Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lord Ganesh in Thai Buddhism

How ganesha got his Elephant’s head
Lord Ganesha is said to have been the son of Parvati and Shiva, but there are differing sources, some of them indicate different origins. His task in life was to guard his mother and once while doing so he foolishly failed to recognize Shiva himself who had come seeking his consort. Trying to defend his mother’s bath, Lord Ganesha was beheaded by Shiva who later was persuaded by Parvati to revive him. He promised Lord Ganesha that he should have the head of the first creature who happened along. An elephant was the first animal which was able to be found. Elephants are considered to be the wisest of all animals, so Shiva took it’s head and used it to replace the missing head of Lord Ganesh.

In the Shiva Purana the story goes as follows - while his mother Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she prepared to cleanse her body (turmeric was used for its antiseptic and cooling properties), and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother’s orders. After a while Shiva returned from outside, and as he tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated at this strange little boy who dared to challenge him. He told Ganesha that he was Parvati’s husband, and demanded that Ganesha let him go in. But Ganesha would not hear any person’s word other than his dear mother’s. Shiva lost his patience and had a fierce battle with Ganesha. At last he severed Ganesha’s head with his trishula. When Parvati came out and saw her son’s lifeless body, she was very angry and sad. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha’s life at once.


Unfortunately, Shiva’s trishula was so powerful that it had hurled Ganesha’s head very far off. All attempts to find the head were in vain. As a last resort, Shiva approached Brahma who suggested that he replace Ganesha’s head with the first living being that came his way which lay with its head facing north. Shiva then sent his celestial armies (Gana) to find and take the head of whatever creature they happened to find asleep with its head facing north. They found a dying elephant which slept in this manner, and after its death took its head, attaching the elephant’s head to Ganesha’s body and bringing him back to life. From then on, he was called Ganapathi, head of the celestial armies, and was to be worshipped by everyone before beginning any activity.

ไทยพราหมณ์ Brahminism in Thailand: "How ganesha got his Elephant’s head

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