Ganesh is one of the primary Hindu deities. Ganesh or Ganapati is known as the remover of obstacles. It is said a seeker should invoke Ganesh before praying to any other God, or spiritual Master.
Lord Shiva lived on Mount Kailash with his consort Parvati (sometimes known as Durga). Both performed tremendous austerities and spent many hours deep in meditation trance. There came a time when Lord Shiva left his heavenly abode to visit the other Cosmic Gods Brahma and Vishnu.
Parvati was left alone on Mount Kailash and she took the opportunity to have a long bath; this was an opportunity to clean herself of the many layers of sandalwood paste that Shiva devotees and placed upon her over the previous years.
Whilst bathing Parvati instructed Nandi, Shiva’s attendant, to guard the door and let no one into the house whilst she was bathing. However whilst she was bathing Shiva returned and demanded to enter his own house. Nandi felt he could not refuse his Master, so Shiva entered the house, much to the annoyance of Parvati. Parvati felt angry that both Shiva and Nandi, had refused her request.
In response to Parvati’s anger Shiva decided to leave Mount Kailash again. For 6 years he stayed away letting Parvati’s anger diminish.
It was in response to this that Parvati decided she needed her own devoted attendant. Therefore Parvati collected all the mud from her bath. (Which was very extensive due to all the Sandalwood paste accumulated from Shiva’s devotee’s. Through her austerities Parvati had accumulated extensive occult power. Thus when she had molded a statue of her son, she was able to give it life. Pleased with her creation she named it Ganesh. Ganesh proved very devoted and kind to his Mother, Parvati.
There came a time when Parvati was once again taking a bath and she instructed Ganesh to keep watch and not let anyone in. It was during this moment that Shiva returned from his self imposed exile. On returning to his abode in Mount Kailash he discovered this young boy guarding his house. Furthermore Ganesh refused Shiva entry into his own home. Shiva became very angry, but as hard as he tried, he couldn’t force his way into his own home. The young boy had exceptional powers and strength.
Humiliated he couldn’t enter into his own home Shiva called on the help of Brahma and Vishnu. With their help they were able to devise a plan to outmanoeuvre Ganesh. They managed to defeat him by cutting off his head and Shiva was able to enter his own house.
Parvati then came out of her bath to discover her beloved son Ganesh had been decapitated by her own her husband Shiva.
Shiva was mortified when he realised he had killed his wife’s son. Thus with the help of Brahma and Vishnu he promised to use his occult power to bring him back to life. As creator Brahma has some experience, but unfortunately Ganesh’s head had already been dispose of. Therefore the 3 cosmic Gods went into the forest to look for a suitable head. The first animal they came across was an elephant so they took his head and put it on to Ganesh’s body. The 3 principle Cosmic Deities were then able to bring Ganesha back to life.
Parvati found her new son Ganesh to be very beautiful. Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu were also pleased with the strength and devotion of Ganesh therefore they resolved that Ganesh should henceforth be the first God to be invoked. If a seeker invoked Ganesh first, Ganesh would remove all obstacles to a seeker’s progress. Traditionally Ganesh is invoked even before a seeker’s spiritual Master.
Ganesh at Wikipedia
Songs on Ganapati at Sri Chinmoy Songs