Part of a series of entries retelling Hindu legends about different Gods in my own words. While there are over 330 million Hindu gods, I’ll just tell stories that I encounter, or stories about particular gods that fascinate me. This is the final of a four part retelling of legends concerning Ganesha.
One day, Kubera, the god of wealth, invited Lord Shiva to a feast in his wonderful city of Alakapuri, so that he could show off his immense amount of wealth. Shiva replied:
I cannot come, but you can invite my son Ganesha. I warn you though, he has a voracious appetite!
Arrogantly, Kubera felt that he could satisfy even the most insatiable appetite with his opulence, so he took the small child Ganesha into his city, and sat him down before a great banquet. Such opulence had never been seen, there were hundreds of guests and thousands of dishes placed in front of them.
However, Ganesha gulped them all down: he ate all the dishes, without leaving any food for any of the other guests.
The kitchens tried to keep up with his appetite, but were unable to provide the food fast enough. Eventually, they ran out of ingredients with which to make more dishes. His appetite unsatisfied, Ganesha began to devour everything else in front of him: the decorations, the table, the furniture, the chandelier. Kubera begged Ganesha to stop, and leave the rest of the palace. Ganesha replied:
I am hungry! If you do not give me something else to eat, I will eat you as well!
Panicking, Kubera raced to Lord Shiva, to ask him for help in stopping Ganesha from devouring everything. Shiva smiled, and gave him a hand full of roasted rice:
You gave Ganesha a feast with pride and arrogance, to show off your wealth. This will never satisfy him. If you give him anything, even a handful of rice, with a clean mind and a pure heart, you will satisfy him.
By the time Kubera reached his city again, Ganesha had almost completely consumed it. Kubera prostrated himself before Ganesha and humbly offered him the handful of rice. With that gesture, Ganesha’s appetite was finally satisfied.
Photo taken by author: Rama Temple, Hampi, Karnataka, August 2012