Ganesha (Ganapati) is the son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the god of new beginnings and wisdom. He is also known as the remover of obstacles. In any ritual, Hindus worship Ganesha first. He lives on Mount Kailasa with his parents and the Shivaganas. His mount is a small mouse named Mushaka. He is also the god of letters and learning. Another name for him is Vinayaka. He is elephant-headed.
- Father: Shiva
- Mother: Parvati
- Brothers: Kartikeya
- Wives: Siddhi, Buddhi
- Sons: Subha, Labha
One day, at the home of Shiva and Parvati on Mount Kailash, Parvati went to take a bath. She kept Nandi as a guard and told him to let nobody in. She then went inside to take a bath. After a while, Shiva arrived at the house. Nandi let him in since it was Shiva’s house. When Parvati saw Shiva, she got annoyed. Nandi had disobeyed her.
She wanted a gana who would listen to only her and be loyal to only her. She talked to her friends about this. One of them had an idea. She said,”Why don’t you create a gana that will only listen to you.” Parvati replied,”Good idea!” She created a statue of a valiant human boy out of saffron. After uttering a few incantations, the statue became alive. She decked the boy with ornaments. She then told him to stand guard. He followed his command. After a while, Shiva came to enter the house. The boy did not let Shiva enter. Shiva said,”You know who I am! Let me in!” The boy refused and hit Shiva with his staff. Shiva approached his ganas and said,”Bring this boy to me.”
Then ganas approached the boy and said,”Who are you.” The boy replied,”I am Parvati’s son.” The ganas became doubtful. Parvati was Shiva’s wife. They didn’t know if they should attack him or not. They went back to Shiva and informed him that the boy was Parvati’s son. Shiva told them to attack him. The ganas came back and attacked. The boy defeated most of them along with Nandi and the rest ran back to Shiva.
When Brahma, Vishnu, and Indra heard about this, they approached Shiva. Shiva told Brahma to go with some sages and try to reason with the boy. When the sages approached, the boy immediately attacked them. Brahma and the sages ran back to Shiva.
When they told Shiva what had happened, Shiva became furious. He told Kartikeya, his son, and Indra to lead the devaganas and devas to battle against the boy. Indra and the devas with Kartikeya and the devaganas and shivganas furiously attacked the boy. When Parvati heard about this, she sent two Shaktis named Kali and Durga to attack the devas. The entire army was routed by Kali and Durga. The devas, Kartikeya, and the ganas retreated and ran to Shiva. Shiva got even angrier. He himself went to battle with the boy along with Vishnu, Brahma, Kartikeya, Indra and the devas, the devaganas, the shivaganas, and Nandi.
Shiva and Vishnu watched as the boy defeated everyone else. They declared that the only way to kill the boy would be to use trickery. Vishnu approached the boy on Garuda. The boy threw his mace. Vishnu deflected the mace with his own mace. Shiva attacked the boy from his back with is trident, but the boy punched the trident out of Shiva’s hand. Shiva took up his bow, but it was destroyed by the boy’s mace. Vishnu then cut the boy’s mace in half with his Sudarshan Chakra. The boy threw the fragment of the mace at Vishnu, but Garuda caught the fragment in his beak. The boy picked up his staff to hit Vishnu. Immediately Shiva threw his trident at the boy, thus killing the boy.
The devas and ganas became really happy. When Parvati got to know about her son’s death she became really angry. She summoned thousands of Shaktis and instructed them to attack the devas and ganas. The Shaktis started to eliminate devas and ganas. Vishnu and Brahma ran to Parvati. They pleaded her to stop the Shaktis. Parvati made the Shaktis disappear. She told Brahma and Vishnu to make her son alive. Brahma and Vishnu went to Shiva. Shiva instructed them to go north and bring the head of the first animal they found. They found an elephant. They brought the head back and Brahma fitted the head with the body. The boy immediately sat up.
They brought the boy to Parvati. Shiva apologized and said,”You shall be called Ganesha. You will be worshipped forever and at the begginning of any ritual, you shall be invoked. You will also be called Vigneshwara, remover of obstacles.” Gandharvas showered flowers on Ganesha. Vishnu and Brahma also blessed Ganesha. Shiva and Parvati started living with Ganesha and Kartikeya happily at Mount Kailash.
Ganesha and Kubera
Kubera, the god of wealth, liked to host parties. He would invite devas to these parties. The purpose of these parties was to show off to the other that he had so much luxury and how rich he was. He loved it when people praised him about his prosperity. He decided to invite Shiva and Parvati to a party. He knew that if Shiva and Parvati enjoyed his hospitality, the other devas would praise him even more.
