Ganapati helps us see the light when we become blind by luxuries that this life has to offer.
Pratyasha Nithin is a budding writer and a self-taught artist currently residing in Mysore, India. She has written articles and blog-posts on women’s issues. She is passionate about story-telling and believes that it is a powerful medium to convey ideas and ideals.
"Why can't I have different dreams? I don't want to be a part of your business. I want to be a singer." Vishvat yelled at the top of his voice.
"Vishu, mind your tone! I am not your mother who tolerates all your misbehaviour," his father threw the newspaper on the table in anger. He stood up with a jolt and continued "Now, about your dream, when did I stop you? But, I cannot allow you to go to Mumbai without any proper plan and that too by missing your exams. Do check your mark-sheet of the last year. Do you not feel any shame? This carelessness will not do. Now go to your room and study." His father did not leave any scope for further arguments.
"Ah, I can't take it anymore!" Vishvat kicked the wooden chair in his room as hard as he could. He was now extremely frustrated. His father never tried to understand him. All he cared was his exams. Even if someday he found Vishvat dying, he would still force him to go attend the exams.
"This will never stop!" He told himself. "I get it, I am not as smart as he is. Not as good as his friends' children. But, is it really necessary to point it out every single minute of every single day of my life?"
He suddenly sat down on the same chair he had kicked a few minutes ago. "No, this has to stop. Otherwise, I will go mad. I will leave this house. No one can stop me from pursuing my dreams."
It was not the first time when Vishvat had come to the conclusion that leaving the house was the only way to save himself from the daily torture. However, in the end, he always realized that without money, he won't be able to survive, not even for a single day. After all, he had lived his entire life in luxury. But, this was definitely the first time that he did not want to change his mind.
"He wants me to plan ahead before going to Mumbai? Good, he is right. I must surely plan!" And thus, he started his planning. He started calculating how much he needed to survive, at least for a few months and from where he can get that kind of money. He started searching for objects that he could take with him, something which was extremely valuable, but easy to carry in his bag without raising any suspicion.
When Vishvat came to know that his mother was scheduled to visit her maternal home with his sister on the weekend and that his father would be out as well, golfing with friends, he decided that it would be the day for his freedom.
He carefully packed his bag with his best clothes, certificates, some cash around twenty thousand, which he had saved for a long time and waited for the day to pack the most valuable thing he could ever lay his hands on- A Golden Ganapati Vigraha in their house's temple.
The weekend arrived. Vishvat wrote a letter blaming everything on his father, packed the Vigraha and some food in his bag. Now, he was ready to leave. When he walked out of the house with his bag, he knew that his feet were shaking. The fear of getting caught made him extra cautious. In his mind, he was planning all types of excuses that he could give if got caught. However, nobody saw him and he easily arrived at the railway station. He had already reserved a seat for Mumbai in an AC coach of an Express train.
Within minutes, his train arrived and he happily boarded it. Finally, he had taken the first step towards his dream. Finally, he was free. Free of all those lectures, all the family-dramas and perhaps the biggest obstacle to follow his dream. He felt bad for his mother and sister. He knew that they will miss him. However, he felt no sympathy for his father.
Looking outside at the beautiful scenery, Vishvat's mind was full of thoughts. What will his father think when he comes to know what he had done? Will he regret his behavior or will he become angrier? Will Vishvat ever be able to meet his family again? And moreover, where to start his new life? He knew nothing about Mumbai. He had never been there. Nor he knew anybody there. The only thing he knew was that he wanted to earn a lot of money. Much more than his father ever saw in his lifetime. He wanted to live a luxurious life and enjoy everything the World has to offer. With those dreams in his mind, he started dozing off. From Raebareli to Mumbai, it was a journey of at least twenty-six hours. Hence, Vishvat decided to lie down comfortably and take some rest. He removed his wallet from his pocket and kept it in the bag, which he placed beside him.
A few hours later, Vishvat woke up due to some noise. The train was at some station. He had forgotten that he had run away from his house. He opened his eyes slowly. It was night already and he was hungry. Vishvat decided to buy something and looked for his bag. But, there was no bag. Vishvat's heart skipped a beat. Everything- the Vigraha, the money, the ticket- was in that bag. He jumped out of his seat and looked around hysterically. The bag was nowhere to be found. He asked the co-passengers, but nobody had seen anything. However, they suggested him to report the incident.
