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GANESA. GANAPATI. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Lord of the Ganas or troops of inferior deities, especially those attendant upon Siva. Son of Siva and Parvati, or of Parvati only.

One legend represents that he sprang from the scurf of Parvati's body.

He is the god of wisdom and remover of obstacles; hence he is invariably propitiated at the beginning of any important undertaking, and is invoked at the commencement of books.

He is said to have written down the Mahabharata from the dictation of Vyasa.

He is represented as a short fat man of a yellow colour, with a protuberant belly, four hands, and the head of an elephant, which has only one tusk. In one hand he holds a shell, in another a discuss, in the third a club or goad, and in the fourth a water-lily. Sometimes he is depicted riding upon a rat or attended by one; hence his appellation Akhu ratha. His temples are very numerous in the Dakhin.

There is a variety of legends accounting for his elephant head. One is that his mother Parvati, proud of her offspring, asked Sani (Saturn) to look at him, forgetful of the effects of Sani's glance. Sani looked and the child's head was burnt to ashes. Brahma told Parvati in her distress to replace the head with the first she could find, and that was an elephant's.

Another story is that Parvati went to her bath and told her son to keep the door. Siva wished to enter and was opposed, so he cut off Ganesa's head. To pacify Parvati he replaced it with an elephant's, the first that came to hand.

Another version is that his mother formed him so to suit her own fancy, and a further explanation is that Siva slew Aditya the sun, but restored him to life again. For this violence Kasyapa doomed Siva's son to lose his head; and when he did lose it, the head of Indra's elephant was used to replace it.

The loss of one tusk is accounted for by a legend, which represents Parasurama as coming to Kailasa on a visit to Siva. The god was asleep and Ganesa opposed the entrance of the visitor to the Inner apartments. A wrangle ensued, which ended in a fight. "Ganesa had at first the advantage, seizing Parasurama with his trunk and giving him a twirl that left him sick and senseless. On recovering, Parasurama threw his axe at Ganesa, who, recognising it as his father's weapon (Siva having given it to Parasurama), received it with all humility on one of his tusks, which it immediately severed; hence Ganesa has but one tusk, and is known by the name of Ekadanta or Ekadanshtra (the single-tusked).

These legends are narrated at length in the Brahma Vaivartta Purana.

Ganesa is also called Gajanana, Gajavadana, and Karimukha, `elephant-faced;' Heramba; `boastful;' Lambakarna, `long-eared;' Lambodara, `pendant-bellied;' Dwideha, `double bodied;' Vighnesa, Vighnahari, `remover of obstacles.' A peculiar appellation is Dwaimatura, `having two mothers,' in allusion, it is said, to his birth from the scurf of Parvati's body.

EKADANSHTRA, EKADANTA [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] `Having one tusk.' A name of Ganesa

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM