GANESHA CURSES MOON
(Discourse By N.R.Srinivasan, July 2011)
Ganesha was a sweet little spoilt kid. Parvati, his mother was very fond of him and always fed him with delicious sweet cakes called Modaka. Subrahmanya is his younger brother who was born exclusively out of his father Siva's energy who is his friend, philosopher and even at times his Guru. Still Siva was partial and showed preferences to Ganesha more than his brother at times. Ganesha always liked to carry modaka and sugarcane in his hands. Over a period he became a glutton and his pot belly did not bother him at all.
On one of his birthdays, which falls on chaturthi (4th day), the bright fortnight of Bhaadrapada Ganesha was going around house to house accepting modakas (sweet cakes) offered by his favorite devotees. After having eaten too much, he needed the help of his mount Mooshika (mouse) to move further in the night. Suddenly the mouse stumbled due to overweight. His stomach which was over-loaded with modakas burst and the modakas came out. Ganesha did not like to part with the modakas devotedly offered by his devotees. He quickly stuffed them back and wanted to hold them in his belly. A snake moving around nearby obliged him and acted as a waist-belt holding the modakas secure in the belly. With his elephant head and mouse mount he had no difficulty in getting the help from another fellow-mate animal. Ganesha was not only a favorite of all people, but also equally a friend of all animals.
Seeing the short stature of Ganesha with his elephant head and human body, mouse as his mount and snake as his waist belt around his bulging belly, the charming moon could not contain his laughter and burst forth into a hearty and loud laughter. This annoyed Ganesha. In a fit of anger he broke one of his tusks and hurled at him. He also cursed him that no one should look at him on his birthday. If any one dared to look at the Moon on that day he would positively earn a bad name, censure and ill repute according to his curse. Moon begged his mercy and repented for ridiculing him. He did not want his fair name to be maligned because of this isolated incidence. Moon is always known for its cool temperament, calm nature and beauty. But Moon got a permanent scar on its face because of this incidence. It had to live with the scar as a punishment. Moon became his favorite devotee when it learnt he was the son of Parvati. Indeed! Ganesha is always kind to those who repent and worship him. Pleased by its repentance Ganesha suggested a quick remedy for those who became victims to his curse. Those who listened or read the story of how Lord Krishna cleared his name from being accused of stealing Syamantaka Jewel would not be affected by this curse as ordained by the merciful Ganesha. Ganesha was a strong friend, admirer and devotee of Lord Krishna.
Facinated by this story of Ganesha and impressed by his merciful nature even at his own offenders, Vedavyasa, the divine sage and compiler of Vedas and Puranas, included this story in Srimad Bhagavatam. The followers of all pervading Supreme (Vishnu), Vaishnavites started worshiping Ganesha whose name appeared in their sacred-most Purana. They had no hesitation in worshiping elephant headed God as they were quite at home worshipping Narasimha (Lion-headed God), Sesasayee (Vishnu reposing on the bed of serpent Adishesha) also known as Ranganatha and Hayagreeva (Horse-headed God). Goddess Lakshmi is always found in the company of elephant and often they worship Laksmi as Gajalakshmi. Of course they called him Vishwaksena and made him their favorite God to commence any ritual or work. They did not forget to put the Oordhwa Pundram (namam) to their favorite deity and affectionately called him "Thumbikkai Azhwar"-elephant headed Azhwar, making him leader of all Azhwars, the Vaishnava saints, instead of being the leader of Ganas, Sivas's attendants. Ganesha was also a devotee of lord Krishna, the favorite God of Vaishnavites. Vaishnavites worship all Azhwars with same reverence as their Favorite Gods Ishtadevatas).
Vedavyasa also requested Ganesha to help him in scribing the Mahabharata as fast as he dictated. Ganesha was pleased to do so. He wrote Mahabharata with the help of his broken tusk which he had carefully preserved after hurling it at the Moon, by etching on the Bhojapatra, bark of a tree.
His broken tusk however caused a permanent scar on Moon cautioning everyone what irreversible harm can bring by ridiculing others, stressing on the value of Purity of speech. In appreciation of his yeoman service, Vedavyasa included this invocation sloka in Vishnu Sahasra- nama: "Vignam nighnanti satatam Vishwaksenam tamaasraye", when he included Vishnu Sahasranama later in Mahabharata in Shanti Parva.
Let us pray to Lord Ganesha with the following mantra and receive his blessings:
" Mooshikavaahana moedaka hasta, tat purushaaya vidmahe, vakratunda mahaakaaya tannoe dantee prachoedayaat" May Lord Ganesha inspire us in all our undertakings, who rides on a mouse, holds a modaka in his hand, who carries a curved trunk and who has a pot belly"