About Dhūmra Gaṇapati

The Gaṇeśa Purāṇa as well as the Mudgala Purāṇa refers to धुम्रवर्ण गणेश (dhumravarṇa gaṇeśa) and धूम्रकेतु गणेश (dhūmraketu gaṇeśa). That is a smoky or ash-coloured Gaṇeśa (which is associated with bhasma), so this form is deeply connected to Goddess Dhūmāvatī. The Mudgala Purāṇa lists eight forms of Gaṇapati and the last of them is धुम्रवर्ण गणेश (dhumravarṇa gaṇeśa). There is a mention of another form in the Gaṇapati Purāṇa, one of the four, which is called धूम्रकेतु गणेश (dhūmraketu gaṇeśa). The first form is called महोत्कट विनायक (mahotkaṭa vināyaka) and manifests itself in the satya yuga, the form मयूरेश्वर विनायक (mayūreśvara vināyaka) is manifested in the tretā yuga, गजानन (gajānana) – in the dvāpara yuga, and धूम्रकेतु विनायक (dhūmraketu vināyaka) – in the kali yuga. It is completely normal for different forms of Gaṇapati to be worshipped at certain time periods. That is traditionally performed every month at chaturthi tithi, according to the Indian almanac (pañcāṅga).

1. In the month of Māgha,  भालचन्द्र गणेश (bhālacandra gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
2. In the month of Phālguna, हेरम्ब गणेश (heramba gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
3. In the month of Caitra, विकट गणेश (vikaṭa gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
4. In the month of Vaiśākha, वक्रतुण्ड गणेश (vakratuṇḍa gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
5. In the month of Jyeṣṭha, रथ गणेश (ratha gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
6. In the month of Āṣāḍha, लम्बोदर गणेश (lambodara gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
7. In the month of Śrāvaṇa, विनायक गणेश (vināyaka gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
8. In the month of Bhādrapada, एकदन्त गणेश (ekadanta gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
9. In the month of Aśvīna, कृष्ण गणेश (kṛṣṇa gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
10. In the month of Kārtika, पिंग गणेश (piṃga gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
11. In the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, गजानन गणेश (gajānana gaṇeśa) is worshipped.
12. In the month of Puṣyā, लम्बोदर गणेश (lambodara gaṇeśa) is worshipped.

In general, according to the Gaṇeśa Purāṇa, धूम्र गणेश (dhūmra gaṇeśa) is worshipped. He is described with a vāhana in the form of a blue horse, which differs from the common popular version where he has a vāhana in a form of a mouse. In this form he is associated with Kalki-avatār, a form of Viṣṇu. However, we must bear in mind that in India, followers of different Sampradāyas may see their principal Deity as the highest. So it is not surprising that for some of them Viṣṇu is a manifestation of Śiva, for some – Viṣṇu and even some forms of Śiva are manifestations of the Mother Goddess, and that is also true for the worshippers of Gaṇapati. Dhūmra Gaṇapati is therefore a form of Gaṇeśa, which is the counterpart of Kalki-avatār in Vaishnavism. Although, there are ślokas describing Dhumravarṇa Gaṇapati sitting on a mouse (आखु / ākhu):

धुम्रवर्णावतारश्चाभिमानासुरनाशकः ।
आखुवाहन एवासौ शिवात्मा तु स उच्येत

dhumravarṇāvatāraścābhimānāsuranāśakaḥ ।
ākhuvāhana evāsau śivātmā tu sa ucyeta

The avatāra who has the smoky colour, the one who is also the destroyer of abhimanasura (the demon of pride). The one whose means of transport is in the form of a mouse, who is actually to be called the essence of Śiva.

