Son of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvathi, Ganesh is also known as Ganpati or Vighnaharta. His blessings remove all the hurdles from life.
Ganesha | How Lord Ganesha was born | Kubera's pride takes a fall | Ganesha defeats Gana | Ganesha and the Moon
Shiva set a test for his two sons Ganesha and Murugha. He asked them to go round the world and said that the person who finished doing this first would get the fruit. Murugha at once rushed on his mount, the peacock and made a quick trip around the world. He was surprised to find that Ganesha had already finished doing this, since he knew that Ganesha could not move very fast. Ganesha replied that his parents were his universe, his only world. So he had completed his task by just going around them.
How Lord Ganesha was born
Once upon a time Mother Parvati wished to take a bath. She created a boy from the dirt of her body and asked him to stand guard outside while she cleansed herself. Meanwhile, Lord Shiva returned home. When he tried to enter the house, the boy prevented him from doing so. In anger, Shiva cut off the boy's head. When Parvati saw this, she burst into tears. In order to console her, Shiva sent out his troops (gaNa) to fetch the head of anyone found sleeping with his head pointing to the north. They found an elephant sleeping thus and brought back its head. Shiva then attached the elephant's head to the body of the boy and revived him. He named the boy Ganapati, which means commander of his troops. He granted him a boon that everyone would worship him (Ganesha) before beginning any work.
Kubera's pride takes a fall
We should never take undue pride in our material or spiritual accomplishments. The old saying "Pride always leads to a fall." is proved true in the following story.
Kubera (the God of wealth) invited Shiva and Parvati to dinner wishing to show off his riches. But, the couple denied Kubera's request and said that he could feed Ganesha instead. Kubera laughed and said 'I can feed thousands of children like this."
Ganesha went to his palace and sat down to eat. He started eating all the food placed in front of him. As was the custom, more and more food was served to him, as he did not say that he had enough. Soon there was no more food in the palace and so Kubera ordered his troops to get more food from the surrounding villages. But Ganesha continued eating and there was no more food to be found. Still very hungry, Ganesha started eating all the furniture.
Kubera became very frightened. Ganesha told him," You promised my parents you will feed me. Now, I have to eat you up as I am still very hungry ". Kubera ran away and pleaded with Shiva to save him from Ganesha. Shiva asked Kubera to give up his pride and serve Ganesha a handful of rice. Kubera went back to his palace. By this time, Ganesha's stomach had become very huge but the child was still hungry. When Kubera served a cup of rice with humility, Ganesha's hunger was satisfied.
Ganesha defeats Gana
Vinakaya or Gananayaka is another name for Ganesha.
Gananayaka is the lord of Ganas or one who defeats Gana. A beautiful son named Gana was born to the King Abhijit and queen Gunavati. He was very bright and strong. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, pleased with his devotion granted him some boons. However, this increased Gana's ego. He soon fell into bad company.
One day he visited sage Kapila's ashram. Kapila had a gem called Chintamani that was wish fulfilling and could provide food for thousands. When Gana saw this, he wanted to possess the gem. Kapila did not want to give it to him. But Gana forcibly took it away from him. Kapila prayed to Lord Ganesha. Ganesha appeared in Gana's dream and cut off his head. Gana, on waking up, did not repent but became angry and took his army to kill Kapila. Gana's father, Abhijit, pleaded with Gana to give Kapila back his gem but Gana did not heed the advice. However, on reaching Kapila's ashram he found that Ganesha had assembled an army. In a fierce fight, Gana was killed by Ganesha and Ganesha restored the " Chintamani " to Kapila.
Kapila, however, gave it back to Ganesha saying that even a small gem like this could cause trouble, as wealth is the root of many problems in this world. Kapila requested Ganesha to stay back. From then on, this place (Theur near Pune) was called 'Chintamani Vinayaka'.
Ganesha and the Moon
One day Ganesha was invited to a feast. Being very fond of sweets, he consumed a large number of sweets. While returning home his stomach burst open, due to the weight of the food consumed. Luckily it was night. Hoping no one had seen him; he quickly tied his stomach with a snake. Unfortunately the moon saw him and burst into peals of laughter.
Ganesha was furious and uttered a curse that the moon would be invisible from then on. The moon was ashamed of his action and begged forgiveness. Ganesha also felt he had been hasty in cursing the moon. But since he could not take back his curse but only lessen it's intensity, he proclaimed that the moon would wax and wane and would be invisible on only one day of the month, " amavasya ", which is, to this day considered inauspicious.