Lessons from Ganesha’s life
There are many people we look up to, hero-worship, idolize. Sometimes they are people from within our own families, our parents, uncles, aunts. At other times, it may be a teacher at school, a colleague or a senior at work. And then there are almost always some accomplished, renowned citizens we consider role models. It struck me, however, that we have in our own rich mythology, a plethora of idols whose lives give us many wonderful and relevant lessons. So in the month that celebrates Lord Ganesha, why not draw inspiration from his story? There’s a lot to learn, immense wisdom to be drawn.
In a hate-mongering, war-torn world, we would be wise to instil a sense of forgiveness in children and students. Develop empathy rather than vengefulness. Ganesha’s life presents a wonderful example for this. Legend has it that on his return from a heavenly get-together, having eaten his usual copious amounts of food, Ganesha tripped because his belly had become too large and heavy. Seeing this, the Moon laughed at him, and was consequently banished by Ganesha. However, upon some pleading, Ganesha forgave him and reduced his sentence by half! This same kind of understanding and spirit of mercy would do wonders in the current generation.
Being dutiful too is a lesson that youngsters can draw from Ganesha’s own life. When asked to guard the house while his mother bathed, Ganesha, albeit unknowingly, famously denied his own father from access to the home. That he lost his head and came to wear the head of an elephant, as a result, is another matter; to have gone beyond the call of duty is the lesson to be derived therefrom.
Respect for family and for parents seems to be dwindling. It has become cool to be a rebel, that too without a cause. Ganesha’s life presents yet another insightful instance of loving one’s parents. When asked to circle the planet, while his brother Kartik did so literally, Ganesha chose to circle his parents, proclaiming that THEY were, his world! This kind of devotion is becoming a rare commodity. But younger kids would do well to reassess their parents’ importance.
Children have a tendency to fashioning their self-image or self-concept based on the opinions and perceptions of others, rather than basing this on what they know and think about themselves. Self-respect then, is a vital quality for kids today, to develop. Being open to outside opinion is important; it is however just as crucial to know oneself. Ganesha once famously dug-up a road that deities and lords were to traverse and when the person who lifted a fallen-carriage was asked how he did it by the impacted Gods, he said it was because he had called-out Ganesha’s name for help & strength. This made the Gods realize Ganesha’s importance and power, more importantly, though, it was Ganesha standing up for himself, giving a clear signal of his self-respect.
Finally, in this fiercely competitive age of start-ups and digitisation, it is easy for young people to give-up on pursuits easily. There is a pressing need to stress commitment to one’s work, relationships, most anything in life. Ganesha was asked to assist in writing the epic Mahabharata, and he did so on condition that Ved Vaysa would narrate it to him, at one-shot, continuously, without a break. One would think his own suggestion proved counter-productive when Ganesha’s pen broke but undeterred, he pulled out one of his own tusks, and continued writing, using the latter as a pen! This kind of duty to one’s work needs to be inculcated in the young generation.
There is immense learning to be had in our rich mythology. Sure, it is great to get together and celebrate festivals with fun, food, and family. A slightly deeper delving into the significance and meaning of Gods and festivals though will enrich the festival and the lives of the people who are participating in it, more.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.