What the scriptures say about Anant Chaturdashi and Ganesh Visarjan


According to Chapter 94 of Bhavishya Puran Uttar Parva, Anant Chaturdashi is celebrated on Chaturdashi Krishna Paksh of Bhadrapad wherein Bhagwan Anant is worshipped.

Yudhishthir asked Krishna about Bhagwan Anant and why this festival is celebrated.

Yudhishthir wondered if Anant is Sheshanag or Brahmor Parmatma.

Krishna replied that he himself is known as Anant born in Vasudev clan, who took the avatar to destroy demons and lessen the burden of the earth, that he was Vishnu, Jishnu, Shiv and Anant and that there is no difference in Sheshanag and him.

Yudhishthir then asked about the importance of this vrat and who performed it first.

The story goes thus — a Vashishth gotra Brahmin named Sumantu was married to sage Bhrigu’s daughter Diksha. They had a daughter named Sheela, who was extremely religious.

When Diksha died of fever, Sumantu took another wife. This woman, Karkasha, was very cruel. When Sheela was of age, Sumantu married her to Kaudinya Muni.

Sumantu asked Karkasha to give some gift to the newlyweds, but Karkasha shut the door in their faces.

The newlyweds slowly walked towards their destination. On the way, Sheela noticed women performing puja on the banks of a river.

She asked about this puja and its importance and showed her readiness to observe this vrat. She was told that it is a day of Janardan worship — where the statue of Janardan is offered flowers, incense, lamps and sweets.

Sheela was told they recite his story and offer a thread of silk or cotton with fourteen knots. They then wear the same thread – women on the left hand and men on right hand – to be exchanged the following year with a new one as per NaradPuran, Chaturth Paad 113.

But the first to be worshipped is Ganesh.

This should be followed for fourteen years. The prayer should be to Bhagwan Anant/Sheshanag.

We should recite the following mantra.

अन्नतसन्सारमहासमुद्रे मगनान समंतभद्र वासुदेव।।

अनंररूपे,विनियोजितात्मा ह्यनन्तरूपाय नमो नमस्ते।।

After tying the thread, one should give half the sweets to Brahmins. The rest should be eaten by yajman and family. The statue should also be donated to Brahmins.

Sheela too observed this vrat. Her life changed immediately. She became rich and lived happily. But then, Kaudinya muni broke the thread of Anant on Sheela’s hand and bad luck returned to Sheela.

Kaudinya muni then set off in search of Anant, praying all the time. He roamed the forest – asking about Anant to a mango tree, to a cow with a calf, then to a bull, then two lakes, then two donkeys and an elephant. Finally, an exhausted Kaudinya muni fell down.

It was then that Bhagwan Anant arrived on the spot as a Brahmin and later gave his Vishwaroop Chaturbhuj darshan.

When Kaudinya muni asked why so many things and elements could not tell him about Bhagwan’s whereabouts, the reply came that they did not see him as they were sinners in their previous birth.

Anant Bhagwan asked Kaudinya muni to observe the Anant Chaturdashi vrat for a happy life.

Now, the question is —  why do so many people in Maharashtra celebrate Visarjanin Anant Chaturdashi?

Nowhere is it mentioned in scriptures that we should carry out Ganesh Visarjan on Anant Chaturdashi but there are many reasons for it – the main being Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Before Tilak, this festival was a private affair.

He made Ganesh Chaturthi a public festival, according to the biography of Tilak by Dhananjay Kheer. It was his organisational ability and leadership which transformed it into a public festival.

Many Hindus were participating in the Muharram rituals that time, but they realised the conspiracy. Tilak then utlised their energy for organising the Ganesh festival and thus people got a substitute.

Ganesh festival societies were founded all over Maharashtra. Pandals were formed for Sarvajanik Ganesh utsav. Youths organised themselves into bands of singers, gymnastic societies were encouraged, and deeds of self-denial and valour were upheld for emulation before the young by fiery speakers and acharyas during Ganesh Chaturthi.

For some time a band of Hindu youths acted as bodyguards of Tilak to protect him against any possible attack by Muslim ruffians. Tilak realised that the British rulers took sides with the Muslims because their policy turned upon selfishness and self-aggrandisement! British sided with Muslims because they saw a danger in the Hindu Sanatan majority who were gradually awakening.

Muslims thought that they were in a minority and backward in education, and they feared that sanatanis were surpassing them in every field. Thanks to Tilak, the first license allowing devotees to play music in the streets during Ganesh immersion — and also during Vijayadashmi and Shiv Jayanti (1916) — was granted by the then police commissioner of Mumbai.

From then people started installing idols in pandals and conducted Visarjan after 10 days which is also Anant Chaturdashi. It is the final auspicious day in Bhadrapad. It is  followed by Shradha and Pitar Paksha, which are inauspicious as per Sanatan Dharma. Hence, visarjan is done on this day — else we’d have to wait till Navratri for an auspicious day.

After 10 days of celebrations, Ganesh Visarjan takes place on this day.

Remember, Ganesh has been invited, so he stays for eleven days and goes back, only to return next year on Ganesh Chaturthi. This is an eternal annual happening. Even in Narad Puran Purva Bhag (Chaturtha Pad) Chapter 113, it is mentioned that we should worship Ganesh first before doing Anant pooja.

Both the festivities are carried out simultaneously with devotion and fanfare. On one side Ganesh Visarjan takes place and on the other Bhagwan Anant is worshipped.

Anshul Pandey is an author and freelance columnist. He tweets with @anshulspiritual

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What the scriptures say about Anant Chaturdashi and Ganesh Visarjan
What the scriptures say about Anant Chaturdashi and Ganesh Visarjan
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