Vishvat felt completely devastated. He did not know what to do next. He did not feel like continuing his journey anymore. He climbed down to the railway platform and walked in one direction hopelessly. He saw an empty bench in a dark corner of the platform. He suddenly started feeling tired and sat down on that bench. A hundred thoughts were going through his mind: Why did he not keep that wallet in his pocket? Why was it necessary to sleep so comfortably? What would he do now? There was no way he could go to the police, since he himself had stolen that Vigraha. It did not matter if he had stolen it from his own house, stealing is stealing. He will now have to be a coolie or something to survive. But, he wasn't even capable of that. He was not made for hard chores. If only he had kept that Vigraha safely. Oh, the luck of that thief who had stolen his bag!
Vishvat started crying in anguish. He became so hysteric that he did not even care if somebody would see him like that. All he could mutter was "Oh, my Ganapati! Why did I not keep Him safely?"
A few minutes had passed, but Vishvat was in no mood to stop.
"Why are you crying Vishvat?" someone asked by patting on his shoulder.
Vishvat jumped in horror. He looked at his right to find out who had asked the question and immediately his eyes were dazzled by the blinding light. Vishvat took his time to get adjusted to the light and then he looked again. His jaw dropped when he realized that the one who was sitting right next to him, looked like an enormous version of the Vigraha that was stolen. Golden in color, with an eye-blinding aura, He had eight hands in which He was carrying noose, goad, some sweet, some fruits, a broken tusk, a sugarcane stalk and some grain stalk. He looked like a teenager. Almost as if in the same age, he himself was. Vishvat was awe-struck seeing Him sitting there. He could not even bat his eyes and was staring at Him with a blank face.
"You did not answer Vishvat. Why were you crying? Think of me as a friend. I will help you in every possible way!" spoke Ganapati. Even His voice was booming.
"I...... My bag got stolen. It had everything. My clothes, my wallet and most importantly the Vigraha." Vishvat did not know when the words came out of his mouth.
"Why are you worried about the Vigraha? I am right here with you, ain't I?" said Ganapati and smiled. Vishvat was awe-struck seeing that smile. For a moment, he forgot his bag and with it all his worries. He just looked at Ganapati without blinking.
After a few minutes, Vishvat felt as if the form of Ganapati was fading. Immediately his worries returned. He spoke "Oh, I need that Vigraha. I need to sell it. I want money to survive. How will I live without money?"
Ganapati smiled again and said "So, is that what you need to survive? Money?"
"Yes, and a lot of it!" Vishvat replied confidently.
"Okay, forget the Vigraha. Tell me, how much do you need? I will give you the money."
Vishvat started thinking. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He wanted to ask as much as he would need to live a luxurious life. But, how much is that? There was no time to calculate. He spoke,"I want as much as I can spend in this lifetime. I do not want to worry about money ever. I want never-ending money! I want to enjoy every luxury of this World!"
Ganapati laughed and spoke "So be it!"
The next moment He was gone. The platform that was booming with the aura of Ganapati became as dull as it was before. For a moment, Vishvat felt that he had lost something, instead of gaining. Something worth a thousand lives. He started feeling empty inside. He wondered whether he did the right thing. But this emptiness stayed only for a fleeting moment. In the very next moment, Vishvat was convinced that he made a right choice. Now he wondered, whether he was dreaming? Or was he really talking to Ganapati? Had he truly received a boon from Ganapati? Was he going to have never-ending money? Was it even possible?
After a few moments, a young man walked towards him and spoke in a very respectful tone, "Your car is ready, sir!"
"Your car, sir; it's ready. Please come." Vishvat batted his eyelids again and again. Was it really happening? No one had talked to him in such a respectful tone ever. He walked with the man and found out an extremely luxurious car waiting for him. When he sat in the car, he was worried that he did not look like he belonged to that car or the luxury. But, it was his car. He had shown the intelligence to ask the best boon one can ever ask. He felt extremely proud of himself. Now, he had no need to go to Mumbai and waste his time in auditions. Now, he had the money, he always wished for.
The car stopped in front of a big mansion. Vishvat's jaw dropped seeing the size of it.
"How many rooms does it have?" he asked a servant, who had come running to take him inside.
"Must be two hundred, master. Do you want me to count them?" the servant asked sincerely.
"No, no, it's okay. Just lead me to my room," replied Vishvat.
