5 Faces of Ganesha: Mythical Stories That Shaped His Manifestations

5 Faces of Ganesha

Lord Ganesha, also known as Vighneshwar, Vakratunda, Ekdanta, Gajvadan, Gauripriya, etc., is revered before starting any new task. By invoking “Shri Ganesh,” one seeks a smooth and obstacle-free performance of auspicious activities such as marriages, house blessings, yajnas, Pran Pratishtha (consecration of an idol in a temple), and other significant endeavors. 

The worship of Lord Ganesh is a ritual followed to ensure the successful completion of tasks without hindrances. Ganesh Chaturthi, observed on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the Bhaadrapada month, is a special day dedicated to Lord Ganesh.

Ganesh Chaturthi, observed on September 19, 2023, marks the worship of Lord Ganesh, while Ganesh Visarjan takes place on September 28, 2023. Lord Ganesha is known by many names and has multiple manifestations. Let’s explore the stories behind them.

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Lord Ganesha Faces

1. Vignaharta

Lord Ganesh is called Vignaharta because of a story involving a yajna performed by King Abhinandan. During the yajna, Indra, the deity for whom it was done, was intentionally excluded. This angered Indra, who sought help from Kalpurush to disrupt the yajna. 

Kalpurush took the form of Vighnasur, known for placing obstacles in the way of auspicious events. Vighnasur then began to destroy the yajna and caused the death of Abhinandan. This incident left the rishis worried about who could perform holy deeds in the face of such obstacles.

The rishis were in a difficult situation and sought guidance from Brahmaji, who advised them to praise Lord Ganesh. After praising and invoking Lord Ganesh, he defeated Vighnasur. 

Lord Ganesh is known as ‘Vighna Harta’ because tasks performed without his worship often encounter obstacles. Starting an auspicious task after worshiping Lord Ganesh allows obstacles to be dealt with by him.

2. Heramba

The term “Heramba” translates to “big-headed” and typically refers to Sri Ganapathi in his five-headed form. In this majestic manifestation, Sri Ganesh is known as Pancha-mukha Ganapathi. It is customary to worship this form of Ganapathi before embarking upon significant endeavors.

According to Sri Vinayak Puran, Sri Heramba Ganapathi is a revered deity known for his association with Sri Maha Vishnu. 

He was invoked by Vishnu to subdue the fierce demons Madhu and Kaidaba, who grew to immense size and caused havoc on Earth and in Devalok. Seeking guidance, Sri Brahma prayed to Sri Vinayak and received divine insight that only Sri Vishnu could control the demons.

Sri Brahma invokes Nithra Devi to wake up Sri Vishnu, who was sleeping in Sri Vaikunt. Indra and Devas also arrive, requesting help against the demons. Sri Brahma informs Sri Vishnu about Madhu Kaidaba and asks for intervention. 

Sri Vishnu blows his conch, summoning Madhu and Kaidaba. A fierce battle ensues, with both sides fighting relentlessly until Sri Vishnu becomes tired. He seeks counsel from Bhagwan Shiva, who advises praying to Heramba Ganapathi. Sri Vishnu chants Sri Vinayak’s mantra and Sri Vinayak appears before him.

Sri Vishnu admitted his mistake of not seeking help before the war. He asked for forgiveness and strength to overcome his enemies. Sri Vinayak granted his request, and Sri Maha Vishnu used his Chakrayudha to defeat the demons Madhu and Kaidaba.

3. Lambodara

Lambodara is another name for Ganesha, meaning “potbellied one” due to his large stomach. According to the Mudgala Purana, Ganesha took this form to defeat the demon Krodhasura (Anger). 

The story is linked to the Mohini Avatar of Vishnu and Shiva. During a battle between Asuras and Devas for Amrut (nectar), Vishnu appeared as Mohini to distract the Asuras. 

While they were mesmerized, the Devas obtained the nectar and became immortal. Shiva, intrigued by Mohini, created Krodhasura out of impatience and anger. Ganesha then appeared as Lambodara to quell this Asura.

4. Kari Vadana

According to mythology, the goddess Parvathi was feeling lonely and wanted someone to love. She decided to create a son out of clay and ghee (clarified butter) and gave him life, while her partner Shiva was meditating on Mount Kailash. This son was none other than Ganesha, who is known for his elephant head (Kari means elephant, and Vadana means face).

Parvathi goes to bathe and asks her son to stand guard. When Shiva returns, he is denied entry by his son, who is unaware of his son’s existence. In a fit of anger, Shiva beheads the boy. Realizing his mistake, Shiva replaces the head with that of an elephant, naming him Ganesha, the lord of the elephants. Shiva declares Ganesha as the remover of obstacles and to always be worshipped first in rituals.

5. Dhumravarna

Dhumravarna, the eighth and final incarnation of the deity Ganesha, valiantly vanquished the malevolent demon Ahamkarasura, who personified ego and pride.

According to mythology, Lord Brahma appointed the God Sun as the ruler of Karma. This newfound power made the Sun arrogant. In a moment of arrogance, he sneezed and his thoughts formed a demon named Aham. 

Aham sought guidance from Guru Shukracharya, who had witnessed Ganesha defeating many demons. Shukracharya advised Aham to perform penance for Ganesha, which he did for many years. Pleased with Aham’s devotion, Ganesha granted him a wish for immortality and sovereignty over the three realms.

