Author Topic: What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?  (Read 11437 times)


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What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?
« on: May 27, 2012, 01:07:27 PM »
The first pic is said to be Ganesh's tsatsa made by Lama Tsongkhapa himself, does anyone know what is Ganesh's position in Tibetan Buddhism? Is he a protector or entourage or what? And surprisingly Lama Tsongkhapa made a tsatsa of him (if the story is real).

Big Uncle

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Re: What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2012, 01:28:22 PM »
Ganapati is a yidam in the Buddhist Tantric tradition and is believed to be of the lower Tantras and the emanation of Avalokiteshvara. I am not familiar with his iconography and if there is similarity with his Hindu counterpart at all. However, I do believe the ritual, sadhana and motivation behind both practices would be different in much the same way as how Saraswati is to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Such similar deities have sparked some parties to believe that Buddhist Tantra is derived from Hindu Tantra and hence the shared deities. I would not agree on this point as I believe that the presentation of the sadhanas, motivation and nature of the deities themselves are vastly different for both Tantras. Ultimately, Buddhist Tantra is to  bring the practitioner towards achieving enlightenment. Therefore, the methods may superficially appear similar but the result is actually vastly different.


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Re: What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 05:28:30 PM »
Somewhere between the 6th and10th century.Ancient India saw a surge in trade and commercial activity.This period coincide of the rise of Ganesha worship.Ganesha plays a dual role in Buddhism.A Buddhist God in his own right as well as a Hindu deity,known as Vinayaka.The Buddha Vinayaka assumed the form of Nritta Ganapathi or Ganesha,popular in North India which spread into Nepal and later Tibet.


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Re: What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2012, 06:11:43 PM »
As far as I know, Ganapati is actually an emanation of Avalokitesvara who appeared in Ganesha's form while he was away running some godly errands and took over his throne in the heavens so that he can tame the warring Hindu gods and teach them the Dharma. Thus, his iconography is featured in tantric manuals that are usually of Nyingma or Kagyu origin.

Ganesha is believed to be the god that rules over and controls our karma. In Buddhism, this concept does not have a place but it is also for this reason that Ganesha is very widely venerated amongst the Hindus. I am not sure what is Ganapati's function in Buddhism, but I have seen several thangkas of him that my Guru said has very deep tantric significance. I have yet to encounter him in the Gelug Guru Tree.

Also, he is not present in any of the traditions' Guru trees. However, his teachings and imagery can be found in Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya traditons. Perhaps he is an uncommon yidam or contains teachings that are not fit for lay practitioners like us, or that the text and description remains untranslated until now. One thing for sure, the Hindus worship him as an emanation of Ganesha and perhaps this will plant some seeds in their mind for further practice.

There are actually many yidams in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon that remains unknown to many people as over time, their lineages and practices die off or that they are no longer relevant or suitable for this time and age, or that their effectiveness would be reduced, or that not many teachers these days have their transmission. An example of an extremely rare tantra is Chundi's practice which is prevalent in the Chinese Buddhist scene but extremely rare in the Tibetan Buddhist scene.


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Re: What is Ganesh/Ganapati's position in Buddhism?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2012, 03:14:53 PM »
Here is something interesting to note as there are two Ganapati/Ganesha here... one is Buddhist and the other is an opponent to Buddhism. I cannot verify this but if someone can it would be great!

Apparently Buddhist Ganapati is not the same as our Ganesha (son of Parvati, and Shiva).  He is  totally different.  He is a Tantric Buddhist Ganapati named as Avalokiteshvara who after killing the Hindu Ganesha then cut off the elephant head and placed it on top of his own, thus taking on the appearance of the defeated Ganesha!  Ganapati has an ambivalent status in Buddhist tantra. The Hindu form is often seen as an opponent to Buddhist practice.  Some particular distinction are, the Buddhist Ganapati uses the seed syllable GAH, not the Hindu seed syllable for Ganapati, which is GAM.

Ganesha and Tibet

Ganesha Scriptures were translated into Tibetan and introduced in Tibet by the monks by 10 and 11 c.  Though based on Indian Scriptures Ganesha acquires a very different form outside India. For Tibetan and Tantric Buddhists,  Ganapati is the Sanskrit name commonly used and the word found in Tibetan literature too. The two words Ganesha and Ganapati have the same basic meaning in English: lord of Ganas.

In one Tibetan form he is shown being trodden under foot by Mah?kala, who is a Dharmapala (“protector of dharma”) in Vajrayana Buddhism (Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Shingon Buddhism).  Mahakala (Shadbhuja) in the six-armed form is also an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. In this form he stands atop an elephant headed supine figure. The name of the figure varies from ritual text to ritual text but is commonly referred to as Vinayaka.  As the Buddhist god Vin?yaka, he is often shown dancing, a form called Nritya Ganapati

Ganesha was worshipped in Khotan, Endere, Kashgar and Lobnor. Four-handed Ganesha images of these countries have been found. They are shown with modaka (sweet), axe, goad and radish. He was famous for killing demons and was thus a deity of protection. In many temples he was shown as dvarapalaka also. He had both male and female forms (Ganesha and Ganeshani). Not only he was shown with a radish, but his mouse also had a radish in its mouth. Such Ganesha images have been found at Mongolia.