Accordingly, it is very common in India to reduce all individual forms of Gaṇeśa or some other Deity to the most popular forms and their attributes at first. And then, to the yogic experience in general, as for example, in the Nātha-sampradāya, where Gaṇeśa has a human face, not an elephant-headed one. That is not because he originally had a human face before Śiva gave him an elephant’s head in the famous story. It is simply that for a yogin the human form is closer and the aim of all practices is to realise the divinity in own body, which is what all practices in tantrism lead to. The aim of realisation of a particular mantra (which is one with its Deity) is that your whole psychophysical being becomes a permanent carrier of the reality of that Deity. Continuous total abiding in God means eternity – the nature of ātman, which is the goal of yoga. However, Dhūmra Gaṇapati, like Goddess Dhūmāvatī, is the symbolic end of the spiritual path. It is a symbol of the burned-out worldly aspirations (saṃskāra), the residing of consciousness in the mundane (vāsanā), and in general – of the fire of any passion for life (kāmāgni). The worldly man is constantly engaged in a bubbling life full of fire, the last sign of which is the smoke of the funeral pyre, it’s grey ashes (bhasma). He who has forsaken all the useless fuss of the world, strives for the silencing of all ‘vṛitti‘ (the endless cycle of thoughts) in the mind. Such a devotee strives unceasingly towards the eternity of his true Self (ātman), seeing all worldly things transformed into the nectar of bhasma, the symbol of emptiness from which all forms, all activities (‘pravṛitti’), have emerged. Such yogins are in no hurry to go anywhere. Even if they do stay in this world, they are in a very nominal contact with everything. Dhūmra Gaṇapati and Dhūmāvatī properly represent the nature of Ketu and Śani in jyotiṣa. Śani is the slowest of all planets, so it constrains the exaggeration in our activities, the same is with Ketu. But these grahas could be helpful to those who choose discipline and aspiration towards mokṣa.

Yogic nature of Dhūmāvatī Goddess

My congratulations on the upcoming event that celebrates the birth of the Hindu Goddess Dhūmāvatī. We should observe Dhūmāvatī first and foremost as a Goddess with the profound symbolism. Officially she doesn’t have her own Bhairava, because she and he are one and the same. She is associated with the upper cakras, the upper āmnāya (transmission of knowledge), which leads to mokṣa and is the essence of all āmnāyas. Her energy is associated with the renunciation from the world, with nirvikalpasamādhi. Dhūmāvatī symbolises the moment when the power of kuṇḍalinī rises upwards, reaches ājñā-cakra and then dissolves into Paramaśiva. I will give you an interesting excerpt from the Siddha-siddhānta-paddhati, which describes the practices involved in realisation of various guidelines in yoga. In describing of the inner lakṣya, I suggest that you pay attention to this passage from the second part:

अथवा ललाटोर्ध्वे कोलोलाटमण्डपे स्फुरत्काराकारं लक्षयेत्।
athavā lalāṭordhve kololāṭamaṇḍape sphuratkārākāraṃ lakṣayet।

Or, one must contemplate a pulsating flash in space above the forehead.

अथवा भ्रमरगुहामध्ये आरक्तभ्रमराकारं लक्षयेत्।
athavā bhramaraguhāmadhye āraktabhramarākāraṃ lakṣayet।

Or, contemplate an image like a red bee in the bhramara-guha (bee cave) area.

अथवा कर्णद्वयं तर्जनीभ्यां निरोधयेत् ततः शिरोमध्ये धूं धूं कारं नादं श्रृणोति।
athavā karṇadvayaṃ tarjanībhyāṃ nirodhayet tataḥ śiromadhye dhūṃ dhūṃ kāraṃ nādaṃ śrṛṇoti।

Or, one should cover both ears with two thumbs and then listen to the sound “dhūṃ dhūṃ” धूं धूं (Dhūmāvatī bīja-mantra) in the middle of the head.

अथवा चक्षुर्मध्ये नीलज्योतिरूपं पुतल्याकारं लक्षयेदित्यन्तर्लक्ष्यम् ॥२७॥
athavā cakṣurmadhye nīlajyotirūpaṃ putalyākāraṃ lakṣayedityantarlakṣyam ॥27॥

Or, between the eyes, contemplate a glowing blue image. These are the inner guidelines of contemplation.

Blue is often associated with various types of Goddesses, it can represent the energy of Tārā (Nīlasaraswati), Śyāmalā (Mātaṅgī), Kālī, which in many ways could also correspond to Dhūmāvatī, as blue slightly resembles the color of smoke. In fact, bījas, Dhūmāvatī mantras, her vibrations in the head, which lead to the dissolution are described here. I will share some personal experience. Although many believe that she represents a withering power, I think that such a view is deceptive and the worldly person does not see the most important thing about her. This Goddess, although depicted as a symbol which is close to the end of life, is also a symbol of the full unfolding of life’s whole potential. It’s a total bloom that, for many, seems daunting and ominous. Its withering contains an infinite blossoming of energy, it is kuṇḍalinī at the very peak of unfolding into infinity. Dhūmāvatī eliminates two kinds of fear, which are essentially one – the fear of life-death.

