Matthew: How did Ganesh lose his head?

Sri Chinmoy: You know that Ganesh's father was Lord Shiva and his mother was Parvati. Ganesh was a very beautiful little boy. One day, his mother was taking a bath. She said to the child, "Do not allow anyone to come into the house while I am taking a bath."

Ganesh did not see his father very often because Lord Shiva was always meditating in the Himalayas. He did not know his father well at all. It happened that all of a sudden, Shiva arrived and wanted to go inside the house. It was his house also, but the little boy would not allow him. He became the gatekeeper. He stood in front of the door and said, "No, I will not allow you to enter. My mother has said that nobody is allowed inside."

Lord Shiva said, "But I am your father."

"How do I know that you are my father?" said Ganesh, and he refused to budge from his place guarding the door. Because he was Shiva's son, he had tremendous power, but Shiva had more power. The little boy fought bravely against his father. Eventually, Shiva became annoyed and chopped off his son's head!

Parvati heard the noise and came outside to see what was happening. When she saw her son's body, she cried, "What have you done? What have you done?"

Shiva tried to explain, "He was not allowing me inside." Shiva felt so miserable that he had killed his son.

Then Parvati said, "You have to bring my son back to life."

Shiva tried to console his wife. He said, "I cannot restore the same head, but whichever head I see first, I will bring that head and place it on our son."

The next day Shiva went out and the first thing he saw outside the house was an elephant. Immediately, he cut off the elephant's head and put it on his son's body. That is why Ganesh has an elephant's head.

This is our Indian story. You do not have to believe this kind of story. We have read it and learned it since we were children. For us, Ganesh is the wisest and kindest god. Before we pray to any god, we have to pray to Ganesh. He is the one who gives realisation, so if you want to realise God, you have to please him first.

Our main address to Ganesh is:

"/Ekadantam mahakayam lambodara gajananam

Vighnanashakaram devam herambam pranamamyaham/"

"O destroyer of obstacles, who has one tooth and a big belly, who grants us realisation, we bow to you."

When I went to see Princess Diana, I had a long interview with her. She was so kind to me. After it was over, we were going downstairs. In the hallway, I saw a beautiful crystal statue of Lord Ganesha. Princess Diana said to me, "I am sure you know who this is!"

I said, "This is our Ganesh, the elephant god."

Princess Diana told me that the very last time she went to India, she brought it back with her from Madras. It was such a beautiful statue!