The followers of this sect venerate the chubby elephant deity known as Ganapati or Ganesha. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati (Shakti) and represents the understanding that comes through the mind. In other words, it is through consciousness and its manifestation (Shiva-Shakti) that one gains mental understanding.
Ganesha is an aspect of the absolute and is widely worshipped throughout India in almost all Hindu rites and ceremonies. The worshippers invoke Lord Ganesha before commencing any important undertaking, for nothing can be achieved without mental understanding. This applies to everyday duties as well as enlightenment. Ganesha is the controller of all accomplishments. Without the grace of understanding, nothing can be achieved. It is for this reason that he is such an important deity, and why a specific sect has arisen around him. Without mental understanding how can anything be initiated or successfully carried out?
Followers of this sect are more prevalent in western India. Huge processions are entirely devoted to the veneration of Ganesha. However, this sect has really ceased to be a distinct tantric group as such and has been absorbed into the mainstream of Hinduism.
Ganesha is traditionally regarded to be the scribe of many of the important scriptures of India, including the tantras. That is, when Shiva, Shakti, Krishna or any other deities, together with rishis, seers, etc. discoursed, Ganesha wrote everything down. He represents the higher understanding that must accom-pany all scriptures before they can be written, and before they can be utilized by the reader. In fact, Ganesha is invoked at the beginning of many of the tantric texts; the very first words are: ‘Shree Ganeshaya Namaha’, which means ‘Salutations to the blessed Ganesha’. This is done to encourage correct understanding by both the writer and the reader. There is also a well-known tantric text called the Ganesha Tantra.
This system of tantra is simple, direct and yet sublime and it can lead to spiritual heights. It is by invoking and focussing one’s powers on mental understanding (personified by Ganesha) that one can actually bring about a high level of understanding in oneself. All that is required is the overwhelming need to know … a need that springs from the very depths of one’s heart. This is the same as worshipping Ganesha, providing one understands the significance of Ganesha. From this understanding will come many other things, including illumination and bliss.