Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic, by W.J. Wilkins, , at sacred-texts.com
GANESA is usually regarded as the elder son of Siva and Pārvati, but the Purānas differ very considerably in their
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accounts of his origin. Sir W. Jones says * that " Ganesa, the Indian god of Wisdom, has the same
characteristics as Janus of the Latins. All sacrifices and religious ceremonies, all serious compositions in writing, and all worldly affairs of importance are begun by pious Hindus with an invocation to Ganesa; a word composed of Isa, the governor or leader, and gana, a company (of deities). Instances of opening business auspiciously by an ejaculation to him might be multiplied with ease. Few books are begun without the words, 'Salutation to Ganesa;' and he is first invoked by Brāhmans who conduct the trial by ordeal, or perform the ceremony of the homa or sacrifice to fire." M. Sonnerat represents him as highly revered on the coast of Coromandel, where, according to him, "the Indians would not on any account build a house without having placed on the ground an image of this deity, which they sprinkle with oil and adorn every day with flowers. They set up his image in all their temples, in the streets, in the high roads, and in the open plains at the foot of some tree, so that persons of all ranks may invoke him before they undertake any business, and travellers worship him before they proceed on a journey." What is true of the Coromandel coast, is true of most parts of India so far as the worship of this deity is concerned.
"Ganesa is the Hindu god of Prudence and Policy. He is the reputed eldest son of Siva and Pārvati (the 'Padma Purāna' alone declares that he was the actual child of these deities), and is represented with an elephant's head—an emblem of sagacity—and is frequently attended by, or is riding upon, a rat. He has generally four hands, but sometimes six, or eight, or only two." * He is always described as being very corpulent; and pictures or images of him are seen over the doors of most shopkeepers. It is not easy to see why Ganesa
has become so universally worshipped, as there are few legends in the Purānas attesting his divine power.
The "Brahmāvaivarta Purāna" * gives the following account of his birth:—"Pārvati, after her marriage with Siva, being without a child, and very desirous to obtain one, was advised by her husband to perform the Panyākavrātā. This is the worship of Vishnu, to be begun on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Māgha, and continued for a year, on every day of which flowers, fruits, cakes, vessels, gems, gold, etc., are to be presented, and a thousand Brāhmans fed; and the performer of the rite is to observe most carefully a life of inward purity, and to fix the mind on Hari (Vishnu). Pārvati having, with the aid of Sanat Kumāra, as directing priest, accomplished the ceremony on the banks of the Ganges, returns after some interval, in which she sees Krishna, first as a body of light, and afterwards as an old Brāhman, come to her dwelling. The reward of her religious zeal being delayed, she is plunged in grief, when a viewless voice tells her to go to her apartment, where she will find a son who is the lord of Goloka, or Krishna, that deity having assumed the semblance of her son as a recompense for her devotions.
"In compliment to this occasion, all the gods came to congratulate Siva and Pārvati, and were severally admitted to see the infant. Amidst the splendid cohort was Sand, the planet Saturn, who, although anxious to pay his homage to the child, kept his eyes stedfastly fixed on the ground. Pārvati asking him the reason of this, he told her that, being immersed in meditation upon Vishnu, he had disregarded the caresses of his wife, and in resentment of his neglect, she had denounced upon him the curse that whomsoever he gazed upon he should
destroy. To obviate the evil consequences of this imprecation, he avoided looking any one in the face. Parvati, having heard his story, paid no regard to it, but, considering that what must be, must be, gave him
permission to look on her son. Sani, calling Dharma to witness his having leave, took a peep at Ganesa, on which the child's head was severed from his body, and flew away to the heaven of Krishna, where it re-united with the substance of him of whom it formed a part.
