Ages back, goddess Parvati sat closeted with very intimate friends, Jaya and Vijaya. For some time, it appeared, Jaya and Vijaya were not fully satisfied with the affairs of the lord of the mountains. They deliberated on a certain important issue but to arrive at a decision was difficult. They said to Parvati, “O dear friend, all ganas (attendants, followers) attend to lord Shiva and follow lord’s instructions. Nandi, Bringhi and other ganas attend to us but they also obey directions of lord Shiva. Numerous pramathaganas (followers) roam about. However, none belongs to us exclusively. They are obedient to lord Shiva and stand at the lord’s door to act upon commands. Though they remain here and abide by yet, at the level of mind and heart, they are absent. O goddess, if you agree to the proposal, you also create a gana so that he looks after us only.”
Parvati was convinced it seemed. Wise counsel of Jaya and Vijaya appeared reasonable and quite apt as they thought of goddess’s wellbeing. She reflected on the suggestion for some time and the thought of creation of a gana continued to wrestle in the mind.
Once, Parvati was taking bath. Nandi guarded lavatory and restricted entry to the palace. Suddenly, Sadashiva arrived and entered the palace of Parvati while she was taking bath. Nandi stopped lord Shiva, who not only entered forcibly but also tried to threaten Nandi. When she saw Sankara approaching, she stood up during the bath and it caused surprise and tremendous embarrassment to the holy consort.
Lord appeared to violate privacy of a woman when she took bath. A self-respecting woman even if a wife, would not like husband to intrude into exclusive moments of retreat. It may not appear disgusting or bad for some but from behavioral civility, it certainly not only discomfits a woman but it also appears in bad taste. Shiva was the Supreme Lord and here, in this particular act (otherwise insolent) was latent a divine design of future events still unknown even to Parvati. When Shiva entered, she stood aghast and shocked and at that time, a thought struck. She remembered opinion of friends. She found the proposal (to keep a personal gana) quite relevant and befitting.
Parvati creates a gana (Ganesha)
A mere entry of Shiva was not a simple incident. Parvati thought of a select and supremely blessed attendant, who should be adept in the performance of duties. More so, he should obey, and no one should dislodge him from the duties she assigns. Thus, she deeply thought over while she stood to greet Shiva. The well thought out plan encouraged further and fortified resolve and therefore, Parvati out of the secretion of body, created a really beautiful, conscious and perfect man outfitted with many virtues. Created being was big, magnificent, supremely grand, mighty and valourous. She bestowed many kinds of wonderful clothes, ornaments and then, blessing with supreme boons, she said, “You are part of me, O son. I love you more than anyone else.”
A divinely created being, saluted and said, “O mother, what is it that you call? I shall obey instructions.”
Shivei (Parvati) heard polite and pleasant words and said, “O son, you are my son. You are integral part of this body. From now onward, you would be the guardian of gate. O noble son, do not allow anyone to enter the palace. Be humble and firm. Allow none to enter whoever turns up without my consent. O son, I say clearly and truthfully. You nurse no misgiving.”
After instructing suitably, she gave a stick. Looking at the beautiful and grand figure of a divine child, later on, called Ganesha (gana + ish = the king of ganas), she was filled with delight and joy. Out of deep love and affection, she kissed the forehead of the child, and out of deep pleasure, embraced him lovingly. Afterwards, she asked the king of gana (Ganesh or lord of gana) with a stick in hand, to stand at the door, guard it and stay vigilant.
Now, Ganesh born of flow or emission of body, a son of Parvati, in the interest of mother, began to guard the gate of the palace with a stick in hand fully cognizant of the instructions given. He only wished the wellbeing of holy mother. Parvati, after situating Ganesha on the door to ban entry of anyone coming without a nod, preferred to take bath along with friends while lord Shiva was still to reach the inner portion of the palace, exclusively private domain of godly women. At this time, lord Shiva, the lord of unusual delusory powers arrived at the door.
Ganesha stops Shiva’s entry into the privacy of Parvati and the war begins, Shiva beheads Ganesha and Parvati asks delusory powers to destroy everything.