And thus started the luxurious life of Vishvat. Something one can never even dream of. Everything that he wished for, was there at his service. His houses were full of lavishness. He lived in a different house every season. He travelled all around the World and enjoyed every luxury those places offered. He never went back to his family. He did not care anymore. And he decided never to get married. He was not interested in any kind of family drama. But, it did not mean that he lived a celibate life. There were many women, who offered him sex for one or another favor. And he never said no. After all, wasn't sex one of the luxuries the World offered?
A few years had passed. Vishvat was now confident that there was not a single person on Earth who was as happy as he was. There was nothing in his life that was missing. And since he had no family, there were no worries regarding intra-family conflicts. His confidence slowly paid way for arrogance and he started looking down upon everyone.
One day, Vishvat was returning to his mansion at Nainital. He was supposed to spend a few weeks there and was thinking about what new could he do. Of late, he had started to get bored with everything he did and somehow, he had a feeling that he was going to get bored there as well. He had actually become fed up with every place, every game, every luxury he had with him. There was nothing new. Vishvat was in desperately looking for a change. While his mind was busy with these thoughts, his eyes fell on a little girl standing at a traffic signal holding a Ganapati Vigraha tightly to her chest. It reminded Vishvat of his own Vigraha which he had lost long back on that train. He laughed, thinking about the changes that incident had brought into his life. He looked at the girl again. Her Vigraha was not of gold. It was made of mud. Suddenly, Vishvat felt like playing God for the girl. This was something he had never done before. He asked his driver to wait and walked to her.
"Hey little girl, how much for that murti?" he asked arrogantly.
"What?" the girl seemed shocked from his question.
"I am asking the price for that murti. Tell me, I can pay you a lot."
"If you can pay a lot, why don't you go and buy another from some store. You may buy a silver or golden Vigraha."
Vishvat did not like the tone of the girl. It had been a long time since someone had said no to him.
"But, I want yours." He replied. "I can give ten thousand rupees for it."
"Sorry mister, but my Ganapati is not for sale," she replied and started walking to cross the signal.
"What about twenty?" he asked loudly.
The girl was now visibly irritated. She walked back and by pointing towards his car, she asked: "Is that car yours?"
"How much it is?"
Ah, so the girl had seen how rich he was. Did she want as much as his car costs? Smart move. Vishvat smiled and remembered the boon he had asked from Ganapati. The girl might be smart, but not as much as he was. "It's imported. Must be in the millions. Why, do you want that much?"
"No, even if you offer me those millions, I will not sell my Ganapati. Do you understand?" she asked in a challenging tone.
"Why? What's so special in that murti?"
"He is my family. Can you sell your family?" She replied and immediately added, "But wait, maybe you can. After all, all you can see is money. Not the one whom you have lost in achieving it." She laughed and continued, "What an idiot you are! Have you ever thought how much He would be worth having? If someone can offer you this much money, does it not mean that He is beyond this money? He is much more than this money? He is beyond the power you are celebrating mister. And the worst thing is- You had Him sitting right next to you, still you lost Him. Oh, poor guy! Who can be poorer than you?"
"How do you....." Vishvat was too shocked to ask the question. How did this girl know what had happened that day? Vishvat remembered the feeling he had for a few minutes when Ganapati had disappeared. He once again felt that emptiness in his heart. What was happening? Suddenly he felt like everything he had was fading away as if they were all merely an illusion.
"You did not answer Vishvat. Why were you crying? Think of me as a friend. I will help you in every possible way!" Vishvat batted his eyes. He was back on the railway platform. Ganapati was still there asking him why he was crying.
"You? What? What is happening? Why am I here? Have you taken all my money? Why would you do that? I want my money back." Vishvat yelled.
"Are you sure that is what you want?" Ganapati asked.
"Huh?" Vishvat was confused. He had lived that luxurious life. He now has an option to live it again. Then why was he confused. He spoke "Can I truly think of you, a friend?"
"Of course!" said Ganapati.
"Then tell me, why did you put this seed of doubt in my heart? I was living my life in luxury. I was happy. Then why? Why did you make me meet that girl?"
"Can a seed grow in a barren land Vishvat? You are saying you were happy. How can a happy man be influenced?"
"So you are saying that I was not happy? I was just imagining it?"
