Ganapati songs and mantras devoted to Ganesha
Music Period: Indian Classical
Piece of Music: Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, Mahaganapathim
Many-armed Ganesh is undoubtedly one of the most popular deities of the Indian subcontinent who is honored by all Dharmic religions. Ganesha can be easily distinguished from the colorful pantheon of Hindu gods by his elephant head that gives uniqueness to his world-famous appearance.
In Indian religions, Ganesha is strongly associated with the most sacred syllable symbol Om—the initial sound from which the vibration that generates the perceived universe has started. Iconographers see similarities between the shape of Ganesha's body and the shape of Om, the fundamental element of all mantras chanted by Hinduists, Buddhists, and Jains to unlock psychological and spiritual powers.
In mantras praising Ganesha, he is usually mentioned under the name Ganapati, most likely due to the fact that this name and its variations are really convenient to sing. Although that name first appears in the Rigveda, which is the oldest known Vedic Sanskrit text composed no later than 1200 BC, religious scholars share a common opinion that in this collection the term Ganapati is not related to Ganesha since the idea and the icon of this deity hardly existed until the 4th century AD.
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha mantra is the most common appeal to Ganesha in India where it is traditionally used as the most powerful chant to cultivate wisdom, positivity, and bring prosperity. The lyrics of this mantra usually contain a varying repetition of the title line Om Gan Ganapataye Namo Namah, and sometimes other Ganesh chant names like Vinayaka and Lambodara.
Listen to Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha performed by Shubha Mudgal:
The real popularity of Ganesha is reflected in its vast musical reach, stretching fat beyond classical mantras and sacred recitations. Countless popular songs of various genres are addressed to him, as well as songs from films and animation that often tell curious and instructive stories about Ganesh.
Mahaganapathim is one of the most performed and, at the same time, the oldest classical songs about Ganesha written by an iconic songwriter Muthuswami Dikshitar in the early 19th century. He was the most influential Indian composer representing Carnatic tradition which is most present in the South of the country.
Listen to Muthuswami Dikshitar's Mahaganapathim performed by Maharajapuram Santhanam:
The song is full of colorful epithets praising the Ganapati whom the great sages worship while poets and playwrights pay tribute to his tranquility and wisdom. The lyrics of this joyful song also mention that Ganesha is partial to a variety of sweets and has a mouse for a mount.