Ganesha, son of Parvati did not recognize eternal and powerful consort of mother, lord Shiva and therefore, said, “O lord, please do not enter without the permission of mother Parvati as she takes bath now. Where do you wish to go? Please get away at this time.” He said and took the stick in hand.
As he picked up the stick, lord Shiva said, “O fool, why do you stop? Foolish man, do you know… I am none other than… lord Shiva.”
When he did not care to obey Shiva, the ganas of lord arrived and tried to remove Ganesha.
They said, “O dear child, listen. We are senior ganas of lord Shiva, the guardians and are here to remove you with the consent of lord Shiva. Thinking you as one of the ganas, we did not kill you otherwise, we would have finished you long before. Why do you invite death for no reason?”
Even after the threat, Ganesha stood fearlessly. He reprimanded ganas of lord Shiva but guarded strongly the place, did not leave the key door and stood daringly to prevent unsolicited entry. They went to lord Shiva standing at a distance, narrated the incident and conduct of a gana guarding the entry to the inner room.
Lord Shiva, the lord of delusory powers and the source of origin of life and motion to the universe, admonished ganas and said, “O ganas, who is the impudent gana, who utters words as if he were an enemy. Throw the new guard out of Parvati’s citadel. Why do you stand like impotent people to tell impertinence of a gana?”
After the ganas heard snappish and unkind reprimand from lord Shiva, the origin of delusory powers, the ganas regretted, realized the mistake and went back.
Ganesha stopped the attendants of Shiva. Naturally, Shiva did not approve of the conduct. He said, “O ganas, go and find out who is he? Why he is obstinate?”
Ganas enquired about the antecedents of the new gana and reported back, “He is son of Girija (Parvati) appointed as a sentinel of the main gate (of palace of goddess Parvati).”
When Shiva learnt the truth, which probably the lord already knew, he resorted to amazing delusory acts and at that time, wanted to censure and nullify misgivings, ego and pride of ganas. It is difficult to divine the extent and depth of spread of delusion and illusory powers of Shiva, who puts devotees and followers to hard moments of ordeal and scrutiny. He smiled, called gods and ganas and asked to teach a lesson to the new guardian of the gates of Parvati. A great war commenced between Ganesha, ‘gods and ganas’ of lord Shiva. However, lord Ganesha defeated all.
Tough situation worsened and it forced Shiva to rush to the rescue of mighty counselors. At that time, lord Ganesha thought of the feet of Parvati, who bestowed on the child sufficient power and strength. All gods of heaven sided with lord Shiva, and again a fierce war with Ganesha ensued. Ganesha fought against the collective forces of gods, whom Shiva guided and directed. At last, when Shiva failed to find a substitute, he picked up divine trident and cut off the head of Ganesha.
Parvati was very distressed and angry. In utter fury, she did not think over the unfortunate and tragic incident, and so, created shadow of delusion and illusion, and asked the forces to destroy everything. Now, the divine powers killed and destroyed everything, and spread out everywhere to annihilate created beings whether dead or alive, and it became difficult to stop. A horrible scene of ruin it was. Blazing fire of the invisible powers scorched all directions and regions and thus, created beings felt the heat. Beholding an unprecedented sight of destruction, all ganas of Shiva were terrified. They failed to challenge the forces Parvati released, who put up strong resistance and so, everyone ran fast and stood quite away.
Arrival of Sage Narada and counsel to celestial beings, Ganesh gets back life when gods pray before goddess Parvati
At this critical hour and time of wreck and crisis, sage Narada arrived. Coming of sage provided solace and comfort to the gods because the celestial sage was the only wise soul, who could offer a viable and effective solution to the agonizing situation. Sage Narada saluted Brahma and Shiva and counseled that they must sit with the gods of heaven and contemplate on the serious disaster as existence was threatened. Brahma and Shiva agreed to the advice of sage Narada and therefore, asked the gods of heaven to assemble, and thereafter, held serious deliberations on how to suppress awesome delusory powers from advancing further, and defeat Ganesha if confrontation is inevitable.
