Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Slaying of Shumbha and Nishumbha - Part 1 of 4

Many years after the defeat of Mahishasura, the Devas had another problem in the form of two asurasa – Shumbha and Nishumbha. The two lived in Patala. [In Hinduism, it is believed that there are three worlds – swarga – the heavens, Privthi or the Earth and the Patala or the underworld. The Patala is considered to be the home of the Danavas, Yakshas and the Nagas. The Patala is supposed to be more beautiful than the heavens itself. Though there is no sunlight in the lower realms, it is said that there is no darkness because of the brightness of the jewels worn by the people in Patala. It is also said that there is no old age or diseases in the Patala.]
The two asura brothers – Shumbha and Nishumbha came to Earth and they desired to be the most powerful persons in the three realms. And as soon as they came to Earth, they performed severe penance at Pushkara.
Lord Brahma, the Creator God was pleased with their penance and appeared before them.
Open your eyes sons,” Lord Brahma told the two asuras who were deep in meditation.
The two asuras bowed to the Lord after completing their meditation.
The power of your meditation is such that it dragged me here,” Lord Brahma told the two of them. “Anything that you ask is yours.”
Immortality,” Shumbha told the Creator God. “We wish for immortality.”
Much to the chagrin of the two asuras, Lord Brahma unhappily shook his head. “All who are born will die. That is the law of nature. I cannot change that. Ask anything else, but not the boon of immortality.” Brahma told them.
Then we wish that we cannot be invincible in battle before any Deva, man,...” Shumbha rattled out a long list which included all the species in all the realms at that time. But unfortunately for Shumbha he included only the males of all the species.
Lord Brahma granted their wish and vanished from there.
Then Shumbha, being the elder of the two was crowned as the king of the Asuras. They made Sage Bhrigu as their chief advisor and they started recruiting an army. Hearing about the boons that Shumbha and Nishumbha had obtained from Lord Brahma, many asuras happily joined their army. Some of the powerful asuras who joined their armies were Durmalochana, Chanda, Munda, Rakthabija etc.
And then Shumbha started his attacks. The kingdoms on earth could not even offer a proper defense against the ferocity of the asuras and most the kingdoms were routed by them. Very soon, all the kingdoms on earth came under the control of the Asuras.
However, neither Shumbha nor Nishumbha were satisfied with this. They set their sights on the heaven and attacked Lord Indra, the King of the Devas.
Indra fought against the two asuras brilliantly. He used his Vajrayudha [thunderbolt weapon of Indra] against Nishumbha and rendered Nishumbha unconscious.
Hearing news that his brother was unconscious in battle, Shumbha rushed to the battle and fought Indra. And the boon of Lord Brahma protected him. Indra, the other Devas and the Lokpalas [Lords of the Four Directions] were all defeated by Shumbha.
Indra and the other Devas were defeated and thrown out of the heavens. Shumbha ruled the heavens and he ruled it like a dictator.
The Devas were fleeing from Shumbha and the other asuras when they approached their sage – Brihaspathi, for a way out of their predicament. It was Sage Brihaspathi, who reminded the Devas that the Mother Goddess was the one who had saved the Devas when they were harassed by Mahishasura. Therefore Sage Brihaspathi asked the Devas to pray to the Mother Goddess again.
The Devas then went to the Mount Himalayas and prayed fervently to the Great Mother Goddess.
On hearing their prayers, Goddess Parvathi [Parvathi is the wife of Shiva. Her warrior persona is called by many names including Durga, Kali, Chandi, Ambika] transformed into two Goddesses – Goddess Ambika and another dark Goddess called Kalika. While Ambika was fair and beautiful beyond words, Kalika was dark, fierce and looked like a mean fighting machine.
The Devas were stunned when a huge lion appeared before the two ladies, roaring ferociously.
I will handle this,” Goddess Ambika said with a calm smile.
The beautiful Goddess Ambika sat on the lion and along with Kalika went to the kingdom of Shumbha.
Upon entering the kingdom the Goddess walked to the nearby gardens and sat there and started singing.
The voice of the Goddess was so beautiful and even the birds and the animals in the garden stopped talking and were listening to the Goddess. Kalika was smiling as she was nodding her head listening to the divine music. The lion seemed to look almost tame as it heard the song of the Goddess.
Chanda and Munda just came back from their hunting when they heard the music. Unable to stop themselves they found themselves in the garden listening to the mesmerising music and what they saw there shocked the two asuras.
A few minutes later, the two men hurried away and were in the inner room of Shumbha.
My Lord, you cannot find a more beautiful lady anywhere in the universe. She is so beautiful that even the God of Love - Kama Deva would be entranced with her. And her singing…” Chanda could not even find words to describe the beauty of the singing and just gave it up.
Munda nodded fervently, “Just accept the woman as your wife, my Lord!” he said.
Shumbha could not stop smiling as her heard the words of Chanda and Munda. Still smiling he turned his attention to his trusted minister - Sugriva. “Talk to the Lady in beautiful and kind words and tell her that Shumbha wishes to marry her.”
Sugriva nodded and hurriedly went to the garden. There he heard the last lines of the song and nodded his head to the music unable to pull himself away. When the Goddess finished singing, Sugriva walked towards the Goddess and bowed to her.
My Lady, I have been sent by Shumbha, the king of the Asuras who cannot be defeated by either a Deva, asura or human being. Just by listening to what others have spoken about you, Shumbha has fallen in love with you. Please accept his proposal and become his wife.” Sugriva told the Goddess.
