This is being presented not out of religious fervor or belief but more as a story that transcended generations as told by ancestors, their ancestors and their ancestors. The story is probably based on something really happened but over a period when told to generations after generations it adds the legendary nature to the episode. If we leave the religious part of believing and not believing, this makes up a story as fascinating as any of the fantasies of present day, so in that spirit I am presenting this. It is past Vinayaka Chaviti, but I think the story is entertaining anytime.
This is a translated work of me from a source of Vinayaka’s story published in the year of 1972. The book didn’t mention the author but it was printed by Venkatarama Power Press, Eluru. Enjoy the story. (I added minor explanations in the middle of the text for people unfamiliar with some terms, so those who know refrain from lol. :-))
Once upon a time, in the forest of Nimisaranya, the great sages like Shounaka et al performing Satra Yaga. On the auspicious occasion the great sage Sootha, who was known to know numerous mythological stories, started telling the story of the birth of Vighneswara, the curse of watching the moon, to all the sages present, as part of penance and for attaining moksha (attaining oneness with the almighty).
Earlier days, there was a daemon king called Gajasura ( Asura means Daemon King, Gaja means elephant). He did a mighty meditation about Lord Shiva(also called Easwara), upon which Easwara materialized and asked Gajasura to wish what he wanted. Gajasura praised Easwara and said “Swami, I would like you to live inside my stomach forever and save me from perils”! Shiva being a known God to oblige any or everything for his believers, accepts Gajasura’s wish and starts living in his stomach happily!
In Kailasa (Place where Shiva and his wife Parvathi live), Parvathi was unaware of the whereabouts of her husband and started searching for him. Eventually she came to know that her husband was living in the stomach of Gajasura. Not knowing the ways to make sure to get him out, she would pray Lord Vishnu and tells him the story of her husband. She cries and says ” O Great! Earlier you saved my husband from Bhasmasura who got a power given by my husband that whoever he places his hands on will get engulfed in flames and Bhasmasura wanted to test it on my husband!. Please save my husband even now”. Hari (lord Vishnu) consoles her and thinks to kill Gajasura the best thing is to take a band comprising of Gangireddu (An Ox decorated with silk clothes and the band with street performers make it do feats based on the music from the band) and please Gajasura with the performance. He summons Shiva’s vehicle Nandi (An Ox), decorates him and gets accompanied by other gods like Brahma as part of the team so they can carry different musical instruments, himself carrying Sannai (A type of Clarinet). They arrive at Gajasurapuram (the capital of Gajasura’s kingdom) and start performing the band in a cosmically amazing way! Gajasura comes to know about this and summons the band to his palace and asks them to perform before him. The band with Brahma and all other gods put up an amazing show with divine music through their instruments and Hari makes the Gangireddu do some fantastic feats. Gajasura is mighty pleased and asks the band what they would want as gift and he would give whatever they want! Then Hari approaches him and says “this is Shiva’s vehicle. He came in searching him. So please give us back our Shiva”. Gajasura gets baffled by this request, but soon realizes this is the Hari who killed scores of daemon kings like him and knew his death was anyway inevitable. He prays lord Shiva and wishes his head be made revered by all in the universe and his skin be worn by Shiva. He then conveys his acceptance to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu then unleashes Nandi and he tears Gajasura’s stomach with his horns so Shiva comes out. Shiva prays Lord Vishnu. Vishnu advises “ you should not favor daemon kings like these. It is like feeding milk to a snake and hoping it would not bite!” . He then sees Brahma, other Gods and lord Shiva off and goes back to his abode, Vaikunta. Shiva then rides back to his home Kailasa with lightning speed.
The Birth of Vinayaka
In Kailasa Parvathi comes to know the news of her husband coming home and very happy. While taking bath, she makes a replica of a boy with nalugubindi (dough made of traditional floors of lentils and grains used by Indian women to treat their skin), gives him life so he secures the door. After taking bath she wears all the jewelry and best of clothes and awaits her husband. Parameshwara (Shiva) arrives at Kailasa and when tries to enter his home he gets obstructed by the boy who was securing the house. He gets real angry and severs the boys head with his Trisula (the trident, which is Shiva’s choice of weapon) and gets in the home.
Parvathi welcomes her husband and worships him by washing his hands and feet (the traditional way wives welcome husband in idyllic Indian tradition). They were real happy to be together and in the course of their love talk comes the topic about the boy that was at the door. Maheswara (shiva) repents on what he did. He fixes the boy’s head with the head of Gajasura, gives him life and calls him Gajanana ( Gaja – elephant. Anana means ‘born of’). They both rear the boy as their own son and Gajanana loves and worships his parents. He makes a rat called Anindya as his vehicle to go around.
