Lord Ganesha and the cat

May 18, 2004 12:48 PM IST

As a child, Lord Ganesha loved to roam around in the mountains near Mt Kailash, along with his friends, and was constantly thinking up new pranks to play.

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Allegorical tales are the mainstay of any preaching done by the sages. When humans were innocently vulnerable, and not so wise in the ways of the world, this method of teaching wisdom was used to make a lasting impression in their simple minds. Every religion's history is replete with stories, which propound deeply profound truths, in the garb of these alluringly simple tales.

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The Arabian Nights Tales, the Tales of Alladin, the stories from the Bible, the stories of the Panchatantra, and the Saakhis of the Sikh Gurus, are reminders of our own human frailties, and proclaim the Divine answer to strengthening ourselves.

These stories have remained in human memory much longer than any other teaching or preaching, passed down mainly through word of mouth. I do remember, during my childhood, sitting with my mother and my siblings, after dinner, listening to such fascinating anecdotes. To illustrate the empathy and oneness of all Life on the earth comes this sweet tale about Lord Ganesha and the cat.

Lord Ganesha was a very naughty and frisky child. He loved to roam around in the mountains near Mount Kailash, along with his friends, and was constantly thinking up new pranks to play.

One day, while he was playing, he saw a cat purring away happily. Deciding to have a little innocent fun by teasing the cat, he caught hold of the cat by its tail. To tease it further he started twisting the tail, until the cat cried out in pain, and forcibly wrenched itself out of his grasp. The cat then twirled around in the air, and fell with great force upon the ground, injuring itself. Yowling with pain, it ran away to its home in the mountains.

When Ganesha realized that he had hurt the cat and caused it injury, he felt sorry, and went home feeling heavy hearted. As he was on his way home he suddenly started feeling very hungry.

He rushed into his home and called out to mother Parvati to give him some food. When she came to him with the food, he was shocked to see her covered with dust, and bruised all over. She was obviously in pain.

He thought to himself that his mother, being the mother of this world is so great that nobody could have the temerity or the strength to injure her in this way, and cause her pain. Realization dawned suddenly upon him. He understood, that if his mother was the mother of all life on the earth, then a part of her also existed in all life. When any part of life was pained or hurt, it obviously brought great discomfort to her also. Her omnipresence in every particle of life was Divine, and the pain of the cat, which he had injured, had to be part of her pain and suffering too.

Humbly apologizing to his mother Parvati, he pledged before all his friends, never to cause suffering to any part of life, ever again.

The lesson of the interconnectedness of life becomes apparent through this simple tale. It has served many humans to understand a Divine Principle, which could never have been fully grasped, if Lord Ganesha had not twisted the cat's tail!

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