The Ganesha Purana is a Hindu religious text dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha (Gaṇeśa). It is an upapurāṇa that includes many stories and ritualistic elements relating to Ganesha. The Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana are core scriptures for devotees of Ganesha, known as Ganapatyas (Gāṇapatya). These are the only two Purana that are exclusively dedicated to Ganesha.
The Ganesha Purana asserts its status as one of the eighteen upapuranas in its opening lines:
"There are, however, eighteen minor Purāṇas such as the Gaṇeśa, the Nārada, the Nṛsiṁha, etc. Amongst these, firstly I am going to recite the Gaṇeśa Purāṇa which is rarely heard, especially by someone in the world of mortals." hese lines indicate that the authors sought to ensure the status of this work as an upapurāṇa, a category whose membership was not fully codified at that time. These lines indicate that the authors sought to ensure the status of this work as an upapurāṇa, a category whose membership was not fully codified at that time. Thapan (pp. 20–21) believes that the epithet Ganesha (Gaṇeśa) as a widely-used name for this deity appears to have been popularized by the Ganesha Purana, which is associated with the region of modern Maharashtra (Mahārṣṭra), Vananasi, Karnataka, and perhaps some parts of Andhra Pradesh. Today the epithet Ganapati (Gaṇapati) is popular in South India while Ganesha is more frequently used in Maharashtra and North India.
The Ganesha Purana and the Mudgala Purana are the two late Puranas (c A.D. 1300-1600) produced by the Ganapatya (gāṇapatya) sect. These two Puranas are considered authoritative by devotees of Ganesha and include material not found in earlier sources. During the medieval period the followers of Ganesha, known the Ganapatyas, formed an independent religious movement dedicated to the worship of Ganesha as their preeminent deity. They considered Ganesha to be the qualified (saguṇa) form of the ultimate unqualified (nirguṇa) Brahman. The Ganesha Purana is pervaded with this concept and interprets well-known Puranic stories in new ways to emphasize the importance of Ganesha and to explain his relationships with other divinities. The Purana specifies many methods of worship, key beliefs, and philosophical positions of the Ganapatya sect. The contents of the Ganesha Purana are difficult to summarize because they include a variety of stories and devotional material. The general purpose of the work can be inferred from this set of questions that Vyāsa puts to Brahmā in the tenth chapter of the first Book (I.10.29-30 in Bailey's English edition): "Who is this Ganesha? What is his real appearance (Sanskrit:स्वरूप; svarūpa; also spelled svarupa) and how can it be known? To whom has he previously been kindly disposed, four-faced god? How many are his incarnations and what deeds did they perform? Who previously worshipped him and in respect of what deed was he called to mind?"
The Ganesha Gita
Chapters 138-48 of the Kridakhanda constitute the Ganesha Gita, which is modeled on the Bhagavad Gita, but adapted to place Ganesha in the divine role. The discourse is given to King Varenya during Ganesha's incarnation as Gajanana. Krishan says that a critical examination of the Ganesha Gita shows that ninety percent of its stanzas are, with slight modifications, taken from the Bhagavad Gita. Their topics are the same: karma yoga, jnana yoga and bhakti yoga. However, Ganesha replaces Krishna in the divine role. In II.138.22 Ganesha asserts claims similar to those made by Krishna in BG 4.6-8: I create the world, maintain it and destroy it again; I am Mahavishnu, Sadashiva, and Mahashakti, and Aryaman, the sun. In II.140.9-11 he says that he is unborn (aja), the life principle in all beings (bhūtātmā), beginningless (anādi), and lord (īśvara). Like Krishna, whenever there is an increase of unrighteousness (adharma) and decline of righteousness (dharma) he takes birth to protect the good and destroy the wicked. The four incarnations of Ganesha The Kridakhanda of the Ganesha Purana narrates the stories of four incarnations (avatars, Sanskrit:अवतार; avatāra) of Ganesha, each of which appeared in the four different yugas. These four are not the same as the eight incarnations of Ganesha that are described in the Mudgala Purana. * Mahotkata Vinayaka (Mahotkaţa Vināyaka), who has ten arms and a red complexion. Different sources list his mount (vāhana) as either an elephant or lion. He was born to Kashyapa (Kaśyapa) and Aditi in the Krita yuga. The name Kāśyapaḥ (descendant of Kaśyapa) for Ganesha refers to this incarnation. This incarnation killed the demon brothers Narantaka (Narāntaka) and Devantaka (Devāntaka), as well as the demon Dhumraksha (Dhūṃrākşa). * Mayuresvara (Mayūreśvara), who has six arms and a white complexion. His mount is a peacock. He was born to Shiva and Parvati in the Treta yuga. He incarnates for the purpose of killing the demon Sindhu. At the end of this incarnation he gives his peacock mount to his younger brother Skanda, with whom the peacock mount is generally associated. * Gajanana (Gajānana), who has four arms and was born with a red complexion. He has a mouse as his mount. He is born to Shiva and Parvati in the Dvapara yuga. He incarnates for the purpose of killing the demon Sindura (Sindūra), who was so-named due to his reddish-pink complexion (see: Sindoor). It is during this incarnation that Ganesha gives the discourse known as the Ganesha Gita to King Varenya. * Dhumraketu (Dhūmraketu) is grey in colour, like ash or smoke (dhūmra). He has either two or four arms. He has a blue horse as his mount. He will come to end the decline of the Kali yuga. During this incarnation he kills numerous demons. Grimes notes that there is a parallel between this incarnation of Ganesha and the tenth and final incarnation of Vishnu, where he will ride upon the white horse Kalki. The other difference is, lord Gajanana tells Varenya that the whole universe and all the gods are created by Gajanana and ultimately everything will come back to him including the Gods like Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesha.