Being born and grown up in a Hindu family, I have heard the story of the birth of Lord Ganesh, uncountable times. Let me share the story once again in a nutshell, to explain the reason behind writing this blog post.
One day, Goddess Parvathi decides to have a bath in peace. She wanted somebody to guard her during this period but find no one for this purpose. She wanted someone, whose very existence will be to love and be there for her. Who will first and foremost obey her words? So, she applies a paste of Multani soil on her body and then rubbed to remove it. Her body’s scrubbed material, she created a boy and put life to Him. This way Goddess Parvathi gave birth to Lord Ganesh.
Then she told her son, Lord Ganesh, that no matter what, He should not let anybody to enter the house, and He does just that. Nobody is allowed to enter. Even though war ensues, nobody is allowed to enter. He defeats all. When Lord Shiva tries to enter, He too is politely told to take a walk. Lord Shiva, first politely tries to reason with Lord Ganesh, but when He realizes that there is no way this Child is going to allow even Him to enter, He used His Trishul to chop off the Boy’s head.
Later when Goddess Parvathi comes out of her bath and witnesses Her Son lying on the floor with His Head chopped off, she decides to take the form of Goddess Kali and destroy all the Creation. All the Gods reason with her and assure that Her Son will be live. Lord Vishnu ordered to find an elephant, who was strolling in the northern direction, and its head to be chopped off its body and that head is to put on the Child’s body and that is how we have Lord Ganesh got the present figure as we see Him now.
Since my childhood, I am dispelling of Lord Ganesh. So, I could not accept this story as truth. I always had a few pivotal questions about this story, which are as below:
- Why suddenly Goddess Parvathi has to create a son to guard her house, while she takes the bath?
- Why suddenly everyone, including Lord Shiva, had to resort for war to enter the house of Goddess Parvathi?
- Why Lord Shiva chopped off a Child’s head? If Lord Shiva, the knower of all, had to go to chopping heads when denied admission to somewhere, how do we, the poor mankind, have to practice restraint?
- Why had Goddess Parvathi to take the form of Goddess Kali and resort to destruction of creation for the beheaded son? Why did not she used her power to bring her son to life?
- Why Lord Vishnu ordered for an Elephant, strolling in the northern direction and chopped off the head of that poor animal to bring the beheaded boy into life?
I tried to find the answer to these five questions and consulted every possible source of information, not only to convince myself to this story but also to understand the reasoning behind such a cruel narration of the birth of Lord Ganesh.
I always believed, there had to be something real, sane and deeper meaning to this story, and my search has landed me to few conclusions, which is more convincing to me. I had the chances to read a few books on Hindu spiritualism, which deals with Kundalini and Chakras of the human body. While reading these books, I find the answers to all the five questions mentioned above. Let me share the same in my plain language:
As per spiritual documents (it is almost same in all religious documents), every earthly body is made of a single source, which is called energy. Science has also proved, energy has no beginning or end, it only changes its states. For us, the humans, when male and female coagulate their sexual energies, this gives birth to a fetus, a new form of their combined energies. This fetus is nurtured inside the womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid and connected to the mother with the umbilical cord, which provides the energy to survive the fetus. During the birth, this umbilical cord was cut and we are born as an individual human being.
This answered my first question. Goddess Parvathi wanted to take a bath in peace. What does it imply? Let’s understand, what we mean by taking birth? For humans, taking a bath means washing our body with water to clean the outer surface of our body from dust and other impurities. So, it can be understood, when Goddess Parvathi, the mother, the source of energy, wanted to take bath means, she wanted to purify her energy from the impurities’. She was aware, the energy cannot be kept unguarded and if not taken care of, it can change its form and become hazardous. So, she wanted to guard the house, during Her Bath.
However, she wanted someone as a guard, who is pure enough and can remain unaffected by the energy transformation during her Bath. So, she created Lord Ganesh to save and protect the source of her energy, the purest form of our existence. He was made out of her body’s scrubbed materials, means the source of His being existence is free from any other form of energy. Lord Ganesh is thus the purest form of energy.
This leads to the answer to my second question. Everyone wanted to have power in this universe. Even our Gods also need the energy to make themselves powerful. However, excessive power from the energy may turn the mighty Gods into evil. When Goddess Parvathi was taking Her Bath, it’s obvious everyone wanted to enter the house to get the energy. Lord Ganesh successfully prevented everyone, including Lord Shiva, to enter the house.
Here comes the answer to my third question– why Lord Shiva chopped off the head of the little child?
I do not believe that Lord Shiva, the knower of all, was unaware of such an important part of Goddess Parvathi and Her giving life to Lord Ganesh. Even if He was in meditation, all the more He is the knower of all, so there is no way He would be oblivious to such an important event. Even if I assume that for some reason He was oblivious to Lord Ganesh’s birth and Lord Ganesh being Goddess Parvathi and His Son, then, are we trying to assume that He had such little control over His anger and ego that He chopped off a Child’s head?
To understand this episode of the birth story of Lord Ganesh, I need to dwell a little of the concept of Hindu spiritualism of our human bodies.
The Seven Energy Centers or Chakras in human bodies.
As per these spiritual facts, there are supposedly Energy Centers situated on our ethereal bodies that correspond to various organs in our physical body. We have seven main chakras in our bodies. Six are associated with the body and the Seventh, the Sahasrara Chakra, floating a few inches above our fat heads, is not associated with our body but connected with the Eternal Truth, the pathway to self-realization. Each Chakra has a symbol, color, and sound.
