Ganesh and the River Kaveri
In order to supply water to the arid southern regions, the Sage Agastya, with the blessings of Brahma, got from Shiva a few sacred water which filled his kamandalu.
He journeyed to southern regions of the country, hoping to find a suitable place to create a high flow river. Thus he reached the Kodagu (Coorg) mountains.
On the way, he hailed a young boy who was passing by. In fact, the boy was Ganesh disguised. The Sage requested the boy to carry carefully his water pot, because he wanted to find an isolated toilet place.
Ganesh was aware that Agastya expected to create a river; the place where they were seemed to be favorable. So, he put the kamandalu on the ground.
A crow, passing by, landed on the pot edge. When he came back, Agastya expelled the bird which, taking off, spilled the kamandalu. When it poured, this small quantity of water became the Kaveri river.
The place, still considered as a sacred one, is known as Talakaveri.
Ganesh and Kubera
Kubera, the god of wealth, was very proud of his boundless fortune. One day, he organized a gorgeous dinner; among other famous guests, the divine couple, Shiva and Pârvatî, with their son Ganesh, were present.
The later, still a child, started to eat and he appeared quickly to be insatiable. Soon, the other guests found plates and dishes empty. Alas ! Not satisfied with all the available food, Ganesh started to devour plates and dishes, the furniture and all the content of Alakapuri, the main city of Kubera.
When he achieved to gulp down the whole, the child Ganesh threatened to swallow Kubera himself. Frightened, the god of wealth rushed forward to Shiva’s feet to implore his help, since the Ganesh voracious appetite seemed to be unlimited.
The remedy was simple but spectacular : Shiva gave his son a handful of roasted cereal grains. Ganesh ate it and, wonderfully, his hunger stopped immediately.
This legend teaches us that a handful of common food, given with love, and eaten with devotion, is more important and more sustaining that the banquet offered by Kubera to impress the gods. From a different angle, this story shows that properties cannot bring peace and satisfaction to anybody. The only path to self-realization requires to burn our vasana . The destruction of the vasana is symbolized by the consumption of the grilled rice; indeed, when the rice has been cooked, he loses his germinative capacity. Moreover, the seeds of our hidden desires lose strength and possibility to come back further.
Ganesh and the Goddess Parvati
One day, the child Ganesh diverted himself in tormenting a cat, pulling his tail and rolling him on the ground. All of us know that children are able to injure animals but are not aware to act badly.
Just a moment after, he left the cat peaceful and went away. He even did not think about what he had done. He arrived at mount Kailash to meet again his mother Parvati. He found her badly suffering, covered with wounds and dust.
He asked her about what happened; she replied that he was responsible of this situation. Indeed, she was, just before, that cat tormented by Ganesh.
This story teaches us that all the living beings are of divine essence. If we injure a living creature, one of our companions, human or animal, we injure God Himself.
Ganesh learned this lesson and we also must learn it during our lifetime.
Ganesh and Ravana the Demon
One day, the devil Ravana undertook very difficult tapas .
As a consequence, Shiva appeared to him. Ravana requested a favor. He wanted that his kingdom and himself could never be damaged or destroyed. As a present, Shiva gave him a Shiva Lingam , the symbol of Shiva; he ordered to bring it back to his kingdom and to place it in a temple after adequate rituals.
After that, he would become unconquerable. But there was a prerequisite : whatever happened, he ought not to lay down the Lingam on the floor, under pain of not be able to displace it later.
Overjoyed, Ravana welcomed the Lingam. However, the Deva (Gods) felt afraid of the power that Ravana; could obtain. They invoked Ganesh before any action.
Then, Varuna , the god of Waters, penetrated into the Râvana’s abdomen, causing him troubles which forced him to stop on his way. Râvana was convulsed with pain, but careful not to lay down the Lingam on the ground, as requested expressly by Shiva. Râvana called a young Brahman coming that way; he asked him to keep the stone Lingam just for a moment.
As soon as Râvana entrusted him the Lingam, the boy cried out for help three times. Getting no reply, he put the Lingam on the ground.
When Ravan came back, he was very angry and he dismissed the boy who just appeared to be Ganesh in reality. But Râvana had the power of the Lingam. Then Ganesh could easily subdue the devil, kicking to the sky.
Râvana realized his limitations and admitted the huge power of Ganesh.
The place where the Lingam was deposited is called Gokarna, and is located on the Karnataka western coast; it is a worshipping place till nowadays.
This story teaches that the demon is always defeated at the very end, specially when he thinks himself very powerful.
The Wisdom of Ganesh
Shiva et Parvati used to play with two sons, Ganesh and Kartikeya.
The gods had given them a marvelous fruit. Each boy wanted to get it for him alone.