"Durgā, taking the headless trunk in her arms, cast herself weeping on the ground, and the gods thought it decent to follow her example, all except Vishnu, who mounted Garuda, and flew off to the river Pushpabhadra, where, finding an elephant asleep, he took off his head, and, flying back with it, clapped it on to the body of Ganesa; hence the body of that deity is crowned with its present uncouth capital. On the restoration of Ganesa to life, valuable gifts were made to the gods and Brāhmans by the parents, and by Pārvati's father, the personified Himālaya. The unfortunate Sani was again anathematized, and, in consequence of Pārvati's curse, has limped ever since.
"In another part of the same Purāna, further particulars are given somewhat at variance with the above. Siva, offended with Aditya (the sun), slew him, and although he restored him to life incurred the wrath of the sage Kasyapa, who doomed his (Siva's) son to lose his head. The elephant whose head was placed upon Ganesa's body was Indra's elephant, which was decapitated because Indra threw over his neck the garland of flowers which the sage Durvasas gave him, and the disrespect of which, with the consequent degradation of Indra, is noticed in various Purānas, although with different results. Indra was no loser of an elephant by
this transaction, as Vishnu, moved by the prayers of his wife, gave him another in place of that which he took away.
"Ganesa has only one tusk, and hence is called Ekadanta. The reason of this is as follows:—Parasurāma, who was a favourite disciple of Siva, went to Kailasa to visit his master. On arriving at the inner apartment, his entrance was opposed by Ganesa, as his father was asleep. Parasurāma nevertheless urged his way, and, after a long dialogue, the two came to blows. Ganesa had at first the advantage, seizing Parasurāma in his trunk, and giving him a twirl that left him sick and senseless. On recovering, Rāma threw his axe at Ganesa, who, recognizing it as his father's weapon—Siva having given it to Parasurāma—received it with all humility upon one of his tusks, which it immediately severed, and hence Ganesa has but one tusk. Pārvati was highly incensed at this, and was about to curse Rāma, when Krishna, of whom he was a worshipper, appeared as a boy and appeased her indignation. Brahmā is said to have promised that her son should be worshipped before the other gods. This result of his contest with Rāma was in consequence of a curse pronounced upon him by the sage Tulasi, with whom he had quarrelled."
We have quite a different account of the origin of Ganesa in the "Matsya Purāna." * When Pārvati was bathing, she took the oil and ointments used at the bath, together with the impurities that came from her body, and formed them into the figure of a man, to which she gave life by sprinkling it with the water of the Ganges. This figure had the head of the elephant. The "Siva Purāna" relates that, after giving Ganesa life, Pārvati placed him at her door to prevent intrusion
whilst she was bathing. On his refusal to allow Siva to enter, a struggle ensued, in which that deity cut off Ganesa's head; but when Pārvati showed her husband that it was by her orders that the door was closed, and wept because of the loss of her son, Siva ordered the first head that could be found to be brought to him; this happened to be an elephant's, which he fitted to the headless trunk and resuscitated his son.
In the "Vārāha Purāna" * Ganesa is said to have been produced by Siva alone. "The immortals and holy sages observing that no difficulty occurred in accomplishing good or evil deeds which they and others commenced, consulted together respecting the means by which obstacles might be opposed to the commission of bad actions, and repaired to Siva for counsel, to whom they said: 'O Mahādeva! God of gods, three eyed, bearer of the trident, it is thou alone who canst create a being capable of opposing obstacles to the commission of improper acts.' Hearing these words, Siva looked at Pārvati, and whilst thinking how he could effect the wishes of the gods, from the splendour of his countenance there sprang into existence a youth shedding radiance around, endowed with the qualities of Siva, and evidently another Rudra, and captivating by his beauty the female inhabitants of heaven.
"Umā seeing his beauty was excited with jealousy, and in her anger pronounced this curse: 'Thou shalt not offend my sight with the form of a beautiful youth; therefore assume an elephant's head and a large belly, and thus shall all thy beauties vanish.' Siva then addressed his son, saying, 'Thy name shall be Ganesa, and the son of Siva; thou shalt be chief of the Vinayakas and Ganas; success and disappointment shall
spring from thee; and great shall be thine influence amongst the gods, and in sacrifices and all affairs. Therefore shalt thou be worshipped and invoked the first on all occasions, otherwise the object and prayers of him who omits to do so shall fail.