There was a dazzling smile in the face of the Goddess which drove almost anyone insane as she spoke to Sugriva, “I have come to this city of my own free will for finding a husband. And I know all the qualifications of Shumbha, which is why I have come here!”
Sugriva was smiling broadly when the Goddess spoke again, “However, there is a small problem with my wedding!”
Sugriva frowned as the Goddess continued, “When I was younger, I made a promise to my friends that I would marry only the man who can defeat me in battle. Please tell your Lord to defeat me in battle and after that he would know my strength and weaknesses. After that I would marry him.”
Shumbha was completely and truly astounded. He was sure that he has heard something wrong or at least something impossible.
Even the Devas cannot hope to fight against Shumbha, my Lady!” Shumbha said swallowing as he watched the Goddess, “Surely a promise made by you when you were a child and made without considering the repercussions would hardly be valid!” Sugriva said a little desperately.
The Goddess firmly shook her head, “Fight with me and defeat me!” She said. “If however your Lord is afraid of me or my weapons, ask him to go back to the Patala!” Goddess Ambika said calmly.
Sugriva knew that talking anymore with the Goddess, was pointless and hastily made his way back to his king.
Speak!” Shumbha told Sugriva impatiently when he found his minister silent.
The woman is haughty and she has come here for a fight!” Sugriva told the king.
WHAT?” Shumbha asked shocked.
Shumbha sighed and told his king all that had happened with the Goddess.
Shumbha was troubled. He just could not believe that a woman would so haughtily come for a fight against him. Even the Devas had no hope of winning against him. But this woman….
Shumbha turned to his brother Nishumbha looking at him inquiringly.

Nishumbha frowned and then looked at Shumbha, “Send Durmalochana! He will defeat her and bring her here!”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tara - The Queen of Kishkinda - Part 2 of 3

Mother, my father is no more?” The young Angad asked his mother Tara.
Tara saw the innocent face of her young son, and felt a strange ache fill her heart, “I told your father Vali, not to fight the demon at night! I told him demons were powerful at night,” Tara struggled to control herself as she saw her young son sitting before her, “But Vali did not listen!” Tara said crying openly.
Ruma, the first wife of Sugriva, hugged the two of them. “Angad, your father was a great Vanara! And do not worry that Vali is not there with you now! Sugriva will take good care of you and your mother!” Ruma said watching the two of them.
Sugriva needs to focus on his kingdom,” Tara told Ruma, “He is the king of the Vanaras now and Sugriva should not give in to his grief….!”
Tara did not even finish talking when a horrendous scream filled the kingdom.
Both Angad and Ruma were terrified when they heard the unearthly screams. But Tara was feeling numb. She knew this voice. She knew this voice too well.
All the citizens of Kishkinda were scared as they raced outside their homes.
YOU EVIL VANARA! HOW DARE YOU?” the wild, disheveled very angry looking Vanara was shouting outside Kishkinda on top of his voice.
Sugriva could not believe what he was seeing. He nearly stumbled as he saw who was before him.
VALI?” Sugriva yelled partly numb from joy and partly unable to believe what he was seeing.
Sugriva ran towards Vali joyously and that was when Sugriva was in for a shock.
Vali rudely pushed Sugriva to the ground and looked at him with angry, hatred filled eyes.
NOW YOU PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT ME?” Vali bellowed loudly as Sugriva was staring blankly at Vali. Vali angrily pulled up his brother almost choking Sugriva, “I do not think you would be so foolish as to believe that Mayavi would be able to defeat me!” Vali said snarling. “You planned this, didn’t you? You closed the cave door thinking that I would rot inside the cave! And you thought by doing that you would rule my kingdom?” Vali sneered angrily.
It was at that time that Vali caught sight of Tara inside the palace and grew even more angry as he threw Sugriva back angrily. “DID YOU REALLY THINK THAT THAT WAS GOING TO STOP ME?” Vali shouted.
Br...Brother,” Sugriva stammered gasping for air, “Please listen!” Sugriva took a painful breath and looked at his brother, “I thought that you perished in that cave,” Sugriva said as Vali snorted, “I did not want Mayavi to come back and haunt our kingdom. That is the reason I closed the cave door. Please….”
Sugriva could speak no more as Vali nearly choked him again. “Lies!” Vali yelled, “You speak nothing but lies!” Vali pushed Sugriva out of his palace.
Vali pulled his hand back in another punch when Sugriva was really scared and pushed himself back.
Ruma yelled running after Sugriva as Vali caught Ruma viciously, “And henceforth Ruma stays with me,” Vali said watching his brother with angry, glittering eyes.
Sugriva beat a hasty retreat from the palace.
Following Sugriva, Hanuman also left Kishkinda.
Sugriva feared for his life and he knew that the only place Vali could not come was Rishyamukha where the ashrama of Sage Matanga was situated. Sugriva and Hanuman lived there and over time, Sugriva, the beloved brother of Vali became bitter towards Vali.
Hanuman, on the other hand, met Lord Rama and Lakshmana who were traveling in the forests in search of Sita. (Sita had been kidnapped by Ravana, the king of Lanka)
Sugriva and Rama reached a pact whereby Lord Rama agreed to kill Vali on behalf of Sugriva and make Sugriva the king of Kishkinda and Sugriva promised to help Rama in finding Sita.
Armed with the promise from Lord Rama, Sugriva came back to Kishkinda and challenged Vali to a fight.
Tara was frowning as Vali was fuming and getting ready to fight Sugriva, “How dare that Vanara challenge me?” Vali yelled.
Tara was silent. In fact she did not even look like she was paying attention to her husband’s ranting.
What?” Vali demanded as Tara said nothing.
