venerdì 29 aprile 2011

Ganesh again

I have told the most popular story about the birth of Ganesh, the elephant-headed God son of Shiva and Parvati. But today I want to tell another story, less known but perhaps more interesting told in other texts, but mainly in Brhaddharma Purana.

Ganesh bought in Mumbay
Well, Shiva stood absorbed in meditation when his wife Parvati interrupted him. She wanted a son. But the Great God, Mahayogi had always refused to have an offspring. “The children – he said – are used by parents to perform funeral rites and recitation of prayers to the ancestors, but I am immortal, and then I do not need it.”
Unlike the other Gods in fact, Shiva (and before him his corresponding Vedic God, Rudra), is proud opponent of procreation as protector of perfect and indistinct unity of Brahman against the duality inherent in creating the other by Self. But that’s another story.
Well, Parvati’s insistence exhausted even the Great God who made a child using patch of the sari of his wife and handed it to her.
Parvati was angry, “do you think I’m a girl giving me a rag doll to play?” But, picked up that piece of cloth, the baby came to life. Parvati was beaming, she had a son to love and showed him to Shiva who examined him. “The baby was born under a bad omen – Shiva said – Sanaiscara, the God of planet Saturn sentenced him to a sudden death.”
That said, the head of baby fell to the ground.
Parvati was hopeless, desperate, she was moved by the joy of having a child with the excruciating pain of seeing him die.
Moved with compassion, Shiva tried to reattach the head to the baby, but without success. The God then ordered his faithful servant, the bull Nandin, to go north and bring the head of anyone found in that direction.
Nandin went northward and came across Airavata, the white elephant , vahan, i.e. vehicle, of Indra. Obviously Indra tried to prevent Nandin to cut the head of Airavata and a hard fight began between Nandin, Indra and others Gods. But the strength of Nandin was the power of Shiva and prevailed and in the end the sacred bull cut off the head of the elephant and brought it to Shiva. The Great Gos put the head on the neck of his child and he came back to life. Thus Ganesh was born, Lord of the elephants and Lord of hosts, good luck God and God of literature, Ekadanta i.e. one tusked God as the other tusk was broken in the fight against Nandin.
And Indra? And poor Airavata? The King of the Gods went to ask for forgiveness of Shiva who, in his benevolence, said: “Throw the body of your elephant in the ocean, Airavata will come out safe and soul waters from at the time of churning of primordial ocean.” And so it happened, as told in another post.

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