- Religion and Philosophy
Ganesha, The God of Good Beginning and Prosperity
Om Ganeshaya Namah!
Ganesha, the Hindu God is always being worshiped to mark the beginning of all auspicious occasion. He is worshiped for removing all obstacles. The first prayer is always meant for Lord Ganesha. When, there are hundreds of Hindu deities, how he got such a prominence, you may wonder. The following story will answer this query. This will also highlight how Ganesha got the face of an elephant and how he got the names Ganesha and Gajana.
The Story: Once Goddess Parvathi, the wife of Lord Shiva was getting ready for her bath. She gave instructions to Nandi for keeping vigilance of the area. She asked him to keep guard and not allow anyone to her private chamber. But he could not keep his word when Shiva reached there. His thought was that Shiva is her husband and so there is no need of preventing him.
Having seen Shiva entered her private chambers, Parvati got furious. The Nandi's action (or inaction) prompted her to create her own followers. She thought no Ganas (Followers of Shiva) ever be completely mine. I must have my own followers to obey me only. She created a form from the turmeric paste (which was used for cleansing the body) and breathed life into it.
Suddenly a young boy stood in front of her. She embraced the boy and said "you are my darling son. You will listen only to your mother". She asked him to guard the entrance and instructed don't allow anyone to enter. After a while, Shiva came and tried to enter inside. Ganesha blocked him. Shiva got agitated and asked him to give way. Ganesha didn't mind. The furious Shiva ordered his ganas to fight against Ganesha. A big war began. But all efforts to conquer Ganesha failed. At last, having understood no hope of the boy being defeated, Shiva himself took the battlefield. With Lord Vishnu's help, finally Shiva hurled his trident (Thrisul) at the boy. The boy's head was severed from the body and he died.
Parvati lost control when she heard the shocking news of her beloved son's death. She created hundreds of Shaktis (her own forms). She ordered the Shaktis to avenge the death of her son. They killed hundreds of ganas and devas. Soon Brahma, Vishnu and Indra rushed to Shiva. They pleaded him no console Parvati.
Shiva thought for a few minutes and ordered his ganas to bring him the head of the living being they see first. "But its head should be towards the north", he said. After a long search, they found an elephant sleeping with his head in the northern direction. They cut its head and brought it back to Shiva. Shiva joined the head of the elephant cub to the body of the boy. He gave him life too. The boy opened his eyes. Shiva blessed him and named him 'Gajanan' since he had the face of an elephant. Lord Shiva made the boy the chief of his ganas. Thus, Gajanan was called 'Ganesha', the Lord of Ganas. He is also called 'Vigneshwara' for he is believed to be the destroyer of all the obstacles.
Parvati was too excited on seeing Ganesha back to life. She demanded Lord Shiva to give her son the most important position.
"You shall be worshiped first in any rites and rituals. Other gods will be worshiped only after your worship". said, Shiva. And this is the reason for Lord Ganesha being worshiped to mark the beginning of all auspicious occasion. To cite an example, Hindus offer Ganesh Pooja or Ganapati Homam whenever they enter their newly constructed or purchased home.
Ganesha's importance doesn't end there. The world's biggest epic the Mahabharata was written by Ganesha under the dictation from Sage Veda Vyasa. That is another big story.
To feel that devotional spirit, watch this Video on Ganesha
The Story Behind The Big Story Called "The Mahabharatha"
You know how the Mahabharatha was written? I shall narrate that episode too.
Sage Veda Vyasa got a desire to write an epic. He was well aware that it is going to be a tough task as it would involve many stories and sub-stories. It would stretch to thousands of pages if recorded. He met Lord Brahma with this mission.
He informed Brahma "Lord, I have thought an epic which needs to be written only at an unimaginable speed as I speak it. I need a scribe, who can write as fast as I speak". He requested Brahma to find one, who must be learned and wise and be able to understand all that he says.
Lord Brahma thought for a while and said "I can suggest only one name for that great task. This can be performed only by Ganesha".
The delighted Vyasa went to meet Ganesha. Ganesha had only one condition to accept his request. "I shall take up the mission, but you must not allow my pen to stop even once. I mean you have to recite without a stop", said Ganesha. On hearing this, Vyasa said, "I will recite continuously, but you must not write any verse that you don't understand. Both agreed these toughest conditions and set down to write Mahabharatha.
Ganesha then faced a problem. He needed a good pen for this divine task. He made some attempts to find one but didn't succeed. Suddenly an idea struck him. He did one thing. He broke a portion of one of his tusks and used it as his pen.
As promised Sage Vyasa recited without a break. Ganesha, on the other hand, had no difficulty in following all verses pronounced by Vyasa. He wrote it at a lightning speed. The result is what turned to be the world's biggest and greatest epic called "The Mahabharata".
Ganesha, the Hindu god is also known by many names such as Vinayaka, Vigneshwara, Siddhi, Budhi, Budhipriya, Gajananana, Gajamugha, Pillaiyar, Ganapati, etc. He is the God of Good Beginning and Prosperity. He is also considered to be the Lord of Letters and Learning. All Hindus worship him with great devotion.
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