What better way to celebrate Ganesh Chaturti than read some Ganesha stories? After all, he’s the most endearing and entertaining of the gods! You must have heard how Ganesha got his elephant-head.
Parvati fashioned him out of sandalwood (or mud, in some versions) and made him stand guard by the door while she bathed inside. Parvati told Ganesha not to let anyone in, but when Lord Shiva came by and was prevented by Ganesha from entering he was enraged. So Shiva beheaded Ganesha. When Parvati saw what had happened she was furious. To make peace with her Shiva ordered Nandi to bring him the head of the first creature he saw. Nandi came back with the head of an elephant and Shiva fixed it on Ganesha’s neck. And that’s how Ganesha got an elephant-head! But how did he get a mouse as a vehicle?
Once, there lived a demon king called Gajamukh. He was a very powerful demon and quite wealthy too! He had a number of palaces, lots to eat and drink, and plenty of servants at his beck and call. But Gajamukh was not content; he was bored with the familiarity of his wealth. He wanted to become the king of the gods and the people as well! So he prayed to Shiva every day, standing on one foot.
Gajamukh could be very determined when he wanted and nothing could distract him from his prayer. Many years passed and, at last, Shiva appeared before him curious to know what Gajamukh wanted so badly. Gajamukh knew exactly what he wanted from Shiva – he asked that no weapon, whatever metal it was made of, should be able to destroy him. Shiva granted the boon with an uneasy heart. He knew what Gajamukh was going to do!
As expected, Gajamukh was unstoppable in his evil ways after the boon had been granted. He did not fear for his life and merely laughed when the people and gods alike tried to stop him. He robbed, killed and plundered kingdoms. His followers enthused by their leader’s fearlessness ran amok too. At last, Shiva could take it no more.
Shiva asked his son, Ganesha, to vanquish Gajamukh. Ganesha accepted the challenge and called Gajamukh for battle. Gajamukh was amused. He knew Ganesha was Shiva’s son , but he was sure he was protected because of the boon and he did not worry at all. Ganesha attacked Gajamukh with all his might, but the weapons he threw at the latter bounced off without causing any harm. At last, Ganesha broke his tusk and threw it at Gajamukh. The tusk was not made of metal and so it hurt Gajamukh.
The demon king was taken by surprise, and as he was nursing his wound Ganesha jumped on his back, determined to crush him to death! Gajamukh tried to shake him off but Ganesha wouldn’t relent. Round and round Gajamukh swirled, trying every trick in the book to get Ganesha off his back but without success.
At last, a tired Gajamukh accepted defeat. He didn’t want to die. He told Ganesha he’d accept any other form of punishment. Ganesha thought about it and decided that he would spare Gajamukh’s life. However, he was not willing to trust that Gajamukh would stop doing evil. So Ganesha turned Gajamukh into a mouse, and with Ganesha on his back there was no way Gajamukh would be tempted into doing evil in future! With time Gajamukh and Ganesha became friends and Gajamukh truly had a change of heart!