Man keeps on increasing the number of his relationships as he grows. First, he has father and mother, then brothers and sisters, then come friends and after that come wife and children. But all these relationships are based on the body and not on the Atma. Once the body is lost, there is no relationship with anyone. But the truth is man is not only the body. The word ‘Manava’ means he is not ‘Nava’, he is not new. In fact, human personality is a combination of three components: body, mind and spirit. That is why Swami tells us, “You are not one but three.” One is what you think you are – that is the body; second, what others think you are – that is the mind; third, what you really are – that is the Atma or the spirit. The body is mine but I am not the body. Mind is mine but I am not the mind. It is necessary that you recognise the truth that you are not the body, your body is different from you. Similarly, thoughts and feelings that arise in your minds, they just arise in your mind, they are not you. We feel hungry. You say “I am hungry,” you are not saying that you and hunger are one and the same. Our true nature cannot be comprehended by the mind nor described by words. We may describe the body. We may also explain the mind. But you will not know the Atma until you experience it.
The experience of the Atma is the real nature of man. When you develop relationships based on the Atma, they are true relationships. Who is our mother? Nothing but the truth, the eternal truth that is the Atma! Wisdom is father. Right conduct is brother. Compassion is the friend. Peace is the wife. Forgiveness is the child. These are the six true relatives for us. These six relatives are permanent; they will be always with us and lead us to the right destination.
We worship Ganapathi as the son of Shiva but the relationship between Ganesha and Shiva, is not just of the body. We also call Him the son of Gauri. To think that Shiva is one God is not correct. He is the very nature of the Atma, He is the very embodiment of wisdom. That is why our father is wisdom. If you understand the true significance of the Shiva principle, then you can also understand who Ganesha is. Shiva is one whose nature is Satchitananda. It is God, who is Shiva. Shakti is Parvati. Parvati is nothing but Mother Nature. Ganapathi is the embodiment of wisdom and intelligence born of the combination of God and Mother Nature. In the Vedic chanting on Ganesha, the boys chanted Atharva Sheersha. Ganapathi is the embodiment of all the deities. He is the sun, He is the moon, He is the earth, He is the sky, He is the one who is inside us as well as outside us. If you recognise the true principle of Ganesha, you know that He pervades inside and outside all over. Who is inside is nothing but the Shiva principle which is the Atma. Outside we see Mother Nature. But the principle of the Atma pervades both inside and outside all over.
Ganapathi uses rat as His vehicle. Rats cannot be found in bright light. We find them only in darkness. Darkness is ignorance. The real darkness is the feeling ‘I am the body’. Ganapathi has conquered all ignorance and darkness and that is how He is using rat as the vehicle. The real principle of Ganesha is the one who takes us from body consciousness to Divine consciousness. Because we base our life on the body, we become narrow-minded. When we base our life on the Atma, everybody is one. There is only one Atma who pervades everyone. When we recognise the Atmic principle that pervades everyone, we develop broad mindedness. That is the prayer we should offer for the first worship – take me from body consciousness to Divine consciousness, remove the darkness of ignorance in me and grant me self-knowledge.