Gajendra Moksha – the story of an elephant and a crocodile and its symbolic meaning

Gajendra Moksha, or Gajendramoksham, is an important incident found in the Bhagavad Purana and it shows the importance of Bhakti, prayer and true devotion. Once there was an elephant named Gajendra. He was the king of a huge herd of elephants and he had thousands of queen elephants with whom he used to bathe and play in a huge lake. Gajendra was proud about his status and on a summer day he was arrogantly bathing in the lake with his friends. Suddenly a crocodile from below caught him by the foot and tried to pull him to the bottom of the lake.

Gajendra fought hard to get rid of the crocodile but the battle continued for thousand years. In the meantime, all this friends and queens deserted him. Finally realization dawned on an exhausted Gajendra and he prayed to Lord Vishnu. Soon Lord Vishnu appeared before him and on seeing the Lord, Gajendra plucked a lotus with great effort and offered to him and said ‘Narayana, Preceptor of all, Bhagavan; I bow down to you.” Gajendra was instantly released from the grip of the crocodile.

This is a symbolic story writes Sant Keshavadas. The egoistic soul is the elephant. As long as we are young, healthy and wealthy, we feel many people love us and we become egoistic. The crocodile symbolically represents death, which ends everything.

When we are caught in the jaws of death, there is no one who can save us. Friends flee, relatives disappear. Our own body fails us miserably. Like the elephant in the story, the only solution from suffering is to turn to the Lord. In the moment of that utter surrender, God rushes to our aid, destroys death, and releases our soul from the clutches of death – and that is liberation or Moksha that comes by the grace of the Supreme.