Stories of Ganesha The Lord of Success
The Lord of Success
Ganesha, the son of Shiva and
Parvati, and arguably the most beloved of all Hindu Gods, has the head of an
elephant, and a huge pot-bellied body of a human being. He is the Lord of
success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is worshipped as the god of
education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth. He rides a mouse, has one broken tusk,
and is invariably seen holding any number of symbolic objects including a hatchet, a conch shell, sweets, a trident, and
more. Ganesha is one of the five prime Hindu deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga being the others).
Each Story of Ganesh Has Many Variations
There are hundreds of stories
about Ganesha, how he came to be and how he came into possession of his
important attributes. These stories primarily boil down to how he came to have
an elephant’s head, how he became the elder of two brothers, and how he came to
have one broken tusk. There are other stories, but these themes seem to
comprise the bulk of them. Too, each story has many, many variations. In the
following I have done my best to present several of them.
How Ganesha Got His Elephant Head
As the story goes, Pavarti (Shiva’s Queen) wanted to bathe
uninterrupted. She created from her own body and the water of the Ganges, a
son, Ganesha. Pavarti instructed him to guard the path to where she was
bathing. It happened that Shiva returned from a long absence while his consort,
Pavarti, was still having her bath. When he attempts to find her he came across
Ganesha who wielded his sword and forbid him to proceed. Incensed, (and unaware
that Genesha was his wife’s son) Shiva drew his own sword and decapitated the
boy. When Pavarti found out she was inconsolable in her grief. To right his
wrong and assuage Pavarti’s grief, Shiva sent his soldiers to search for a new
head for Ganesha. Shiva instructed them to bring him back the head of the first
living creature, sleeping with it’s head to the North, that they came across.
The soldiers returned with the head of an elephant, which Shiva placed on
Ganesha’s body. Shiva then breathed life into him.
Ganesha, the Moon, and a Broken
One day Ganesha, after
having receiving a huge number of sweets from his many disciples, in order to
aid his digestion of this incredible quantity of food, decided to go for a ride
on his mouse (Ganesha always used a mouse for transportation). It was a
beautiful moonlit night. During the ride the mouse was startled by the
appearance of a snake. The mouse jumped in fright throwing Ganesha to the
ground. Ganesha's rotund belly hit the ground so hard that it exploded open and
the mass of the sweets that he had eaten spilled out all around him. Being too
intelligent and wise to get angry over the accident and, without wasting any
time in useless recriminations, he tried to rectify the situation as best he
could. He used the snake as a bandage or belt to hold his stomach in place. Have
eliminated that problem, he again mounted his mouse and continued his journey.
Chandradev (Moon God) saw the episode and burst out laughing. Ganesha, having a
very short fuse, cursed Chandradev for his arrogance, broke off one of his tusks
and threw it at the Moon. The tusk was thrown with such force that he split the
moon’s face in two. Ganesha then put a curse on the moon, declaring that anyone
who happened to see the moon will then have bad luck. When he heard this the
moon god understood his mistake Ganesha to forgive him. Ganesha accepted
Chandradev’s apology, but since curses cannot be removed but only lessened, he
modified the cure to allow the moon to grow and fade in intensity every fifteen
days and anyone looking at the moon during Ganesh Chaturthi would then have
bad-luck. Thus is explained why, at certain times, the Moon disappears and then
begins gradually to come back; but its face is whole only for short time since
the tusk had broken it to the point of disappearing.
Ganesha The Scribe and A
Another story of how Ganesha
came to have one broken tusk. It is said that his single tusk shows his ability
to overcome all forms of dualism. In India, an elephant with one tusk is
sometimes called a "Ganesha".
In the Mahabharata an ancient
and epic poem, it is written that the sage Vyasa asked Ganesha to transcribe the
poem as he recited it. Ganesha agreed on the condition that Vyasa recite the
poem without pausing. The sage agreed on the further condition that Ganesha
would have to understand everything before writing it down. In this way, Vyasa
could take a break from his non stop talking by simply telling a difficult verse
which Ganesha couldn’t quite fathom. Vyasa began his recitation, but in the fast
and furious writing Ganesha's pen broke. He quickly broke off a tusk and wrote
with it so that the transcription could continue uninterrupted, allowing Ganesha
to keep his word.
Test of the Elder
Ganesha has a brother, Lord
Subramanya. They once had an argument over who was the oldest (and therefore
head of the Gana, the troops serving Shiva). They went to Shiva to find out the
answer. Shiva decided that whoever would make a tour of the universe and come
back to the starting point first had the right to be the elder. Wasting no time,
Subramanya immediately mounted a Peacock and set off on his journey. Ganesha, in
his wisdom, circled his parents Pavarti and Shiva, then asked Shiva be announced
Shiva asked him why he should be
declared the elder when he had not circled the Universe. Ganesha answered that
his parents represented the whole universe so had indeed fulfilled his task.
Shiva was pleased with Ganesha’s wisdom and named him Ganapati (leader of the
celestial armies) and Vinayaka (Lord of all beings).
Ganesha is the remover of all
obstacles, the lord of success, and whose statue adorns the homes and offices of
not only millions of Hindus…but of my own office as well!