"The origin and purpose of Ganesa's existence are more fully taught in the Skanda. * Siva addressing Pārvati says, "During the twilight that intervened between the Dwarpara and Kāli Yugas, women, barbarians, Sudras, and other workers of sin obtained entrance to heaven by visiting the celebrated shrine of Someswara (Somnāth). Sacrifices, ascetic practices, charitable gifts, and all the other prescribed ordinances ceased, and men thronged only to the temple of Siva. Hence old and young, those skilled in the Vedas and those ignorant of them, and even women and Sudras, ascended to heaven, until at length it became crowded to excess. Then Indra and the gods, afflicted because thus overcome by men, sought the protection of Siva, and thus addressed him: 'O Sankara! by thy favour heaven is crowded with men, and we are nearly expelled from it. These mortals wander wherever they please, exclaiming, "1 am the greatest, I am the greatest; " and Dharmarāja (Yama), beholding the register of their good and evil deeds, is lost in astonishment. The seven hells were intended for their reception; but, having visited thy shrine, their sins have been remitted, and they have attained to a most excellent future!' Siva replied, Such was my promise to Soma, nor can it be infringed; all men, therefore, who visit the temple of Someswara must ascend to heaven; but supplicate Pārvati, and she will contrive some means for extricating you from this distress.'
"The gods then invoked Pārvati in laudatory strains: 'Praise be to thee, O supreme of goddesses! Supporter of the universe, praise be to thee, who createst and destroyest! Grant us thy aid, and save us from this distress!' Having heard the prayer of Indra and the gods, thou, O goddess! wert moved with compassion; and gently rubbing thy body, there was produced a wondrous being with four arms and an elephant's head, and then thou didst thus address the gods: 'Desirous of your advantage, have I created this being, who will occasion obstacles to men, and, deluding them, will deprive them of the wish to visit Somnāth, and thus shall they fall into hell.' Hearing this, the gods returned to their homes delighted.
"The Elephant-faced then, addressing Devi, said, 'Command, O lovely goddess! what shall I now do?' Thou didst reply, 'Oppose obstacles to men's visiting Somnāth, and entice them to give up such a purpose by the allurements of wives, children, possessions, and wealth. But from those who propitiate thee with the following hymn, do thou remove all obstacles, and enable them to obtain the favour of Siva, by worshipping his shrine at Somnāth:—"Om, I praise thee, O lord of difficulties! The beloved spouse of Siddhi (knowledge) and Buddhi (understanding); Ganapati, invincible, and the giver of victory; the opposer of obstacles to the success of men who do not worship thee! I praise thee, O Ganesa! The dreadful son of Umā, but firm and easily propitiated! O Vinayaka! I praise thee! O elephant-faced, who didst formerly protect the gods, and accomplish their wishes, I praise thee!" Thus,' continued Pārvati, shalt thou be praised and worshipped.' And whoever previously invokes the god Vinayaka, no difficulties shall impede the attainment of his purposed
object, and a most beneficial result shall he derive from sacrifices, pilgrimages, and all other devotional acts."