Shukracharya’s plan succeeded as Ahamkarasura became the King of Asuras and conquered all three worlds, causing chaos. Ahamkarasura’s victory made him arrogant, thinking he was superior. 

The gods sought Lord Ganesha’s help to resolve the situation peacefully. Ganesha sent a message through sage Narada, asking Ahamkarasura to step down and stop the violence against the innocent. However, Ahamkarasura arrogantly dismissed Ganesha’s request, fueling his fury.

After the peace treaty failed, Ganesha, in the form of Dhumravarna, attacked Ahantasur’s army with his Fiery Snare. The powerful snare started killing the soldiers, leaving them defenseless. In a desperate attempt to save himself, Ahantasur sought guidance from demon guru Shukracharya. 

Shukracharya advised him to seek forgiveness from Dhumravarna. With no other option, Ahantasur humbly asked for forgiveness while on his knees. Dhumravarna, showing mercy, forgave Ahantasur but instructed him to leave and find a place where Dhumravarna is not worshipped.

Dhumravarna means “smoky-colored” and he rides a blue horse. Thus Ganesha appears to have a dark smoky hue in this form.

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Tales Of Ganesha

Indian mythology is a treasure trove of short stories that are not only exciting but also educational. These stories impart invaluable lessons about life, society, good manners, and many other aspects. In this text, we will be sharing a few stories related to Lord Ganesha that are sure to captivate and enlighten you.

1. Ganesha & Old Lady

In a loving village known for their devotion to Lord Ganesha, he decided to test their loyalty. Taking the form of a child, he visited each household asking for kheer, a sweet dish made from rice and milk. 

However, everyone dismissed him, believing that his small offering would not suffice. Despite their doubts, Lord Ganesha remained determined, causing people to perceive the child as foolish.

Lord Ganesha approached a woman knitting outside her home and asked her to make kheer with the rice and milk he had brought. The woman kindly agreed, giving him a small bowl. However, when asked to use a bigger container, she requested that she also be allowed to have some kheer. Lord Ganesha happily agreed to her terms.

A kind old woman welcomed child Ganesha into her home and prepared kheer for him. Impressed by her generosity, Ganesha invited some friends to join the feast. Despite not having much food, the woman used all her rice and milk to make enough kheer for everyone. She first offered it to the Ganesha and other deities in her puja room and then tasted it herself before serving it to the child.

The child claims to be full and says the kheer is tasty, despite not eating it. The child reveals that he actually ate the kheer when it was offered to Lord Ganesha. Realizing that the child is Lord Ganesha, the lady bows before him and receives his blessings. The kheer miraculously keeps refilling, so it is distributed as prasad (blessed food) to the villagers, teaching them a lesson and bringing them blessings.

2. The Mushak Ganesh Story

The enchanting tale of Lord Ganesha and his devoted companion, Mushaka (mouse)!  No exploration of the beloved deity is complete without uncovering the captivating story of how this tiny creature became the trusted carrier for the mighty Ganesha. 

Ganesha is often depicted riding a mouse, although he has been shown with other animals like the peacock, lion, and serpent. The story of Ganesha with Mouse was first recorded in the Matsya Purana, one of the eighteen ancient Hindu scriptures known as the Puranas. While the Matsya Purana has undergone revisions over time, its origins can be traced back to the 1st Millennium BCE.

The Ganesha and Mushak story begins when Lord Indra’s court is filled with sages and celestial music gods. One god named Krauncha accidentally stepped on a sage’s foot, angering him and resulting in a curse. Instead of becoming a small mouse, Krauncha transformed into a colossal rodent. The giant rodent caused havoc by destroying farms and cattle. During his destructive journey, he arrived at Maharishi Parashar’s ashram where Lord Ganesha resided. Ganesha, aware of the chaos caused by the giant mouse, decided to take control of the situation.

Lord Ganesha, in order to control a troublesome mouse, used his pasha (looped rope) to bring it under his control. Recognizing the mouse’s harm to innocent people, Ganesha decided to punish it. 

However, the mouse pleaded for forgiveness, explaining its inability to change its size. In an unexpected turn, Ganesha chose the mouse as his vehicle and climbed aboard. The mouse, named Krauncha, became smaller and asked Ganesha to become lightweight so it could support him. Since then, Krauncha has served as Lord Ganesha’s loyal vehicle or vahana. 

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3. The Wisest God

The demi-gods had an argument over which son of Shiva and Parvati was the wisest. They sought the answer from Lord Brahma, who was unsure himself. Lord Brahma then sent his son, Narad, to find the answer. 

Narad offered Shiva and Parvati a golden Mango, claiming that it would grant immortality and supreme knowledge to the one who eats it. Shiva and Parvati decided to give the mango to one of their sons.

Shiva and Parvati were unsure of who deserved a fruit, so they held a test. The task was to circle the world three times and return first. Lord Murugan was confident in winning since his peacock was faster than Ganesha’s mouse. 

However, Ganesha cleverly circled his parents three times, considering them his entire world. Impressed, Shiva and Parvati declared Ganesha the winner. This resolved the debate on which son was wiser.

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