Ganapathi- The Elephant Faced God Of India
Ganapathi is one of Siva’s sons, the other son being Subramania or Karthikeya. In India, both are treated as gods and are worshipped accordingly
Ganapathi is one of Siva’s sons, the other son being Subramania or Karthikeya. In India, both are treated as gods and are worshipped accordingly.
Ganapathi’s father Siva belongs to the Trinity of Gods- Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer.
Ganapathi is considered as the God who removes all hindrances of his devotees. Therefore all people – whether his devotees or otherwise- who start any new venture do it after conducting the required prayers and worship for Ganapathi to obtain his blessings. Ganapathi is also considered as the Lord of the Earth. So, everyone living on the earth should first worship the Lord of the earth. Other Gods are to be worshipped only afterwards. If they ignore Ganapathi and worship other gods in the beginning, Ganapathi will be displeased and will obstruct their prayers.
Ganapathi’s body has several peculiar features. He has an elephant head which is white in colour. A snake encircles his stomach. His sacred thread is also a snake. He has one tusk, four hands, a conch, a Chakra( round shaped weapon) and a mace. Ganapathi as a whole is heavily built, but, ironically , his vehicle is a tiny rat. Ganapathi is humble, quiet and highly intelligent.
It is believed that Ganapathi got his elephant head, as he was born of Siva and Parvathi, when they were living as a tusker and cow-elephant and were roaming in the forests. The gods in those days could assume any shape as they wanted and resume their old forms.
Ganapathi grew up like any other elephants. Originally he too had two tusks, but one tusk was broken when he had a fight with Parasurama, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Parasurama was a great devotee of Siva and had lot of freedom with him. Once he went to meet Siva in Kailas Mountain which was his abode. Siva was asleep when Parasurama came. Ganapathi did not wish anyone to disturb his father when he was sleeping. But Parasurama was not in a position to wait and wanted to meet Siva then and there. But Ganapathi was adamant. Parasurama became angry. Then a fight ensued, and Ganapathi who could not tolerate Parasurama’s anger, caught hold of him, folded his body and threw him downwards. This was too severe an insult for Parasurama. He threw his favourite axe, Parasu, at Ganapathi, which hit him and broke one of his tusks.
There is also a story that it was Karthikeya, Ganapathi’s brother who had broken one of his tusks during a fight between them.
Ganapathi had to work as a scribe (writer) to Sage Vyasa, the celebrated author of the Vedas. It was Vyasa who conceived and created the divine epic Mahabharatha.
The story goes like this: Sage Vyasa, after conceiving the epic, thought of so many ways of giving the story to the world. He could not do both functions of composing and writing by himself. So, he wanted someone who is capable of writing down, as he dictated the epic, stanza by stanza. But, he could not find a suitable person for the job .He meditated on Brahma, the creator, who manifested himself before him. Vyasa bowed before him and said: ‘ Lord, I have conceived a great epic, but can not find a person who can take it down to my dictation’.
Brahma thought for a moment and told him; ’You can get only one person for this work. He is Ganapathi. Please pray to him and request him to assist you.’
Sage Vyasa meditated on Ganapathi, who appeared before him. Vyasa requested: ’Lord Ganapathi, I shall dictate the epic of Mahabharatha and I request you to please write it down for the benefit of future generations.’
Ganapathi was pleased to take up the work. He said:’ I shall do as you wish. But my pen should not stop while I am writing. So, you must dictate without any break. I can do this work only on this condition.’
Vyasa, while agreeing to this condition appealed for another counter stipulation. ‘ I am agreeable, but before you write down, you must first grasp the meaning of what I dictate.’
Ganapathi knew the wisdom of Vyasa and agreed to his condition. Then Sage Vyasa started singing the story of Mahabharatha. He would occasionally compose some difficult stanzas which would make Ganapathi pause for sometime to get at the meaning. Vyasa would make use of this interval to compose many stanzas in his mind. Thus the Mahabharatha was written by Ganapathi to the dictation of Sage Vyasa.
Lord Ganapathi is now worshipped in almost all temples in India. He is also worshipped in countries outside India. Ganapathi is believed to be very easy to please. And all devotees pray earnestly to Ganapathi to remove impediments and help them go forward with success.