How did Ganesha Ji get an elephant head?

Vighneswar deity helps human beings to overcome obstacles that confront them. How is it that this pretty god has a pretty little elephant’s head? There is a legend about it.

Once Lord Shiva was away and Parvati, his wife, was alone. To keep her company she made a child out of paste and breathed life into him. Then she made him sit outside her abode and keep off strangers. After some time Lord Shiva returned but the vigilant child stopped him and refused him permission to go in. Lord Shiva, in his impatience, cut the head of the boy and threw it away. Parvati was very sad about the fate of her child. Lord Shiva tried his best to find the head which he threw away, but in vain. So, he ordered his followers to get the head of anyone sleeping with his head towards north. Only an elephant was found sleeping that way. Its head was brought and joined to the body of Parvati’s child, to whom she again gave life. (In any case we should not sleep with our head pointing north, because our body is a magnet of which the head is the north pole. Repulsion will occur between the north poles of our body and the earth, It may produce headache, bad dreams etc.)

You may notice that one of Vinayaka’s tusks is broken. There is a legend about this too. Demon Taraka obtained boon from Brahma that he should not be killed with anything that had life or that hadn’t. With this power the wily Demon began to torment the three worlds until he was killed by Vinayaka. Vinayaka broke one of his tusks—which is neither living thing nor lifeless thing—and flung it at the cruel demon who died instantly. Various gods and goddesses ride various animals and birds. Vinayaka’s vehicle is a Mushak.

Source: Chandamama Magazine (English), 1955 September

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