One of the most well-known and well-liked gods in the Hindu pantheon is Ganesha (also referred to as Ganapati, Vinayaka, and Binaya at times). The Sanskrit words gana and isha, which both indicate “lord,” are combined to form the name Ganesha. Gana may be translated as “a troupe of lesser deities.” According to popular belief, this deity is Kartikeya, the god of war, and Kartikeya’s brother, Shiva and Parvati. One version of the legend surrounding Ganesha’s creation claims that when Parvati was taking a bath, she produced the god from the filth on her body. In a different story, his mother formed some earth into a boy-like shape in order to make him. Ganesha was said to have been born with an elephant’s head in various myths.
How Ganesha Lost…and Gained His Head
Similar to his origin myth, there are several different versions of the tale of how Ganesha came to have an elephant head. Most often, Ganesha’s mother gave him instructions to watch over the doorway to her bath and to keep people out while she was cleansing herself. Shiva unexpectedly returned home after spending time in meditation and was eager to see Parvati. The youngster was beheaded by Shiva in a fit of wrath because Ganesha stood in his way.
When Parvati heard the noise outside her bathroom, she rushed to investigate. Parvati was devastated to learn that her husband had slain her son. Shiva pledged to bring Ganesha back to life in order to please his wife. Unfortunately, his head had been thrown so far that it was lost.
In a different telling of the story, Shiva is said to have sent his henchmen to fight Ganesha. The youngster was able to defend himself, so Vishnu ultimately had to step in by adopting the form of Maya. One of the demons, or perhaps Shiva himself, severed the boy’s head while Ganesha was preoccupied with Maya’s beauty.
According to a common interpretation of either story, Shiva was instructed to grab the head of the first living thing he discovered that was dozing off with its head pointed toward the north. An elephant’s head was removed to replace Ganesha’s since it was the first creature the god saw in that situation.