Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
The number eight is associated with the eight Prakritis - Ashtada Prakriti.
What are the Ashtada Prakriti? Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intellect and ego. These all come in our nature.
Some saint or wise man said, let there will be one Ganapati for each of these Prakritis, that is all.
Don’t get into all these things; why twelve Jyotirlingas or Ashta Ganapati? In the ancient days, these were ways to integrate the society.
In the ancient days, people wanted to integrate the population because every six hundred kilometers, the language and culture changes in this country.
There is nothing common between South, North, East and West, so, how do you integrate the country? Then they said, 'Go to the twelve Jyotirlingas. Go to Kashi, go to Rameshwaram, go to Trimbakeshwar, and so on. Like that they promoted a sort of spiritual tourism and national integration. That is all.
It is the same with Ashta Ganapati as well. The idea was that people go all over the different areas of Maharashtra. They wanted to unite people, make them move around as pilgrims.
In those days there were no other holidays or tourism. Pilgrimage was tourism.
When it is sacred tourism, people feel, 'I must do it', and so they created all these different temples to go and visit.