Is Kubera the original gnome


Iconography and symbolism


Ganesha's birth

Shiva and Parvati bathe their son Ganesha. Kangra miniature, 18th century. Allahabad Museum, New Delhi.

Countless legends in the Puranas offer different versions as an explanation for the origin of Ganesha, who is said to have originally not had an elephant head but a human head. A popular story in Shiva Purana reports that Parvati, Shiva's wife, created Ganesha in Shiva's absence: According to this, she formed a little boy from the clay with which she had rubbed her body, poured Ganges water over him and woke him up Life. She called him Ganesha and put him on guard in front of her house. When Shiva came, Ganesha blocked his way. Shiva cut off his head and got into the house. When Shiva noticed that he had just killed Parvati's son, he ordered his servants to bring the head of a living being that turns its sleep to the north. This living being was an elephant, and Shiva placed its head on Ganesha's torso to bring it back to life.[4] As a result, Ganesha, who was previously only Parvati's son, also became the son of Shiva.

A similar, slightly modified narrative reads as follows: Parvati was alone for a long time because her husband Shiva had withdrawn into meditation, so she decided to make a son for herself and sculpted him out of the scab before taking her daily bath her body with ointments, oils and Ganges water, and placed him as a door guard in front of the bathroom. At that time Ganesha had a normal human head. Ganesha came to an elephant head through the wrath of Shiva. Because when the son Ganesha Shiva blocked the way to his wife because she was bathing, Shiva, who knew nothing about the existence of Ganesha, got so angry that he cut off Ganesha's head with his sword. Parvati was beside himself and begged Shiva to bring her son Ganesha back to life. Shiva then promised to exchange it with the head of the first living being to call it back into existence. The first being was an elephant. Through the resuscitation, Ganesha has also become Shiva's son and is recognized by him. He not only made him his chief military officer Ganas (Sanskrit गण gaṇa crowd, series (of the living and inanimate), entourage, appendix, crowd deities, divine armies), but also said to all gods present that Ganesha would always be worshiped first, the other gods only after him.

In other stories, Shiva creates Ganesha without the intervention of a woman, and in the stories of Vishnu mythology the elephant-headed one is regarded as the son of Vishnu.[5]

Ganesha and wisdom

Many myths deal with Ganesha's infinite wisdom and great ingenuity.

For example, they tell of how Shiva and Parvati asked their children Ganesha and Karttikeya to participate in a competition in which the winner should be married first or, according to other statements, receive a fruit as a reward. The task was to be the first to go around the world. Kartikeya took his peacock and did it in a day. The wise Ganesha simply circled his parents three times, who for him represented the universe. Impressed by his cleverness, his parents declared Ganesha the winner.

Ganesha and the tusk

Many myths are about how Ganesha lost his tusk. One day Ganesha was eaten up and tripped over a snake with his rat. His stomach burst and his food fell out, so that Ganesha had to tie him up again with a snake. The moon god Chandra (Soma) then made fun of him. Thereupon Ganesha enraged and ripped out his tusk and threw it on the moon, which then immediately darkened. Since there was no longer any moonlight, the gods asked Ganesha to withdraw his curse, whereupon Ganesha transformed him into a sporadic emaciation. This myth provides an explanation for the origin of the different phases of the moon.

According to another version, the sage Vyasa asked him to record the Mahabharata. Ganesha agreed, but only on the condition that Vyasa quote without pause, while Ganesha only asked Ganesha to write down what he really understood. On this occasion, Ganesha pulled out a tusk which he used as a stylus for writing.

The story is different again, Parushurama wanted to visit Shiva in his palace on Kailash, in front of whose entrance Ganesha was posted as a guard. Parushurama demanded entry, which Ganesha denied him. Parushurama got angry and threw his ax, which he received from Shiva, at the god. This lost its tusk. Parvati and Shiva reprimanded him. Parushurama then became a great admirer of Ganesha and was forgiven.

Or Ganesha tore his tusk out in order to tame a demon who had become invincible through asceticism and who was then turned into a rat.

According to another legend, Shiva went to meditate on the Kailash and left his wife Parvati at home alone. This was then harassed by numerous admirers. After he didn't come back for years, the admirers said "He'll never come back". Then Parvati created Ganesh from her earwax (another variant: flakes of skin scraped off after bathing), which she shaped into a ball that she breathed life into. She instructed him not to let a single man come near her, and gave him supremacy over the heavenly hosts. Years later, Shiva remembered that he had completely forgotten his wife while meditating, and returned to his house. Ganesh stood there and denied him entry. Shiva would not accept that, a fight ensued, and Shiva cut off Ganesh's head. Parvati was extremely angry about this: “You killed my son, see that you can get back up on your mountain! I never want to see you again! ”Then Shiva reflected and agreed to Parvati that he would receive the head of the next living being that came by. It was an elephant that had lost a tusk in a fight.

Ganesha and the pranks

Another popular mythological theme is the numerous pranks that Ganesha plays on his parents. One day as a child, Ganesha teased a little cat, pulled its tail and tossed it around roughly. Later he met his mother Parvati, who he found scratched in the Himalayas, and asked what had happened to her. She replied that she was the cat.

Other stories tell of how Ganesha stole the moon out of his father Shiva's hair when he was asleep, played with it and his troops tried to recapture him.

Ganesha and the rat

One day a demon, turned into a rat by the gods as punishment for his disrespect, devastated an ashram of Parashurama and ate all the food there. The residents turned to Ganesha, the destroyer of obstacles. He appeared in the ashram and caught the rat with his rope. He tamed her so that she became his mount from then on.

