. And by definition, it truly is. In his own words, Swami goes on to explain that bhakti is about the worshipful relationship between the effect and its Cause and concludes (literally) that an effect and its Cause can never be the same, implying that duality is inherent in bhakti. My abstract understanding of this (trying not to take his words too literally) is that true moksha isn’t possible through bhakti alone. Bhakti can enable someone along their way in karma yoga, raja yoga, jnana yoga – or any other yoga. However, by definition of the word itself, you can’t express or experience bhakti and union together. The closest approximation to that would be Self-Realization, at which point bhakti would become mute. Bhakti can be a wonderful and efficient means of expressing one’s experience of union, but it would seem that so long as bhakti is the focus of one’s path to the divine, unless bhakti is transcended by Self-Realization, it will essentially remain self-defeating – like continuously reaching for salvation while maintaining that you and God are distinctly separate. As long as little old me keeps adoring magnificent God “in Heaven,” we’ll remain separate precisely because of the nature of my focus (bhakti).

5) Following #4, two quotes from the revered sage Swami Vivekananda seem very instructive. The first quote is, “Everyone is but a manifestation of the Impersonal, the basis of all being, and misery consists in thinking of ourselves as different from this Infinite Impersonal Being; and liberation consists in knowing our unity with this wonderful Impersonality.” (My personal interpretation of his words after the last semi colon is the real definition of Jnana Yoga: not simply the knowing OF our unity, but knowing that unity in an experiential way. Self-Realization is the culmination of Jnana Yoga) The second quote is, “What is the object of Jnana Yoga? Freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from our imperfections, freedom from the suffering of life. Why are we unhappy? We are unhappy because we are enslaved. And what are we enslaved by? The enslavement of nature. Who enslaves us? We do, ourselves.” As harsh as it might sound, if bhakti is dependent upon a relationship of duality (worshipper/Worshipped), I find it to be terribly enslaving, not unlike the doctrines of the Abrahamic Faiths. In my own, admittedly limited, understanding of bhakti, I couldn’t in good conscience allow that to become my own whole path. I don’t want to celebrate (through worship) my (falsely-identified) separation from Source, thereby perpetuating that very separation.

I feel like I could probably go on and on about the different reasons why bhakti isn’t a fit for me, but I’m not sure that would be productive. For one, in the instance of continuing, I’d probably want to dedicate a fourth or fifth post to the topic, and I’m not sure my own attention span could suffer that, let alone that of you dear readers. Further, if I haven’t already pissed some people off or offended, surely to continue would result in suchery – something I have no desire for.

My single hope intended for this post and the two before it is two-fold. First I hope that you understand me a little better. I won’t hope for more than that, but a little would be something. Secondly, I hope you understand yourself much more than a little better. What matters is not why Dhrishti does or doesn’t follow one path or another. What matters is that you not only follow your path fully, but that you know exactly why your path is yours – indeed, following one’s swadharma without such knowledge is entirely impossible.

Om Shanti

Post Script: It’s possible that in the near(ish) future I might have interest in showing you the other side of the Dhrishti coin. Often it’s easier to say what you’re not than what you are, but I think I’d like to try and I hope you’ll still be reading by then.


A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook a quote from the Rig Veda. Most people haven’t ever heard of this text, although it’s one of the oldest existing pieces of human literature. For anyone unaware, the Rig Veda is one of four Vedas, the others being Yajur, Atharva, and Sama. Unlike virtually every other human religion, Hinduism has no single human founder, but the Vedas serve as the foundation. The Vedas existed in unwritten form for thousands of years, in spoken Sanskrit only, before they were finally put into readable script.

