Ganesha is one of the most popular God in India. Its statue has body of a chubby child and head of an elephant. You can find it everywhere. Almost all sects of Hinduism worship Ganesha. For foreigners, this God is cute and comic, which fits with current standards of coolness. Sometimes, you can find his picture in adverts in Europe. Here is a picture, in which Ganesha is advertising for a super market.
So recently, I went to an Indian restaurant. I found a picture of Ganesha on the menu and I started telling his elephant head story to others. I made grave mistakes in my story and an Indian intern caught me. I was bit embarrassed. Then, I went back and read about Ganesha. I found amazing things about Indian scriptures. I mainly read this book.
Ganesha was not the main God in early vedic tradition. Some claim that he didn’t even exist then. The main evidence is that he wasn’t mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata at all. His myths were invented in 5th century and became the pop God of the time. The puranas(mythical books) were written about him. Someone also came up with Ganesh GITA. There was also a cult which believed that Ganesha was the highest God.
The most interesting fact is that these puranas are inconsistent with each other. There are multiple versions of same mythical events. For example, how was Ganesha born? Some sources say, his mother Parvati wanted a child but father Shiva didn’t. In a sex session, Shiva somehow feeds his semen to mouth of god of fire instead of her womb. This act made Parvati angry and she created Ganesha out of her neckless. From other sources, the sex session was interrupted by Vishnu, another God, and semen falls on the floor. This time Vishnu was complicit with Parvati. So, he does some magic and that semen drop became a child. This is one example. Every small piece of detail about him has multiple versions.
Its interesting! Next time I will tell people the correct story.