Hindu God Ganesha's Family

Submitted by: Chip Tolaney

Elephant-headed Ganesha, Hinduism's most popular deity, is a study in dichotomy. He is held in awe and reverence as a powerful force who removes obstacles in people's lives. But Ganesha also evokes a very down-to-earth affection. Some of this warmth emanates from his close involvement in our everyday lives and from the mythological tales about him and his family. The legends about Ganesha depict him as a devoted son and a loving brother.

There's no Hindu grandmother who doesn't love narrating the story of Ganesha's parentage and birth. Many versions abound, but here's the popular one. Officially, Ganesha's father is Shiva the Destroyer, one of the holy trinity in the Hindu pantheon, a rather fearsome figure with matted locks and an ash-smeared body who spends eons meditating in the Himalayas. Parvati, his beaut


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iful wife, presides over all of creation. Without her, the earth would be barren and perennially cold. During her husband's long absence, Parvati created a little boy for herself from a lump of clay - none other than Ganesha. When Shiva, unaware of his 'son's' existence, returned home, Ganesha barred him from access to Parvati, who was bathing and had instructed her son to guard against intruders. Shiva, whose rage could destroy the universe, chopped off the child's head. When he realized his blunder, he replaced the boy's head with that of an elephant. Shiva also granted Ganesha a boon - that he would be worshipped before the start of any earthly enterprise. Notwithstanding this dramatic event in childhood, Ganesha grew up to be regarded as the epitome of filial devotion.

Hindu mythology has several stories about Ganesha and his younger sibling, Karthikeya. Where Ganesha is revered all over India, Karthikeya's influence is predominant in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, where he is also known as Murugan, Subramanya or Arumugham. You couldn't find two more contrasting personalities. Ganesha is comfortably plump, benign, and patience personified; brother Karthikeya is all radiant energy and an impulsive lad. Ganesha has the lowly mouse as his vehicle while Karthikeya prefers the flashy peacock.

Like many Hindu myths, stories of the Ganesh-Kartikeya interactions are possessed of a childlike simplicity, yet imbued with lessons for mankind. Once, a mango infused with divine knowledge was brought to Mount Kailas in the Himalayas, where Shiva and Parvati hold court. Since only one individual could consume the fruit, a race was proposed between their two sons - whosoever circumambulated the planet thrice and returned first would win the fruit. Confident in the knowledge that his peacock would outrace Ganesha's mouse, Kartikeya vroomed off into space. Ganesha, on the other hand, simply folded his palms in prayer and walked around his seated parents, returning to his starting point ahead of Kartikeya. His reasoning? Shiva and Parvati contain the world within them; walking around his parents is equivalent to actually going around the earth. He won the fruit, but then magnanimously offered it to his sulking brother.

There are conflicting views regarding the marital status of Ganesha. Some parts of India worships Ganesha as a bachelor while the rest of India worships him along with his two wives. Ganesha is thought to be married to Siddhi (spiritual strength) and Buddhi (intellect) - the daughters of Brahma the Creator - one of the holy trinity in the Hindu pantheon. This is popularly taken to mean that where Ganesha is present, intellectual acumen and spirituality will follow. Legend also has it that Kartikeya grew up to marry Valli, a tribal maiden and Devayani, the daughter of Indra, the wind god. However, he is widely worshipped as a child-god possessed of a warrior’s skills, one who protects his devotees against all harm.


About the Author: Chip Tolaney is a designer, writer and a web entrepreneur in the field of Hinduism, Buddhism and world culture. For his Hinduism inspired sites please visit Ganesh Mall and Om Etc.

Source: www.isnare.com