I do not think you should fight Sugriva,” Tara told her husband finally.
That nearly stopped Vali. He stopped ranting and turned his attention to his wife, “What did you just now say?” Vali asked Tara.
I said you should not fight Sugriva,” Tara said.
Vali was watching his wife as he was getting more and more angry as Tara continued, “We know that Sugriva has taken the help of the Prince Rama of Ayodhya,” Tara said calmly, “Rama is an avatar of Lord Vishnu and I am sure that he would be helping Sugriva in his battle,” Tara shook her head. “It would be unadvisable to fight Sugriva when he is protected by Lord Rama!”
Vali went near his wife standing very close to her, “You know I would never hesitate to fight when challenged!” Vali told her. “It would not matter to me whether the challenger is Lord Vishnu himself!” Vali said shaking his head as he could see a single tear in Tara’s eyes. “Even if Angad were to challenge me, I would fight him,” Vali said and walked away without a second glance.
It almost seemed like Tara worried about nothing. Because Vali won the first fight almost effortlessly. Sugriva realizing that he could possibly end up losing his life, ran away from the fight. (Lord Rama was hiding behind a tree and waiting to shoot Vali as Vali and Sugriva were fighting. Unfortunately, Lord Rama could not distinguish between the two Vanaras while they were fighting and did not fire during the first fight as Lord Rama was afraid to kill Sugriva by mistake. It was to solve this problem that Sugriva wore a garland, the next time he challenged Vali to a fight.)
Once Sugriva came back for the fight, this time Tara was adamant, “It does not make sense!” she said watching Vali and for the first time there was fear in her eyes.
What does not?” Vali demanded angrily. “That Vanara does not have sense and keeps coming back to fight….”
It does not make sense!” Tara interrupted Vali, “Why would a man who was so completely defeated by you come back for a fight so soon?” Tara asked Vali frowning.
I think you should end your enmity with Sugriva,” Tara said with sharp troubled eyes, “Make him the crown prince of Kishkinda and make friends with Lord Rama,” Tara said clutching Vali’s hands tightly as Vali could feel her hands trembling.
Strangely Vali smiled at Tara, “I know how much you love me! But as I told me before, I will never ignore it when someone has challenged me to a fight.” Vali said walking away from the place. Vali stopped at the door for a few seconds, “I will not kill Sugriva! I will just crush his pride!” Vali said walking away from the room.

The two Vanaras fought and this time there was no mistaking in Lord Rama’s aim.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tara - The Queen of Kishkinda - Part 1 of 3

Tara, the Queen of Kishkinda, was the wife of Vali, the Vanara King. She is one of the most under-spoken and definitely one of the most brilliant women in the Ramayana epic.
Her story starts with a buffalo demon by name Dundhubi.
Dundhubi was so arrogant and vain that he believed that he was strongest man in the world. The foolish demon went to the King of the Oceans.
I will fight you and prove that I am the greatest warrior in the world!” Dundhubi said as he watched the Ocean waters, arrogantly.
The king of the Oceans rose up from the waters and shook his head. “I am not capable of giving you the fight that you want. King Himavan, the king of the mountains is the right person for that task.” The King of the Ocean said.
Himavan?” Dundhubi asked in a sneering tone.
Yes!” The King of the Ocean nodded. “He is the father-in-law of Lord Shiva himself and he shelters the sages in his caves and he has power of the mountains. He is the right person for you to fight.”
Dundhubi looked angrily at the King of the Ocean for the few minutes and then without a second glance, turned away from there.
Like an arrow shot from a bow, Dundhubi landed straight in the door steps of Himavan. Yelling hoarsely, Dundhubi pushed himself towards the mountains and pulled up rocks from the mountain.
Give me a fight, King Himavan!” Dundhubi yelled. “The king of the Ocean said that you were the best person for me to fight with. Which is why I have come here. Fight me, so that I can prove to the world that I am the strongest person in the world.” Dundhubi said haughtily.
King Himavan watched the power hungry demon for a few minutes.
Go to the city of Kishkinda. There you will find the son of Indra.” Himavan said with shining eyes. “His name is Vali.” Himavan smiled without meaning to and continued. “He will give you a fight.”
Dundhubi had no idea what a huge mistake he was about to make, as he approached the city of Kishkinda.
Meanwhile back in the city of Kishkinda, Vali was in his palace fast asleep with his wives. It was at that time that a loud roar was heard through the entire kingdom.
Being the king of the Vanaras, Vali ran outside of his palace and found Dundhubi there, looking fiercely at him. Vali’s wives followed him as they were standing around Vali to help him in case of need.
Give me a fight.” Dundhubi yelled loudly. He then saw Vali and his wives and snorted. “I came here thinking that you would be able to give me a fight.” Dundhubi snorted again. “You were asleep. I do not deem it worthy to fight a man who is half asleep.” Dundhubi said trying to walk away.
Vali was enraged as he saw the buffalo headed demon. “You dare make fun of me? You think I need to be awake to fight a pathetic creature like you?” Vali demanded angrily as he pulled the golden pendant he wore around his neck, coming forward.
Vali realized that the foolish demon really did not know much about him. The pendant that Vali was wearing was no ordinary pendant. It was a gift from his father – Indra. The power of the pendant was such that if any person who challenged the person wearing the pendant, the challenger would lose half his strength.
Without further talk, Vali engaged Dundhubi in a fight, then and there. And it was a really gruesome fight. Though Dundhubi tried to hurt Vali, Vali was way more powerful. In no time at all, Vali hurled the badly injured Dundhubi, far back. In a few more minutes, Vali effortlessly won the fight against Dundhubi and killed the demon.
