Lord Ganesha Stories

Birth of Lord Ganesha

On the mountain called Kailasa, among swirling mists and deep, dark shadows, lived the great god Shiva. He loved the snowy peaks all around his home, and the giant ice-caves that yawned on their frosty slopes. Sometimes, after a long and tiring hunt, he would spend hours sitting cross-legged in the snow, lost in his deepest thoughts. Sometimes the hours stretched into days.

One such day, when Shiva was away, his wife, Parvati, grew tired of being alone in their mountain hut. "I wish I had someone here to keep me company," she said out loud.

"I know," said Parvati. "I'll make a doll out of clay."

Parvati got busy. She scraped clay from the earth. She wet it. She moulded it. She shaped it with care. She made the figure of a child, a plump little boy with a laughing face. His eyes seemed to look right into her own.

"You could almost be alive!" exclaimed Parvati. "Wait—perhaps I shall make you live, little one."

Then Parvati inhaled and gently, gently, blew the breath of life into the clay doll. The doll was at once transformed into a child, with raven hair and dimpled cheeks and shining eyes. He stretched sleepily and smiled at her.

"I have no child," said Parvati to the laughing boy. "Be my child, small one, and I will love you."

The little boy was playful and strong. When he danced in the forest, the animals danced with him. He called Parvati Amma, which means "mother." When she saw his glowing smile, her own face beamed with happiness.

Days went by. Shiva had not come back. One morning, Parvati said to her child, "I'm going to take a bath. Stand guard at the door, child. I don't want to be disturbed. Don't let anyone in."

The little boy picked up a spear and stood at the door, ready to stop all who might dare enter. He pursed his lips. He knitted his brows. He made his face as fierce as it could look. 

Suddenly, Shiva rushed in, draped in tiger-skin, the cold, thin crescent moon tucked in his tumbled hair. An icy cold draft of air rushed in with him, and the fire warming the little hut sizzled and died. Shiva tried to brush past the boy, but the child still gripped his spear tightly, even though the stern god's presence filled him with fear and the sudden cold made his breath hang like mist in front of his face.

"You can't go in," said the boy. "I won't let you. My mother said I mustn't let anyone in."

Shiva laughed. "Your mother? Who are you? How dare you talk to me like that? Let me in, little monkey. I want to talk to my wife."

The boy pointed his spear at Shiva. "No," he said. "Not until my Amma is done with her bath."

Now Shiva had a terrible temper, and this stubborn child made him angry. His rage erupted. It was so fierce that the day grew dark and giant grey clouds tore across the face of the sun. Shiva lost all reason. He lifted his hunter's axe high over his head, and with one swift blow he chopped off the little boy's head.

"What's all this noise about?" cried Parvati, rushing out. Then she gave a great scream of horror. "You have killed my son!"

"Your son?" said Shiva. "You have no son."

But Parvati wept. "I had a son, and you have killed him." Through her tears she told her husband the story of the child's creation.

Then Shiva's hot temper cooled. "Oh, my wife," he lamented, "what a dark and terrible thing I have done."

"Go now," said Parvati to Shiva, "and find the head. If you fetch it quickly and fix it back on my son's body, he may yet live."

Shiva began to search for the head. But his blow had been so mighty that the boy's head had been thrown up into the air. Flying like the swiftest arrow, it had landed deep in the forest. Hunt as he might, Shiva could not find it. Tired and sad, he sat on a fallen tree trunk with his head in his hands.

An elephant passing by saw Shiva and asked him, "O king of the dance, why are you so sad?"

"I have done a dreadful thing," said Shiva. "Anger filled my heart, and I killed a small and innocent child. I cut off his head, and now it is lost."

The elephant said, "Lord of the world, my years are many, and I am ready for my next life. Take my head, and use it to make the child live again."

The elephant bent his old knees and touched his head to the ground at Shiva's feet, saying, "Cut it off quickly. I am not afraid of pain. I should be honoured to have you send me to my new life."

Shiva said to the elephant, "Wise one, I thank you. May you be blessed? You need not be born to a new life, as all who live must. I set your spirit free, so you may join the Devas, the gods." Golden light flashed and fragrant flowers bloomed as the soul of the elephant flew to the home of the Devas.

With the elephant's head in his arms, Shiva raced back home. He touched the head to the child's dead body. Parvati laid her healing hands upon the child and, just as he had done when she first breathed life into him, the boy awoke. He stretched sleepily and smiled at her. Parvati hugged her child and wept with joy.

"Small one," said Shiva, "my heart has wept for you, and now I am glad. Because you were so brave a guard, I will make you the leader of the Ganas, my followers, and your name shall be Ganesha. Your new head will make you as wise as you are strong and brave. From now on, people who receive your blessing before they start new tasks will have good luck. You shall remove obstacles from the paths of the people, and they will call you by many names."

That is how Ganesha got his elephant head. He has many names, one hundred and eight in all. One of them is Gajamukha, "Elephant-face."

Many temples in India, in honour of the old elephant's sacrifice, keep elephants as respected guests. Temple elephants are cared for lovingly and are fed sweet rice and sugarcane. On holy days they lead colourful processions through the towns and villages.

Lord Ganesha And The River Kaveri

In order to provide water to the arid southern region, the Sage Agastya got from Shiva a sacred water that filled his Kamandalu. He journeyed to southern regions of the country and reached the Kodagu (Coorg) mountains. On the way he saw a young boy. In fact that boy was Ganesha disguised. The sage requested the boy to take care of the water. Ganesha already knew that Agastya wanted to create a river wherever it seemed favourable. So he put kamandalu on the ground. A crow passing by landed on the pot edge. When Agastya came back, he expelled the bird and it poured a small quantity of water on the ground, which became the Kaveri river. The place is still considered to be sacred and is known as Talakaveri.

Lord Ganesha And Kubera

Kubera, the god of wealth was very proud of his fortune. One day he organized a huge dinner in which Shiva and Parvati along with their son Ganesha were also present. Ganesha started eating and became greedy for more. He emptied the dishes and plates of other guests also. Still not satisfied he started eating the plates, furniture and all the contents of Alakapuri, the main city of Kubera. Frightened the god of wealth rushed towards Shiva’s feet to take his help. The remedy was very simple: Shiva gave his son a handful of roasted cereal grains. Ganesha ate it and his hunger stopped immediately. This legend teaches us that a handful of common food, given with love is more sustaining than the banquet offered by Kubera to impress the Gods.

Lord Ganesha And The Goddess Pârvatî

One-day child Ganesha, diverted himself in tormenting a cat, pulling her tail and rolling her up and down. After few minutes he left the cat and went away. He never thought as to what he had done to the cat. He arrived at mount Kailash to meet his mother Parvati. He found her suffering badly covered with wounds and dust. He then asked her about what happened and she replied that he was responsible of this situation. Indeed she was the cat that was tormented by Ganesha. This story teaches us that all the living beings are of divine importance. If we injure any living creature, we injure God himself. Ganesha learned the lesson and we must also learn.

Sources from various internet site and listings.

www.templenet.com, www.littleindia.com, www.hindunet.org, www.aryabhatt.com