After sometime Parvathi and Parameshwara give birth to Kumara Swami. He was a very powerful and strong person. His vehicle was the peacock. He was the General of the legions of Gods and very famous for his valor and strength.
Vigneshadipathyam (The ascent of Vigneswara)
One day all the gods, sages and mankind approach Shiva at Kailasa and prays him to seek a Lord for Vignas (Obstacles. There is a Lord or in-charge for every aspect of life in Hindu beliefs!). Gajanana argues that should be given to him as he is elder, while Kumara Swami chides him as he is short, ineligible and unfit for the job so the honor should go to himself. Both of them are at odds to get this as a favor from their father.
Maheswara glances at both of them and gives them a test. That is “ whoever can go about all of the universe and take a bath in all of the rivers and come back first” would get the job. Kumaraswami races fast on his vehicle peacock! Gajanana gets depressed and goes to his father. He says “Papa, how could you put me to test like this knowing I can’t do well in this contest?! I am your servant. Can you please have mercy on me and give me an idea so I can succeed in this test?”, while lying on his face before Shiva’s feet. Maheswara feels compassionate and teaches Gajanana a mantra called Narayana Mantra which is “Sakrut Narayanthyukthwa Puman Kalpasatathrayam. Gangadi Sarwatheerdheshu Snathobhavathi Puthraka” (By reading this Narayana Mantra you would travel in time and universe. Your presence will be there in rivers like Ganga, all over the world!”). He advises him to just chant the mantra which will enable him to be at all the 300 Kalpas (various times associated with places as believed in Hinduism) and their rivers! Gajanana keeps chanting the mantra and just stays at Kailasa.
Due the influence of this mantra, it appears to Kumaraswami that Gajanana as always finsihing off his bath before him on all the millions of rivers all over the universe and unbelievably he sees him back at Kailasa before he gets back! With humility he says to Shiva, “ Dear Father, I didn’t know the strength my elder brother. Please give the leadership of Vignas (Obstacles) to dear brother! Please pardon me for my egotism”.
Then Parameswara bestows the power to control obstacles (Vignas) on Bhadrapada Shuddha Chathurdi ( 4th day after new moon of the month of Bhadrapada, which is 4th or 5th month after spring according the Hindi calendar) and Gajanana becomes Vigneswara. He is also called Ganesha as he will be the leader of all Ganas (various people taking care of elements of nature). On that day people from all countries (those days countries within the Indian peninsula are all different kingdoms) celebrate this and they offer lot of sweets, food made of rice and different grains, lentils as well as coconuts, milk, honey and fruits like bananas, pears, custard apples and so on. Vigneswara particularly likes kudumulu (cooked rice balls) and sweets made of milk and semolina. He ate lot of these to the brim and while holding lot of this food still in his hands he staggers across and stumbles around walking while approaching his parents to pay obeisance. But when he tries to do that he couldn’t, as his stomach is so full and bulging. When he tries to make his hands touch the ground, he kind of rolls on his stomach and couldn’t touch the ground. If somehow he does that, his feet go up in the air. Seeing the plight of Ganesha, the moon on Shiva’s head starts laughing in a vicious way. Then as per the saying that “A king’s glance may pulverize even big rocks”, Vigeswara’s stomach breaks open and all the kudumulu just come out. He dies!!
Parvathi weeps and gets angry and curses the moon that “ You sinful one! Since my son died because of a glance from you, whoever glances you will get blamed for things that they didn’t commit!!”
Blame on Sages’ Wives
Around the same time the great Seven Sages are doing the Yagna (holy pyre) and were circumnavigating around it with their wives as part of the ritual. The god of fire (Agni) gets attracted to the sages’ wives but out of fear that the sages might curse him, he starts getting extinguished! Agni’s wife Swaha Devi observes this and transfigures herself as the Sages’ wives, except as Arundhathi who is wife of Vasista the great Sage, and makes her husband happy. However the sages mistook their wives are with Agni and think they are cheating on them. This was because the sages’ wives looked at the moon after Parvathi’s curse that whoever look at moon will get blames unnecessarily.
All gods, sages let what is going on with the Almighty and he lets them know how Agni’s wife transfigured as the sages’ wives and placates them. Brahma also arrives and prays Uma (Parvathi) and Maheswara (Shiva) and gives life to Vigneswara and makes them happy. All of them pray Parvathi and say “ O Goddess, your curse will cause chaos in the world. Whoever look at moon gets blamed and fights will ensue. Please suggest an escape from this”. Parvathi, being happy that her son alive and kisses him, says “ OK, whichever day on which the moon laughed at Vigneswara, on that day no one should look at moon. Rest of the days are fine”. Everyone feels relieved and go back to their places noting one should not look at moon on the 4th day after new moon on the month of Bhadrapada (4th or 5th month after Spring), which is also called Vinayaka Chaviti. Some time elapses this way.
