As is well known, before starting any ritual Lord Ganapaty (also known as Vighneswaram,or the Lord of obstacles) is invoked first.

Usually, almost everywhere, the following Sloka(in bold) is used for that purpose:

2.Ganapathi dyanam*

Recite the following manthra slowly hitting the forehead with both fists together.:-

Shuklambaradharam Vishnum Sasi Varnam ChathurBhujam Prasanna Vadanam Dyayeth Sarva Vigna Upa Santhaye.

With the above quote being taken from this page.

But ,the sloka/mantra mentioned above is in fact the Dhyana Sloka of Lord Vishnu for the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram found here or here.

Can someone explain this ?

  • 1
    Anyone who does sandhya vandanam must be doing this sloka each time.Can anyone among them tell me the reason ?
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 17:58
  • 1
    The reason for the confusion over who this shloka is about is because it contains both the word "vighno" and the word "vishnum". Some people think it's about Ganesha, because Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and they think "vishnum" is being used in the literal sense of "pervading". Others think it's about Vishnu, because of the "vishnum", and they argue that Vishnu also has the capacity to remove your obstacles. And then some Sri Vaishnavas think it's about Vishnu's general Vishvaksena, because Sri Vaishnavas invoke Vishvaksena rather than Ganesha to remove their obstacles. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:24
  • The Vishvaksena interpretation makes some sense considering that the very next verse (yasya dvirada vaktradya) continues the praise of Vishvaksena. In any case, personally I'm unsure over which of the three theories is correct. Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 20:27
  • Can anyone provide the link of any scriptures which explicitly mention this sloka as related to Ganesha?I don't think anyone can.I have asked many persons regarding this.None were able to answer.However this sloka as Dhyana for Vishnu is explictly mentioned in scriptures.
    – Rickross
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 16:41
  • What scriptures explicitly mention it as a Dhyana on Vishnu? Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


शुक्लाम्बरधरम् विष्णुम् शशि वर्णम् चतुर्भुजम् |
प्रसन्नवदनम् ध्यायेत् सर्व विघ्नोपशान्तये ||

"shuklamvaram dharam vishnum sashivarnam chaturvujam |
prasanna vadanam dhyayet sarva bighnopashantaya ||"

Let's examine each word of the sloka:

शुक्लाम्बरधरम् = शुक्ल + अम्बर + धरम्
Shuklamvaradharam = white+cloth+wearing

ie, White cloth wearing

Vishnu is especially called पीताम्बरम् (Pitamvaram)
     ie, Yellow cloth wearing

विष्णुं = Lord Vishnu / All pervading, Omniscient

(Let's discuss it later below)

शशिवर्णम् = शशि + वर्णम्
Sashivarnam = Moon (White) + Colour
   ie, who have moon (white) coloured body.

Vishnu is depicted as  मेघवर्णम्( Meghavarnam) ie, Whose colour is like raining cloud ie, dark blue complexion. For eg. After the dhyan shlokam of Vishnu Sahasranaamam Lord Vishnu is called Meghavarnam Subhangam

चतुर्भुजम् = चतुर् + भुजम्
Chaturvujam = Four + Hands

Both Lord Vishnu and Lord Ganesh have four hands.

प्रसन्नवदनम् = प्रसन्न + वदनम्
Prasannavadanam = Delightful + face
ie, Having delightful face
(Both Lord Vishnu and Lord Ganesh have delightful face)

ध्यायेत् = (I) meditate

सर्व विघ्नोपशान्तये = सर्व + विघ्नोप + शान्तये
Sarva Vighnopasantaye= All + obstacle + pacifier (remover)

(Both Lord Vishnu and Lord Ganesh have power to remove obstacles)

Now Lets form the complete sentence..

First See Lord Vishnu here

1) I meditate upon delightful face of four handed Lord Vishnu who wears white clothes, who is of white complexion and who removes all obstacles.

This description doesn't so much fits with Lord Vishnu. It should have been like this to exactly fit:

"I meditate upon delightful face of four handed Lord Vishnu who wears yellow clothes, who is of dark blue complexion and who removes all obstacles"

Now let's use Omniscient /pervading lord

2) I meditate upon delightful face of that four handed Omniscient (all pervading) Lord who wears white clothes and is of white complexion and who removes all obstacles.

Now let's check it for Lord Ganesh:

1) Ganesha is generally first invoked in every ceremony. This is also first sloka of Vishnu Sahasranaam.

2) Omniscience of Lord Ganesha:
  Everyone knows Ganesh is omniscient. Here is also a verse of Mahabharat which tells Ganesh is omniscient.

Mahabharat Adi Parva Section I
"From the mysteriousness of their meaning, O Muni, no one is able, to this day, > to penetrate those closely knit difficult slokas. Even the omniscient Ganesa took a moment to consider; while Vyasa, however, continued to compose other verses in great abundance."

3) Removal of obstacles : Ganesh is famously known for removal of obstacles. He is also known as Vighnaharta. His another name is Vinayak which also means remover of obstacles.