"No, you were looking for new ways to be happy. Tell me Vishvat, was there a single thing which was able to keep you happy forever?"
"No, but I found something new as soon as I got bored."
"And for how long? The World is not limitless. How can it provide you limitless happiness?"
Vishvat was now even more confused. He remembered how desperately he was thinking of something new, something exciting. Truly, for how long was he going to find newer and newer ways of enjoyment? There was a limit to everything. But, still, wasn't he enjoying that life? Why should he leave it for the sake of an argument?
"Then what do you want me to do?" he asked Ganapati, "Forget that I had such a great life and go back to my old pathetic life?"
"I am not telling you to do anything Vishvat. I am simply asking you a question. Weren't you the one who wanted to talk? Now, if you want to go back to your luxurious life, just tell me."
Vishvat started thinking. He wanted that life. But, he was not sure if he would find anything new there now. What if his life becomes boring? What if he feels that emptiness again? That emptiness was definitely not a good feeling and he wanted a way to remove it. What if he asks for both- that luxurious life as well as Ganapati? In that way, he would not feel the emptiness in his heart ever and with Ganapati on his side, he will have thousands of new ways of pleasure. Yes! Why did he not think of it before. Now he will have the best one can ever have. He spoke happily "I want the money as well as you to be with me always."
"And what if I ask you to choose one?"
"How can you do that to me? How can you abandon me? You claimed to be my friend." Vishvat asked annoyingly.
"Abandon? Weren't you the one Vishvat, who abandoned me first? I told you I was your friend, but instead of choosing me, you chose money. Is that what you call friendship? You enjoyed all those luxuries thinking that you fooled me, did you not?"
Vishvat was horrified remembering that. He could not deny it. It now struck him, how arrogant he had become. He kept applauding himself for asking such a smart boon. Then he remembered the girl who had called him an idiot. Her words "Have you ever thought how much He would be worth having? If someone can offer you this much money, does it not mean that He is beyond this money?" started ringing in his ears. How true? Why did he never think of it? How can he still think of that money, when he had Ganapati sitting right next to him once again. And how come that girl was so convinced that there was no greater wealth than Ganapati?
"Who was the girl? How was she so happy? How can any amount of wealth not change her mind?"
"She was Buddhi, the one who sees everything clearly. The one who makes one see everything clearly." replied Ganapati with a broad smile on His face.
"I want that!" spoke Vishvat suddenly. "I want a clear mind. I want you to guide me. Tell me, what is right and what is wrong. Tell me how I should live this life and achieve that happiness where I am no longer hankering for newer indulgences; where I am free from boredom? I want to experience that ultimate happiness."
"Are you putting your life in my hands now?" Ganapati asked mischievously. "Think before you make any decision. I will not reverse it again and you will never have that kind of money. Are you okay with that? Do not blame me later that I took all those luxuries away."
"Yes, I am okay with that. I will never complain," answered Vishvat confidently.
"Alright then, go back to your parents Vishvat. Abandoning them was a great Adharma. Start performing your duties as their son sincerely. And I promise, I will guide you." spoke Ganapati and patted Vishvat's head with one of His hands.
Vishvat woke up with a jolt. It was nighttime and he was still on the train. His bag was right next to him. He was shaking with the experience he just had. He immediately grabbed his bag and opened the zip. The Ganapati Vigraha was still there. Was he dreaming? A question arose in his mind. But, he could still feel that hand on his head. He looked at the Vigraha in his hands. No, he will never consider it a dream. It was not a dream. He saw Ganapati. He talked to Him and Ganapati promised to guide him. Vishvat silently promised himself that he will do exactly what Ganapati told him to do. His dream was different now. Now, he wanted to pursue that ultimate happiness which was way beyond the luxurious life he had experienced.
Note: The Ganapati in this story is Taruna Ganapati. His dhyana mantra is-
पाशांकुशापूपकपित्थजम्बु स्वदंतशालीक्षुमपि स्वहस्तैः |
धत्ते सदा यस्तरुणारुणाभः पायात्स युष्मास्तरुणों गणेशः ||
Taruna(Youthful) Ganapati is red in color, like the ruddy morning. He has eight hands, carrying in them noose, goad, round cake, wood-apple, rose-apple, his own tusk, paddy-grain stalk and sugar-cane stalk.
I have portrayed Him Golden in color instead of red because the vigraha Vishvat had lost was golden.