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Also known as GANESH

A picture showing the legend of GANESHA taken from our Indian mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Indian Gods, Indian Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

The famous elephant-headed God of Wisdom and Prudence

A wise 'phant among Gods, he is known as the Lord of Obstacles. But he only puts obstacles in the way of those seeking a shortcut to Heaven. This is to prevent overcrowding and illegal immigration.

All in all, he is very much loved and there are many images of him. He is rather greedy and overweight and just loves yummy fruit and drink sacrifices.

He does come with a good pedigree — parents SHIVA and PARVATI. He is the sort of God you can talk to. Very user-friendly.

He has four arms, but his elephant's head bears only one tusk. There are many stories circulating about how this happened. Version one goes with SHIVA's habit of surprising PARVATI in her bath which she found very annoying. So from her bodily scrubbings, mixed with oils and ointments, she created a guardian figure and brought it to life with a sprinkling of Ganges water.

SHIVA took one look at the figure barring his way — and lopped its head off. "Look what you've done!" wailed PARVATI, "that was our brand new son!"

Servants were dispatched to find a new head without delay. The first one they found lying around was from an elephant. Better than no head at all, thought PARVATI, and that was that.

Version two claims the head came via NANDI the White Bull of SHIVA, which attacked INDRA's elephant and after a bloody battle came back with its head, minus one tusk.

Version three claims it was SHIVA's son and PARVATI was the jealous one.

Version four claims both parents were happy and took GANESHA to be admired by the deities but SAVI forgot he was afflicted with the evil eye and when he looked at the new arrival its head burst into flames and burnt to ashes.

Then of course those who don't go with the NANDI story supply other versions of how GANESHA lost a tusk. Did RAMA lop it off when GANESHA was back on guardian duty protecting a sleeping PARVATI? Did he break it when falling off the rat he used for transport after a bout of binge-drinking?

Or did he really snap off his tusk to use as a pen when he needed to jot down something really important? (We've all done it, haven't we?) This sounds the most plausible to us as GANESHA is a God of Wisdom and Prudence, but is never seen carrying a pen.

He does indeed like to carry a few artifacts around with him: a shell, a discus, a club and a water lily. But these are purely symbolic and are of no practical value. Gods never carry flashlights or penknives or anything like that.

GANESHA has two wives, SIDDHI and BUDDHI. They have to share the tusk.

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Article last updated on 03 February 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Ganesha is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

Suggested further reading...
Location : India
Gender : Male
Type : Deity
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Good/Evil Rating : GOOD, quite approachable
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : GANESH
Popularity index : 1629

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