Stories from Indian Mythology: The Birth of Ganesh

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Birth of Ganesh

Ganesh Mahotsav in India
Ganesh is said o be the most worshiped god in India. As the lord of all successful beginnings, he is worshiped by devotees of other Hindu deities - Shiv, Vishnu and the Goddess. Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati. However, his birth in our Universe has one of the most strange beginnings. 

Let me tell that story today.

Nandi, Lord Shiv's Bull
In the human world, Lord Shiv and Parvati have their aboard in Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Shiv was often away from this worldly aboard to help the Devs in their wars with the Asurs. In such times, he would leave behind Nandi, his faithful bull, to guard his home and Parvati. 

On one such day, Parvati was preparing to take her bath. As she didn’t want to be disturbed, she told Nandi to guard the door and let no one pass. Nandi faithfully took his post, and stood guard outside his master's home intending to carry out Parvati’s wishes. But, when Shiv came home and naturally wanted to come inside, Nandi had to let him pass, being loyal first to Shiv. Parvati was angry at this slight, but even more than this, at the fact that she had no one as loyal to Herself as Nandi was to Shiv. 

Shiv Returning with his Gana (Warriors)
So, when Shiv was away the next time and Parvati had to take a bath, she took a handful of saffron in her palm, added a little water to make a paste and created a clay like model of a child. Then from her breadth she blew life into this saffron figurine and thus was born Gahesh, her son. The child bowed before his mother and seeking her blessings asked her command. Parvati told Ganesh to guard the house while she was bathing and to let no one pass till she came out. So, taking a hefty stick in his hand, Ganesh stood guarding the door. As it so happened, Shiv returned with his army of followers at that very moment. Shiv strode ahead to meet Parvati while his followers settled themselves on Mount Kailash. However Ganesh, acting on Parvathi's orders verbatim, did not allow Shiv to enter the house. Shiv tried to reason with the young child saying he was the lord of the house, husband of Parvati. Ganesh would hear none of it and stood firmly between Shiv and the door. As Shiv's anger rose he sent his armymen to remove this tiny obstacle from his path. However Ganesh, with his stick, defeated and chased Shiv's well trained and battle hardened warriors one after the other. 

Seeing his warriors defeated by a small child, Shiv was both embarrassed and infuriated. He strode forward in anger and with his trishul (trident), cut off Ganesh's head in a single stroke. Such was Shiv's fury and the power of his trishul, that the severed head was knocked off beyond the realms of the Universe. The torso of dead Ganesh fell down on the ground at Shiv's feet. 

Painting Depicting Ganesh's Birth Story
Shiv Parvati and Ganesh
By this time Parvati had completed her bath and came out of the house hearing the commotion. Seeing her beloved child lying dead on the ground she was overcome by grief and anger. Seeing Parvati so grieved,Shiv's anger cooled off and he realized his mistake.  He sent out his army to look for Ganesh's head or to bring the head of the first creature that they could find. One of his warriors soon returned with the head of a strong and powerful elephant, which Shiv placed onto Ganesh’s body. Breathing new life into him, he declared Ganesh to be his own son as well. However Parvati was still not pacified, saying that with an elephant's head, who would worship Ganesh as a god. So Lord Shiv blessed the child, Ganesh that he will be the lord of beginning and people will worship him first before any other god in any kind of undertaking – PratamaPujya and empowered him on all his servants (gana) to be ever known as “Ganapati".

And so it came to be.

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