One of my regular readers (NN) has called my brother-in-law a Dharmic Banker. I fully agree with him. This makes me write about a religious story used to be told by my brother-in-law. This appears to be a unique story not heard so far. The story was told to me by my younger brother Srinivasa who also stayed at my sister’s house for three years.
The Ganesha Story
The practice of installing Ganesha idol made out of clay or Plaster of Paris on the Bhadrapada Chowthi day every year and the immersion (Visarjana) of the same later in lakes, tanks or sea is a celebrated event in many parts of our country since times immemorial. However, there appears to be no mention anywhere in our legends as to how this practice came into existence. Obviously there should have been some basis for this practice.
My brother-in-law used to tell a story from Mahabharatha to illustrate how this practice came into existence. The story went somewhat on the following lines:
After the Pandavas won the Kurukshetra War, there was a dawn of peaceful times. The Pandavas were enjoying their success and were looking at some event to celebrate. They invited Bhagwan Sri Krishna to Hasthinapura for a discussion and consultation. Then it was decided to conduct a special Homam and invite all the Kings and relatives to participate. As usual the Homam was supposed to start after the pooja of Vigna Vinaashaka Lord Ganesha.
A question was posed by the Lord Krishna to the Pandavas at this stage - why not invite Lord Ganapathy himself to be present on the occasion instead of conducting the pooja of a Mandala? He felt a live pooja of the Lord Ganesha was better than worshipping him in his absence. The suggestion was enthusiastically accepted by the Pandavas. The pair of Nakula-Sahadeva was dispatched immediately to Mount Kailas to personally invite Ganesha to attend the function. Lord Ganesha gracefully accepted the invitation and promised to be present on the occasion. He even summoned his Vaahana (vehicle), the rat, immediately and ordered him to keep himself ready to carry him to Hasthinapura on the particular day.
All the Kings and the relatives of Pandavas were present on the day of celebration. The entire Hasthinapura was decorated for the purpose. The Muhurtham for the Homam was approaching and the sages were ready to start the Homam. But suddenly Pandavas realised that Lord Ganesh who was supposed to be present to accept the pooja was missing. All of them looked at Lord Krishna who had only suggested the live pooja of the elephant God. But even the Lord Krishna was unaware of the reasons for the missing Vinayaka!
It was an anxious time for the Pandavas and they desperately sought the help of Lord Krishna to trace out the missing Ganesha! Krishna understood their predicament and he just went out. Hardly within a few minutes, he came back with the smiling Ganesha to the relief of everybody assembled there.
The Ganesh pooja was started immediately thereafter by the sages by inviting the live Ganesha to the Mandapam. It was going on smoothly, when to the surprise of everybody present, there was the entry of another Ganesha to the venue! The Ganesha who made the entry was shocked to find another Ganesha being worshipped in the Mandapam! But seeing the entry of the new Ganesha, the Ganesha in the Mandapam just vanished from the scene! There was utter confusion prevailing for some time. But the problem was solved by inviting the new Ganesha to the Mandapam and proceeding with the pooja. The Homam went on religiously and was concluded with the offerings.
Ganesha was quite sure that the Lord Krishna must have played the trick of creating a temporary Ganesha for the pooja purpose. The reason for Ganesha’s late arrival was obviously the delay in the arrival of his Vaahana, the rat. It seems the rat had just forgotten the programme and was sleeping comfortably in its burrow. It took its own time to arrive. It gave an excuse that it had spent the entire night digging a big hole! When Ganesha spoke to the Lord, he agreed that he had indeed created the dummy Ganesha! He explained that he was left with no other alternative as the pooja could not be delayed any further. Both of them explained the matter to the Pandavas. The event became memorable on account of the unique presence of two Ganeshas!
Lord Krishna decided that the day should be commemorated and would be celebrated as a special day every year. He told the assembled people there that an idol of Ganesha would be installed in every home on the Bhadrapada Chowthi every year. The idol would be worshipped as if the Lord was present live on the occasion. It would be immersed in water later at the end of the day by carrying the idol to the nearby tank/lake/river/sea. Ganesha fully consented with the suggestion. He told Lord Krishna that he would be present at every house where his idol was installed and would bless the families.
It may be noted that the incident does not find any mention in the original Mahabharatha written by the legendary Vyasa. Quite ironically it was Ganesha himself who wrote down the legend in shorthand as dictated by Vyasa! When this query was put to my brother-in-law, he seems to have told that Ganesha was too modest to point out the exclusion of his story to Vyasa!
-----To Be Continued---
A V Krishnamurthy