Sri Sathya Sai Baba spoke frequently about Ganesha or Vinayaka, the aspect of God that protects and removes obstacles in the path of devotees. Ganesha Chaturthi is observed as a day to adore and worship Lord Ganesha. Sri Sathya Sai Baba illumines us with the essence of this principle of God in the excerpts of His discourses below.

The Prayer to Vinayaka

Who is Vinayaka? In the sloka (Sanskrit verse) beginning with the words, “Suklaambaradharam Vishnum“, only the form of the deity is described. But there is another inner meaning for the name Vinayaka. “Suklaambaradharam” means one who is clad in white. “Vishnum” means He is all‑pervading. “Sasivarnam” means His complexion is grey like that of ash. “Chathurbhujam” means He has four arms. “Prasannavadanam” means, he has always a pleasing mien. “Sarvavighnopasaanthaye” means removal of all obstacles. “Dhyaayeth“, means meditate (on Him). Vinayaka is the deity who removes all bad qualities, instils good qualities, and confers peace on the devotee who meditates on him.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 12 September 1991

Today people perform Vinayaka worship without actually understanding its significance. Vinayaka symbolises the qualities of a true leader in all aspects. “Viyate Nayake Iti Vinayaka” meaning, He is a master unto Himself. In this world Vinayaka is worshipped by many. However, Vinayaka does not worship anyone as He has no master above Him. Even Easwara, the father, worships His son Vinayaka, but it does not happen the other way.


Vinayaka is also called Vighneswara (remover of obstacles). No obstacle can come in the way of one who prays to Vinayaka. Worship of Vinayaka confers success in spiritual as well as worldly endeavours. God grants happiness at two levels, pravritti (outward) and Nivritti (inward). Pravritti is related to physical body and Nivritti to intellect.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 10 September 2002

Image source: Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation, Prasanthi Nilayam, India

Lord Vinayaka has an elephant’s head and trunk. It denotes that Vinayaka can be compared to an elephant in intelligence, which always thinks twice before setting its foot forward. Similarly, it is only after intelligent discrimination that Vinayaka moves forward. The four letters in the word Ganapathi (ga, na, pa, and ti) denote that Lord Vinayaka is full of vijnana, sujnana, and prajnana. People today forget the underlying meaning in the name ‘Ganapati’ and engage themselves in mere rituals. You may not perform any rituals, but, never give up worshipping Lord Vinayaka. ….


He is Gunatheetha (beyond attributes). He is Nirgunam, Niranjanam, Sanathanam, Niketanam, Nithya, Shuddha, Buddha, Muktha, Nirmala Swarupinam (God is attributeless, pure, ancient, final abode, eternal, unsullied, enlightened, free and embodiment of sacredness).

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 18 September 2004

Unwavering Faith Is Essential

Faith in God should never waver. In no circumstance should anyone go against the injunctions of the Divine. Whatever worship one may offer, however intensely one may meditate, if one transgresses the commands of the Lord, these devotional practices become futile. The reason is that the Divine has no selfish objective or aim. It is out of small-minded selfish motives that people act against the sacred commands of the Lord. Even small acts of transgression may in due course assume dangerous proportions.


Like the clouds in the sky that are brought together or dispersed by the winds, the passage of time brings about for man the union or separation of associates and happiness or sorrow. Time is the form of God. It should not be wasted. It is to understand such sacred truths that festivals like Ganesha Chaturthi are celebrated.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 12 September 1991

Ganesha's Intelligence

Race Between Ganesha and Subramanya

How did Vinayaka acquire siddhi (supreme powers)? His parents held a contest for their two sons, Ganesha and Subramanya. They said they will offer their grace in the form of a fruit to whoever came first in circumambulation of the universe. The younger son Subramanya set out immediately on his peacock to go round the universe.

On seeing Subramanya approaching his parents, almost at the end of his trip, Vinayaka, who had been quietly sitting all the while, got up and went round the parents and sat down. Parvati observed that Subramanya, who had taken so much trouble to go round the universe, should be declared the winner. Parameshwara (Lord Shiva) asked Vigneshwara (Ganesha) what was the inner significance of his going round the parents. Ganesha replied: "The entire universe is permeated by both of you. The entire creation is a manifestation of the Siva-Shakti form. It is an act of delusion to attempt to go round this phenomenal universe. To go round both of you is the true circumambulation of the cosmos". Then Parvati exclaimed: "Yours is the fruit." Ganesha became the Lord of the Divine hosts (Ganas). Easwara was so much impressed with the supreme intelligence of Vinayaka that he told him "All those who wish to worship Me, will offer their worship first to you."

Such was the grace showered on Vinayaka. What is the reason? Ganesha's faith in the Lord and His omnipresence. The right path for all people is to develop faith in God and lead godly lives.

Vighneshwara is also regarded as one endowed with the wisdom of the elephant ("gaja thelivi"). The elephant is noted for its supreme intelligence. It is also known for its absolute loyalty to its master. It is ready to sacrifice its life itself for the sake of its master. The direct proof of this is Sai Gita (Bhagavan's elephant). Ordinarily hundreds of cars will be passing on the road. Sai Gita will take no notice of them. But when Swami's car happens to pass that way, it will instinctively notice it. It will rush to the road raising its familiar cry. What love for Swami! It will be no exaggeration if faith is equated with the elephant.

Vinayaka is a leader for all deities. Faith in Vinayaka should be developed as the exemplar for all deities and he should be worshipped as the embodiment of Divinity.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, 12 September 1991