Invoking Lord Ganesh
It is said that Janamejaya जनमेजय - the son of Parikshit (Arjun's grandson and son of Abhimanyu - Uttara) asked Vaishampayan, the disciple of the great sage Vyasa to narrate to him the story of Pandava's win over Duryodhana - which Vyasa had simply called 'Jay' but which later became more popular by the name 'Mahabharata' । Now, originally, when he decided to compose it, the sage Vyasa was faced with a practical difficulty. The thoughts came to his mind so fast that he could not put them on paper (papyrus, for purists) in time and in a structure. He needed someone to help him in this task. So he prayed to Lord Ganesh गणेश, the god of wisdom.
As he was invoked, Ganesh appeared before Vyasa. When he told Ganesh his predicament and asked for help, Ganesh said that he will be Vyasa's scribe and take down the story. (As Neeraj - a colleague mentions - this is indeed where 'Outsourcing' as a concept took off! :))
Ganesh however put a condition - that Vyasa should not pause. If he pauses, Ganesh will stop writing at that point and leave. Delighted that Ganesh had agreed to do the job any way, Vyasa agreed to this condition. He however put a counter-condition that Ganesh can only write down a verse if he understood its meaning. If he did not, he will need to ask the sage to explain and Vyasa will have to explain the verse. Only once this is done, will Ganesh write it down. Now, it is not that there is anything Ganesh does not 'understand'. But this arrangement only gave Ganesh the required time to write down the verses when Vyasa was going faster than he could manage. And, on the other hand, it helped Vyasa ponder on what he is narrating and compose further.
And so, the great task of writing down the world's longest poem took place. Or so it is said.
This story talks of the transition of a stream of random thoughts into a structured work of art, and how a boundary of sense needs to be put before / around creativity to make it 'worldly'. Whether these things really happened, or whether these are figments of a collective imagination and symbolism of the world's oldest culture ... I don't know. Either way, it is fine with me. This beautiful imagery and symbolism in Indian myths has always fascinated me since childhood.
Today, as I begin writing posts on this blog, I hope to invoke Lord Ganesh and seek blessings in this endeavor of penning down some of the ruminations about the Indian mythology, philosophy and its logic system.
p.s. It must be clarified that I believe these myths as much as I believe in concepts like nation states. You are free to make your own belief system. For the deeply religious minded, I cannot guarantee a conformance to their belief systems.
10 May 2008