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Gajanana - The Fourth Avatar Of Ganesha

Gajanana – The Fourth Avatar Of Ganesha

We have been familiar with the name Gajanana through popular devotional music and movies. People in many regions, especially Maharashtra, often use this title to address Ganesha. The term was used in Mudgala Purana for Ganesha’s fourth Avtar, who destroyed Lobhasura.

As the Sanskrit name suggests, the demon was created out of greed. Once, Kubera, the celestial treasurer, visited Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva and Parvati. He had come to take their blessings. Shiv-Parvati blessed him with prosperity.  But Kubera’s eyes sought Goddess Parvati again and again. Seeing his lustful gaze, Parvati was rightfully hurt and angry. She couldn’t even express her discomfort to Shiva, who was known for his fury.

When Kuber saw that he had angered her deeply, he quickly abandoned his sickening thoughts. Kubera went on to apologize for his behaviour as he didn’t want to face her wrath. Parvati forgave Kubera and asked him to leave. Although Kubera left, his lewd thoughts remained. They gathered and transformed into a demon who embodied Lobha(greed). Some legends say that it was Shiva’s great anger on the treasurer, which created Lobhasura.

Lobhasura became powerful under sage Shukracharya, the preacher of asuras(demons). The sage gave Lobha the auspicious mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and told him to pray to Lord Shiva. He penanced for years with the sacred mantra on his lips. Pleased with Lobha, Shiva granted him a boon that he will have power over all three worlds. Empowered with the boon, he invaded Swargaloka. He easily defeated Lord Indra, driving him out of the heavens.

Lobhasura’s empire widened all over the three worlds. So did the havoc he created. But he wasn’t satisfied yet. He desired more. Blinded with power, he demanded that Shiva should vacate Kailash Mountains. Shiva received his message. He just smiled at the demon’s foolishness.

The other gods didn’t take Lobha lightly when they saw the havoc he had created everywhere. Worried, they approached Sage Raibhya to show them the right path. He told them to call upon Lord Gajanana. Gajanana arrived on his carrier Mushaka to wage war against Lobhasura. The gigantic demon stood no chance against Ganesha’s fierce incarnation. He was on his knees before the fight could even commence. He appeared sorry for his crimes. Lobhasura was willing to rectify his mistakes. Seeing that, Ganesha spared his life and ordered him to return swarga(heaven) to Lord Indra.

Lobhasura gave up on his rule and returned to Patalloka. Ganesha restored peace in three worlds. This story of Ganesha overcoming Lobha tells us how greed can destroy our life and those around us.

Symbolism of Gajanana

Gajanana stands for an Elephant’s head. Lord Ganesha was brought to life by replacing his head with that of an elephant calf.

Elephants are said to live in rich green forests. Thus people have Ganesha’s murti(statue) in their houses as it is a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Elephants are animals. Like all animals, they do not have the desire for material things like humans. Thus, they are not affected by the dangers of excessive greed.

Click here to read about Mahodara – The Third Avatar of Ganesha.

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