The very nature of the Sanskrit language, whether written or spoken, has served as an immense protection to our scriptures. Many other religions are built on scripture that has either been changed since its advent, or whose scripture has a spotty or otherwise uncertain foundation – the potholes of which have been left to be filled with speculation or the inclinations of those handling the scriptures. That would be fine, except humans living in a world that seems concrete tend to take things rather concretely. Thankfully, the Hindu religion and the nature of its sacred tongue have done well to preserve the wholeness found in Sanatana Dharma

So… back to my Rig Veda quote. The quote in its entirely was the command, “Give prominence to intellect over emotions.” A mere twenty minutes later a friend who is dear to me pointed out that the quote seems to advocate jnana over bhakti, but that bhakti doesn’t always have to be emotional. Since then, this has spawned much mental mastication as to what, exactly, bhakti means. I hope you’re ready to read. I also hope this post all subsequent posts pertaining to the topic of bhakti are not taken as any form of bhakti bashing. First and foremost, I view bhakti to be an integral and valid part of any swadharma, and very effective if the aspirant knows the proper place and purpose of something like bhakti. I also intend the words of this post and those that follow, as they pertain to bhakti, to merely indicate and affirm that, for me, bhakti isn’t “the way” so much as grease to help the machine of faith continue to run.

I’ll do my best to keep this journey into my understanding of bhakti short and sweet. For any readers already familiar with my writing style or prior posts, you’ll know that my posts are almost never just 2-3 paragraphs and my idea of short and sweet is still “tome” in proportion (more about my thoughts on that later!).

Thank you for your patience and God help you and your eyeballs.

Om Shanti

No Hope

Kanipakam-GanapathiToday, on our way back from a hospital we passed a church. It’s a church we’ve passed a hundred times. No biggie. And like many churches these days, the need a sign out front to broadcast religious phrases. Fine. Dandy.

Today, though, the message bothered me. I mean, more than it usually does. One side of the sign read, “Evolution: You’re an animal with no hope” and the other side of the sign read, “Bible: You’re the image of God, with Jesus as hope.” It’s amazing we didn’t run off the road with as much as we were rolling our eyes.

I don’t want this to come off as arrogant or anything, but I feel more than a little bad for folks who adhere to a way of life or thinking that seems to perpetually put them in conflict with the very existence they have.

I believe in God and in evolution. I think there are a billion ways to marry the two concepts and I’d reject anything that would try to make me doubt one or the other. Further, to claim that something like evolution means a human can have no hope is mean and ridiculous. The notion falls in line with the essential Church doctrine that humanity is inherent flawed and evil (at least since The Fall). Something I can’t stand.

As if that slap in the face didn’t do the job, the other cheek was more subtly slapped by the message on the other side of the sign. “Go to our holy book and learn just how evil you are and the place your only hope in an external source, as specified by us, because you’re not able to do anything else of worth.”

Then… god help me… an old friend of mine, who I pretty much only communicate with via Facebook and who is a Christian in the absolute loosest sense of the word decided that it would be an equality statement to post a verse from the biblical book of Hebrews. The verse seemed made up of two basic sentences. One implied that “the one who makes men holy” and “the ones who are holy” are of the same family. The other indicated that Jesus is not ashamed of the holy ones. Typical.

I pointed out that the verse he posted has two implications: That there are people who are unholy and that Jesus is ashamed of those people.

His response (at least, as of the last time I checked) was that I shouldn’t inject my personal views into the Bible. My only response was that I wasn’t projecting, just doing what he is doing which is to take the verse by itself and understand it as such. He insisted that the verse is pro-equality, which I don’t buy. I asked him if any of the surrounding verses actually support the idea of equality because the one he posted simply doesn’t.

As it stands, I think I’ll ignore any responses made to that post hence forth and instead spend the rest of tonight in sadhana and hitting the sack a little earlier than usual.


I daydream frequently. I’ve always been fairly imaginative. I like to tell stories when the mood hits and while I was in hair school, if we had spare time at the end of the day, grown people would literally gather around me while we looked through the haircut picture books… I’d point to some hair model and would tell their life story. Everyone loved it. One might expect that suchery would captivate children, but it was incredible to see half a room full of adults sitting, fully captivated while I blathered away about the people in the books.

