Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha
Gan Gan Ganapati Sharanam Ganesha
Jay Ganesha Jaya Jaya Gananatha
Ganesha is the elephant-headed god, son of Shiva and Parvati. "Gana" means troops or multitudinous spiritual attendants of Shiva, and "isha" means Lord, so Ganesha is the "Lord of the troops." Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and is always invoked at the beginning of any endeavor. He also represents the earth element - the root chakra - which needs to be solid before we can fly. Ganapati and Gananatha are two other neames of Ganesha. "Pati" means Lord or protector, and "natha" means Lord, so Ganesha, Ganapati, and Gananatha really mean the same thing: "Lord of the troops."
Sharanam means refuge, protection.
Gan Gan is part of the bija, or seed mantra of Ganesh. This core sound doesn't carry discursive meaning. Bija mantra are said to contain the essence of the deity. I seek refuge in Ganesha. Please protect me, oh great Elephant.
(Written by Jai Uttal)