Hence it refers to Lord Ganesha who is first invoked, who is remover of obstacles, who is omniscient, whose colour is white and who wears white/bright clothes.

But, You may also refer this to specific form of Lord Vishnu when he is in white and when his complexion is white as it is not always necessary that Lord Vishnu always wears yellow and his complexion is always dark blue.

But this Shloka is not Dhyana Shloka of Vishnu Sahasranaamam.
The Dhyana Shloka is:


kshIrodanvat-pradese suchi-mani-vilasat-saikate mautikAnAm
mAlA-kliptA-sanasthaH sphtika-mani-nibhaiH mautikaiH manditAngaH
Subhrair-abhrair-adabhraiH upari virachitaiH mukta-pIyUsha-varshaih
AnandI naH punIyAdari-nalina-gadA-Sankha-pAniH mukundaH.

May mukundA, with the discuss, mace, conch and lotus in His hands, purify us- mukundA who is seated on a seat of garlands of pearls, in the region of the milky ocean with the sand shining by the light from pure gems; who is adorned by pearls transparent like crystals; and who is enjoying ecstatic bliss on account of pure white clouds overhead, raining showers of nectar.

bhUH pAdau yasya nAbhir-viyada-suranila-candra-sUryau cha netre
karNa-vASaH Siro-DyauH mukhamapi dahano yasya vAsteyam abdhiH
antas-stham yasya viSvam sura-nara-khaga-go-bhogi-gandharva-daityaiH
chitram ramramyate tam tribhuvana-vapusham vishNum Isam namAmi.

I bow to Lord vishNu who has the three worlds as His body. The Earth is His feet, and the sky His navel. Wind is His breath, and the Sun and the Moon are His eyes. Directions are His ears, and the Heaven is His head. Fire is His face and ocean His abdomen. In Him is situated the universe with diverse kinds of Gods, men, birds, cattle, serpents, gandharvas and daityas (demons)- all sporting in a charming way.

  • 6
    Good detailed answer. Personally I'm still undecided on who the verse refers to; I wish some scripture mentioned the Devata of this verse. In any case, how would you respond to the belief of some Sri Vaishnavas that this verse refers to neither Ganesha nor Vishnu, but rather to Vishnu's general Vishvaksena? Unlike Smarthas who begin Yagnas by invoking Ganesha to remove obstacles, Sri Vaishnavas invoke Vishvaksena to remove obstacles instead. And also, the next verse, "yasya dvirada vakrtradya", also refers to Vishvaksena, so it could be a two-verse invocation of Vishvaksena. Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 2:37
  • 1
    Also, I have heard the argument made that in Panini says that even though vish means to pervade, the word vishnu can only be used as a proper noun, not as a common noun or an adjective, so any references to that word have to refer to the god Vishnu. Like I said, I'm undecided as to whether it refers to Vishnu, Ganesha, or Vishvaksena. Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 2:42
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    @Keshav Srinivasan I don't know about Vishvaksena... But you can use it if it refers to four handed , white complexion and white clothes and obstacle remover... "yesya dvida vakratradaya" is like a variant version... commonly people just use "vyasam vasistha naptaaram" after shuklam varam dharam... Here vakratradya means "elephant headed".. Is Vishvaksena elephant headed God... ?
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 2:54
  • 1
    @Keshav Srinivasan no "Vishnu" can easily be used to mean all pervading... in fact there is no such thing as common noun in sanskrit... they just represent attribute...that are derived from root word called dhatu.. for eg. In Vishnu Sahasranaam one name is "Shiva" which is not common noun .. it represents auspicious nature of Vishnu... In Shiva Sahasranam one name is "Vishnu" and it doesn't represent common noun it represents omniscience of Lord Shiva... Hence Vishnu can also be used in sense of all pervading also..
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 2:58
  • 1
    I'm sorry to say this is not even an answer.We don't want anybody's analasis as to why this MIGHT be a sloka related to ganapaty.If it genuinely is, then we should be able to quote from scriptures and it wud be an one liner answer.
    – Rickross
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 14:09

Finally seem to get a satisfactory answer to the question as well as the scriptural source for the Sloka.

Also,as anyone can see,its not surprising that the Sloka can very well be mistaken for a Sloka of Vishnu.

There is no way one can convince oneself that the Sloka is related to Ganapaty unless one sees the scriptural reference.

From the Vishnu Sahasranama found in the Skanda Purana-Avantya Khanda

Shuklaambaradharam Vishnum Shashi Varnam Chaturbhujam, Prasanna Vadanam Dhyaaye Sarva Vighnopashaantaye/ Laabhasteshaam Jayatyeshaam Krutasteshaam Paraajayah, Eshaamindeevara shyaamo hridayastho Janardanah/

( In his address to Devas, Lord Brahma invoked Shri Ganesha in the Swarupa of Bhagavan Vishnu as wearing white and clean clothing decked with four hands with a pleasing countenance and prayed to Him to appease any type of obstacle in the task being initiated. May Lord Janardana of Shyama Varna -blue complexion- who retains a splendid blue lotus in his heart bestow boons to us as he is the Emblem of Earnings and Magnificent Victories).

