Who is Ganesha?
Lord Ganesha is one of the most famous and loved gods of Hinduism.
Part 1 of 3. Part 2. Part 3.
This is a story that was told to me by my friend's mom, a Tamil Brahmin, when I lived in Chennai between 1999-2001. In different parts of India and in different communities within the same areas of India, people will have different variations of this story. Keep tuned in to the end, a video is embedded!
Lord Ganesha was born as a normal child to Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi, but came later to have a change of form and fate.
Lord Siva was an ascetic and for all of his marriage, he liked to roam in the forest. Right after the conception of their son, Ganesha, he decided to start a new journey, and told his faithful wife, Parvathi, to wait, he would return soon. He did not return for about 15 years, about the time Ganesha would be a teenager.
From a young age, Ganesha knew he had a father, somewhere wandering in the forest, but never did he see him. Due to this, Ganesha would protect his mother by standing guard the house each day, especially at the time for her bath. So, one day, she was bathing, and Siva returned from the forest.
Remember that Siva knows he has a son, but has been gone for such a long time, he would not know how he looks. Similarly, Ganesha also would not know how his father would look. So, when Lord Shiva returned, Ganesha unknowingly told his father to go away, as mother is bathing and I cannot let anyone, especially strange men into the house.
Siva could not bear some stranger telling him not to enter his own house, so after some time, he chopped the head off of Ganesha and went inside to his wife, Parvathi, who was bathing.
Parvathi shouted, "How can you come into the house, is not Ganesha there to protect me?"
Siva said he did not know anything about Ganesha, but had come in by beheading the man guarding the door! Parvathi wailed and shouted, "How can you kill our only son!??"
At that time, Siva knew what damage he had done. And Parvathi asked him to bring Ganesha back to Life. Siva said, "How can I do that? His head is severed and can not be reconnected!"
Parvathi agreed that Siva should take the head off of the first living being in the area and attach it to the body of her son, so that he could live. Siva had saw one elephant, and beheaded that elephant and attached that head to his son.
That is one of many stories of how Ganesha has the head of an elephant.
Here's another story, that is very similar with minor adjustments. In this story, Siva is known as "Shankar". In Hinduism one god can have more than 100 or 1000 names. So, when people tell a story based on their area of India they may use different names for the same god. It may happen that only one different name is used throughout the entire story (as in this video), where as in other stories the same God (character) goes by many different names. Where it seems there are many characters, later I found out it was the same character (God) but different versions of the same known by different names. Enjoy this video. Doesn't Ganesh look 'cute'?
Keep tuned in for parts two and three of this article!
Part two of this article explores the meaning behind this story. Please do not take this story at face value, it has a lot to teach us about life, patience, and not taking each other for granted! Read part two here.
Part three of this article presents questions and answers about Ganesha.
Image used by permission. Drawn by my friend Kamatchi in 2001 in MS Paint.
More articles on Ganesha:
A Promise to Lord Ganesh: One American’s Journey to Celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi in America (September 1, 2008)
Lessons From Ganesha Chathurthi (9/25/07)
Lord Ganesh Freed India From the British? (9/25/07)
Ganesh Chathurthi in Mauritius (10/12/07)
All Articles related to “Ganesha” on Alaivani
If you liked this post, consider subscribing to complementary Alaivani RSS feed and my Yahoo group (files, photos, newsletters and more not on the site).
Updated August 2010