Ganapati Atharvashirsha: science to spirituality-3

Dear readers,

After Shri Ramraksha stotra let us try to understand science behind Shri Ganapati Atharvashirsha stotra.

Worldwide this stotra is practiced by Ganapati devotees with great faith.

Important learning from Ganapati Atharvashirsha-

• This stotra finds it’s origin somewhere in between 16th to 18th century.

• It’s from Atharva veda and also known as Ganapati Upanishada (Upanishada is the end part of veda)

• It requires a particular way of reciting with specific pronunciation and rhyming as it is part of veda.

• It is first told by sage Ganaka.

• In first part of this stotra the sage describes real nature of Ganapati which can be summarized as


Pati=the ruler

The real meaning of Ganapati is the one who rules our all 10 indriyas (5 karmendriyas/functions of sense organs and 5 jyanendriyas/sense organs). Whatever knowledge we gain is through our sense organs. So, he is the one who rules our buddhi/ intellect actually. The knowledge which is beyond our bodily limits i.e. knowledge of eternal truth is also attainable through Ganapati atahrvashirsha. Ganapati is considered as the eternal, infinite and pure form of energy which is the real nature of our soul. In a way it is jeevatma(our soul) connecting to parmatma(pure, infinite energy).

• Once we understand the nature of Ganapati, we understand why he is said to be the creator, maintainer and protector. Energy is constant, it has no limit. Ganapati is said to be constant, the one who is beyond birth or death.

• In short in the first half the sage tries to explain the infinite nature of Ganapati and want us to understand that it is a path leading us to be free. Free from fear, anxiety, low self esteem and other mental and physical blocks initially and later from all the physical bindings. Mantras (especially 14 mantras from awa twa mam) are written to protect us. They inspire us to attain purusharthas (ultimate goals of life) especially dharma, artha and moksha.

• Site of Ganapati in body is muladhara chakra.

• Chart below can explain in short about muladhara chakra.

Now some explanation of this stotra-

Stotra literally means

A- Not

Tharva- instability

Shirsha- head/mind

One which on recitation keeps your mind stable/ calm.

This stotra explains universal/eternal nature of Ganapati in first half. Through this the sage insists to understand that the God resides within you. As he is the one who is creator, maintainer and the protector, you too can create, maintain and protect your thoughts, memory and actions if you meditate on Ganapati. It is our thoughts and memory which initiates actions(karma) and karma leads to karmaphala (result). In short one has to understand that Ganapati is the purest form of energy and the same energy is in the form of all panchamahabhootas (earth, water, fire, wind and space) and cause of one’s existence and consciousness.

Usually, all stotras have two types of meanings. One where there is literally word to word meaning and second the hidden or deep meaning. I am trying to explore the deep meaning as per my capacity along with some science behind it.

It starts with salutation to Ganapati. From there it tells us the universal nature of Ganapati where we are supposed to understand that the eternal energy in cosmos is in the form of Ganapati and stays within us in our soul. When we ask him to protect us (the reciter, the listener, the bearer & the giver) from the negative energy in all directions, it is to be understood that we are responsible for all our fears and problems because of negativity and sense of instability residing within us and only we can overcome it.

This stotra revokes the word power(vangmaya), the joy/peace(chinmaya) within us. The real meaning can be, Ganapati is beyond the materialistic gain and temporary happiness followed by it. Chanting this mantra will reduce our desires and lead us to eternal peace & joy which lies within us. This way we can stay far away from worldly desires, expectations and disappointment related to it. It is a way to balance our mind.

When it comes to knowledge, sage says Ganapati is the pure form of knowledge which is not bound to time, matter & space. This knowledge again lies within us and comes to surface with help of our 10 indriyas when gets united with our soul (alignment of body, mind and soul). Ultimately it emphasizes that only Ganapati remains as a truth at the end and is named as Bramha.

Later it describes how to chant mantra (ganesh vidya, ganesh gayatri). It has beeja mantra Gam (गं) in it. Ganapati and Omkara are the same. Shiva is the param Ishwar and the first sound or tatwa created by him is Omkara, from which five elements are formed and with permutation and combination of these elements the world is created. So, when we chant Omkara and meditate upon Ganapati or chant mantra, the different sound frequencies/the divine light we see or the energy we feel during deep meditation is nothing but parabramha/paramishwar (source of eternal peace).