He went to Mount Kailash to ask Shiva and Parvati if they wanted to attend the party. When he asked them, Shiva asked,”Why have you come here, Kubera.” “I have organized a party”, Kubera replied. Parvati interrupted,”Why? What is the occasion.” Kubera did not know what to say. He couldn’t say it it was because he wanted the other devas to praise him. He hesitatingly said,”I…I w…want to celebrate life…life.” Parvati and Shiva immediately got to know his real intention.
Parvati said,”We would like to come but we are busy right now. ” “We can send Ganesha if you want.” Kubera said,”Ganesha can certainly come to the party!” Parvati said,” Good! Ganesha is always hungry when he comes home. Today, I will not have to cook for him.”
At that minute, Ganesha arrived. He was surprised when he saw Kubera standing in front of his parents. Parvati looked at Ganesha in a way and smiled. Ganesha immediately knew that his mother was telling him to teach Kubera a lesson. Kubera did not notice this and said,”Ganesha, would you like to come to my party.” “Sure”, replied Ganesha.
Ganesha and Kubera went to Alakapuri, the city of Kubera. When they reached Kubera’s palace, Ganesha was served food. He finished all the food and asked for more. Kubera ordered his servants to give leftover food. Ganesha also finished that. Kubera told his servants to make food from all the remaining ingredients in the palace. Ganesha ate that in a snap. Kubera got worried. He told his servants to get food from the houses in Alakapuri. Ganesha also finished that. He told Kubera,”That was just an appetizer.” Kubera brought food from the neighboring town, but that was also finished by Ganesha. Ganesha said,”Well, if that is all the food you have, I will just eat you.” Ganesha approached Kubera. Kubera panicked and fled. Ganesha ran after him. Kubera ran all the way to Mount Kailash.
Kubera fell at the feet of Shiva. He said,”Lord, please…please save me.” “I have realized my mistake. I was too vain and too proud of my luxury. Sorry. Please s…save me!” Shiva gave a grain of rice to Kubera and said,”Give this to Ganesha. His hunger will be satisfied. His hunger is satisfied when food is made for him with love.” Kubera went to Ganesha and said,”I hope this satisfies you.” Ganesha ate it. He rubbed his stomach and said,”Thanks. I am now full!”
There was a Rakshasa named Gajamukha. He decided to do severe penance to please Lord Shiva. After a long time, Shiva finally appeared. Gajamukha said,”Oh, Lord Shiva. Will wou grant me the boon that no god, rakshasa, asura, human, or animal can kill me?” Lord Shiva replied,”Tathasta,” thus granting the boon. Shiva also said,”Make sure to use this boon for a good cause.” “Yes, I am your humble servant, Lord Shiva” said Gajamukha. Lord Shiva then disappeared.
Gajamukha started laughing. He said,”Oh Bholenath, you are truly bhole (humble). With this boon I will rule all three lokas.” Gajamukha started fighting the devas. The devas went to Shiva. Indra said,”Lord Shiva, Gajamukha is using the boon that you granted him to fight us. What do we do.” Lord Shiva said,”I feared that this would happen.”Lord Shiva turned to Ganesha. He said,”Ganesha, only you can defeat Gajamukha. You are not a normal god since you have an elephant’s face and a human’s body. Go and defeat Gajamukha.” “Yes, Father” said Ganesha. He set out to defeat Gajamukha.
Ganesha found Gajamukha and challenged him. They fought fiercely. Gajamukha turned into a mouse and ran at Ganesha. Ganesha sat on the mouse form of Gajamukhaand squished the mouse. The mouse (Gajamukha) had to accept defeat. The mouse decided to become Ganesha’s vehicle. He was happy with this job. Ganesha named the mouse Mushika.
The Race Between Kartikeya and Ganesha
Once, Narada came to Mount Kailash with a divine mango. After meeting Shiva and Parvati he said to Kartikeya and Ganesha,”I have brought a really tasty divine mango. If you eat it, you will gain supreme knowledge.” Both the boys wanted to eat the mango. They didn’t want to share. Narada and Shiva decided to hold a race. Whoever could circle the world three times and come back to Mount Kailash first would win the race and get to eat the mango.
The race started. Kartikeya, on his peacock, took of. Ganesha on his mouse named Mushuka, stayed right there. Narada, Shiva and Parvati were confused at what Ganesha was doing. Ganesha knew that he could not win the race because he had a slow mouse as a mount and he was really heavy.
Ganesha decided to win the race using wisdom. He started to circle around his parents. His parents and Narada wondered what he was doing. After three circles around his parents, he declared that he had won the race. After some time, Kartikeya returned. He was surprised to see Ganesha there. He said,”How could Ganesha have won the race on a mouse. How did he get here before me.” Ganesha said,”I never left this place. I circled around our parents three times. The parents are the world for me. They are my world.” Shiva, Parvati and Narada were amazed. They declared Ganesha the winner of the race and Ganesha also received the mango.