The following extract from the "Ganapati Upanishad" * is a specimen of the addresses to Ganesa used by the Ganapatyas: † "Praise to thee, O Ganesa! Thou art manifestly the truth; thou art undoubtedly the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, the Supreme Brahma, the eternal Spirit. I speak what is right and true; preserve me therefore, when speaking, listening, giving, possessing, teaching, learning; continually protect me everywhere. By thee was this universe manifested; for thou art earth, water, fire, air and ether. Thou art Brahmā, Vishnu, and Rudra. We acknowledge thy divinity, O Ekadanta! and meditate on thy countenance; enlighten, therefore, our understanding. He who continually meditates upon thy divine form, conceiving it to be with one tooth, four hands, bearing a rat on thy banner, of a red hue, with a large belly, anointed with red perfumes, arrayed in red garments, worshipped with offerings of red flowers, abounding in compassion, the cause of this universe, imperishable, unproduced and unaffected by creation, becomes the most excellent of Yogis. Praise, therefore, be to thee, O Ganapati. Whoever meditates upon this figure of the 'Atharva Siras' (the name of the Upanishad of which the Ganapati forms a part) never will be impeded by difficulties, will be liberated from the five great sins, and all lesser ones; and will acquire riches, the objects of his desires, virtue and final beatitude."
Ganesa is said to have written the Mahābhārata at Vyāsa's dictation. In the Ādiparva of that book it is declared that when the sage was about to compose it
[paragraph continues] Brahmā advised him to ask Ganesa to become his amanuensis. Vyāsa at first gave a few difficult sentences to puzzle him, which to this day the composer only and his disciple Suka have been able to understand. As Ganesa paused to think out the meaning of what he was writing, Vyāsa composed other difficult passages.
In recent times there has been a supposed incarnation of Ganesa, whose descendant and representative was visited by Captain E. Moor during the present century. The following is the account of his visit: *—"Muraba Goseyn was a Brāhman of Poona who by abstinence, mortification, and prayer, merited above others the favourable regards of the Almighty. Ganapati accordingly vouchsafed to appear to him at Chinchoor in a vision by night; desired him to arise and bathe; and, whilst in the act of ablution, to seize and hold sacred to the Godhead the first tangible substance that his hand encountered. The god covenanted that a portion of his Holy Spirit should pervade the person thus favoured, and he continued as far as the seventh generation to his seed, who were to become successively hereditary guardians of this sacred substance, which proved to be a stone, in which the god was understood as mystically typified. This type is duly reverenced, carefully preserved, and has ever been the constant companion of the sanctified person inheriting with it the divine patrimony. This annunciation happened about A.D. 1640; and at the time Captain Moor visited the place, the sixth descendant was the representative of the Deity.
"It does not now appear what was the precise extent of the divine energy originally conceded, but it is inferred to have been a limited power of working miracles, such as healing sickness, answering the prayers
of pious suppliants, and the faculty of foretelling future events. These gifts were enjoyed in a more extensive degree by the earlier representatives of the god; but the person whom Moor saw professed to have performed several miracles. The third in descent is reported to have performed a wonderful work. It was in his time that the Moghul army of Hyderabad so successfully invaded the Mahratta country. After plundering and burning Poona, a party proceeded to Chinchoor, the residence of this Deity, to lay it under contribution. To this the Deo refused to submit, confiding in the divine influence wherewith he was invested. The Mussulmans derided such superstition, and with a view of rendering it ridiculous offered to send a Nuzur (present) to the Deo. The offer was accepted, the Deo betook himself to prayers, and the insulting bigots deputed certain persons to see the result, as apparently a decorous and appropriate present was given. It consisted, however, of cow's flesh, an abomination in the eyes of a Hindu. When the trays were uncovered, they were greatly astonished to find that, instead of the cow's flesh, the trays were filled with the finest and most sacred flowers of the Hindus. The Mussulmans, seeing this, recognized the finger of God in the transaction, and so struck were they with the reality of the miracle that a valuable grant of land was made to the Deo, which his temple enjoys to this day."
The Deo eats, sleeps, marries, and lives the life of an ordinary mortal; and though he is regarded as a fool in worldly matters, he is worshipped as a god. On special occasions his actions and movements are most carefully watched, as they are transient manifestations of the divine will, and are regarded as prophetic. Thus, on a particular night of the year, should he remain in
peaceful sleep, national repose is predicted; should his slumbers or his waking moments be disturbed, national calamities are expected. If he start wildly from his seat, seize a sword, or make any warlike movement, war may be looked for."
