The Real Obstacles

In 2001 I shifted to a house neara Ganesa Temple, and witnessed the crowd of devotees of Ganesa. Thousands of people stood in a queue that ran in kilometers especially on Tuesdays. As I walked back from my office to home I would watch the queue carefully. I knew Ganesa is the demigod in charge of removing obstacles. So I use to scrutinize and ponder what kind of obstacles the worshipers want to get rid off?

The word obstacle first comes in our life during our school days as the “obstacle race” on sports day. We have a target of 110 meters to run and there are ten obstacles on the track which we have to jump over. This race is very difficult compared to a normal 110 meter running race. But as we leave school and enter the obstacle race of professional life, the obstacles of the 110 meter race appear easy. That is probably why we have kilometers
of queues before the Ganesa temple.

I remember as a school going child I used to pray to Ganesa to remove the obstacle called examination. I have also prayed to come first in the obstacle race in the next day’s sports event. As student of 12th standard I remember praying to Ganesa to help me remember Darwin’s theory of evolution that denies the existence of God. As an unmarried boy I prayed for removal of the obstacles in getting married. And after marriage we prayed for a child. Other parents pray to remove obstacles in the children’s progress, and grandparents pray that they may be cared by their children. Sometimes I feel perhaps some of those who gathered might even be the cause of each other’s obstacles. For us, we have a 110 meter obstacle race, but for Ganesa it is an obstacle removing kilometers long queue.

End to Problems

There is no end to problems. Every time we face a new problem we are thoroughly convinced that we will be happy if this problem is solved. But the real problem is that we do not know what our ultimate problem is. The reality is that a conditioned soul is exposed to so many problems so that he makes a plan to make a permanent exit from this problematic world by taking up devotional service. This is what Ganesa, the first official scribe of the Vedas, writes in the Gitopanisad.

People are scared that if they leave this queue of kilometers and take up the selfless path of devotion, Ganesa will be angry with them and will cast them into more obstacles. No, in fact Ganesa himself is born in a family of devotees. His father, Lord Siva, is the greatest Vaisnava who constantly chants the name of Lord Rama. Our Upanisads mention the story of how compassionate mother Parvati requested the Lord to distribute his mercy and devotional service to every one. Ganesa himself holds the lotus feet of Lord Nrsimha Deva on his Head as described in the Brahma-samhita. Our taking up to devotional service to Lord Krsna and Lord Rama will definitely make Ganesa happy because devotional service will put a full stop to the real problem of birth, old age, disease, and death. Ganesa will be happy because he is our real well wisher. He feels sad when we approach him with our petty problems, and He is thrilled when we request him to remove the obstacles on the devotional path.