However, they thought it better not to escalate hostilities. Peace could prevail only if goddess Parvati demonstrates grace and mercy. If she were kind and generous, it would give joy and comfort. Therefore, they considered it waste of time if they continue to explore indefinite alternatives. Brahma, Shiva and prominent gods decided, appeared before Parvati, genuinely praised, appeased and eulogized the divine woman with respect, love and affection because she cared for the wellbeing of the three worlds and created beings.
After some time, the sages with the consent of gods of heaven, said, “O Jagadmba, we salute, O holy consort of lord Shiva, we salute you. O benefactor of all beings, we bow and salute. O holy Amba, you are the power unborn. You are the great power, the creator, the preserver and the destroyer of the universe. You uphold virtues. Because of tremendous anger and wrath you wield, the three worlds are disturbed. Therefore, O Parvati, please be happy and control resentment and fury. O goddess, we bow heads at your feet.”
All sages admired Parvati and despite many words of praise, goddess threw a glance of anger but did not utter a word. Again, the sages bowed heads at the feet of goddess, folded hands with full devotion and earnestly pleaded. Wise sages said in humility, and prayed, “O goddess, incredible destruction disturbs. So, forgive. Pardon all, O goddess. O holy Ambikei, kindly see lord Shiva is also present. Look, he stands with a request. O goddess, you exercise control over Brahma, Vishnu and gods and other created beings and therefore, with folded hands, we stand here in front of you and seek forgiveness. O goddess of goddesses, grant amnesty to all for the sins and crimes they committed. O Shivei, bestow peace and cool down.”
After humble entreaties, Brahma, Vishnu, the gods, sages, and celestial beings appeared miserable, felt absolutely distressed and stood with folded hands before an angry goddess, the image of furious goddess Chandika. Chandika was now satisfied and delighted to hear praise, and was happy when holy souls apologized. They asked for forgiveness. Feelings of pity and compassion calmed down goddess.
She said, “O holy men, if son Ganesha gets back life and rejuvenated, irrespective of status and location of Ganesha, created beings worship him and pray, only then destruction would stop. After a conscious thought, if the sacred assembly confers on the divine child Ganesha the status of ‘Presiding Deity’ of all, only then, peace in the three worlds would prevail or else you will not get peace, harmony, joy and comfort.”
The sages heard clearly words of goddess Parvati in all humility. They returned to the assemblage of gods and narrated each word she spoke. A huge layer of gloom and disillusionment shadowed faces of gods and lord Indra. They went to lord Sankara (Shiva), folded hands and prayed, saluted at the feet of the lord and narrated everything.
Shiva heard request of sad gods and said, “It is alright. We should act wisely so that the three worlds are happy and comfortable. Therefore, let us go to the north and then, cut off the head of a living being whom you meet first. After severing the head, join it to the body of the child.” The gods of heavens were very happy at the decision of Lord Shiva.
Gods agreed to meet the simple request of Shiva, for they did not think of any option. The gods did not reflect on the suggestion deeply, decided to go to the north, as they wanted to complete the assigned task without waste of time. They cleansed the body of the child and thereafter, religiously offered prayers and worship, and then, went to north as lord Shiva directed. They confronted an elephant, the first living being with one tooth only. They severed elephant’s head and joined it with the child’s torso. Thereafter, the gods offered prayers, saluted and prostrated at the feet of Shiva and said, “We did the given work and now, kindly do whatever is left imperfect.”
All the gods and the counselors felt extremely happy to hear about the success of a great task assigned to gods. Thereafter, Brahma, Vishnu and various gods saluted the infinite, the formless and the eternal lord Sankara and said, “O swamy (lord) you created living beings with divine radiance. We request the great illumined energy to enter the body of the child with the chanting of Vedic mantra.”
The gods said, took water, sanctified it with incantation of Vedic mantras and thereafter, remembered lord Shiva, and sprinkled holy water on the body of the child. A mere touch of consecrated water infused life and the child regained consciousness and got up as if he were resting. The most fortunate celestial child looked very attractive with the head of an elephant of green-red colour. The gods noticed tremendous happiness on the face of the child. A divine aura spread in all directions. Everyone present was delighted and immensely happy to see the son of goddess Parvati smiling as if blessing everybody and thus fully contended, she eliminated impact of delusory powers, and wiped out miseries of the three worlds people believe.