Ganesh Chaturthi is just around the corner, and after reading Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’, I’ve also come to view Hindu festivals as a reason to clean the house, declutter, donate, clear up my mind and press the restart button. I hope these little nuggets of Ganesha wisdom can help you too set yourself on the right track.
Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God, is not only the Lord of Beginnings and Remover of Obstacles, but also a teacher if you pay close attention to the tales of Hindu mythology. Also known as Ekdant, his anecdotes form an integral part of Hindu mythology and impart great life lessons to his followers. We can all learn a thing or two about life from these tales:
1. Duty is above all else
It is believed that Goddess Parvati created Lord Ganesha by carving out a boy’s idol from turmeric paste and breathing life into it, in the absence of Lord Shiva. She told the boy to guard the door while she bathed, and he obediently followed his mother’s instructions. Around the same time, Lord Shiva returned from his expedition, and demanded entry into Parvati’s bathing area–which Lord Ganesha refused. The event turned into a fight between the father and the son, and ended with Ganesha being beheaded. Later, Lord Shiva resurrected the boy after placing an elephant’s head on his body.
This very story is a lesson that even gods are bound to fulfill their duties, and there’s no greater virtue than being dutiful, especially towards a parent. Despite being well-aware of the might of Lord Shiva, and the repercussions that could follow, Lord Ganesha refused to budge even if when it cost him his life.
2. Nobody is more important than one’s parents or family
Once, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati offered a miraculous fruit of knowledge to their sons, Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha, but only one of them could get the sacred fruit. To decide who deserved the fruit more, Lord Shiva asked them to circumnavigate the world thrice, and the one who finished the navigation first would be blessed with the fruit. The elder son, Lord Kartikeya, eager to win the race, left on his vehicle, a peacock, while Lord Ganesha wondered how he was ever going to be victorious riding his rat-vehicle.
After ambitiously circling the earth thrice, Kartikeya returned to find Lord Ganesha already home. Lord Ganesha had won the race, but instead of the earth, he had circled around Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati–who were his idea of the world. He was blessed with the fruit of knowledge, and came to be known as the Lord of Knowledge.
This story is a lesson on how one’s parents and/or family can never cease to be important, even if you’re a god.
3. Forgiveness is the ultimate virtue
The legend says that Lord Ganesha once cursed the moon for mocking his pot-belly after he was returning from a satiating dinner party thrown by the Lord of Fortune, Kuber. The lover of food and desserts, Lord Ganesha was returning home after having a hearty meal, when he stumbled and rolled over on his belly. The Moon saw it from high above, and burst into a cynical laughter that miffed Lord Ganesha, and compelled him to curse him. Lord Ganesha cursed the moon to disappear from the sky completely, while he begged for forgiveness. Ultimately, the generous Lord Ganesha gave in to his requests, but since he couldn’t revoke the curse, he reduced the disappearance span of the moon from the sky to one day.
Lord Ganesha’s story explains how anger gets to the best of us, but it is our power to overcome it that makes us a better human being.
4. You should finish every task you take up
The legend says that sage Vyasa (Ved Vyasa) wanted to write the epic, Mahabharata, and he requested Lord Ganesha to write it down while he narrated the verse. The Lord agreed on one condition–Sage Vyasa was supposed to finish reciting the verses without a pause, and Lord Ganesha would write without taking a break. The two sat down to write one of the greatest epics known to mankind, but faith had something else in store–Lord Ganesha’s pen broke while he was still writing. Lord Ganesha broke one of his tusks, (hence he’s called Ekdant or the one-tusked one) and continued writing the epic.
Lord Ganesha sacrificed his own tusk to finish a task meant for greater good. If we could all imbibe this lesson from him, we’d all be closer to success than we already are.
5. Always stand up for your self-respect
Legend has it that once, all the gods and goddesses left Lord Ganesha in-charge of the Swargalok, as they left with Lord Vishnu’s marriage procession headed towards Goddess Laxmi’s abode. Lord Ganesha was tricked into taking care of Swargalok, because the other deities were embarrassed of his physical appearance and massive diet. On getting to know the truth, Lord Ganesha wanted to avenge himself, and devised a clever plan that would make them realise his importance. Ganesha sent his rat-vehicle, Gajasur, to dig up the roads that led to Goddess Laxmi’s abode, and he obeyed. As expected, the deities couldn’t proceed further, and called for help. A farmer who was crossing by the road decided to help the deities, and pulled out the carriage stuck in the road in the first attempt after chanting Lord Ganesha’s name. He explained how only Lord Ganesha’s name could have induced the strength in him to lift the carriage, since he is the Remover of Obstacles. This made the deities realise that there’s more to a being than his physical appearance, and they returned to offer their apologies to Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha’s story is a lesson to never let anyone undermine your abilities, or your physical appearance cloud people’s judgement of you.
Here’s wishing you a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi to you and your Family!