--> Skip to main content

Story Of Airavata Elephant Losing His Head

The story of Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, losing his head and later regaining is associated with birth of Ganesha and is mentioned in the Bengali Krittibasi Ramayana.

The Birth of Ganesha

The story begins with the birth of Ganesha, the beloved son of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. This joyous event brought all the gods and celestial beings to the divine abode to see the newborn child. However, among the visitors, there was one notable absence: Shani, the god of Saturn. Parvati noticed Shani's absence and insisted that he come to see her son.

Shani's Reluctance and the Calamity

Shani was reluctant to look at the child due to a curse that caused misfortune to anyone who came under his gaze. Despite his hesitation, he finally agreed to visit Ganesha. The moment Shani's eyes fell upon the newborn, an unfortunate event unfolded—Ganesha's head broke and fell apart. Parvati was horrified and heartbroken by the sudden tragedy that had befallen her son.

Parvati's Wrath and Divine Intervention

In her immense grief and anger, Parvati was ready to unleash her fury upon Shani. She picked up a trident, determined to avenge the loss of her son's head. The other gods, fearing the destruction that Parvati's wrath could bring, pleaded with her to calm down. They reminded her of her true nature as the mother of all creation, including Shani. They also reminded her that it was she who had bestowed upon Shani the power that brought misfortune through his gaze.

Brahma's Solution

To resolve the dire situation, Brahma, the creator god, assured Parvati that he would restore Ganesha's life. He instructed Vayu, the wind god, to travel north and retrieve the head of the first living being he encountered. Vayu soon came across Airavata, the majestic white elephant and the mount of Indra, the king of gods, who was resting on the banks of the Ganga River. Vayu severed Airavata's head and brought it back to Brahma.

Ganesha's Resurrection

Brahma then attached the head of Airavata to Ganesha's body, bringing him back to life. The child now had the body of a human and the head of an elephant. This transformation gave rise to the distinct and iconic form of Ganesha, who is revered as the remover of obstacles and the lord of beginnings.

Indra's Loss and Restoration

While the gods and Parvati rejoiced at Ganesha's resurrection, Indra was left grieving for his beloved mount, Airavata. To alleviate Indra's sorrow, Brahma once again sent Vayu on a mission, this time to the western direction, to find another suitable head. Vayu found a white elephant resting there and severed its head, which was then fitted onto Airavata's body, restoring him to life.

Thus, through a series of divine interventions and acts of compassion, both Ganesha and Airavata were brought back to life, each bearing the mark of this extraordinary tale. This story not only highlights the deep connections among the gods but also underscores themes of sacrifice, restoration, and the complex interplay of divine destinies.