When it comes to seeing what’s not there, or building a picture within my mind’s eye, I’m usually a pro. It’s usually something I’m capable of rather effortlessly. But when it comes to visualizing with intent, with a deeper meaning or purpose, my mind and imagination halt.

According to, visualization is defined as “1) to recall or form mental images or pictures. 2) to form a mental image of. 3) to make perceptible to the mind or imagination. The WordNet website from Princeton defines visualization as “visual image: a mental image that is similar to a visual perception” ( And according to the almighty Wiki, one of the word’s meanings is “to form a mental picture of something that is invisible or abstract.”

This is fine. Dandy even… if you’re trying to simply imagine or be creative or something simply for the same of the visualization. But I immediately begin to struggle when it comes to employing visualization in spiritual practices.
A good ole friend of mine from way back in high school has taken a path in life that is far different from my own in nearly every way –but we’ve always agreed on the scientific basis of spirituality and of the mystic foundations of reality. For some time now, he’s been active in Chios. I’ll admit now, that I’m poorly versed in the ins & outs of the Chios system. I can say that it deals with different energies that make up reality, particularly in the context of humanity and the human experience. I’ve listened in on a number of their Google+ Hangouts and while they are indeed welcoming and interesting and informative, they seem rather… pretend. I don’t know. I can genuinely say that I have no judgements about anyone investing their time and effort in the Chios system. I sense truth there. But much of the system, and indeed much of the exercises done during the Hangouts, seems to hinge on creative visualization involving colors and shapes. Needless to say, I’m having difficulty buying into the idea that if I visualize myself being a green triune, that I’ll be able to manipulate someone else’s aura and help seal tears and leaks.

Recently, I finished a book, “Loving Ganesha,” which is published by the parampara/sampradaya I’m seriously considering becoming a member of. The lineage is pretty sweet, and I may post on it sometime in the future – it seems to be literally the only lineage I know of that maintains the degree of authenticity that it brought with it when it departed the motherland of Bharata, and is also very open to westerners and non-Indians. But this book, while seriously explaining much of anything to do with Shri Ganesha in minute detail, also indicated that Shri Ganesha is the One Hindu deity that is pleased so easily and is the most accessible to all devotees anywhere. I agree with that much. However, part of this easy access is that simply visualizing Ganesha in one’s mind’s eye brings Him near and immediately puts on into His presence – indeed, this practice of visualization is said to be very helpful when forging a relationship with Ganesha.

I hate to be a doubting Thomas, but I’m not sure I buy this either.

I do agree that, depending on the seeker and his baggage, forging a relationship with the Divine and drawing near to the Divine isn’t necessarily a complex feat. But I don’t know that simply picturing God in one’s mind is enough to immediately and powerfully bring one into practical darshan.

I’m clearly going to have to chew on this one for a bit – I don’t feel like letting part of my personal development and progression to be left up to intentional daydreaming, which is what visualization feels like to me. Maybe I just need to practice visualization a little more, and with more sincerity. Until then, I’ll likely trust in what I know works for sure for me: scientific, systematic, regular, and concrete puja/sadhana.

Om Shanti


In the last post I scratched the surface on a three-part series I’m planning to write about my understanding of the nature of the Hindu conception of God, and also where I personally have encountered the highest concentration of This in my own life. Before continuing in this post, you’ll want to have read the one before this. Inform yourself here. As mentioned in the post before this, Ganesha deva holds a particular place in my swadharma. In this post I’d like to attempt to explain how trying my hand at devotion (Ganesha = my ishtadevata) brought me to a higher knowledge regarding Truth. Right now, I’m not terribly confident that my thought processes or use of words will serve as I hope, but if you care to continue reading, you’ll have my best effort.

Bhakti, or devotion, was the first component at play in my being transfixed on the Ideal that is Ganesha. I came to know of Him almost the very instant I came to know anything at all about Hinduism. Perhaps love/devotion at first sight? LOL No, but really -probably the first two things I knew regarding Ganesha is that He’s the Remover of Obstacles, and that He’s the son of Shiva, the God of Destruction (among other things and whose name is synonymous with auspiciousness and consciousness. I’ve been meaning to make a post just about Shiva.). With attributes like that instantly my heart was hooked.

