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Archive for the tag “mythology”

Interesting stories behind Ganpati’s figure

Ganpati or Ganapati is also called as Gajanana which means the one with an elephant head. Out of all the Hindu gods we commonly know, I find his head very peculiar. Since he is what we call ‘our family god’ I have been very curious about his appearance since a kid. How did he end up with an elephant head? This is my most favourite part amongst all interesting Ganesha stories.

Goddess Parvati, Shiva’s wife and Ganapati’s mother wanted someone to keep guard as she went for a bath. She used turmeric paste that she has applied to her body and a moulded a son for herself. Some versions of this story say that she used her body dirt to make the body of her son.

She asked him to guard the doorway and not let anyone in until she asks him. As she goes for the bath Shiva appears at the doorway. In order to obey his mother Ganesh does not allow him to enter. Shiva becomes furious and beheads Ganesh.

Parvati finds out about it and becomes angry at Shiva. She demands Shiva to bring Ganesh to life. Shiva gives into Parvati’s demands and asks his Ganas – the soldier to get the head of the first animal they find. There was one condition though. It had to be facing north. (Love the kind of detailing our mythological stories have)

Parvati’s son was thus brought to life. He was now the one with elephant head.

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What’s with Ganpati’s big belly?

After the face, the next thing a person might observe is the big protruding belly. In different versions people say it means prosperity (that is what we plump people use as an excuse for being fat) and some say it represents the universe. 

There is another longish story around Kubera, who is supposedly Ravana and Kumbakaran’s half brother. He was very pompous and arrogant because of the wealth he had accumulated. In order to exhibit his wealth he called Shiva and Parvati for a dinner treat. Since Mahadev or Shiva knew of his intentions he sent Ganesha instead. 

Kubera, out of his arrogance declared that Ganesha can eat how much ever he wants. There won’t be any shortage. But Ganapati’s hunger at dinner was insatiable. He kept eating from the big platters that were served to him. Kubera was soon out of food. So Ganesha started eating his furniture and other things in Kubera’s house. 

Kubera ran to Shiva for help. Shiva said, the only way to stop Ganesha was to feed him with a handful of rice with humility. Kubera did as he was suggested and succeeded in stopping him from eating up the house. He also learnt an important lesson. But because of eating so much in small span of time, Ganesha got a protruding belly.

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Why does Ganpati have one broken tusk?

 Ganesha is also called Ekdanta – the one-toothed, because he has one broken tusk.

The story related to this has a reference to Mahabharata. Ved Vyas, was to write Mahabharata. He asked Ganesha is he would help him write it down as he narrates the epic story. Ganapati agreed instantly.

There was a condition though. Ved Vyas would continuously narrate the story. Ganesha has to first understand and only then write it and not take down mere dictations. Ganpati realised that this is no ordinary story and thought that no pen could be apt enough to write it down. He broke one of his tusks and started writing. 

There are a lot of versions for this though. Some said he lost the tooth in a fight with Pashuram. Ganpati did not fight it out of respect for the weapon Parush (axe) bestowed to Parshuram by his father Shiva. Instead he took it on the tusk when Parshuram threw it on him while he was guarding the door. 

Some say he broke the tooth because actual pen broke while writing Mahabharata and he was not supposed to stop while Ved Vyas narrated.

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There are so many stories about Ganapati that are very interesting but I cannot put them in one article. Do share your favourite ones. Happy Ganesh Festival everyone!



Ram and Ravana – Gods or Aliens

Like a lot of archaeologists and mythologists would claim different theories based on Ramayana  and Mahabharata, I had heard of one too in the books of Ramayana. We have heard about the incidents and the epic tales of Ram, Sita, Ravana and other characters since childhood. But few of us curious souls would not accept the stories the way they are. So we think of various ways to make all the incidents scientifically possible and valid. And as we go deep into this topic there is no way one can come out dissatisfied.

So where do we start is the question. And what would interest readers most is connection to something they know about. So we would like to start with the ice ages.  Our previous generations would refer to the ice ages as the Yugs, namely Satya-yuga, Treta- yuga, Dwapara- yuga and Kali-yuga. We would call it Ice ages. A Yuga is defined as a cycle that the earth goes through and end of one Yuga gives rise to another that follows. And this period of time can be millions of years in between two yugas.

