When you look at Pillaiyar or Vinayagar, every aspect of his, has some deep meaning.. Why do we break a co-co nut in front of Pillaiyar? He asked his father to sacrifice his head, as a punishment for not knowing the answer to the question he had posed. When you sacrifice some thing, it should be valuable. ( You should not present or give to others, what you do not value yourself.) So the highest sacrifice is – Self Sacrifice. To show that you are prepared for such noble deed, you sacrifice a co-co nut, ( which has three eyes as Shiva has.).
While sacrificing a co-co nut, it is thrown powerfully against a hard surface, so that it breaks in to small pieces, scattering in all directions. Only children have a right over the scattered pieces. I came to know of this from a child in 1941. ( Unless otherwise specified, the first person I, stands for, Periyaval and not KTSVSarma.) At that time, I was in Nagappattinam conducting Chaturmasya Vratam, ( four months period of abstinence). There in the temple, a lot of co-co nuts used to be offered, ( as ‘chidaru-kai’ shattered to pieces on the hard rock floor of the temple).
Children used to crowd there in such density, that one could hardly find place to break the co-co nut fruits. People accompanying me were afraid that, some of the children may fall over me, (requiring me to have another bath), and so told them, not to crowd around there, shouting, “give way..go away”. Then on hearing this, one boy promptly replied – “Having put ‘chidaru-thengai’, to Pillaiyar, what right do you have to tell the children to go away? It is our right to collect ‘chidaru-thengai’ and you have no right to tell us to go away.!”. Looking at his authoritative tone and clarity of natural right, I was convinced that what he said was perfectly correct. The offerings to a child-god must go to children first.
When you break the ‘Ahamkara’, or ‘ego’, that is the head thickened by pride, in side you will taste the sweet milk of the fruit – that is the idea. There is no God more obese than Ganapathi. His head is the Elephant head. He has a big tummy. Big ears. Big body. One of his name is ‘sthula kaayar’ or gross bodied. He is like a mountain. Still he is only a child. OK. What is attractive about a baby? It should eat well and look chubby. It should not look puny and under nourished. A Sanyasi or hermit should not eat too much and should not look fat. As you get older, it is preferable to fast at night. But a baby should be well fed and look rolly-polly. So this baby God is well rounded and has ‘modakam’, in his hand.
Every animal has some special body part. Savariman’s ( a variety of deer) tail is special.
Peacock’s feather are special. It deters it’s opponents by spreading it’s feathers, thereby showing itself to be bigger than it’s size and attracts females with a colourful display. It will take care to protect it’s own feathers. Similerly the Elephant keeps its two front (molars) ivory tusks, sharpened finely and clean white, by rubbing them against tree trunks. This Pillaiyar elephant broke one of it’s tusks and wrote the whole of Maha Bharatha, the Epic, by using it as a pen. Its tusk is symbolic of it’s beauty pride. Elephants are even known as ‘tuskers’. But Pillaiyar, breaks one of his prized tusks, to show that, ‘to write the story which tells Dharma is more important than, beauty, pride and self respect. By sacrificing a tusk, the Tusker shows that Justice and Dharma are more valuable.A capable man does not need special weapons or instruments. At one time He killed a rakshasa or asura with a tusk. Then it was a mighty weapon. Then he used it to write the Epic Maha Bharatha. So it was used as a mighty Pen.
You can never get tired of looking at the moon, oceon and elephant.As you keep on looking at them, for however long, an endless happiness over whelms you. So this Child God, to make you happy whenever you look at him, has assumed the form of a Pachyderm. That is bliss personified. It depicts the ever lasting Love principle. He was born of Love. When the Mother Goddess was fighting Bhandasura, he had defended himself by interposing the Vigna Yantra. At that time Parameswara looked at the Mother with a smile. She smiled back and Pillaiyar was born, who shattered the Vigna Yantras or obstacles. So the son of Parvathy Parameswara, that is Pillaiyar is also called Vigneswara or the destroyer of impediments or obstacles. Before you pray to any God, you are required to get his approval. Doing obeisance to Him as the only God is known as, ‘Ganapatyam’.
In front of Ganapathy, the devotees catch hold of their ears crosswise, and do sit-ups, three times. This is known as Thoppukkaranam. There is a story that this tradition started from Maha Vishnu. He is supposed to be Parvathy’s brother. Pillaiyar as only a child can do, cought hold of the Sudarshna Chakra of Maha Vishnu and put it in his mouth. Maha Vishnu realised that it is impossible to get it back from Pillaiyar, by force or by requesting. He thought, may be by doing something funny, you could make the baby laugh and the Sudarshan Chakra may fall out and he could grab it. So using his four hands he got hold of his ears and did some sit-ups, while dancing and pirouting. The baby-God burst out laughing. The Chakra fell out and Maha Vishnu grabbed it. Dhorbih karnam, in Sanskrit means, ‘ears by hands’. So this over time became Thoppukkaranam. Any job if it is to go smoothly, without hiccups, you need Ganapathy’s grace. This beautiful Baby God, removes impediments and hurdles. By praying to Him, let us look forward to a life of happiness and fulfilment.