The mystical birth of Ganesha

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Indian Culture / Storytelling


Whenever Shiva went away, which was often, and mostly always for 12 years, Parvati came down to #Manasarovar. This is where #Ganesha was born, through Parvati's tantrik powers. Sadhguru tells the story of how Shiva took off Ganesha's head, and put a 'Gana's' head, making him supremely intelligence! 'Ganesh Chaturthi' means, to boost your brain, not boost your belly.


Duration: 8 min


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6 min read

The mystical birth of Ganesha

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

So, Manasarovar is significant because, it is culturally significant because, whenever Shiva – he is a bit of a vagabond householder – he goes away. So his wife, Parvati, instead of staying in Kailash, she comes here, because that’s all iced up. She comes down here, at least there is cold water.

Ganesh is not elephant headed. He is Ganapati. Gana means – Shiva’s companions

So, she lives here, largely. So, more time was spent here than there. So, many things happened. One of the things that happened was, Ganapati was born here. So, he is not elephant headed. He is Ganapati. Gana means – the Ganas, who were Shiva’s companions. Generally they are described as distorted, and demented human beings, or beings, not human beings. They did not have human form. They had strange forms. And, they had limbs, which did not have bones. A boneless limbs they had. And, they spoke in a language which nobody could decipher. They spoke like cacophony. And, they seemed to be always inebriated, or at least they behaved like that. So, they were called Ganas. And, they were the permanent companions of Shiva. All the time with him. Others came and went, but they were always there.

So, when, one of these outings that Shiva went. He went away – 12 years. There are many cultural and scientific reasons we gave, as to why he went away for 12 years. Because largely, whenever he went, he went away for 12 years. So, once he went away, and after 11-12 years he came back.

Using her [Parvati] tantrik power, she made the shape of a baby and breathed life into it

Parvati sitting here on the banks of this lake – I want you to imagine – you are the just only woman sitting on the banks of Manasarovar lake, nothing here. She wants to have a baby. She is unable to have a baby because Shiva’s seed is not human. So, it’s clear that she can not have a baby with him. But, when she is alone – when she is with him, she is fine – when he is gone for long periods, her maternal instincts took over. She wants to have a baby. So one day, she smeared herself with sandal paste, head to toe, waited for a period of time, then slowly peeled off all the sandal paste. When you do this, a certain amount of your skin, or your cells will come away. Making use of this, using her tantrik power, she made the shape of a baby and breathed life into it. And, nice little boy came. And she was very happy in the company of this boy. And, he grew up, just the two of them, nobody.

And, Shiva lands up from somewhere. Nobody knows where he goes. Him and his friends land up. All inebriated, happy, come to see his wife. He is that kind. And, Parvati wants to have wife. So, she set up a small barrier and asks the boy to watch out, that nobody comes this way. So, the boy took this duty as a very – he is very proud to guard his mother. So, with a spear in his hand, he is walking up and down. He is looking for trouble. He wants to. Somebody should come now, and he must fend them off. He desperately wants to do something for his mother. He is in that state.

With a flick of his [Shiva] sword, he took off the boys head, and went to see Parvati

And, Shiva and his friends landed up. So, he wants to see his wife. He is coming that way. And the boy stopped him, and questioned him – who are you? Shiva though, you are asking me – who are you – with a flick of his sword, he took off the boys head, and went to see Parvati. Very happy to see his wife after 12 years. But the wife saw blood on his sword, and she screamed – and he got the works! Then he does not know what to do. He thought after 12 years, he will get a great welcome. Here she is freaking on him. She said, you have to bring him back to life. He said, that’s not possible. He is decapitated. He is finished. ‘I don’t care what has happened, I want him back to life’.

Now, if he wants to have his wife, he has to bring this boy back to life. So, he looked around – the Ganas – they were all there, ki ki ki ki kee, ki ki ki ki kee – like this. So, he looked around, and the leader of the Ganas, he asked him what, he said ok, so he lopped of his head and put it on the boy’s head. Head transplant.

So he lopped of his head [Gana] and put it on the boy’s head

So, now the boy had human body and a Gana’s head. That too chief of the Gana’s head. And he had a limb which was boneless, boneless limb. So, became a Ganapati, the chief of the Ganas. Somewhere down the line, artists from Shivakasi in Tamilnadu, because they had never seen a Gana, but the place was full of elephant – a boneless limb means, they could not imagine beyond an elephant. Slowly they made that into an elephant.

Whatever they do, even today everybody only calls it Ganapati. Nobody calls him Gajapati. Some people have started writing songs these day, calling him Gajapati. But it doesn’t stick. Ganesh, Ganapati is what sticks, because he is Ganesh. He is Ganapati. He is the king, or the leader, or the chief of Ganas.

Because he [Ganesh] got a head which was not human, he was supremely brilliant

Because he got a head which was not human, he was supremely brilliant. Because of this extreme sense of intelligence, he did not allow anything to be an obstacle in life. Every obstacle in life can be cleared, if you have the needed intelligence, isn’t it. So, this is what he proved. So, we called him Vigneshawara. He removed all the ‘vignas’, because his intelligence is of that level. If you do not know about writing his scriptures, he told Vyasa, your dictation should be non-stop. If you stop, I’m going to drop the pen and go away, because I’ll get bored with you. This is the level of intelligence.

Ganesh Chaturthi means, not to boost your belly, but to boost your brain. Because he is known for his brain, not for his belly. But today, to our children, we have made it clear – he is known for his bog belly, not for his big brain. He was essentially known for his big brain. So, Ganesh Chaturthi should be about boosting the brain, not the belly, isn’t it?

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