And then Vali proved his actual strength. Vali lifted the dead demon and flung him far away.
And that was Vali’s mistake.
Because Dundhubi’s body landed in the ashram of the Sage Matang.
The sage was angry because that disturbed his meditation. Furious on seeing his hermitage destroyed, the sage used the powers of his meditation and realized who had done this.
I curse you, Vali. And I also curse any of your friends in this forest.” the sage thundered angrily. “If any of you ever come within one “yojana” (a measure of distance) of my hermitage, you would be petrified.” the sage cursed.
Vali’s Vanara friends were living in the forest and when they heard the words of the sage, they all hurried away from the forest and they told Vali all about the curse of the sage.
Vali tried apologizing to the sage. But it was of no use. The sage was adamant and the curse was not even modified.
Many days after this event, another demon called Mayavi challenged Vali to a fight. And this time Vali was in his court in the kingdom. Not shying away from the challenge, Vali fought the demon and easily defeated the demon.
Facing defeat, the demon fled the kingdom. Vali was however not satisfied and he and his brother Sugriva gave chase to Mayavi.
Mayavi fled into a cave slightly further away from the kingdom.
Vali was about to enter the cave after the demon, when he called upon his brother Sugriva. “Though the demon is tired and has lost a lot of blood, be careful.” Vali told his brother. “If I do not make it out of the cave, close the cave and go back to Kishkinda.”
Sugriva watched his brother, looking scared, as Vali nodded. “Take care of Kishkinda, if anything happens to me.”
Sugriva was speechless but before he could say anything, Vali went inside the cave.
And inside the cave, Vali and Mayavi, fought. Sugriva was guarding the cave outside. The fight went on, not for a day or two but for twenty eight days.
And suddenly on the twenty eighth day, from inside the cave, came a blood curdling scream.
Sugriva was getting nervous outside the cave. And he thought of the worst when he heard the scream. He was sure that his brother was no more. Sugriva closed the mouth of the cave with a huge rock and ran back to the Kishkinda.
He told the people all that had happened there.
And as Vali was no more, Sugriva being the younger brother was crowned as the king of Kishkinda.

As Vali was presumed dead, his widow Tara married Sugriva.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The stories of the single tusked Ganesha

In most of Ganesha’s idols, the left trunk of the Lord is found broken. There are many stories for this broken tusk.
The story in the Brahmanand Purana goes as this:
Parasurama beheaded the last one of his enemies and let out a shout of victory. He had just waged a war against Kartivirya Arjuna and the arrogant king’s entire army. And Parasurama had won. The burning revenge which had consumed him since he saw his father Jamadgni, lying dead in the mud with 21 scars all over his body, seemed to be slowly mitigating….Parasurama looked around tired as he saw the massacre around him and realized that none of his enemies were standing.
Parasurama fell down on the earth, feeling bone tired, as he glanced at the axe in his hands. He was called Parasurama – which meant Rama with the Axe. Parasurama considered this axe as the gift from Lord Shiva himself, who was also his teacher in martial arts and the arts of warfare. If anything else, it was Lord Shiva…Parasurama realized that he owed his entire victory to the three-eyed Lord.
Parasurama did not even blink, as he got up from the battleground and walked towards Mount Kailash, the image of Lord Shiva, almost drawing him like a magnet and the tiredness which he had felt, just vanished.
Very soon, the sage found himself just outside Kailash and was surprised when he found Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvathi outside the door. Sage Parasurama was about to enter the house, when Ganesha stopped the man.
“You may not enter now!” Ganesha said sharply.
“Why?” Parasurama asked feeling completely bewildered.
“My parents are sleeping. I do not want anyone to disturb them, now.” Ganesha said firmly.
Parasurama looked at Ganesha, a tiny seed of anger building up. “I am Lord Shiva’s devotee and his student. I should be allowed to visit him anytime.” he said quietly.
“No!” Ganesha said with the same quietness and as one warrior would know another, Parasurama knew that Ganesha would not let him in….No matter what.
“Let me in or I will attack!” Parasurama said so quietly that Ganesha hardly heard him. But then Ganesha did not need to hear him.
Ganesha pulled up his weapon watching Parasurama. “No! I will not let you in.” Ganesha repeated.
And so the two men fought.
The two men matched each other, blade for blade, weapon for weapon. But Ganesha seemed like he was winning. Ganesha was more in control of himself and was able to fight wisely, observing Parasurama’s fighting technique.
Parasurama was however angry and he was getting more and more angry. He was being rash and could not believe that he was losing. In anger and desperation, Parasurama, hurled his axe at Ganesha.
For a second, Ganesha stood still. It took Ganesha less than the time for the weapon to leave Parasurama’s hands to realize that the axe was something which Parasurama had used on Lord Shiva, himself. (There are two versions on how Parasurama got the axe – according to one version, Lord Shiva challenged Parasurama to a fight and Parasurama was able to hurt Shiva with the axe and second version was that Lord Shiva presented the axe to Parasurama because of Parasurama’s extraordinary fighting prowess)
Ganesha realized that if he stopped the weapon, it would mean disrespect to his own father..
Ganesha closed his eyes, as he concentrated on the weapon.
The axe moved towards Ganesha and cut off the tusk of the elephant God, as it landed on the ground with a loud thud, waking up everybody around.
This woke up the Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvathi.
Goddess Parvathi came out of the house first and all she saw was an axe with her son’s tusk lying on the ground.
Parasurama was shocked, when he saw the beautiful Goddess Parvathi, morphing before his very eyes. The eyes of the Goddess which were generally loving and peaceful, changed. And standing before Parasurama was one of the most dangerous warriors, Parasurama had ever seen – Goddess Durga, the warrior Goddess.