Their parents explained them that the nectar of the Supreme Knowledge and of Immortality was hidden in that fruit. To get the fruit, both had to compete. The winner should run three times around the world and come back first.
Kartikeya left at once. Riding his peacock, he flew in the sky, stopping at every sacred place on his way, praying and worshipping the gods.
Ganesh was fully aware of his stout body; it slackened off him badly. The rat, his vehicle, was rather slow and would not be able to beat Kartikeya.
But his wisdom suggested him the right solution. He turned round his parents, Shiva and Parvati, showing a deep devotion. When they asked him why he did not start his journey around the world, he replied :
“My parents Shiva and Shakti are the Whole Universe. In Them is located the World. He do not need to go further”.
Of course, he won the contest, … and the fruit.
This legend emphasizes the importance of cleverness; Ganesh is a strong symbol of this quality which is always the best against force, speed or physical strength.
Ganesh and Lord Shiva
One says that neither peace nor war action, nor daily business can succeed unless Ganesh has previously been worshipped.
This is not only true for human beings, but also for celestial creatures.
When Ganesh appeared, as the son born from Shiva’s mind, the later decided that Ganesh should be worshipped by anybody wishing to get success. Even worshipping other gods would be inefficient if prior worship to Ganesh had not been achieved.
Thus, when Shiva left to fight the demons of the Tripura city, he forgot his own rule and rushed to the battle. However, when he embarked on his carriage, the wheel peg broke and the car was stopped.
Abashed that such an accident could happen to him, Shiva realized that he had forgotten to pray Ganesh before his departure, and this was the cause of the obstacle… Thus, he worshipped his son’s name and could proceed to the Tripurâtanka battle which he won successfully.
The Broken Ganesh Tusk
Several legends explain how Ganesh broke his right tusk, which gives him the name of Ekadanta “The Lord who has only one tusk”.
The first legend (in the Brahmanda-Purana) is related to a battle between Ganesh and Parashurâma. Parashurama was one of the Vishnu incarnations (avatara), born on earth to teach wisdom to the governing class, the Kshatriya , who had become arrogant and oppressed people. Parashurama meditated on Shiva and got the divine axe, Parashu. This axe helped him to fight against all the corrupted princes, inspired by devils.
Deeply grateful to Shiva, he went to Mount Kailash to bow to his guru. But Ganesh, who was guarding the entrance of the palace, did not allow him to proceed. Ganesh told him to wait for the Shiva permission.
Parashurâma thought : “I am a Shiva devotee, such a rule cannot be applied to me”.
Ganesh persisting to bar the way, Parashurama, usually peppery, stroke violently the Ganesh tusk with his axe and broke it.
Then Shiva and Parvati arrived and blamed Parashurâma who bowed down before Ganesh and supplicated to obtain his forgiveness and blessing. Then Ganesh was named Ekadanta “The Lord with one tusk”.
According to another legend, Ganesh broke himself his tusk during the battle against Gajamukhâsura (the elephant-headed Asura ). Taking the advice of Shukracharya, the Asura guru, this demon followed severe penances. Thus, he got unconquerable powers from Shiva. But he misused those powers to harass the gods who went to Ganesh and requested his help.
Ganesh did not hesitate to give battle to this demon. During the fight, he understood that the demon could not defeated, because of his particular powers. Then, Ganesh broke his right tusk and threw it to Gajamukhâsura. He pursued him and converted him in a mouse. Then he rode this mouse, which he used as a mount, keeping it under control.
According to another Purana story, the Ganesh rat was actually the Gandharva Krauncha. One day, at the Indra Court, Krauncha insulted the Sage Vâmadeva who revenged himself, making him a big rat. This rat, as all the rats do, went in the ashram of the Sage Parâchara and caused a lot of damages in the house. The Rishi invoked Vinayaka (an other name for Ganesh) to safeguard his modest dwelling. Ganesh appeared, rode the rat as his vehicle and mastered it.
A Purana legend imputes the loss of the tusk to a fight between Ganesh and Shiva himself.
Finally, there is the story between Ganesh and the Moon narrated above.
Whatever the version of these puranic stories, Ganesh chose the rat as a vehicle for an obvious reason : this animal is really a detrimental one and Ganesh was able to keep it under his strict control.
Ganesh and Lord Vishnu
One day, Vishnu found out that his Valamburi Shankha had disappeared. He felt himself very annoyed. After some time, he heard the typical sound of a conch far away and recognized immediately that it was his own instrument. The sound came from the Mount Kailash.
He meditated on Lord Shiva who came in front of him and declared that if he wanted to get his conch back, he had first to address a invocation to god Valamburi Ganesh (a Ganesh form with a right-turned trunk).
Thus, Vishnu performed the puja and Ganesh sent back the conch to his owner who was very happy to recover it.