An ice age is defined as “A period of time in the Earth’s history when ice sheets and glaciers advanced from polar regions to cover areas previously of temperate climate. Several ice ages are evident in the geological record, the most recent (‘The Ice Age’) being from about 1 million years ago and lasting until about 10 000 years ago, when the ice retreated to its present polar extent.” (Taken From: Webster’s World Encyclopedia – 1997. Copyright Webster Publishing, and/or contributors.)

No one knows what causes ice age apart from mentioning some great changes in climatic condition and no one knows what causes end of a Yuga. So do we see a connection there?

Where I am getting to is that human race lives in this age. Similarly, is it possible that a different and far more superior race lived in other ages? This was the race that knew how to communicate with each other without speaking, had flying machines and had weapons as powerful as a nuclear missile of the present day. So if a superior race like this descends on earth today we would call them GOD. Will humans be Gods to some other much inferior race someday? Might be. But we shall come to that a little later.

This earth has seen the most superior race in the Satya-yuga. On an average the life span of people on earth then was 100,000 years. The heros and the villians were the Suras and the Asuras who are their half brothers. Here I would like to mention that this theory is based on the Hindu beliefs. The Asuras aren’t really the villians nor are Suras the heros as portrayed in our mythology. They are two different sects with different different beliefs. The war fought between them can be directly related to present day war which we fight for power, water, geographical control and political and economic interests. The beings in this era were superior to people in Treta -yuga and far more superior than other two yugas.

Now the theory indicates that this race whom we can call the demigods, might have migrated to some other planet while the earth went through a major ice age. One yuga gets over and earth begins to recover and makes ground for newer race to take birth. We are in Treta-yuga now. During this time, their ability to communicate with each other changes. They haven’t been exposed to any scientific development yet and they are in a very barbaric stage of life right now. Now the demigods decide to pay visit to this newly formed earth and the current race sees them, what would they think? Yes, the supreme one. The GOD.

When we see someone do something that is beyond the limits of our race and scientific reach we instantly believe in them as GOD. What I wish to say here is,  whom we know as Lord Vishnu, the supreme being visits earth at different periods of time and in the order of evolution. So, the DASHAVATAR begins with Matsya- avatar i.e., the Fish (very low on the scale of evolution).

Then Kurma-avatar – The Tortoise,

Varaha-avatar – The Boar,

Narasimha- avatar – Half lion and half man,

Vamana-avatar – A human dwarf,

Parashurama- A human with first developed weapon; the Axe that indicates living in forest,

Ram – Man with a little more developed weapon; bow and arrow that indicates hunting,

Balaram- Portrayed with a plough that indicates agriculture

Krishna- Depict higher form of living and more civilised communities with art and social gatherings,

Kalki- Yet to arrive, will ride a horse and put an end to this earth. He is an indication that we humans have brought this upon us and he will destroy all evil which will constitute of this earth.

Thousands of years later life shall begin again and there is nothing mentioned beyond this.

Like Ram arrived on earth when people were living a life without the knowledge of magical occurances he certainly might have been perceived as god. Similarly, if humans develop technology to migrate to another planet, they probably are doing that right now and decide to descend on earth when the new race is still in stone age wouldn’t we be perceived as Gods?

The connection to our mythology is very clear. We have heard of tales like heart transplant, flying machines like pushpak viman that is our present day airplane, Brahmastra that is our nuclear weapon, extraction of solar energy to convert into some other form of useful tasks, test tube baby and birth of lord Ganesha etc. Mahabharata is the longest battle fought on this earth. Doesn’t it relate to our power struggle? They clearly were a race that were far far more advanced in science and technology. They knew how to make use of it for better or for worse. The management of this earth were in hands of three deities, Brahma- The Creator, Vishnu- The Nourisher and Mahadev- The Destroyer. And all the other deities whom we know as Agni, Vayu, Pavan, Varun are the elements by which this earth is made.

We fly like they used to, we build bridges over impossible water bodies,we operate like they used to, we fight like they used to. Are we the next generation of Gods?

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