Image by raghunandan singh from Pixabay 

Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu God of beginnings and the remover of all obstacles, is known for His wisdom and sagacity. From my early childhood, I found myself being drawn to Him as the kumor, the idol-maker, came to my ancestral home at the onset of autumn (sharat kaal) to make the image of Goddess Durga for Her Worship annually.

My late Ma, a pious Hindu lady and a devout worshipper of the God, would enthrall me with stories of Lord Ganesha at such times - how He came to have the head of an elephant on His body and so on.

I learnt from her that Ganesha is known to be a benevolent God, extremely intelligent. She told me, in that connection, that no puja (worship) can be initiated without revoking Lord Ganesha first. He gets to be worshipped first as a blessing from His father, Lord Shiva for His (Lord Shiva's) great blunder of beheading His elder son. But I am not going to tell you that story. I would love to share a story that Ma shared with me about Lord Ganesha's intelligence and how He taught His younger brother, Kartikeya a lesson on The Ultimate Truth one day.

The story goes like this:

Once Goddess Durga was sitting with her two adorable sons, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya, conversing with them. One thing led to another and soon they were talking about Motherly Love or Her sons' love for their mother - Goddess Durga, to be more precise. Ma Durga then wanted to know playfully, who, between Her two sons, loved Her more.

"I love you more than the whole universe," Lord Kartikeya cried out at once.

"My love for you, Mother," Ganesha, the more restrained and less impulsive of the two brothers, exclaimed before adding," is inexpressible and can never be put into words."

Soon there arose a quarrel between the brothers regarding who loved their mother more. When Goddess Durga found out that things were getting a bit wearisome between the two sons, and going out of control, She wanted to know if they were ready to prove their love for Her by undertaking a test or something like that.

"Anything, Mother," Lord Kartikeya was the first one to respond to her question once again. "For you, I can do anything."

Ganesha, not to be outdone by His brother in the declaration of their love for the mother, remarked after a moment or two :

"You can subject me to any tests to prove my love for you, Ma."

Goddess Durga thought for a while before setting a test for them. She then asked Her sons, smilingly, " Whoever, between you two, can get back to me first after making a tour of the world, will be the winner of the contest today, and thereby deemed to love me more."

Hardly did the words come out of Her mouth when Kartikeya called out to His pet, the Peacock. No sooner had the Peacock presented itself than Kartikeya was on its back, soaring high for the world tour. He was soon out of sight.

Now Lord Ganesha, as you all know, has the Rat for His pet. The rat can never compete with a peacock, can it? So, Lord Ganesha was bound to lose the contest before it actually began.

In the Devaloka ( the World of the Devas, the gods and goddesses), time flies at a lightning speed. Within a matter of minutes, Lord Kartikeya was seen coming back, looking as gorgeous as ever on the Peacock.

Finding His brother on the way back, Lord Ganesha, who had been till then, sitting quietly near the feet of the Goddess, got up slowly and circumbulated His mother three times before bending down to touch Her feet.

The next moment, Lord Kartikeya was back, panting. He got off the peacock and came hurriedly back to the Goddess.

"I've won the contest, Mother." He uttered excitedly. Then pointing to His Brother, he said, "My lazy brother probably knew of the outcome beforehand and therefore, didn't try to take part in the contest as a result."

Lord Ganesha was not troubled by the arrogant words of His Brother and kept sitting near Godess Durga, in a bemused tone.

"You are not only hot-headed, dear Brother of mine, you are also wrong in assuming yourself to be the winner. If you don't believe me, ask Ma."

"YOU? How can you be the winner when you didn't do so much as get up from your seat near Mother to take part in the contest?" asked Kartikeya, baffled.

"You are wrong again, Brother. I did get up to go round Ma thrice just before your return. As She represents the whole Universe to all of us," He continued, "By walking round Her three times, I completed my World Tour first."

Lord Kartikeya didn't have to look at Goddess Durga for a confirmation of the answer. He was after all intelligent enough to realise the truth of His brother's statement. Gracious in defeat, He hugged His elder brother and said, "There is no one like you, dear Bro. Why was I not the first one to think of this Ultimate Truth before?"

The end

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