In India, Shiva is recognized as the god who controls the forces of destruction. Parvati, his wife, is a powerful goddess, and Nandi, is Shiva’s loyal servant.
One day, Parvati was preparing to take a bath so she ordered Nandi to stand guard outside her house. She instructed him not to let anyone enter without her permission.
Later Nandi saw Shiva approaching the house. “How can I stop my master from entering his home?”, he wondered.
Nandi allowed to Shiva to enter. Parvati came from her bath and was startled by her husband. Shiva laughed when he saw how his presence had scared her, but Parvati was not amused.
“All my servants are Shiva’s servants first,” she thought. “I need someone who will obey me above all others.”
Alone in the house the next day, Parvati created someone who would be devoted only to her. Pulling ointments and creams from the surface of her body she built a statue of a young boy. Then, with her divine powers, she gave the statue life and created a son.
“Guard this door and let no one enter without my permission,” said Parvati.
“As you wish,” the boy responded.
Shiva returned home but was blocked by the strange boy. “How dare you keep me from my own home!”, said Shiva. But the boy only repeated that no one was to enter without his mother’s permission.
Shiva could not believe that this boy would stop a god from entering his own house. He sent Nandi to teach the boy a lesson.
Nandi took a small group of Ganas, Shiva’s army, and went to the house. When Nandi tried to remove the boy from his post the boy threw him to the ground. Nandi became angry and attacked with his men, but the boy fought them all with such strength that Nandi had no choice but to retreat.
“I have never witnessed such a thing,” he told Shiva, “We could not defeat the boy. He was too strong and too fast.”
All the Gods in the Heavens had heard of Shiva’s conflict with the boy. The gods and their armies assembled to assist Shiva.
Brahma, the god of creation, spoke of peaceful solution. “He is just a boy,” he said. “Let me talk to him.” But when Brahma tried to talk, the boy chased him off.
When Shiva saw how the boy treated Brahma he became extremely upset.
He stood up and addressed the troops. “Man your weapons! The boy has given us no choice but to fight!”
And so the battle continued with the boy successfully defending his mother’s house.
Parvati was furious.
“Why Shiva?!?” She cried, “Why would you go to such lengths rather that simply ask permission to enter? Why would you bring so many great warriors to get rid of one small boy?”
Parvati focused all her anger to create two powerful warrior goddesses and ordered them to go help her son.
The goddesses created from Parvati’s anger were very powerful. Using their magic they swallowed up the weapons of the soldiers. Most of the men ran away so that only the strongest warriors and gods remained to continue fighting.
Shiva became even more determined to defeat the boy. He turned to Lord Vishnu, the protect of the world, and said, “We must work together to defeat his child. I have a plan.”
So carried by his loyal servant Garuda, Vishnu flew down from the sky and engaged the boy in fierce combat.
Seeing his chance, Shiva crept up behind the boy with his golden trident raised…
Shiva threw his weapon and removed the boy’s head.
The Heavens rejoiced at Shiva’s victory, but Parvati was enraged. The waters of the oceans boiled. The mountains quaked and there were fires and disasters throughout the heavens and Earth.
The gods pleaded with Parvati to stop the destruction and asked how they could make up for her son’s death.
“Shiva must bring my son back to life and honor him as a god,” she replied.
Shiva agreed to Parvati’s conditions.
Since the boy’s head could not be found, Shiva sent Nandi and his men to bring back the head of the first animal they saw. Nandi obeyed and a short journey returned with the head of a magnificent white elephant.
Shiva was pleased. He placed the head on the boy’s body, gave it his blessings and brought the boy back to life.
In honor of the boy’s bravery and courage, Shiva named him Ganesha, leader of the Ganas. Shiva announced to the Heavens and Earth that Ganesha was to be known as the Lord of Beginnings, the Protector of all that is new.