“You hurt my son!” The Goddess thundered looking at him angrily, bringing the weapon in a sweeping ark, as Parasurama watched the Goddess shocked, words utterly failing him. “For this, I will cut off your arms!” the Goddess said viciously, pulling her weapons.
“MOTHER!” Ganesha shouted, trying to get his mother to see reason. “It was a battle and it was me who let....” the words of Ganesha, were in vain.
Goddess Durga was burning with anger and she was in no mood to listen to anyone.
“Parvathi!” Shiva said sharply, trying to get the attention of the Goddess. “Please just look at Parasurama for what he is.”
For a huge second Durga watched Shiva and then she turned to Parasurama still angry. Taking a deep breath to control herself the Goddess turned to watch Shiva.
“Parasurama is my student and he is also like your son.” Shiva said quietly. “See him as your son and forgive him.” Shiva said.
Parvathi turned to Parasurama and then slowly, almost imperceptibly, Parasurama sighed in relief, as the Goddess changed to her normal form.
Parasurama realized that he owed his life to his teacher and....Ganesha.
Parasurama looked at Ganesha and realized what made the elephant headed God so special. It was out of respect for his father, that Ganesha had lost his tusk to the axe and despite that, Ganesha had still asked his mother to spare Parasurama's life.
Parasurama bowed to the elephant headed God with utmost devotion.
Ganesha watched the warrior-sage with a smile, as Parasurama handed over his beloved axe to him.
“This is yours, my Lord. Please forgive me!” Parasurama said, as Ganesha laughed.
The other story for the loss of Ganesha’s tusk is from the Mahabharatha, which involves Ganesha himself taking the tusk out to write the Mahabharatha, because that was the only pen, Ganesha could find to match the speed at which Veda Vyasa narrated the Mahabharatha.
There is also another story about the broken tusk:
Ganesha was very happy. His devotees had given him plenty of sweets and he had taken as many as he could and stuffed himself with quiet a lot sweets as he was walking home.
Naturally Ganesha was traveling on his vehicle – the mouse, and the two of them scurried along, back home.
As they were passing along a dense forest basking under the bright moonlight, out of nowhere, came a huge snake.
Naturally, Ganesha mouse trembled and ran from there.
Ganesha did not even have time to soothe his pet, as he fell down hard on the ground, and the sweets which he was carrying split and scattered all over the ground. But Ganesha had a bigger problem. As Ganesha had fallen, his stomach was pierced.
Quickly, Ganesha pulled the snake with one hand and tied it as a belt around his stomach to prevent any further damage.
However Ganesha’s misadventure was something which was not completely unobserved.
The moon God – Chandra Deva saw this and unable to stop himself, laughed. Angrily, Ganesha pulled his tusk and threw it at the Moon God, breaking the moon into many pieces. Chandra Deva was shocked but Ganesha was not yet done. “You will always be dark!” Young Ganesha cursed the Moon God.
Finally with the intervention of Lord Shiva, Ganesha agreed to modify the curse and so came the fifteen days of growing moon and the fifteen days of the waning moon.

And as Ganesha plucked his tusk and threw it at the Moon, 
it is believed as one of the reasons why Ganesha has only one tusk.

*This story is available on Kindle Amazon in the book the Lord of the Ganas: Story of Hinduism, priced at Rs. 49

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Lord of the Ganas - The son of Parvathi.

The beautiful Kailash mountains were a breathtaking sight and it never failed to impress Parvathi. And after her marriage with Shiva, living with Shiva, his Ganas and his sages, Parvathi loved the place more. She smiled as she looked around the snow clad mountains and knew that this would be the case, always.
Jaya and Vijaya, the two guards of Goddess Parvathi were speaking with her.
"Devi. How is Kailash?" They asked her. Parvathi smiled unable to stop herself. Her smile saying a lot more than she ever could. "Shiva, the Ganas, Nandi....they are all fine." The Goddess was unable to stop smiling as she remembered her times her. "And do you know, how much Nandi loves the Lord?" Parvathi told the two guards with open amazement. "Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it." Parvathi said shaking her head. The devotion that the half-man, half-bull had for Shiva was something that astounded Parvathi no end.
"And now as a consort of the Lord, Nandi loves me the same way he loves Shiva." Parvathi said with a radiant smile.
Jaya frowned. "But they are all Shiva’s Ganas, Devi." he said a little hesitatingly.
"So?" Paravathi asked quizzically.
Jaya and Vijaya said nothing as they went away from there.
"I am going for a bath. Please stand guard outside." Parvathi said as she found Nandi, who was waiting on her today.
"Yes,Devi." Nandi said nodding his head.
"Let no one in." Parvathi said with a smile.
"Never." Nandi said vehemently and then realized that the Goddess was making fun of him and she walked away.
Nandi was still standing guard outside when he felt rather than see the Lord come towards him. Nandi turned right sharply and saw that it was indeed Lord Shiva who was back. The man rushed forward bowing to the Lord.
"My friend." Shiva acknowledged Nandi as he walked inside his home with a smile.
Parvathi was decking herself when she heard some noise in the outer chambers. Parvathi almost pulled out her weapon when she realized exactly who the person was.
As Shiva was about to enter the inner apartment, he was very surprised to see his wife looking very angry as she was about to reach for her weapon. "What are you.....?" Shiva started.
"Shiva." Parvathi said breathing in deeply. Shiva said nothing as Parvathi continued. "I asked Nandi to stay guard while I went and took a bath." she said finally.