As I mentioned in the last post, I find the highest quantity and concentration of divine attributes to be applicable to Ganesha. If Brahman is essentially attributeless, and It is (Neti, Neti, remember?), then it reasons that devotion to anything with attributes best serves as a launch pad for experiencing/merging with something virtually impossible to conceptualize. You have to essentially master the phenomenal world before transcending it and realizing the Foundation of all that is phenomenal. Otherwise you’re trying to go from zero to sixty without really even knowing how to operate the vehicle. Some vehicles come with power windows, but no power seats. Some don’t have power windows, but have power seats, and so on. I want a vehicle with as many bells and whistles as I can find so that operating my vehicle happens as optimally as possible, making that zero-to-sixty acceleration not only more likely, but smoother in the process. And so, as it happens, I found Ganesha.

In my opinion, of all the prominent gods within the Hindu pantheon, Ganesha is the most striking. For me personally, gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Kartikeya/Murugan, Shiva, and just about all forms of Shakti/The Mother are too anthropomorphic. I don’t think this lessens their value in any way, but it makes them less appealing to me. Even one such as Hanuman, who has a human-like form of a monkey, is too human-like to represent something as indescribable as Brahman in my experience. In contrast, Ganesha refuses to fit most moulds. Possessing the head of an elephant, a typically obese thorax and abdomen, and rarely seen with fewer than four arms … the whole mess of which is perched upon a miniscule maushika (mouse) vahana. His form, while full of meaning that I’ll pick apart later, doesn’t fit in. Maybe this pulls more at my own heart strings because of growing up as I did: short, scrawny, unathletic, non-farmer gay kid in the middle of Indiana’s corn fields. Like Ganesha’s misfit head and whacked beginning, I didn’t fit many moulds hoped for me either. On some level, I feel affinity for His image and all it’s various traits may represent.

I think, too, much of what Ganesha is said to symbolize/represent/govern are things I hold dear. This list is actually super big, and I’ll get to that in the next post. I suppose it’s selfish, but finding not only what I hold dear, but much else otherwise kind of makes Ganesha the ultimate in one-stop spiritual shopping for me.

Shortly after learning of Ganesha I purchased my very first murti. At that time, I was already more inclined toward the Shiva side of things, but a murti of Ganesha is what I encountered first and it was almost like I was imprinted instantly. I’ve included a photo of it above. My first “mandir” was nothing other than the top of a cheap dresser and consisted of hardly more than a cloth covering the dresser’s top, a candle, and the Ganesha above. I’m tempted to say that it was during this time that my bhakti was newest and strongest. I certainly didn’t yet possess much spiritual knowledge, but I knew I loved God and I knew that for me, Ganesha was my preferred image of God. At this time, too, I was familiarizing myself with Yogananda and his autobiography, and with the Bhagavad Gita. Because of the lack of knowledge, including knowledge of the concept of Karma Yoga, bhakti was literally my entire religion. I had known devotion before with earlier religious experiences, but during this time in my life it was quite literally just myself and what I understood to be my god -the connection was palpable and real and it’s from this time of my life that I retain spiritual memories that not only are kept tucked away for my remembrance only, but sealed my relationship with Brahman as Ganesha.

Since those days, I’m become more familiar with the other faces of Brahman. I don’t suppose I could ever fully exclude any one of Hinduism’s god. However, I’ve also become increasingly close to the Ideal of Ganesha and have learned so much about Him -and have learned and experienced so much as a result of learning about Him. This brings me to the next post which I intend to deal with the meaning encapsulated in Ganesha’s form as well as jnana yoga. For now, let it be clear that Ganesha is the source of my devotion and its object, and this has brought me to new landscapes of internal wisdom.

Om Shanti