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Ekdanta - The Tale Of A Broken Tusk

Ekdanta – The Tale Of Ganesha’s Broken Tusk

We have heard and used various names such as Ekdanta, Vighnaharta, Ganpati, Vinayak, and Lambodar to address Ganesha in Shlokas(verses) and devotional music like bhajans.

Ekdanta is one such popular name among 108 others by which Lord Ganesha is called. It translates to ‘One Toothed’ which in Ganesha’s instance is being referred to as his broken left tusk. There are two popular stories behind this name.

The First Tale Of Ekdanta

The first tale was introduced in Brahmanda Purana, ancient Sanskrit text. Parshurama, Lord Vishnu’s sixth form, was waging war against Kshatriyas (Warrior Clan) who had gone rogue with power. Fighting with the axe, Parashu, that was given to him by Lord Shiva, he came out victorious. He visited Kailash to meet Lord Shiva and return his axe.

Ganesha was standing guard to Shiva who was resting. He stopped Parshurama from meeting his father and asked him to come later. Parshurama got infuriated at his reply. Thus, he decided to battle with Ganesha.

Parshurama threw many weapons at him but Ganesha easily evaded them. Enraged, Parshurama hurled his axe. Recognizing his father, Mahadev’s weapon, he folded his hands in its honour. And the axe cut across his tusk, breaking off his left tusk, giving him the name of Ekdanta.

When Goddess Parvati saw her son’s state, she was enraged. She challenged Parshurama with a duel. Parshurama asked forgiveness for acting so cruelly and presented Ganesha with his axe. That’s why we see Ganesha with an axe in his hand in some sculptures and paintings. The axe is said to be a symbol of analysis, breaking down complex problems.

Parashurama was not a warrior anymore without the axe. He spent his life meditating in Kailash mountain’s foothills.

The Second Tale

Once upon a time, when sage Vyasa was requested to narrate Mahabharata, the great epic, by the gods. But they needed someone capable enough to write down the epic as Vyasa recited it. Lord Brahma chose Ganesha for this task as he was known for his knowledge and wisdom. Ganesha enthusiastically volunteered to note down the great epic that was Mahabharata.

But sage Vyasa put forward a condition that he would recite the Mahabharata in one go. And Ganesha should write it down while understanding every hymn in the same breath. Not backing away from the challenge, Ganesha wrote every word that came from Vyasa’s mouth. Such was his wisdom that sometimes he would write the hymn before Vyasa had even finished it.

As time went by, the stylus(pen) he was using began to wear out. He knew he had to act within a second. Without wasting any time, he broke his left tusk and started writing. Vyasa was pleased to see Ganesha’s dedication and later praised him. This story teaches us that no sacrifice is bigger than achieving the greater good.

In Bhavishya Purana, it was Kartikeya who broke Ganesha’s tusk, making him Ekdanta. Some legends state that Ganesha hurled his tusk at the moon because the moon mocked Ganesha for riding a mouse. Therefore, it is a bad omen to look at the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi.

Click here to read the story about the birth of Ganesha.

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