The energy resides in the Mooladhara Chakra, known as the root of these Chakras, which is dormant. The main purpose of life is to make this Energy or Shakti or Kundalini, to rise and go through each Chakra & then reside in the Sahasrara Chakra, which is also called Crown Chakra. The symbol of the Mooladhara Chakra or the Root Chakra is an Elephant, which in Hinduism is the form of Lord Ganesh and thus Lord Ganesh is considered to be the God or the Gatekeeper to this Chakra. Gatekeeper to reach The Goddess, the pure source of energy.
The seat of all Kundalini Power or Shakti repositioned in the Mooladhara Chakra. In this most Powerful Chakra, Lord Ganesh presides. This Root Chakra, this gate needs to be opened for the Kundalini, the cosmic energy, The Goddess Energy, the energy of no beginning and no end, the source & destination of all knowledge & Oneness, to begin its journey to the Crown Chakra & beyond, to self-realization to the realm of Oneness.
This chakra is also associated with earthiness and survival instinct and our need for the external. The Goddess Energy lies dormant as the mind is preoccupied with the gross and not the subtle; and certainly not with Oneness and union of Shiv Shakti. Till this Chakra is not shaken up, the Shakti will remain dormant.
The ego of each individual, the petty ego that is considered in survival, the gross, the temporary, and the mundane resides in the mind, the mind in the consciousness, the consciousness in the brain and the brain in one’s fat head. Till this ego is not chopped off which would mean till the head filled only with the gross is not chopped off, till then there is no way the individual can make his or her way upwards towards self-realization & Oneness. So, Lord Shiva, the Yogi, has no option but to chop off the false ego that is associated with the gross. Chopping off the head that harbors this ego, thus Lord Shiva chops of the Boy’s head.
Now, in my fourth question, I was wondering, why Goddess Parvathi take the form of Goddess Kali and started destroying the creations.
I have mentioned earlier, I have considered Goddess Parvathi, as the source of purest energy in this universe, which is the source for both of our existence and destruction. With the head of the Boy being chopped off by Lord Shiva, the guard to this energy transformation had been removed. Goddess Parvathi transformed into Goddess Kali, the One who destroys means the energy has transformed its state.
The Goddess goes into a rage. Which means the Shakti which has been lying dormant begins to move. This Shakti is a billion times more powerful than all the nuclear bombs put together. If this Energy is not channeled in the right direction, it can create havoc. The only way to prevent destruction is to put another head on the Boy’s head. Which means the false ego has been chopped off, but there is the need for another head to be put into place, to be able to first and foremost hold the Pure Ego, the Pure Consciousness. Then that Pure Consciousness needs a channel or a tunnel or a pipe or a trunk to take that Energy of Pure Consciousness or Energy and direct it upward, through the other Chakras to then reside with The Mother. The Elephant’s head is thus a symbolic representation of a vehicle that can sustain and contain the Energy and the trunk is the tunnel through which this energy can be channeled upward.
This answered my fifth question. The energy has to be channelized in the upward position, thus Lord Vishnu ordered to go for an elephant in the northern direction, the upward direction.
As no spiritual growth can take place without chopping off the head of false ego & directing the Consciousness upwards towards The Mother Energy, the most auspicious of all things in Creation, that is why for every auspicious beginning we pray to Lord Ganesh. It is only via Him, that all good can take place & take place calmly. Energy needs to be pure and that pure energy needs to be channeled upwards.
But Energy in its Original Form is neither pure nor impure, it is just energy. When energy is used for sexual release, we term that energy as sexual energy but when the same energy is used to work towards spiritualism that very energy leads to self-realization. Energy is the same, the way we use it defines its destination and potential and capabilities.
Even Lord Brahma or Lord Vishnu could not calm Goddess Parvathi from destroying the world by taking the form of Goddess Kali. Lord Brahma is the Creator. The role of the Creator is to create while here we are talking about the destruction of the false ego, the death of the false ego. We want to create a life that is filled with what appeases to our senses. Going within and taking the Energy upward goes against logical reasoning for worldly success and creating wealth and power and success. Thus He could never fathom the death of one’s self or the false ego for moving upwards.
Lord Vishnu is the preserver and as a Preserver He could never fathom that sometimes death or destruction is instrumental for True Change. As an individual, our sole purpose is survival and often spiritual growth or perseverance goes against worldly growth and survival. Thus Lord Vishnu too could be of no help here.
It is Lord Shiva, the eternal Yogi, and the Transformer or crudely put, The Destroyer, who knew that for true growth, something had to be destroyed, something had to die, or be chopped away and though it is His own Son, He went ahead and did so. We have both Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvathi residing within us as yin and yang Energy.
It is when we take on the role of Lord Shiva the Transformer, we can take decisions, that though seem filled with destruction, in reality they are true transformation and thus it is the individual who has to first destroy something closest to Him or Her, the false ego for the real ego, The True Consciousness to emerge.
And that is why Lord Shiv cuts off the head and that is why we need to cut off the false head which is seeped into slumber and the gross and endow oneself with the True Consciousness which cannot be contained in the false head. It needs a larger container or vehicle with the task to channel the Energy properly and steadily upwards.
Lord Ganesh is the possessor of the True Consciousness. The Boy’s head needed to go. Even the elephant’s head needed to go as it was meant for a higher purpose, as one does not just need a large container, but one needs True Consciousness and then the knowledge to take this Energy upward. The Boy had the knowledge and the love for The Mother, the True Seat of Creation and Consciousness but needed a better container and the elephant provided that.
So one needs to chop the head of the elephant and put it on the Boy’s head to get Lord Ganesh. One needs to cut off the false ego, go within, and take the Energy upward. That is why the Mooladhara Chakra, the Root Chakra, is not strong, nothing is going to hold for long. The elephant has four feet, which means we need a solid foundation. The trunk that can go upward, skyward, towards the Mother, the eternal source of energy.