Sukhakarta Dukhaharta, harbinger of light and dispeller of darkness, is one of the most popular aratis, or devotional songs and hymns, in the large repertory of Hindu religious anthems. It is a heartfelt prayer to Lord Ganesha — the highly-revered elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom, intellect and new beginnings — seeking his divine intervention for removing pain and obstacles and bestowing peace and happiness in our lives.
The arati is believed to have been composed by Samarth Ramadas, the renowned 17th century poet-saint from the western state of Maharashtra, India, in praise of the endearing deity. It is said that Sant (or Saint) Ramadas was inspired to compose the arati, in Marathi, after he was blessed with the vision of Mayureshwara, a form of Ganesha, in a temple at Morgaon in Pune district of the state.
Ganesha is worshipped by people across the country but most of all in Maharashtra and in the neighbouring states. The patron deity of arts and sciences is both loved and feared, though he is chiefly venerated as the god of benevolence and protection.
The Ganesha Arati Book: Understanding Sukhakarta Dukhaharta (January 2019) is an exposition of one of the most widely sung aratis at holy rituals (known as pujas) and religious ceremonies; and especially during Ganesh Chaturthi, the popular 11-day annual festival celebrating the birth and glory of Ganesha. It also brings out the essence of the hymn in a way that makes worshippers — and families who pray together — aware of its inspiring message that enriches the soul.
The book provides an easy-to-understand English translation of Sukhakarta Dukhaharta and the glorification of Ganesha in three main stanzas and a chorus stanza. These are interspersed with three fascinating stories — The Legend of Mayureshwara, The Birth of Ganesha and The Story of Kubera’s Feast—which trace the origins of the deity and narrate one of his more famous lessons in humility and human values.
Apart from the excellent rendering of the arati, a lot of thought, research and imagination has gone into this beautifully-designed book. It was declared winner in the Visual Communication category at the 9th CII Design Excellence Awards 2019. The horizontal format has been inspired by the pathi, in the size and style of ancient scriptures and aratis. Each of the 48 pages of the hardbound book consists of colourful motifs and illustrations in India’s rich temple tradition.
A glossary at the end offers a list of non-English words and their explanations. All these elements make The Ganesha Arati Book: Understanding Sukhakarta Dukhaharta worth reading and preserving.
The book is published by Atah Lifestyle, a Pune-based company engaged in making objects related to Indian art, culture and tradition, and is available on its website as well as on Amazon and Amazon India.