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Ganesha Home -› Hindu Trinity -› The Destroyer -› Ganesha
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Chaturbhuja - the one with four hands
Ganesha and Ravana (the Asura king of Lanka):
Ravana was the king of Lanka. He was very strong. Once there were indications that the gods would suffer at the hands of Ravana. Ravana was a devotee of Shiva. Once he performed strict tapas. Pleased with his tapas Shiva appeared before him and said, "What boon do you desire?" Ravana begged for Shiva's Atmalinga (Shiva's Atmalinga was the reflection of Shiva in the form of the Linga. The presence of this Linga is as good as that of Shiva Himself). It was Ravana's conviction that nobody could defeat him, once he acquired the very power of Shiva.

Shiva had said, "Ask for whatever boon you choose." Therefore he was bound by his words and had to give away his Atmalinga. He, however, cautioned Ravana: "Don't put this Atmalinga on the ground even for a moment; once you put it on the ground you cannot get it back." He then disappeared.

The gods trembled seeing Shiva's Atmalinga in the hands of Ravana. Ravana was their bitter enemy and a menace to the world; and with the Shivalinga itself in his possession, they were in great danger. They were troubled not knowing who could protect them. Then they remembered Ganesha. They went straight to him and explained to him their troubles. The kind Ganesha consoled them. He put courage into them saying, "I shall not allow Ravana to get Shiva's Atmalinga Have no fears." The gods went away and Ganesha followed Ravana to carry out his mission.

Ravana was on his way to Lanka carrying Shiva's Atmalinga in his palms. He came to the west coast. By then it was evening. It was time for Ravana to perform to sandhyavandana (the evening prayers). Ravana was in a fix. Shiva himself had told him that the Linga should not touch the ground. How was he to perform sandhyavandana, with the Atmalinga in his hands? There was no one in that deserted place that could help him. He stood there, thinking, 'I must perform sandhyavandana. What shall I do?'

Ganesha was following Ravana and was waiting for a chance. He understood Ravana's difficulty. He appeared before him in the guise of a small boy.
Vignavinasaka - the remover of difficulties
When Ravana saw him he was as happy as if he had found water in a desert. Ravana called him and said, "Little boy, will you hold this Linga till I perform sandhyavandana and return?" Ganesha, in the guise of a boy, said, "It appears to be very heavy. Please put it on the ground and go." Ravana said, "No, I cannot do that. It should not be put on the ground. Please keep it in your hands, till I return."

The boy said, "Suppose it becomes too heavy for me?" Ravana spoke softly, "I will return quickly, my boy. You are a clever fellow, aren't you? Please hold it in your hands, my good boy." The boy agreed.

Ravana gave him the Atmalinga and said; "Don't forget. This should never be put on the ground." And then he went towards the sea to perform sandhyavandana.

Hardly had Ravana started when Ganesha cried out, "Alas, it's too heavy! Too heavy!" Ravana was afraid. But, he could not return without completing sandhyavandana. Therefore, he cried out, "Boy, I shall be back soon. Don't put the Linga on the ground whatever may happen." By the time Ravana was offering holy water to the gods Ganesha cried aloud, "Oh, Ravana, I can no longer bear the weight of this Linga; I shall put it down here." So saying Ganesha put the Linga on the ground and ran away. Ravana completed sandhyavandana in haste and ran back in fear. But Shiva's Atmalinga was firm in the earth. No matter how hard he tried, Ravana could not take it out.
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