Shiva grinned. "You expected Nandi to stop me from entering my own house?"
Parvathi was annoyed. "I asked him not to let anyone in." she muttered as she walked inside.
Shiva laughed saying nothing.
However the Goddess was still annoyed.
But they are all Shiva’s Ganas, Devi....
Jaya’s words were somehow ringing in Parvathi’s mind as she was unable to shake it off. She watched Nandi who was outside and somehow the words still kept repeating.
Making a sudden decision, Parvathi nodded to herself, her jaw in a set firm line.
The boy that Parvathi had created from her own body looked handsome beyond words. His twinkling and intelligent eyes masked the ferocious strength and valour that the boy had. Parvathi smiled as she admired the boy for one last time and then she breathed life into him.
"Mother!" the boy said and Parvathi felt a happiness she had not felt ever before in her life. "You are my son." Parvathi said unable to stop gazing at the boy. "You are mine." Parvathi said.
"Mother. Why did you create me?" the boy asked as his eyes searched for answers.
"I needed someone for myself." Parvathi said simply. "Someone who would answer only to me." she continued.
"Command me, mother." the boy said. "What should I do?"
Parvathi smiled to herself. "I am going to take a bath. Please make sure that no one comes inside, without my permission." Parvathi picked up a strong stick from the ground. "Take this and stay on guard."
The boy took the stick and went outside, looking around.
Parvathi watched the boy for one last time and then she went inside.
Shiva was back when he saw an unusually handsome and strong boy outside his house. The boy"s eyes were shining with curiosity as the boy was looking around. More importantly, Shiva knew that the boy was standing outside his house with a specific reason.
"Who are you?" Shiva asked the boy.
"My mother has asked me to stay here and stay guard. She wanted no one to enter inside without her permission." the boy said looking at the Lord. "Who are you?" the boy asked.
"I am Shiva." Shiva said trying to walk inside the house.
There was absolutely no warning, when the boy suddenly hit Shiva with this staff. Shiva winced and was shocked as he watched the boy twirling the staff. The Ganas were shocked, unable to do anything.
"No one enters without my mother’s permission." the boy told Shiva as he was twirling his stick.
Shiva was blazing as he watched the boy. "I am Shiva, the husband of Parvathi. How dare you stop me from entering my own house?" he demanded angrily.
But the boy really did not hear anything, as he pushed Shiva back, saying nothing more. Shiva walked away from the house as he was looking at his Ganas who were watching the entire scene with horror.
"Ask who that boy is and what is doing here." Shiva said, almost snarling at his Ganas, as he walked away from there.
The Ganas looked at the angry Lord and then walked towards the boy. "Who are you? What are you trying to do?" The boy looked at the Ganas as if he was already picking out targets, as the Ganas continued. "If you want to stay alive, walk away from here." they said trying to threaten the boy.
The boy watched the Ganas coolly. "Who are you? What are you trying to do? And why are you fighting me?"
The Ganas looked at the boy warily. "We are the Ganas of Shiva. And we are the ones who look after him. And we will kill you if you do not move away from the door."
“I am the son of Parvathi.” The boy said as he clutched the stick tightly studying the Ganas, waiting for any of them to make the first move.
However, before starting the fight, the Ganas went to Shiva first. "That boy is the son of the Goddess!" the Ganas said telling Shiva everything that had happened.
But right now, Shiva was very angry. He looked at the Ganas contemptuously. "I don’t care about that. I want that boy out of there." he said deliberately and refused to hear anything more.
The Ganas went back to the boy and this time there was a ridiculously short battle between the boy and the Ganas and the Ganas were defeated. None of them wanted to fight the boy who was all alone and added to the fact, the boy was a very good warrior.
The Ganas looked at the boy with troubled eyes nursing injuries. "That man is Shiva, the husband of Parvathi. Why do you not let him enter his own house?" one of them asked angrily.
The boy stopped for a few seconds looking uncertainly.....
Parvathi frowned as she thought she heard something from outside the house. She called her friend. "Find out what is happening outside." she snapped.
Parvathi’s friend went outside and she saw the battle between the Ganas and the boy and their dialogues. In a flash, she understood what had happened as she ran inside the house. "These Ganas of Shiva." Parvathi’s friend blazed angrily. "They want to enter your apartment. And they don’t care whether you want them inside or not....’ the friend took in a deep breath trying to control herself. ‘....And they fought your son." the friend finished angrily.
Parvathi heard this and a slow anger made way into her heart. "Shiva tried to force his way inside his own house. He did not even wait." she said angrily. She turned to her friend, as her anger almost threatened to consume her. "Go to my son and tell him that no one is to enter my house, without my permission. NO ONE." She said finally.
The friend raced outside to the boy. "Sir. Your mother tells you that you are not to let anyone force their way inside the house." the friend saw the Ganas who were limping and wincing in pain.
The confusion in the boy’s face was gone on hearing the words of the lady before him and he smiled. Parvathi’s friend saw the wincing Ganas and smirked at them. "Who are these Ganas before you, sir? Can they really hope to win against a person like you?" she asked as she walked back inside the house.
The boy smiled as he looked at the wincing Ganas. "You are the Ganas of Shiva and I am the son of Parvathi. You have to carry out the wishes of Shiva and I am bound to Parvathi. So you do what you think is right and I will do what I am supposed to do." the boy said holding his staff tightly as he looked at the Ganas with a dangerous smile on his lips.
However instead of fighting the boy, the Ganas went back to Shiva told Shiva all that had happened and what the boy had told him. For a few seconds Shiva looked at his Ganas not able to talk.
