SHIVA (HIS SONS)
Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. One of the most beloved deities in the Hindu pantheon is the elephant-headed god Ganesh, who is worshipped first in all Hindu rituals, as he is the harbinger of good fortune and the lord of wisdom. There is a popular story describing how he came to have an elephant’s head on a plump human body.
Parvati was alone in the forest awaiting Shiva’s return from a long retreat. Not knowing when He would come, she decided to create a son. Before beginning her daily bath, she formed Ganesh from the dust on her body. She gave her young son the task of guarding her bathing place, to ward off any intruders who might disturb her privacy. Shiva arrived back unexpectedly, and wishing to see Parvati immediately went to the bathing place. Here He was denied entry by Ganesh, who had never seen his father. Shiva was furious at being prevented from seeing His wife, and not knowing Ganesh was His son, cut off the boy’s head.
When Parvati saw what had happened she was broken-hearted and begged Shiva to restore their son to life. Shiva, realizing His mistake sent His guards off in all directions telling them to bring back the head of the first creature they found. One of the guards saw a beautiful white elephant and brought the head to Shiva who placed it on His son’s body redeeming his life.
Ganesh is not only the bestower of boons but also personifies the virtues of a balanced life. He demonstrates that opposites such as the enormous elephant and the tiny rat, who is his vehicle, can live together happily, and that the love of good food and profound spiritual knowledge can also be combined. He testifies that the world is full of opposites which co-exist peacefully side by side.
All of Shiva’s offspring had extraordinary births and the arrival of Kartikeya, His second son, was no exception.After marriage, Shiva and Parvati shut them selves in their room, enjoying each other’s company so much that they neglected their duties to mankind. Indra, in an effort to stimulate their greater participation in human affairs sent Agni, the god offire, to find out what was amiss.
When Agni arrived he was stopped at the gate by Shiva’s guards, who told him that he could not enter. Not to be put off so easily, Agni vaporizedhimself, entered the room through a crack, and then rematerialized as a mendicant begging for alms.
Although Agni hid his shock at seeing Shiva and Parvati locked in loving embrace, Shiva became so angry at the interruption, He almost destroyed Agni on the spot. Had it not been for the intervention of Parvati who reasoned that no good could come of killing Agni, He would surely have met his end. Parvati asked Shiva to give him alms so that he would go away, whereupon Shiva scooped up His 'sperm and gave it to him. Agni didn’t know what to do with it, so swallowed the offering and left.
Fearing that he might become pregnant, Agni stopped on the banks of the Ganges and spewed the sperm onto the grass, returning empty handed to Indra. Meanwhile in the spot where Agni had left the sperm, afire began to burn, and when the wives of the Rishis, six saints, were returning home from their daily bath, they stopped to warm themselves by the fire.
Much to their surprise these women became pregnant, and as they were unable to offer a reasonable explanation to their husbands, they were cursed and banished. As the wives passed by the Ganges they vomited the sperm into her waters, and ascended as bright stars into the heavens, becoming the Plei- daes constellation.
Out of the Ganges Kartikeya was born, son of Mother Ganges and Shiva, the Lord of the Three Worlds. When he grew to manhood, Kartikeya became the commander of Lord Shiva’s army, his mount a colorful peacock.