We often say many stotras . It has happened to me that I learned some of them by listening to them . So I often misunderstood them, said them incorrectly and did not understand the true meaning . One of the 'ARATI', that we Hindus do , is often said in a wrong way . It is not in English , so those who do not understand the language will have difficulty in understanding it . But I will state it for making a point . It is
" sukhakarta dukhaharta,warta whighnachi,nurwi purwi prem krupa jayachi." I have written it in the way that we say it . The meaning from this is not accurate . The correct way of saying is "sukhkarta dukhharta ,warta whignachi na-urawi( nurawi ),purawi prem krupa jayachi."Now that one makes perfect sense .
The Ganapati Atharwashirsh is one which has a great meaning . It was written by sage Atharwan. Every one of these stotra start with OM. The OM has three letters, namely A, U ,M, which represent 3 deities ,the Creator Brahma, the sustainer Vishnu and the destroyer Shiva .So we start with the OM ..So now for the meaning
of the whole stotra.
I bow down ( do namaskar ) in front of the GANAPATI--the lord or in charge of the GANAS the soldiers of the God.You are the Lord which we can see with our eyes . You are the creatore of the entire universe .You are the sustainer of the universe. You are the destroyer of the universe.You are the 'real' Brahma or the pervading consciousness. You are indestructible Atman.(not limited by body called Jiwatma but Universal Atman called Parmatma ).
I will tell the Truth,(so) you protect me .Protect the one who is describing( your real description).Protect the one who is listening to this (description )Please protect the teacher who is giving this knowledge and one who is receiving or learning it (the Guru and the Shishya)Protect from east , protect from west , protect from north protect from south, protect from top , and from bottom .Protect from all sides and from all things -dangers .
You are the speech(one that is written and read ).You are the Knowledge. You are the Bliss, You are the Brahman.You are the Truth, the Knowledge and the Bliss.You are the One.You are full of the knowledge and you are full of any special knowledge .
(knowledge is in general or understanding of the God and specific knowledge is that what we want to know in our day to day life .)The entire universe has originated from you .You are the the reason why this universe continues to exist, and this universe will end in you. You are the 5 big elements , the earth , the water, the fire or energy, the wind and the space .You are the 4 different parts of the speech . (called Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama , and waikhari, The last one is what comes out as the speech . But there are 3 other stages that we go through before the actual words are pronounced called Waikhari . )You are beyond the 3 qualities(Gunas -Satwa, Rajas , and Tamas).You are beyond 3 bodies(physical, astral and causal called Sthool, Sukshna , and Karanmaya).You are beyond 3 Times --past , present and future.You reside in Chakra called MULADHAR .You are the 3 different energies or the powers, ( strength of desire, called Ichchashakti, the strength knowledge called dnyanshakti, and the strength of the action called Kriyashakti.)The sages are in trance of ( thinking about )you ..you are the creater called BRAHMA ( different than Brahman), the sustainer Vishnu and the destroyer the Shiva., You are the Indra ( who is the king of personal gods and who enjoys the pleasures of the creation . )the Fire (that receives the sacrifice in the Yadnya ).You are the air (that is needed for survival of entire life -plant animal and human beings . )You are the SUN ( whose energy is needed for the world to continue to be ),you are the Moon (which is needed for the plants to survive ),You are the reflection in all the living beings (called the Jiwatma ) and you are the pervading consciousness in entire universe called Parabrahma.
Now there is description of what is called BIJ mantra . Bij means seed . So this mantra sows the seed for the prayer . Take G from the Gana (the army solders . The in charge of Gana is GANAPATI ), Add A to it , then ANUSWAR pronounced as m, then add OM . This OM GAMM IS THE BIJ MANTRA .This is repeated for the understanding and told that by saying this we will get to the lord Ganesha.Ganpati is the Knowledge and this the poetic way of saying it .(OM GAM )The 8 letter Ganesha mantra is OM GAM GANAPATAYE NAMAHA.The Gayatri mantra for the lord Ganesha is similar to every other Gayatri mantra ."We know the appearance of the Lord with one tooth, we think of the Lord with the Trunk ,so that lord should guide us, )
One can not easily meditate on 'spirit' without specific appearence. So His appearence is described, for us human beings to contemplate upon .(Saguna vs Nirguna )