Samantakopakyanam (An episode of Samantaka)
Once in the time of Dwapara yuga (Hindu belief that the universe cycles through times of Krutha, Thretha, Dwapara and Kaliyugas. Currently we are in Kaliyuga), the sage Narada visits Sri Krishna. After chit-chatting a while he says “ Swami, it is almost evening. I should not look at moon today as it is Vinayaka Chavithi so I will go home. Bye” while telling the whole story of Vinayaka and leaves for heaven where he lives. Krishna announces about this in his town. Since Krishna loves milking cows, goes to the stables taking care not to look at the sky. However while milking, he sees the reflection of moon in the milk and thinks “Aha, what am I going to get blamed for!?” and apprehensive about that.
After some days, there is king called Satrajit who obtains a jewel called Samantaka. When he visits Sri Krishna, Krishna asks him to present the jewel to the King. Samantaka says, “ why would anyone give away a jewel which makes eight hundred grams of gold a day to even a close friend?!”. Krishna just leaves the matter there. Eventually, Satrajit’s brother Prasena, wears that jewel and goes for hunting. He gets killed by a lion and the lion keeps carrying the jewel and he gets killed by a bear. The bear takes the shiny jewel to his house and gives it as a present to his daughter who is a little kid. Next day Satrajit comes to know about his brother’s death and announces in the town “Krishna got his brother killed because he didn’t oblige to give the jewel to the King!”. Hearing this Krishna ruminates “Aha, this is due to me sighting the moon on Vinayaka Chaviti” and to absolve himself from this blame he goes to the forest to search for the jewel.
From where Prasena got killed, he observed the foot prints of a lion and following them he finds signs of scuffle and foot prints of a bear. Following them, lead to a big cave. He tells all his followers to stay outside and goes into the cave. He finds a crib on which there is a little girl and there it is the Jewel! He grabs the jewel and starts to get out of the cave but the girl starts crying and a servant in the cave shouts there is an strange intruder. This is heard by Jambavantha (the bear is indeed the great Jambavantha who fought with Ravana’s armies along with Rama) and he comes out of the room roaring and starts fighting Krishna, trying to bite him with his sharp teeth, scratch him with the razor sharp nails. Krishna fights him, wrestling, boxing with nearby trees and big rocks and they fight for day and night for almost 28 days! Eventually Jamavantha gets weaker with his body sour and gets scared to death. Finally recognizes Krishna as the next incarnation of Rama with who worked on to kill Ravana! He says “ O God! I realized you are Sri Rama. During Thretha Yuga you were the killer of Ravana and saved the world and had enarmous following. During that time you asked me what I wanted and due to my foolishness I asked would want to fight and wrestle with you. You promised this would happen in future. I was awaiting this forever. You finally to granted my wish. I think I am done. My body got pulverized. I am at the fag end of my life now. Please excuse me. I don’t have anyone other than you”. Krishna melts and pats Jambavantha in a loving way and says “ O great Bear! I just came here to get the jewel which I was accused of stealing. If you give that to me I will go”. Jambavantha gives the jewel as well as his daughter and Krishna blesses him.
Krishna gets back to town along with all his followers and beckons Satrajit and tells him the whole story and gives him back his jewel. Satrajit repents on what he said and says “ Oh no, I accused Lord Krishna of stealing and blamed unnecessarily and sinned. Please pardon me”. And offered the jewel as well as his daughter. Krishna accepts his daughter and rejects the jewel saying “ Why do I need a jewel? I have the jewel of a young lady. Please keep the jewel with yourself”. On a fine day he marries both Jambavathi (daughter of Jambavantha) and Sathyabhama (daughter of Satrajit). All the gods, sages and people attending the marrige pray Krishna and say that it is because Krishna is powerful could prove his innocence and ask what about common men and gods? Krishna assures them and says “ If someone sights moon on Vinayaka Chavit by misfortune, pray Vinayaka as usual and then read the story of this Samantaka Jewel, that would enable them to not get blamed unnecessarily”. Everyone feels blessed and happy and go back to their residences and observe Vinayaka Chaviti as per their capacity and Pray Lord Vinayaka.
Thus this story told by Sootha, to sages like Sounaka, in order to absolve from a curse and get enlightened and goes back to his own abode.
Sarvey Jana Sukhinobhavantu
(Let Everyone Live Happily Ever After)