3 most powerful shlokas on Ganesha with meaning

We've seen in our article on yantras, how gaNEsha is associated with the mUlAdhAra chakra. This is the energy center associated with food and sleep, and is hence THE chakra to work on to overcome inertia which can manifest as various kinds of obstacles or vighnas in one's life.

Today, we are going to learn 3 powerful shlokas on gaNapati, also known by the names vinAyaka and vighnEshwara. These shlokas are shuklAmbaradharam, vakratunDa mahAkAya and agajAnana padmArkam.
ganesh shloka image
ganesha shloka

Many of you might already be familiar with
at least one or more of these shlokas, but only a few really know their meaning, and there are a lot of common mistakes which are committed when chanting these shlokas.
In this article let's look at how to pronounce these shlokas correctly, learn their meanings and also look at some of the most commonly committed mistakes which could ruin the meaning of these shlokas.

Let's get started with perhaps the most popular shloka on gaNEsha, which is shuklAmbaradharam.
I've seen so many children and adults alike giving a pause between shuklAm and baradharam. The correct gap between the words should be, shuklAmbara dharam.

Let us first look at how to pronounce this
shloka correctly.

शुक्लाम्बरधरं विष्णुं शशिवर्णं चतुर्भुजम् ।
प्रसन्नवदनं ध्यायेत् सर्वविघ्नोपशान्तये ॥
shuklAmbaradharam viShNum shashivarNam chaturbhujam ।
prasannavadanam dhyAyEt sarvavighnOpashAntayE ।।

The meaning of this shloka is something like this.

dhyAyEt means One needs to meditate upon.

shukla ambara dharam means the one clad in white garments.

viShNum means who is all pervading.

shashivarNam means who shines in the colour of the moon.

chaturbhujam means the one who has four arms.

prasannavadanam means and a pleasant face.

upashAntayE means in order to pacify.

sarva vighna means all obstacles.

This process of reordering words so that they can be easily understood, is called as anvaya krama.
This process is extremely helpful in understanding any sanskrit shloka in an easier way. Of course with more practice and familiarity with Sanskrit language, one can appreciate the original ordering of words in the shloka even better.
The gist of the first shloka is, One needs
to meditate upon the omnipresent, four armed form of gaNEsha, who has a pleasant face, shining in the colour of the moon, and dressed in white garments in order to pacify all obstacles. Coming to the common mistakes while pronouncing this shloka, the first thing as i mentioned before, is to give a pause at the right location.
It is not shuklAm baradharam.
shuklAmbara means white garments and dharam means is one who wears them. So the correct spacing of words is shuklAmbara dharam.
One also needs to be mindful while pronouncing the last word.
It is not vignOpashAntayE, it is vighnOpashAntayE, with a forceful expulsion of air. gna and ghna are two different sounds in Sanskrit language.

Let's now look at the correct pronunciation of the second shloka.

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ।
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा॥
vakratunDa mahAkAya sUryakOTi samaprabha ।
nirvighnam kuru mE dEva sarvakAryEShu sarvadA ।।

The meaning of this shloka is:

dEva means O Lord.

vakratunDa means with a bent trunk.

mahAkAya means and a huge body.

samaprabha means with the same brightness.

sUryakOTi means of a continuous array of Suns.

kuru means Please make.

sarvakAryEShu means all actions.

nirvighnam means obstacle free.

mE means for me.

sarvadA means always.

The gist of this shloka is, O lord with a
bent trunk and a huge body, shining with the brightness of an array of suns, please make all my actions obstacle free all the time.
We see that even this shloka appeals towards the obstacle removing aspect of lord gaNEsha. Many people have a tendency to drag out the "a" at the end of each word here. Only sarvadA has a long "a" sound in the end. The rest are not long deergha sounds like prabhA, or mahAkAyA, they are short or a hrasva sounds like prabha, and kAya.
This is because all of these names are being used in sambOdhana means as a form of addressing someone. You can read to the shloka again to notice this short endings more clearly.

Let us now look at the correct pronunciation of the last shloka.

अगजानन पद्मार्कं गजाननं अहर्निशम् ।
अनेकदंतं भक्तानां एकदन्तं उपास्महे ॥
agajAnana padmArkam gajAnanam aharnisham ।
anEkadam tam bhaktAnAm Ekadantam upAsmahE ।।

The keyword to understand this shloka is the verb upAsmahE, which roughly means approaching a diety through worship, but before we go there, the word play in this shloka is absolutely beautiful.
This really depicts the level of intricacy
Sanskrit is capable of when it comes to the beauty of both sound and meaning.

The sound ga means going and denotes movement.

a-ga is that which is unmoving and still,
which means a mountain, also called a parvatam.

ja means jananam or birth.
a-ga-ja means born out of the unmoving mountain, the daughter of parvata, who is pArvatI, who is lord gaNEsha's mother.

Anana means a face.

padma means a lotus.

arka means the sun, each with their own intricate origins, but notice what happens when you bring all these sounds together:
a-ga-ja-Anana-padma-arkam, The one who is
like a sun, to the face of pArvati, which
is like a lotus. Which means, the one who brings joy to the face of pArvati.

While these sounds hold this beautiful meaning, there is yet another layer of poetic beauty hidden within them.
The same set of sounds agajAnana, also has
gajAnana which means the face, Ananam, of
an elephant, gaja.

These kinds of wordplays are littered throughout sanskrit literature especially in poetry.
Imagine the kind of intellectual stimulation and satisfaction, a reader can enjoy exploring Sanskrit literature, especially when it need
not be diluted by English translations like these. Anyways, getting back to the topic...
the meaning of this shlOka is:

upAsmahE means We worship.

aharnisham means throughout day and night, or uninterruptedly.

tam Ekadantam means that lord with a single tusk.

anEka dam means who provides in plenty.

bhaktAnAm means to his devotees.

gajAnanam means who has the face of an elephant

arkam means who is like the sun.

Ananapadma means to the lotus like face.

agajA means of the daughter of the mountain, dEvI pArvatI.

The gist of this shloka is, We worship uninterruptedly, that lord with a single tusk, who provides in plenty to his devotees, who has the face of an elephant, who is like the sun to the lotus like face of the daughter of the mountain, dEvI pArvatI

The most common mistake committed here is
with the understanding of anEkandatam. This doesn't mean anEka and dantam, meaning many teeth. gaNapati has only one tusk as denotedby the word Ekadantam. anEkadantam is split as anEka, dam, and tam. tam means "to him", who gives many things "anEka dam".

I hope you are now able to memorize and recite these shlokas more clearly and with a deeper understanding of their meanings.
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