Legends Behind Ganesha’s Tusk

- September 13, 2021

By Kayva Gokhale Ganesha, one of the most beloved gods in Hindu mythology, is also known as ‘Ekadanta’, the one with one tooth. Ganesha’s broken tusk is a very significant part of his iconography and there are multiple stories behind how he broke his tusk, all of which are as enthralling as they are varied. Here are some of the most popular legends behind Ganesha’s tusk, their sources ranging from the Mahabharata to the Brahmanda Purana.  Ganesha, the Scribe Illustration: Dilip Kadam Perhaps the most well-known story about Ganesha’s tusk comes from the Mahabharata, with Ganesha acting as Vyasa’s scribe. It is believed that when Vyasa was composing the epic Mahabharata, he required a scribe who could write down the poem as fast as he could dictate it. Finding nobody that was capable of this task, Vyasa approached Ganesha and requested him to act as his scribe. Ganesha agreed, but on one condition: he demanded that Vyasa dictate the epic without any pauses. Vyasa, knowing that it would be hard to keep up with Ganesha’s speed, made a counter-condition that Ganesha must write only once he understood every word of what he was being told. Having agreed to Vyasa’s terms, Ganesha sat down to write the epic and as a marker of goodwill, broke off his tusk to use as a pen. Thus, the Mahabharata was composed with Vyasa dictating the long and complicated verses to Ganesha who had to slow down his writing speed to understand the words he was being told. In another version of this story, it is said that Ganesha started writing with an ordinary quill, which broke off in the middle of the dictation. Not wanting to stop to fetch a new quill, Ganesha simply broke off his tusk and continued writing with that instead. The tusk of Ganesha, hence, is significant in bringing to life one of the two most important epics to come out of India.  Ganesha and the Moon ...

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