"Parvathi." Shiva whispered finally, to himself, shaking his head.
Shiva took a deep breath turning to his Ganas. "That boy is preventing me from getting inside my own house." Shiva looked at his men fiercely. "The boy...." Shiva took a deep breath trying to control himself. "….wants a war. And he shall have it."
Nandi looked at his men and then back at the boy, as they were back outside the house of Shiva and Parvathi.
"I will go and fight him first." Nandi looked at Bhringin, another Gana. "If I fail, you will follow me."
Bhringin nodded.
Nandi came forward as the boy was watching him ready for anything. Nandi got down and tried to catch the boy by his feet. Realizing that the boy was more powerful, Bhringin charged at the boy, catching his other leg.
The boy saw the two men and hit them hard with his stick. The two warriors let the boy go, wincing in pain. Scrambling back, the boy picked up an iron club from the ground and twirled it around watching the men.
The other Ganas also started attacking the boy. And it definitely looked like it was going to be an uneven battle. But then nobody knew what the boy was capable of. And the Ganas were in for a shock. A very rude shock.
The boy fought with the natural skill of a warrior and was fighting mad. He almost fought like he was possessed and no one was able to contain the boy. The boy did not care who he was facing or what they were doing. He twirled the iron club and the damage he did to the Ganas was incalculable. Most of the Ganas were hurt badly - some with broken bones and many with shattered knees...
The Ganas were frankly scared when they heard the sound of the stick coming anywhere near them and most of them fled from the battlefield.
The boy looked around as he watched the retreating Ganas. He looked at the doorway once more and picked up the stick that his mother had given him and along with the iron club that lay down, he walked back the doorway. He stood there with a proud face as he watched the Ganas run.
Narada, the divine sage who roamed all over the worlds was watching the battle and he was frankly terrified of what he was watching. The Ganas of Shiva were being routed in battle and it was not done by some huge demon or any powerful being. It was done by a little boy, a powerful little boy. Narada looked around wondering what to do and decided that battle was definitely not the way this matter could be resolved. He walked away from there and went to Satyaloka.
"Lord Brahma." Narada said without any preamble as he met his father at Satyaloka. "We need your help before things really go out of hand." Narada continued.
"What happened?" Lord Brahma asked worried.
Narada sighed
Both Brahma and Vishnu came to Shiva and were shocked to find Lord Shiva looking angry and morose.
Shiva spoke to Brahma first without any preamble. “I do not wish a fight.” Shiva said. “There is a boy outside my house and he is not letting me inside.” Shiva looked at Brahma with piercing eyes. “Just talk to the boy.”
Brahma nodded as he along with a few of the Ganas went to Shiva’s home. There he found the boy watching them warily.
Brahma signaled the others to stop as he went near the boy. “I am not here to….” That was as far as Brahma got.
The boy came forward and without giving Brahma a chance to explain himself started pulling Brahma’s beard.
Getting scared, Brahma tried to pull himself back, when the boy picked up the iron club. Brahma saw no more as he ran back hard, with the Ganas following him. The boy caught some of the Ganas and attacked them, as the others escaped…
Gasping for breath, Brahma told Shiva all that had happened.
Shiva was very angry by the time Brahma finished talking. He turned to Indra and his son Kartikeya. “Muster up all our forces. Get the boy out of there.” Shiva said with blazing eyes.
Parvathi was talking to her friends when she felt a sudden chill. She stopped talking as she looked around. Something had just happened... Something not good at all. Parvathi frowned as she closed her eyes and concentrated.
Parvathi’s friends were genuinely terrified as the Goddess opened her eyes. That she looked scary was a given. What was more terrifying was the firm set jaw of the Goddess which clearly showed that the Goddess was going to do something terrible.
The friends watched, as from Parvathi emerged two extraordinarily powerful women. The two women who were created were beautiful but their ferociousness masked all their beauty. They looked like mean fighting machines who would kill without a second thought.
Command us, Mother.’ The two Shakthis told Parvathi.
There is an army coming after my son.’ Parvathi said coldly. ‘Protect him.’
The boy watched as a big army was coming towards him. The Ganas whom he had fought till then seemed almost docile compared to the army which was coming towards him. What was more scary were the leaders of the two groups. They seemed phenomenally powerful and exuded a confidence of having fought and won battles before this.
The boy clutched the iron club more tightly, when he watched the army surround him from all sides. The boy took a deep breath as he relaxed when he felt it. It was something so powerful that he was sure that even his opponents had felt it. The boy turned and was shocked. Standing beside him were two powerfully built women who looked more ferocious than the entire army that he was facing.
One of the Shakthis turned to the other. “None of their weapons should reach him.” She said watching the army around them.
The boy watched as the Ganas hurled their weapons at him. He kept his iron club ready to ward off the weapon, when the boy watched shocked as the weapon stopped just as soon as it left the hands of the Ganas. The Ganas were themselves shocked as the weapon stopped in midair.
This time the Goddesses smiled dangerously as the weapon turned. The weapons went and hit the very Ganas who had hurled them.
It took a second for the boy to understand what was happening and grinning he picked up his iron club started twirling it around, to deal with the Ganas who were attacking him without any weapons…..
It was a ridiculously short battle. The boy was unstoppable even by himself and with the two Shakthis there was nothing anyone could do….
The Ganas ran from battle again, but Kartikeya did not run. He and the boy were exchanging blows as the Ganas ran back to Shiva.
And back at the fight between Karthikeya and the boy, Kartikeya was also no match for the boy and he lost the fight….
