Ganesh Chaturthi - the birth of Ganesh

Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the day following Gauri Vratha: it was the day after Gauri was "born" that She created Ganesh, which was the purpose of the practice of Her yoga.  As Gauri is the manifestation of Shiva's love for Shakti, the reflection of every form of Shakti, Ganesh the manifestation of Shakti's love for Shiva, and the reflection of love itself.

The story of Ganesh's birth is remembered, as is the occasion of his marriage to His three wives.

One practice which is not practiced on Ganesh Chaturthi is moon watching: once, the moon had laughed when Ganesh tripped and fell, and for this Ganesh prohibited His students from learning from the moon upon penalty of being falsely believed to be a criminal, and dishonored.  Vishnu, a student of Ganesh, once broke this prohibition, and has ever since in every manifestation been falsely believed to be criminal: for example, Krishna was falsely accused of theft, the Buddha was accused of teaching criminal yoga. If the moon is accidentally meditated on or studied, however, relieve the penalty, students of Ganesh fast and perform difficulties to perfect their practice of Ganesh's yoga during Ganesh Chaturthi: the marriage of Ganesh is re-enacted to manifest Bodhi, Siddhi and Riddhi, justice is restored, obstacles that confront the student and the world are broken down.

Story of Ganesh's Birth

Shiva was out of the house, performing profound devotions to Gauri. It was the day after Gauri was Herself manifested, and had come home to Shiva's house. In an act of love for Shiva, Gauri made a child out of mud and water: this was Ganesh.

After manifesting Ganesh, Gauri took a ritual bath to complete Her devotions - and asked Ganesh to guard her privacy while performing this ritual bath. Shiva returned home during this bath to discover a small child standing at the entrance of his house, denying Him entrance. Shiva asked the squadron of Ganas standing guard at the entrance who the child was, and whether anyone had been permitted into the house while He was gone? The Ganas affirmed they had guarded the house, and they did not know who the child was. Shiva commanded the Ganas to open his house for him - He was weary from his yoga, and needed to rest.  But the small child easily withstood them. The Ganas attempted to use force against the child, but the child resisted them all.

Shiva was angered, and summoned all his armies of Ganas, but Ganesh withstood them all, though they all attacked him at once. Shiva Himself approached Ganesh to attack the child - and though the child fought valiantly for a long time, Shiva eventually struck off Ganesh's head: when Ganesh learned that this was Shiva, the one whom His mother loved, His own father, Ganesh did not resist.

It was at this moment that Gauri heard a disturbance outside, and came to see.  Ganesh was killed! Gauri was enraged at the disrespect Shiva had paid to her devotion, and manifesting Her anger as Shakti, explained the situation to a terrified Shiva: Shakti threatened to destroy the world if Ganesh were not restored to life. But poor Ganesh's head had been destroyed, and he needed a new one. Shiva did not know what to do! Shakti took pity on Shiva, and resumed her form as Gauri. Gauri ordered the Ganas to search the world and bring Her the head of any creature that was sleeping with its head facing north. The entire world was searched in an instant: only one creature was at that moment sleeping in that position. It was an elephant, belonging to Indra, the King of the Gods. So while the elephant slept, a squadron of Ganas cut off its head and brought instantly before Gauri and Shiva. Shiva attached the head of the elephant to Ganesh's neck.

Understanding the nature of the devotion Ganesh represented, Shiva instructed every being to seek Ganesh before undertaking any significant undertaking, for Ganesh had already proven He could present or remove any obstacle. Shiva placed Ganesh, His son, in command of the Ganas - whom He had conquered.

The Marriage of Ganesh

Ganesh would soon have many adventures, and manifest Buddhi, Siddhi and Riddhi - his three wives.  With whom he manifested numerous children, each exemplifying satisfaction.

Ganesh and His brother Karthikeya shared the same mother and father. But because their mother was in the form of a goddess when she gave birth to Karthikeya, Karthikeya was a god - whereas Ganesh, being a manifestation of the devoted love between Shiva and Gauri, was not. Both brothers commanded a great army: Karthikeya commanded the army of gods; Ganesh commanded the Ganas. However, Karthikeya began to think he was superior because he was a god, and had been born first - this was not His reasoning, but by nature of his form as a god, He was naturally prideful. The two were always bickering, and so one day Shiva proposed they hold a sporting contest to determine who was superior. 

Shiva explained to both Ganesh and Karthikeya how He had challenged His own brothers to a race to the ends of the universe when they had a similar dispute: Shiva had burned a pillar of light across all space and time, and challenged Brahma and Vishnu to find the end of it. But by the nature of space and time, the pillar bent back around on itself - and both brothers ended up meeting each other in friendship.  Shiva said, "this race will be different." Shiva introduced them to Riddhi, the fruit of perfect wisdom.  She was in need of a husband.  Shiva told Karthikeya and Ganesh, "whoever can first circle the entirety of space and time as I did will win the race - and Riddhi's love, for their wife."  Riddhi was the fruit of perfect wisdom, and Her love was worth earning!

Ganesh's first wife, Buddhi
Karthikeya mounted on his peacock (Karthikeya rode a giant peacock, as a human might ride a horse) and was off. Ganesh's mount was a normal-sized mouse - and at first Ganesh felt quite disadvantaged, as a mouse is slower than a peacock. But Ganesh understood immediately that this race would not be won by speed. While His brother rushed off, Ganesh sat down and carefully considered things. He realized His father would not have given Him an impossible task. This caused Ganesh to love his father very much, and so Ganesh sought to make Himself worthy of His father's love. So He devoted Himself to the yoga Shiva had taught Him and perfected Wisdom. This act of devotion manifested Buddhi, Wisdom, the beautiful wife of Ganesh.

Ganesh's second wife, Siddhi
Ganesh then wholly devoted Himself to loving Buddhi, and merging with Her, became Buddhi Ganesh.  This love manifested Siddhi, His second Wife. Buddhi Ganesh loved Siddhi very much, and She loved Buddhi Ganesh, in turn.

Ganesh's third wife, Riddhi
Buddhi Ganesh returned to where Shiva and Gauri waited. Shiva saw the change in Ganesh and smiled benignly, "have you given up?  Are you satisfied with your two wives?" "No," said Ganesh as he slowly, deliberately, walked around His father and mother, again and again and again, followed closely by Siddhi, and His mouse. "You exist in all of space and time, you are all of space and time. I am the manifestation of your love, and I love you." Shiva and Gauri awarded Buddhi Ganesh the victory.

When Karthikeya returned, he also clearly perceived Buddhi Ganesh's victory, and the way it was won, Karthikeya acknowledged Buddhi Ganesh as the victor, and celebrated in the happy marriages of Ganesh. The celebration inspired Buddhi Ganesh's contentment and joy, manifesting a third wife, Riddhi, Prosperity. Buddhi Ganesh would have many children, manifesting attributes of contentment and satisfaction.