Sunday, November 14, 2010

मूशिक वाहन (mUshika vAhana) ...

Another favourite among kids is the following Sloka:

मूशिक वाहन मोदक हस्ता
चामर कर्ण विळम्बित सूत्रा।
वामन रूप महेश्वर पुत्रा
विघ्न विनायक पाद नमस्ते॥

mUshika vAhana modaka hastA
cAmara karNa viLambita sUtrA |
vAmana rUpa maheshvara putrA
vighna vinAyaka pAda namaste ||

मूशिक वाहन - one who uses the mouse as his vehicle
मोदक हस्ता - one who has Modakam (a sweet ball made from coconut, jaggery and rice) in one of his hands
चामर कर्ण - one who has ears as large as a hand fan
विळम्बित सूत्रा - one who wears an ornament around his waist
वामन रूप - one who is of short stature like Vaamana
महेश्वर पुत्रा - son of Shiva
विघ्न विनायक पाद नमस्ते - O' remover of all obstacles, I bow down to thy feet!

The gist of this simple Sloka is obtained by simply putting together all the above pieces. One thing that has always perplexed me when reciting this Sloka is why the mighty Ganapathi would choose the hapless mouse as his vehicle! There are again 2 stories (that I am aware of) that explain this.

In one version, there is this asura called ‘KayamukhAsura’ who manages to get the boon of immortality from Lord Shiva and wreaks havoc on the planet. Lord Ganesha defeats him in battle and subdues him to be his vAhana forever. In another version, Lord Kroncha is cursed by muni vAmadeva to turn into a mouse for accidentally stepping on his toes! However, Kroncha became a giant mouse and started destroying all the fields in his path. When he passed by sage Parashar’s hermitage, Lord Ganesha who happened to be visiting there heard all the commotion and subdued the giant mouse to be his vehicle, thus, ridding Kroncha of his misery.

It turns out that there is also an underlying philosophical interpretation. The mouse represents ignorance since it almost always moves about in darkness. By subduing the mouse, Lord Ganesha symbolically dispels ignorance or mAyA and liberates us!

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