Sunday, September 7, 2008
This past Thursday, the Toronto zoo lost their 38 yr-old elephant Tequila. Cause of death is at this point unknown, but it got me thinking about how disappointed I am for not seeking out more elephants while in India. What I did see plenty of was the god, Ganesh. His animal form likely contributes to his popularity, but here's my rendition of the story that partially explains why he's so visible.
The "trunk-ated" version: Parvati – the model of feminine beauty in Hinduism and proven yogini in her own right – had worked her ass off to earn the attention of Shiva. Shiva – the aloof and devoted ascetic – left soon after their union to attend to his own preoccupations (typical male). Through the forest and to a mountaintop, he retreated into meditation as was his custom. Alone and vulnerable, Parvati was desperate for a son. And so she made one herself out of her own intellect (biggup to early DIY instincts!). When Shiva returned one day to find a strapping young lad guarding the door while gorgeous Parvati bathed, he went rank. And when Shiva – better known as the destroyer god – goes rank, heads roll. Literally.
Parvati, emerging to find her son decapitated at the hands of her beloved, becomes inconsolable. Shiva – aloof, but not insensitive – promises to recreate the son, Ganesh, and make him the first to be worshipped in Hindu homes. He commissions his bull Nandhi to find a suitable head. The result is that of a noble elephant. While it would appear that Shiva lost his temper in slaughtering the son, we should remember that loss of control is not characteristic of such a perfected being. You see, the prototype Ganesh was pure ego, made of Parvati only. Ganesh, as we now know him represents our need to transcend the Self to attain perfection.
Should I venture on such a journey, no pachyderm heads for me. Please retrofit me with something feline ideally.