Once, after killing Kartavirya Arjuna, an arrogant king, Parshurama went to Mount Kailash to see Shivji. When he arrived at Mount Kailash, he let Ganesha. Ganesha said,”Oh great ascetic, why have you come her?” Parshuaram said,”I have come here to see Shivji.” He is meditating right now. He gets very angry when someone disrupts his yoga and meditation. I can’t let you see him.” Parshurama became angry. He shouted,”Do you know who I am! I am Parshurama, the great bhakta of Shiva. I can come here anytime. Get out of my way!” Ganesha still refused.
Ganesha and Parshurama started fighting. Soon, Parshurama threw the axe given to him by Shiva at Ganesha. Ganesha, in order to respect his father, let the axe hit him. It hit his left tusk and severed most of it off his body. There was a large noise. Shiva and Parvati heard this and hurried to the scene. Parvati, seeing her son in pain, was about to attack Parshurama. Before she could do so, Shiva stopped her. Parshurama begged at Shiva and Parvati’s feet. Parshurama then left Mount Kailash. From that day on, Ganesha started to also be called Ekdanta, meaning one tooth.
Ganesha and the Cat
One day, was playing around with a cat. He was tormenting the cat. When he came home, he saw his mother in pain. Ganesha was astonished. He said,”Who did this to you mother? I will punish him right aways. Ganesha was shocked when his mother said,”You did this to me.” Ganesha said,”H…How did I do this to you?”
Parvati replied,”You were tormenting a cat and having fun with it. That is not good. All animals on this Earth have been made by Bhagwan (God). And…And a part of me is in all of the animals. By hurting the cat, you also hurt me.” Ganesha said,”Forgive me mother. I have realized my mistake. I shouldn’t have tormented the cat for fun.” Parvati instantly stopped having pain. She said in a calming voice,”I am happy you have realized your mistake.
Ganesha and the River Kaveri
The southern part of India was really dry. People were dying from lack of water. Agastya rishi, who realized this, decided to do ask Brahma on what to do. He did a yagna to please Brahma. Soon enough, Brahma appeared. Agastya rishi told Brahma about the situation of Southern India. Brahma said,”Go to Shiva deva. He will give you special water.” Saying this, Brahma disappeared. Agastya rishi walked to Kailash Parvata. He took water from Shivji and started walking back to Southern India.
Ganesha, who saw Agastya meet his father, decided to follow Agastya secretly. Mushaka came with Ganesha. After a long time, they arrived in Southern India. Ganesha turned into a form of a little boy and approached Agastya. Agastya told the little boy to hold the bowl of water. The little boy (Ganesha in disguise) put the bowl down on the ground. Using his wisdom, he selected the right spot for the origin of the river, placing the bowl at that spot. He then left the place.
Soon, a crow arrived at the bowl of water. The crowknocked the bowl and flew away. When Agastya rishi came back, he was surprised and furios to find the water spilled. All of an sudden, a gushing wave of water came over the land. The wave of water made a river. This river was named Kaveri.
Ganesha and Chandra
One day, a devotee of Shiva came to Ganesha with sweets. Ganesha loved sweets. He stayed with the devotee the entire day. At night, he set off to go back to Kailash. He had all the remaining sweets in his hand. He was riding on his mouse Mushaka. Mushaka was unable to bear the weight of Ganesha and stumbled. Ganesha fell of Mushaka and the sweets scattered. Ganesha was embarrassed.
Chandra deva, the god of the moon, had seen this happen. This was the time during which the moon was full throughout the month. There was no waxing and waning period. He started laughing. Ganesha glared angrily at the Moon. He shouted,”Chandra! You laughed at me when I fell. You think you are so handsome. I curse you that you will not come out during the night ever again!”
Chandra deva was shocked. He immediately cried out,”Lord Ganesha! Please forgive me! I was too proud of myself.” Ganesha realized that Chandra’s pride had been broken. But he knew he couldn’t take back the curse. He said,”I can’t take the curse but I can reduce it. You will slowly decrease in size for about 15 days at the end, of which there will be no moon. After that, for another 15 days the moon will increase in size till the full moon day, during which the moon will be the largest. This cycle will keep repeating.” “Thank you!” said Chandra gratefully.
Ganesha then said,”You laughed at me on Chaturti. Because of this, whoever sees you on this day will have some problems.
Writing the Mahabharata
Rishi Vyasa wanted to write down the Mahabharata. He approached Ganesha for help in writing. Ganesha agreed on one condition that Vyasa would not stop talking as Ganesha wrote. If Vyasa stopped, Ganesha would not write anymore. Vyasa accepted the condition. Vyasa started narrating the Mahabharata to Ganesha at a fast speed. Ganesha wrote down everything. It took them three years.
Ganesha’s looks are very funny. This is why many gods laughed at him. He is pot-bellied because he eats too many sweets. His face is an elephant’s head and his body is a human body. His left tusk is broken. He also has huge ears. He has a small trunk.