Kartikeya, the god of war, and generalissimo of the armies of the gods, though called the younger son of
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[paragraph continues] Siva and Parvati, according to most of the Puranic legends, is their son only in the sense that they formed
him. Brahmā arranged for his birth in answer to the prayers of the gods for a competent leader of their forces. The Rāmāyana * says: "While Siva, the lord of the gods, was performing austerities, the other deities went to Brahmā and asked for a general in the room of Mahādeva, who, it seems, had formerly acted in that capacity. 'He,' said they, 'whom thou didst formerly give as a leader of our armies (Mahādeva), is now performing great austerities, along with Umā.' Brahmā says that in consequence of the curse of Umā no son could be born of any wives of the gods, but that Agni should have a son by the river Gangā, who should be their general."
In the following extract from the Mahābhārata † is an explanation of the statement in the preceding paragraph that Agni was to be the father of this god. Kartikeya has just been installed as general, when, "the god whose banner is a bull (Siva), arriving with his goddess, paid him honour, well pleased. Brāhmans called Agni Rudra, consequently he (Kartikeya) is the son of Rudra. Having seen him thus honoured by Rudra, all the deities consequently call him, who is the most excellent of the gifted, the son of Rudra. For this child was produced by Rudra when he entered into fire. Skanda (Kartikeya), that most eminent deity, being born of Agni, [who was] Rudra, and from Svāhā (Umā) [and] the six wives [of the Rishis], was the son of Rudra."
This quotation will be more intelligible after reading what precedes it: "Indra being distressed at the defeat of the armies of the gods by the Dānavas, is meditating on this subject, when he hears the cry of a female calling for help, and asking for a husband to protect her. Indra sees that she has been seized by the demon Kesin, with
whom he remonstrates; but the demon hurls his club at Indra, who, however, splits it with his thunderbolt. Kesin is disabled in the next stage of the combat, and goes off. Indra then finds out from the female that her name is Devasenā (army of the gods), that she has a sister named Daityasenā (army of the daityas), and that they are both daughters of Prajāpati. She wishes Indra to find her a proper husband, who shall be able to overcome the enemies of the gods. Indra takes Devasenā with him to Brahmā, and desires him to provide her with a martial husband; and Brahmā promises that a helpmate of that description shall be born. It happened that Vasishtha and other Rishis had been offering a sacrifice, whither the gods, headed by Indra, proceeded to drink the Soma juice. Agni, too, being invoked, descended from the region of the sun, entered into the fire, received the oblations of the Rishis, and presented them to the gods.
"Issuing forth [from the fire], he beheld the wives of these great [Rishis] reclining in their own hermitages, and sweetly sleeping, resembling golden altars, pure as beams of the moon, like to flames of fire, all wonderful as stars. Perceiving that his senses became agitated, beholding the wives of the Rishis, Agni was overcome with desire. Again and again he said, 'It is not proper that I should be thus agitated; they are not in love with me. Entering into the domestic fire, I shall gaze upon them close at hand.' Entering the domestic fire, touching, as it were, with his flames, all of them, and beholding them, he was delighted. Dwelling thus there for a long time, fixing his attention on these beautiful women, and enamoured of them, Agni was overcome.
"Agni failing to obtain the Brāhmans' wives, resolved to abandon his corporeal form, and went into the forest.
[paragraph continues] Then Svāhā, the daughter of Daksha, first fell in love with him. This amorous and blameless goddess for a long time sought for his weak point, but could not find any. But being aware that he had gone into the wood, and that he was really disturbed by desire, the amorous goddess thus reflected: 'I, who am distressed with love, will take the forms of the seven Rishis' wives, and will court the affection of Agni. By doing so he will be pleased, and I shall obtain my desire.' Assuming first the form of Siva, the wife of Angiras, the handsome goddess went to Agni, and thus addressed him: 'Agni, thou oughtest to love me, who am disturbed with love for thee; if thou wilt not do so, look upon me as dead. Agni, I, Siva, the wife of Angiras, have come, sent by virtuous women.' Agni replied: 'How dost thou, and how do the other beloved wives of the seven Rishis, know that I am distressed with love?'"
