Many aeons ago, during the twilight that intervened between the Dwapara and Kāli Yugas, all men and women including barbarians and other workers of sin obtained entrance to heaven by visiting the celebrated shrine of Someswara (Somnath in Gujarat). Sacrifices, ascetic practices, charitable gifts, and all the other prescribed ordinances ceased and men thronged only to the temple of Siva. The old and young, those skilled in the Vedas and those ignorant of them, ascended to heaven, until at length it became crowded to excess.
Indra and other Gods, scared and afflicted as they were overcome by men and were nearly expelled from heaven invoked Siva. “O Sankara! By your favour now heaven is crowded with men and we are almost expelled from it. These mortals wander wherever and however they please each exclaiming himself/herself as “am the greatest, am the greatest”. Yama, the lord of Dharma and keeper of their good and evil deeds looks astonished. The seven hells were intended for these mortal wanderers of heaven but by your grace, having visited your shrine their all sins remitted and they attained most excellent life!”
Siva replied “This was my promise to Soma which cannot be infringed. Therefore all men who visited this temple of Someswara must ascend to heaven. But mother goddess can be your saviour she will contrive some means for extricating you all from this distress”.
The gods then invoked Parvati praising her: “O supreme goddess, supporter of the universe, the one who creates and destroys, grant us your aid and save us gods”. Parvati was moved with compassion and she gently rubbed her body from which a wondrous being emerged with four arms and an elephant’s head and she said: “For your advantage I have created this being who will occasion obstacles to men and will deprive them of the wish to visit Somnath and thus shall they fall into the hell”. Hearing this, the gods returned to their homes delighted.
The elephant-faced being then addressing the devi said: ‘Command, O lovely goddess! What shall I now do?’
“Create obstacles to men’s visiting Somnāth, and entice them to give up such a purpose by the allurements of wives, children, possessions, and wealth. Be a vighna-karta! But from those who propitiate you with the following hymn, you remove all their obstacles, and enable them to obtain the favour of Siva, by worshipping his shrine at Somnāth:—”Om, Ganpataye namah, Hail O vighna-harta! The beloved spouse of Siddhi (knowledge) and Buddhi (understanding); Ganapati-invincible, and the giver of victory. Ganesa, the dreadful son of Umā, but firm and easily propitiated! O Vinayaka! O elephant-faced, who did formerly protect the gods, and accomplish their wishes, I praise him!”
Thus said Pārvati would Ganesa be praised and worshipped. And whoever previously invokes the god Vinayaka, no difficulties shall impede the attainment of his purposed object.
Story collected by: Shweta Joshi
Source: Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic by W.J. Wilkins (an extract of Skanda Purana mentioned in this book detailing different versions of Ganesa’s birth in Puranas)
Image source: Shweta Joshi