Ganesha and Kubera

The myths of Ganesha's sweetness and greed are also known. One day Kubera, the god of wealth, invited the god to dinner in his palace, but Ganesha just couldn't be satisfied and kept eating. In the meantime the entire palace was empty and Kubera had nothing left to offer Ganesha. Now the god also ate the host's dishes, and finally his entire furnishings, almost the entire palace and almost all of it Alakapuri, the magnificent royal city of God. When there was nothing left that Kubera could offer, Ganesha finally threatened to eat him too. Terrified, Kubera turned to Ganesha's father Shiva, whose friend he was, and excitedly told him about it. He had Ganesha sent to him and instructed him to go to his mother Parvati. He did, and she gave him a rice ball, which was one of his favorite dishes. After that, the god was satisfied and content, and the god Kubera was thus saved.

Ganesha as the conqueror of Ravana

He is also known as the slayer of Ravana. He practiced asceticism for a long time. He explained to Shiva, the friend of the Asuras, that nothing should happen to him or his kingdom. Shiva gave him a linga and told him to take it with him to his kingdom. There he must take it with him in his shrine and worship it properly. Only then would he and his kingdom become invincible. However, Shiva attached one condition to his special journey. Under no circumstances should it be placed on the ground during its journey. Then he could no longer move it. Ravana was satisfied with the gift and immediately set out on the journey home. On the way back, however, Varuna, the god of the oceans, penetrated Ravana's body from behind and forced him to stop. Ravana felt (the need) to relieve himself. In his plight, he called a young boy and asked him to hold the linga while he was relieving himself, as it was on no account to be taken off. As soon as Ravana was gone, the boy called him three times, but received no answer from him, so he took off the linga. When Ravana returned and saw what had happened, he became very angry. He scolded the boy and threatened to kill him. At that moment the boy took on his true form as Ganesha. He overcame Ravana and rolled him into a ball. He threw them into the sky.

Ganesha and the women

There is no consensus in India on the question of Ganesha's marital status. In northern India he is considered to be married to Siddhi (“wisdom and wealth”) or Riddhi (“success, prosperity”) and Buddhi (“wisdom”), both of which are often understood not as real wives, but as symbolic properties of God . Both form Ganesha's Shakti. In the south of India, however, the god is considered an eternal bachelor, living in "celibacy". A myth explains that Ganesha promised to only marry a woman if she was just as beautiful as his mother Parvati. According to the Hindu understanding, this is not possible, so that he is still looking today.

Ganesha's development and history

Ganesha takes in various forms of other gods, especially nature deities. Its spherical belly and its "gnomish" shape speak for example for a development from the yakshas, ​​old fertility geniuses. Many of the attributes it wears are also reminiscent of agricultural implements, such as a hook plow or a rope for sheaves. The fact that Ganesha figures made of clay are thrown into the river during its festival and thus, coming from nature, are returned to the cycle of nature, would speak in favor of this thesis. Historically, Ganesha is the youngest important god of Hinduism. In particular, he does not appear in the Vedas. In literary terms it is only tangible and fully developed in epic times and the Puranas. Ganesha can be proven from the 5th century AD at the earliest. The depiction of an anthropomorphic elephant figure, which Ganesh could represent, is present in the case of an Indo-Greek coin from the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.


Ganesha festival in front of the Ganesh temple Sri Manika Vinayakar Alayam in Paris, 2004

For those believers who see the highest in Ganesha or Ganapati is Ganesh Chaturthi (according to the lunar calendar between mid-August and mid-September) the highest of all festivals in the course of the year; According to their belief, God comes to visit these days, and it is also celebrated that Ganesh was born on these days. On this day one should avoid looking at the moon. Frequently he is using the mantraGanesha Sharanam, Sharanam Ganesha venerated, which means Ganesha remove the obstacles.

The people in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Countless small or huge Ganesh statues made of clay are placed on altars in houses and streets and for a few days the believers worship the divine in these representations with regular services, music and dance. On the last day they are bid farewell and are brought to the sea in merry processions, where they are submerged in the waves with joy.[4]

Ganesha and the miracles

In 1995 there were rumors in India, in Delhi, that a Ganesha statue should have sucked up all the milk offerings made to it. The news spread like wildfire. People flocked in their thousands to marvel at the "miracle of Ganesha". It was said that the god Ganesha sucked them up with his trunk or tusk.[6]


  • L. Breuer, H. Thomas: Ganesha and the moon. An Indian legend. Kondody-Verlag, Rösrath 2006.
  • R. Brown (Ed.): Ganesh - Studies of an Asian God. State University of New York Press, Albany 1991.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Axel Michaels: Hinduism - past and present. C.H. Beck, Munich 1998, 2nd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-54974-8, p. 244
  2. abSwami Harshananda et al .: Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Mylapore, Madras 600004
  3. ↑ Lutz D. Schmadel: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed .: Lutz D. Schmadel. 5th edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7, p.186 (English, 992 p., [ONLINE; accessed on August 10, 2019] Original title: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. First edition: Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 1992): “1978 UJ. Discovered 1978 Oct. 28 by H. L. Giclas at Anderson Mesa. "
  4. abGanesha: Lord of Success, accessed January 10, 2013
  5. ↑ Anneliese and Peter Keilhauer: The imagery of Hinduism, Dumont Verlag Cologne 1983, 2nd edition 1986, ISBN 3-7701-1347-0, page 180
  6. ↑ Axel Michaels: Hinduism - past and present, C.H. Beck, Munich 1998, 2nd edition 2012, ISBN 978-3-406-54974-8, p. 244