Lastly the sage describes the physical form of Ganapati. His colour, his clothing, his armour, his different names etc. for better understanding of common man to meditate upon or to have faith as spiritual and deep meaning cannot be understood by everyone.

Benefits of chanting atharvashirsha (on repeated & proper reciting)-

• Clears self-doubt and fear etc

• Improves concentration and ability to focus

• Brings mental stability and sense of security

• Helps treating mental blocks/ disorders

• Detoxifies body systems

• Removes obstacles

• Nullifies sins/past karma

• Financial gain & other materialistic gain

Scientific view-

As we all know atharvashirsha has very good effect on brain and mind. As per yogic science, the seat of Ganapati in body is muladhara chakra. It is located near anus and has control over excretory system which includes large and small intestines, rectum along with other excretory organs. Now coming to the interesting fact that why seat of Ganapati is said to be at the end of excretory system? And how it can help curing mental disorders by being part of gut? All this information is purely scientific.

There is one new concept in conventional science stating that there is a second brain in the body. It is in digestive system. The GI system (from mouth to anus) has more than 100 million nerve cells/ ganglia. This is called as enteric nervous system (ENS). It is autonomous nervous system which is not dependent on central nervous system (CNS) for carrying out its functions (swallowing food to excretion of feces, regulating blood flow to gut). There are two types of ganglia in gut, one is mycentric ganglia that control peristalsis and the other submucosal ganglia that control secretions (enzymes, bile, mucous, stomach acids etc) into the lumen of GI system. Though ENS is autonomous it has no capacity to think on its own. So, it carries the information of gut to the CNS through vagus nerve (parasympathetic nervous system) and sympathetic nervous system. This is called brain-gut axis where CNS & ENS communicate with each other. This links emotional and cognitive (thinking skill and memory) centers of brain with the intestinal function.

Gut bacteria influences brain chemistry and behaviour. These bacteria influences serotonin and dopamine function. 95% of serotonin in the body is produced in gut. Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter. It contributes to feeling of well being and happiness. ENS uses more than 30 neurotransmitters like serotonin, acetylcholine and dopamine.

This communication between these two systems helps treating digestive problems with psychosomatic origin eg. IBS. At the same time anxiety, depression occurred as a result of disturbed ENS/CNS can be treated accordingly.

Ayurvedic prespective

In Ayurveda the dosha which is responsible for thoughts is said to be vata. Vata is also associated with all kind of movements in the body. Seat of vata is pakvashaya (bowels). Majority of the mental disorders are because of vitiation of vata, though not all. So, Ayurveda recommends basti chikitsa (cleansing of bowels) as a predominant and most important treatment in psychological disorders as well as digestive disorders associated with intestines.

Ayurveda describes Daivavyapashrya chikitsa in psychological as well as in psychosomatic disorders. It includes mantras and music therapy also. This treatment activates acoustic area in brain directly connected to limbic system. Limbic system is responsible for higher mental functions like memory, tranquility, concentration, coordination and learning skills. Mantras/sangeet(music) chikitsa activates these areas and in turn increases these skills.

Deep relaxation or in pranayama where contraction of abdominal muscles stimulates parasympathetic nervous system which has soothing and calming effect, balances the chemicals in brain. Proper reciting of vedas, atharvashirsha ,to some extent offers this benefit also.

Keeping all these things in mind we can corelate certain things-

why seat of Ganapati (deity of wisdom/intellect) is at muladhara chakra.

Why blockage of muladhara chakra leads to mental symptoms predominantly.

Why atharvashirsha is effective in psychological disorders though the seat of deity is at the end of the gut.

Why reciting this stotra properly after learning from an expert is advised.

Conclusion can be summarized as –

Hope this blog inspires you to learn and chant Ganapati atharvashirsha, especially during this pandemic where mental pressure is too high.

One important thing is specific timing, repeated and proper recitation and focus are keys to get desired effects.

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9 thoughts on “Ganapati Atharvashirsha: science to spirituality-3

  1. I had heard the connection of gut feeling phrase with brain… This article has proved it scientifically true! Looking forward for more such writeups. This is enlightenment??

  2. Well, I was not aware about this. Only experience I got till now was whenever I used to recite the stotra my mind came into control inadvertently. Now I understood the science behind this. Thank you for this.
    Priyanka Karguppikar

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