Agni was not able to resist the temptation. After the interview, lest the wives of the Rishis should be blamed for their misconduct if she happened to be seen in their form, she assumed the figure of Garuda, the bird of Vishnu, and unnoticed, as she thought, flew from the forest. She visited Agni a second time, as the wife of another Rishi, and so on until she had paid six visits. The germs obtained from Agni she deposited in a golden reservoir, which, "being worshipped by the Rishis, generated a son. Kumāra (Kartikeya) was born with six heads, a double number of ears, twelve eyes, arms, and feet, one neck and one belly.
"Kartikeya marries Devasenā. The six Rishis’ wives, his mothers, afterwards come to him, complaining that they had been abandoned by their husbands, and degraded from their former positions, and asking him to secure their admission into paradise (Swarga). When
[paragraph continues] Skanda had done what was gratifying to his mothers, Svāhā said to him, 'Thou art my genuine son. I desire the love difficult to obtain which thou givest.' Skanda then asked her, 'What love dost thou desire?' Svāhā replied, 'I am the beloved daughter of Daksha, by name Svāhā. From my childhood I have been enamoured of Agni; but, my son, Agni does not thoroughly know me, who am enamoured of him.' Skanda replied, 'Whatever oblation of Brāhmans is introduced by hymns, they shall always, goddess, lift and throw it into the fire, saying Svāhā (happiness). Thus, O beautiful goddess, Agni shall dwell with thee continually." Then Brahmā Prajāpati said to Skanda, Go to thy father Mahādeva, the vexer of Tripura. Thou, unconquered, hast been produced for the good of all worlds by Rudra, who had entered into Agni, and Umā, who had entered into Svāhā.'"
The allusion to Rudra's entering into Agni is explained in the Rāmāyana. The gods, fearing that the descendants of such a pair as Siva and Pārvati would be too dreadful to live with, entreated those deities not to have offspring. Siva consented, but Umā, being angry, declared that as she could not have children the other goddesses should suffer similar deprivation. Unfortunately, the gods came too late to prevent the production of Kartikeya; the germ from which he was born having been received by the earth. Agni and Vāyu entered it, and deposited it with Gangā, the sister of Umā, and thus this deity was produced.
The "Siva Purāna" * gives a different account of his origin, and teaches that he was produced to effect the destruction of Tārika. This demon, who was King of Tripura, was " exceedingly ambitious and oppressive.
He forced Brahmā, by his penance and austerities, to promise him any boon that he should demand. Among his austerities he went through the following series, each of the eleven specific mortifications continuing 100 years:—1. He stood on one foot, holding the other and both hands up towards heaven, with his eyes fixed on the sun. 2. He stood on one great toe. 3. He took only water as sustenance. 4. He lived similarly on air. 5. He remained in water. 6. He was buried in the earth, but continued as under the last infliction, in incessant adoration. 7. The same in fire. 8. He stood on his head. 9. He hung on a tree by his hands. 10. He bore the weight of his body on one hand. 11. He hung on a tree with his head downwards. *
"Such merit was irresistible, and Indra and a host of demi-gods, alarmed lest their sovereignty should be usurped through the potency of this penance, resorted to Brahmā for consolation. Brahmā, however, said that, although he could not resist such austerities, he would, after rewarding them by granting the boon demanded, devise a method of rendering it ultimately inoffensive to them.
"The demand by Tārika was that he should be unrivalled in strength, and that no hand should slay him but that of a son of Mahādeva. He now became so arrogant that Indra was forced to yield to him the white eight-headed horse Ukhisrava; Kuvera gave up his thousand sea-horses; the Rishis were compelled to resign the cow Kāmdhenu, that yielded everything that could be wished. The Sun in dread gave no heat, and the Moon in terror remained always at full. The Winds
blew as he dictated, and, in short, he usurped the entire management of the universe.