Edit-Further evidence that Sloka in question is just a pseudo Dhyana Sloka of Ganapaty.

The following (complete?) version of the Sloka is used for Visvaksena Puja.

śuklām baradharaṁ viṣṇuṁ śaśi varṇaṁ caturbhujam | prasanna vadanaṁ dhyāyet sarva vighnopa śāntaye || yasya dviradha vaktrādyāḥ pāriṣadhya paraśatam | vighnam nighnanti satataṁ viśvaksena tamāśraye || I take refuge in Vishvaksena who always destroys all hindrances, he is the general of the elephant
faced attendants and the numerous others.

enter image description here

That sounds quite reasonable to me since Ganapty is most often described in Scriptures as wearing red as opposed to white.

Also,almost all Dhyana Slokas of Ganapaty atleast mention one of the prominent features of Him(viz-big belly ,curved tusk,one toothed etc)in them.

In this case that is strikingly missing.No mention whatsoever of Vakratunda or Lambodara or the musika which is His Vahana.

enter image description here

The highest of Yogis meditates constantly upon Ganesha, with a single tusk, having four arms, holding a
noose, goad, the Benefactor, supporting the universe with his hands, having the mouse as his emblem, red in colour, potbellied, fan-eared, wearing red clothes, anointed with red vermilion paste, worshipped with
red flowers,
always attentive to the supplications of the devotees, the cause of the universe, the Unsullied
One who was manifested before the universe was created and existed prior to the manifestation of spirit
and matter-From the Ganapatyatharvasirsopanishat.

  • 4
    That link is just an abridged summary of the Skanda Puranas, not an actual translation. I just checked an actual translation of the Skanda Purana, and Brahma does not actually say that he is "invoking Shri Ganesha in the Swarupa of Vishnu". He just says "O excellent Suras, may this excellent procedure worship Vishnu be heard" and then he gives the shuklam bharadharam verse. i.imgur.com/9eJctfM.jpg Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 14:07
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    @KeshavSrinivasan but it is for Lord Ganesh...as it starts with obstacle remover... below is If Janardana... then below that is Lord of Ganas...
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 14:18
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan but I think it isn't strange that it starts after "may thus excellent...."... because it starts with "For the sake of removing all obstacles..."
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 14:29
  • 1
    @Rickross Their purpose is simply to describe what they see the nature of the verse as, even though the Skanda Purana doesn't say it. Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 5:59
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    The Ganesha mentioned is not present Umaputra Ganesha. But the remover of obstacles. He is Vishnu. Skanda Purana mentions the stories of Satpurusha Kalpa. Remover of obstacles or head of Ganas of shiva in present kalpa is assigned to Umaputra(Ekadanta). So the verse is to Vishnu or his general Vishwaksena. Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 6:22

Based on this page and this page, "vishnum" is not for Lord Vishnu; but it means "who is all-pervading or omnipresent".

  • 3
    This voting system serves no purpose at all.Here again we see how a wrong answer has got an upvote.Only few selected experts should be allowed to vote and select best answers.
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:19
  • 2
    Your answer is wrong.The greenmesg page lists the sloka under Sri Vishnu mantra/slokas.So they are treating it as Lord Vishnu's sloka and not sri Ganapaty's.I have provided a link in my question which clearly proves that the said sloka is in fact the Dhyana Sloka for Lord Vishnu.Now,how its being such widely used as a Ganapaty dhyanam is a mystery to me.But that is clearly wrong IMO.
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:21
  • The greenmseg link was provided just to show the meaning of word "vishnu". Hover cursor on vishnum in the shloka to see what the meaning is. In this shloka, the meaning of vishnu is "who is all-pervading and omnipresent"; but not Lord Vishnu.
    – Gireesh
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:45
  • I know the meaning already but did you see where the sloka is listed?Under Ganapaty's sloka or under Vishnus's sloka?
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:57
  • I'm not saying that since the word "Vishnum" is there in the sloka it must be one of LOrd Vishnu's.It is clearly the dhyana sloka of Lord Vishnu as we can see from the Vishnu Sahsranama stotram found in the Mahabharatha(link given in question).This should clear all confusion regarding who's mantra/sloka it is in truth.Then why still to use it as a sloka related to Ganapaty?
    – Rickross
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 7:15

Obviously the shloka, as translated by our kind friend, dictates the same features of both Shri Vishnu and Shri Ganesh. Therefore, this Shloka is offered to the God of the mind's choice.

How beautiful these shlokas are.... you can say Om shivamachyutam to mean Lord Vishnu, or Lord Shiva, or you can mean both.

The main concept we need to wrap our minds around is that these sounds or vibration are made by us. We are not the tools, the Mantras are the tools. Mantra: Mana means mind; tra means instrument. Use these instruments of the mind for your benefit

Hari Om Namah Shivaya

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    Welcome To Hinduidm SE! Although you have given nice answer of the question ,but its better to support answer wirh some refrences eg.quote from any achrya or from Authentic Hindu Scripture etc.Its more like a comment in it's present form.Pls.provide some sources in your answer. Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 7:52

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