The connection between Dhūmāvatī and yoga

The Dhūmāvatī jayantī is going to be very soon, and you could find a lot about her celebration on the Internet. Thinking about whether to write this posting or not, I came to the conclusion that I could not write much, because, there are things that need to be kept in secret and shared only with the closest students. Nevertheless, I will share some things. This Goddess is known in the Vedas and Purāṇas under various names, such as nirṛti – who is the external opposite to the world order (ṛta). She is old or ancient. This Goddess arose from the body of Pārvatī or Sati in the form of smoke, hence the name. And this smoke itself symbolises something outliving in this world, but reaching upward. Therefore, it is a symbol of sannyasa and the highest renunciation. I am not going to write very much, but will give some interesting examples. Here is an interesting description of the highest cakra (nirvāṇacakra), according to Siddha-siddhānta-paddhati:

अष्टमं ब्रह्मरन्ध्रं निर्वणचक्रं सूचिकाग्रभेद्यं धूमशिखाकारं ध्यायेत् तत्र जालन्धरपीठं मोक्षप्रदं भवति ॥८॥

aṣṭamaṃ brahmarandhraṃ nirvaṇacakraṃ sūcikāgrabhedyaṃ dhūmaśikhākāraṃ
dhyāyet tatra jālandharapīṭhaṃ mokṣapradaṃ bhavati॥8॥

The eighth is brahmarandhra, nirvaṇa-cakra. It is necessary to contemplate the image of a stream of smoke, thin as the tip of a needle. There is the jālandhara pīṭha, bestowing liberation.

One of the Dhūmāvatī’s bīja-mantras is ठः (ṭhaḥ), which symbolises amṛta (the nectar of immortality), associated with the upper cakras, such as ājñā, guru-cakra, sahasrāra.

There is a very famous story among nātha-yogis associated with Paraśurāma and how he performed the prāyaścitta (atonement) with the blessing of GorakṣanāthGorakṣanāth appeared before Paraśurāma from smoke (mañju), therefore, Gorakṣanāth is known by the name Mañju Nāth in the South of India.

I don’t really like that nāthas are identified only with haṭha-yoga, because yoga is just yoga, with its different aspects, while the Nāthasampradāya is generally the way of yoga. Moreover, on all continents now, haṭha-yoga, as a rule, is understood extremely primitively. However, haṭha-yoga has more to do with the Nāthasampradāya. Honoring Dhūmāvatī, I saw the following names in her sahasranāma:

ॐ हठिन्यै नमः। ॐ हठसम्प्रीत्यै नमः ।ॐ हठवार्तायै नमः ।ॐ हठोद्यमायै नमः ।ॐ हठकार्यायै नमः ।ॐ हठधर्मायै नमः। ॐ हठकर्मपरायणायै नमः ।ॐ हठसम्भोगनिरतायै नमः ।ॐ हठात्काररतिप्रियायै नमः ।ॐ हठसम्भेदिन्यै नमः।

oṃ haṭhinyai namaḥ। oṃ haṭhasamprītyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhavārtāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhodyamāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhakāryāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhadharmāyai namaḥ। oṃ haṭhakarmaparāyaṇāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhasambhoganiratāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhātkāraratipriyāyai namaḥ ।oṃ haṭhasambhedinyai namaḥ।

Furthermore, it is interesting that the sexuality (rati) is not mentioned in contrast to haṭhāt (through brute force), as it is slightly opposite, but with the positive attitude (priyā) to their combination. The goddess is revered as a form of righteousness (dharma), in the form of hard effort (haṭha), etc. I immediately recall the mention in the early tantras of such sādhanā, as haṭha and priyamelaka, the practitioner’s connection with yoginis in a “dangerous” and “pleasant” form. Of course, in sahasranāmahaṭha is not referred to as the union of the sun and moon. However, it is obvious that even if the term “haṭha” is understood as “with force”, it will not contradict the merging of the moon and the sun, Śiva and Śakti.