"Nārada prophesied the marriage whence should arise the deliverer of the world; but at first Mahādeva could not be influenced with the passion of love. Indra persuaded Kama to lie in ambush, and contrived that Pārvati should be seen by Siva while engaged in the amiable and graceful act of gathering flowers, wherewith to decorate his image. Kāma, accompanied by his wife Rati (Desire), and his bosom friend Vasantu (the Spring), took his aim, and launched an arrow at Mahādeva, who, enraged at the attempt (to interrupt his devotion), reduced Kāma to ashes by a beam of fire that issued from his third eye. At length, however, by ardent devotion and austerities, Pārvati propitiated Siva, and the deity consented to espouse his persevering devotee."
For some time after their marriage, as there was no child born to them, the distressed and disappointed deities who had been anxiously expecting a deliverer, renewed their lamentations and complaints.
"Agni arrived in the presence of Mahādeva, having been deputed to express the desires of the other gods, that he would provide them with a son, who should destroy Tārika. Siva had just left his wife, and Agni, assuming the form of a dove, received from Mahādeva the germ from which Kartikeya arose. Unable to carry it further, he let it fall into the Ganges, on the banks of which river arose a boy, beautiful as the moon, and bright as the sun, who was called Agnibhuva (produced from Agni), Skanda, Kartikeya, etc.
"It happened that six daughters (the Pleiades) of as many Rajas, coming to bathe, saw the boy, and each called him her son; and, offering the breast, the child assumed to himself six mouths, and received nurture
from each; whence he is called Sasthimātriya (having six mothers). But in fact the child had no mother, for he came from his father alone. In course of time a conflict ensued between Kartikeya and Tārika, in which the demon was slain."
A story is told showing how Kartikeya was outwitted by his brother Ganesa. As the two brothers fell in love with two ladies named Siddhi and Buddhi, it was agreed that whoever first travelled round the world should have them. Ganesa proved by his logical talents and aptness at quotation that he had done this, and obtained the prize long before his brother returned from his weary pilgrimage, to the disquiet of both families when Ganesa's sophistry was discovered.
We have still another account * of the origin of Kartikeya: "Siva emitted sparks of fire from his eyes, which, being thrown into the lake Saravana, became six infants, who were nursed by the wives of the Rishis, who are seen in the sky as the Pleiades. When Pārvati saw these children, she was transported with their beauty, and embraced all of them together so forcibly that their six bodies became one; while their six heads and twelve arms remained."
Kartikeya is better known in South India under the name of Subramanya. The "Skanda Purāna" gives a full account of his war with Sura, and relates how he was sent by his father to interrupt Daksha's sacrifice; and how, at the instigation of the latter, he was delayed on his journey by beautiful damsels, who entertained him with dance and song. Hence it is the practice for dancing girls, who are attached to the pagodas, to be betrothed and married to him; and, though allowed to prostitute themselves, cannot marry any one.
323:* "Asiatic Researches," i. 227.
324:* Moor's "Hindu Pantheon," p. 169.
325:* Wilson's Works, iii.
327:* Kennedy, "Hindu Mythology," p. 353.
328:* Kennedy, "Hindu Mythology," p. 353.
329:* Kennedy, "Hindu Mythology," p. 354.
331:* Kennedy, "Hindu Mythology," p. 493.
331:† Hindus of whom Ganesa is the supreme object of worship.
332:* "Asiatic Researches," vii. 381.
335:* Muir, O. S. T., iv. 364.
335:† Ibid., iv. 350.
338:* Moor's " Hindu Pantheon," p. 51.
339:* Many of these forms of penance are resorted to, with some modifications, at the present time; these devotees may be seen at Benares, and other shrines.
341:* Garrett's "Classical Dictionary of India."