We… We thought….” The Ganas panted as they saw Shiva. “We thought that just because we were the Ganas of Shiva no one could stop us.” One of the Ganas told Shiva. “But our arrogance is now gone.” The Ganas were pleading with Shiva. “This boy, my Lord, whoever he is, you are the only one who can stop him. Even Lord Kartikeya himself is no match for him.” The Ganas fell at the feet of Shiva.
Shiva watched the Ganas with absolutely no expression on his face. He then turned to Vishnu “I believe we have a battle in our hands.” Was all he said.
The boy watched as this time it was just two people who were coming towards him and one of them was Shiva. The Ganas were standing at a distance. The Shakthis watched the two men warily. The boy twirled his iron club as he hit one of the two warriors – Vishnu. Lord Vishnu turned to Lord Shiva. “I will use my Maya and keep him engaged.” he said as something powerful shot out of his hands.
The Shakthis joined their forces together and fused their powers inside the boy’s body. The boy was unable to believe it as something powerful ran through him… Using the power the boy was able to fight Vishnu’s Maya.
In between, Shiva attacked, trying to find an opening in the boy’s defences. But the boy fought like one possessed. He threw his iron club at Shiva"s Trident, as the trident fell from the Lord’s hands. Angrily Shiva picked up his Pinaka - his bow, trying to shoot the boy. Only to find that the boy was protected by the Shakthis.
The boy fought unbelievably fast and he was able to decimate Lord Vishnu’s attack. Vishnu threw his discus at the boy and at the last minute the boy brought down the club on the discus. Without a second thought, the boy threw the club at Vishnu and Garuda caught the club in his mouth.
Remembering his mother, the boy picked up the staff which she had given him and started fighting with Vishnu again.
For a few seconds it looked like the boy was going to win. Lord Vishnu fell down as the boy hit him with the staff. The boy turned his attention to Shiva, failing to understand that Vishnu was only feigning to have fallen down.
The boy was getting ready to attack Shiva when he heard movement behind him. The boy realized that Lord Vishnu was only pretending to have fallen and hastily turned around. The boy turned as Shiva picked up his Trident and there was no mistake in Shiva’s aim.
And Parvathi’s son lay dead in the battlefield as the Trident decapitated him.
For a second there was complete silence in the battlefield. Nobody could actually believe that the battle was over. But the boy was lying in the battlefield unmoving. Shiva’s Ganas were unable to believe it and then there were sudden screams of joy.
"The boy is gone."
"We have won."
"Lord Shiva has won."
It became a crescendo of shouts and soon all the Ganas were rejoicing.
They were so jubilant that none of them noticed that Lord Shiva was not even remotely happy. In fact he was remorseful, knowing that he had done something unforgivable.
For a second, Parvathi felt that the entire universe had gone quiet. She watched her trembling hands and was filled with rage. A rage which she just could not control.
She saw everything that had happened and saw the Ganas rejoicing in the battlefield. All around her dead son. The Goddess watched the scene as it replayed in her mind and within a span of a few seconds standing before her were hundreds and thousands of bloodthirsty Shakthis, all of who had emerged from her.
"Command us, Mother." the Shakthis said.
"They killed my son." Parvathi said listlessly. She turned her eyes to her Shakthis. "None of them deserve to live. Not while my son is dead." The Shakthis watched each other as Parvathi was steadily losing control over herself. "Kill them all." the Goddess said simply.
And so the madness began.....
The Shakthis commanded by Parvathi saw nothing and heard nothing. They destroyed everything that came in their path. Sages, Yakshas, Gods...nothing survived the Shakthis. And it looked very bad. Most of the Gods were sure that the end of the world was near, because nothing seemed to stop the Shakthis and their numbers just kept multiplying...
Having no other choice to stop this madness, the Gods along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma went to Parvathi.
"Please forgive us, Goddess." they said and the Goddess just refused to listen to them.
"Please Devi." Lord Vishnu said gently. "We will do whatever you want. Stop this massacre."
Parvathi watched Vishnu and slowly some semblance of control came to her. "I need my son back. And I need him to have an honourable status among you." she looked at Vishnu. "If that is done, there will be no more killing. Otherwise...." Parvathi smiled mirthlessly as she did not even bother completing the threat.
The Gods hurried back to Shiva and he heard all that they had to say. He turned to them. "Go north. Find the first living thing that you see and bring its head." the Gods definitely knew when not to waste time and were out almost as soon as Shiva commanded them.
They took the body of the boy with them and traveled north. The first animal that they saw was a single tusked elephant. They cut the head of the elephant and they attached it to the boy"s body. Using the powerful mantras and the holy waters, they were able to attach the body of the boy with the head of the elephant.
They brought the boy to Shiva who watched the boy with a strange smile. Shiva closed his eyes as he touched the boy.
The Ganas were shocked, as the boy with the elephant head, woke up as if he was just sleeping. He was very handsome looking with the face of an elephant. The red complexion of the boy outlined his fine features and his eyes showed an intelligence which belied his age...
The Gods took the boy to Parvathi and the Shakthis which emerged from her just vanished, without a trace. If Parvathi had felt that her son was handsome before, she had no words to describe her boy right now. She hugged her son tightly, as words completely failed her.
Shiva came up from behind the Gods and the Ganas as he saw Parvathi and the boy.
"This is my other son." Shiva said proudly.
Parvathi could not hide her smile as Shiva continued. "Me, Vishnu and Brahma are all worshiped in the three worlds. However this son of mine shall be worshiped before all of us." Shiva turned to the Ganas. "He will be your Lord henceforth, the Lord of the Ganas – Ganesha. My son Ganesha." Lord Shiva said with quiet pride.