‘Vakratunda Mahakaya, Suryakoti Samaprabha.
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva, Sarvakaryeshu Sarvada.’
(O God who has a crooked trunk, the one with a big body
The one who shines as bright as thousand Suns, bless me,
Remove all obstacles from my work always and forever)
This invocation to the God of Wisdom will resonate through homes big and small when people celebrate a ten day festival known as Ganesh Chaturthi. By creating a ‘sarvajanik’ (public) celebration in 1893, Lokmanya Tilak not only brought the communities together, but cocked a snook at the British who had banned all kinds of political and social gatherings as an aftermath of the mutiny of 1857. The British were wary of stepping on religious sentiments of the people and this proved to be a brilliant move to instil a feeling of community. People of all faiths celebrated this festival, and they still do.
Ganapati is the God whose blessings are sought before any work is started, there are many money lessons that this God of Wisdom brings.
Lesson One: Analyse complicated financial challenges and you’ll see the solution
Ganesh and Kartikeya are the sons of Shiva and Parvati. When Brahma gave Parvati the fruit of wisdom, he asked Parvati to choose which of her sons should have it. She was not allowed to cut it into half… Shiva and Parvati held a little race for their sons: Whomsoever circles the world three times would be given the fruit as prize. Kartikeya got on to his peacock (his ‘vahan’ or vehicle) and flew away. Ganesh’s ride is a mouse. How could he compete? Ganesh simply folded his hands and walked in complete devotion three times around his parents. ‘You are my world’ was his reasoning. He won the fruit of Knowledge, and since then, is known as ‘The God Of Wisdom’.
Apply the moral of this tale to your financial life and you will see that it takes a cool, calm and collected head to solve any problems confronting you. The solutions are more common sense than you believe. Let’s say the market is volatile and everyone is in a state of mild panic. You know the risks you took when you decided to invest, so keep your cool and stick with your long term investment strategy. Also know that your investments are as tiny as Ganesha’s mouse, so find smarter solutions.
Lesson Two: Whatever the size of your investment, be prudent
It is said that the demon Gajmukhasur, an ardent devotee of Shiva earned a boon from the benevolent God that no man nor God could destroy him. Of course, as a demon, Gajamukhasur could not stop himself from killing people and destroying their property, and Shiva had to send Ganesha to get him under control. In a battle of wits, Ganesha turned the demon into a mouse, and controls all daemonic tendencies by riding him.
The dancing Ganesha idols inevitably show him dancing on that mouse. The symbolism of a large bellied (Lambodara) God dancing on such a small mouse should not escape smart investors like you! It doesn’t matter how small your investment amount is, be prudent. The minute you begin to invest, you will face pressure from financial institutions on all fronts - emails, messages, phone calls - aggressively offering you investment opportunities the size of Ganapati’s belly. But you stay firm, and prudent. And humble. You see that the mouse is always shown to be at the feet of the God, rewarded with a modak.Humility and prudence in investments pays!
ALSO READ: Eight financial lessons from Bhagwat Gita teachings
Lesson Three: Multitasking may prove to be beneficial
Ganesha - as many Hindu deities are depicted - is shown to have many arms. He holds the conch shell in one hand, an axe or rope lasso in another, a hand in ‘abhaya’ mudra (blessing of fearlessness) and in another hand he holds laddoos/modaks (depending on the culture to of the part of India you belong). He is also shown holding a broken tusk and in another hand, a lotus. These things naturally hold meaning to the devotee.
In your financial life too, Ganesha offers help. The conch heralds new beginnings and is not just blown before a war, but also as an announcement of good events like weddings. It symbolises victory.
The axe or a rope are weapons to destroy all obstacles to your financial success. And it helps when you have the hand of god blessing you in your every venture. ‘Abhay’ mudra means fearlessness. If you are a risk taker, then this mudra reminds you to tread into unchartered territories without being fearful. After all, if you are looking at the rewards for your risk taking - the laddoos, of course - then you have to use all the weapons in your arsenal! Just as Ganesh’s many arms suggest, do not put all your investment eggs in one basket.
Don’t forget, Ganesha also has a broken tusk (his) in his hand. He was the scribe of Ved Vyas’s epic poem The Mahabharata. Ved Vyas had just one order: once he started dictating the poem, he would not stop. Ganesh agreed, but the dictation was so fast, the quills would break. So Ganesh broke off one of his tusks and dipped that in the ink to finish the gigantic task. As an investor, you need to have the fortitude to read through the fine print before you dip your quill in ink and sign deals. The lotus of course is a symbol of enlightenment. As a smart investor you too need to be like the lotus: surviving in the grime that is the market and blooming beautifully like the lotus.
Lesson Four: Listen and learn. Pay attention to details
Ganesha is always depicted having large ears (hence calledLambakarna) and eyes that look directly at you(Chinteshwara, the one who cares about everything). Everyone knows that he has a big belly (that’s why he is calledLambodara) and his elephant head has a trunk that is twisted (That is why he is known asVakratunda).
Since Ganesha means ‘Lord of all Ganas’ (followers of Shiva), he naturally becomes the ‘Ganapati’ or the God of all people. As an investor, the symbols of Ganesha offer you many lessons. Just like his ears are open to hear everything, your learning too comes with listening. His eyes look directly at you, so should you direct your attention to all details. Just like Ganesha, digest all details and earn that prosperity. Not to forget, if you are as flexible as Ganesh’s trunk, then you will face the vagaries of the market well.
Lesson Five: Good beginnings start with good planning
When it comes to festivals, and no matter what faith you follow, you will have a calendar to go by. And if you are celebrating ‘Ganeshotsav’ at home or in your community, there is a great deal of planning involved. Right from cleaning up (after all, you’re welcoming a God into your home) to decorating the place where he is to be installed. You need to organise the offerings for every day, and so much more in order to make the festival a success. He is considered to be the God of Good Beginnings, and no matter what business you are about to start, it is considered to be auspicious to seek his blessings.
If you are just beginning your investment journey, then be prepared in advance. Good preparations mean good beginnings. And just like Ganesha’s belly, prosperity is guaranteed.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.