With Ganesh Chaturthi tomorrow, this time, I am giving you a story Ganesha and Kubera.
Kubera is the treasurer of the Gods and the ruler of the North direction. He has his beautiful palace in the city by name Alakapuri and he had all the best things in there. The best ornaments, the finest silks, the costliest furniture, the most beautiful garden by name Chaitra Ratha, with scented waters in their fountains, the ornately decorated palace with golden walls and diamond ceilings, the finest foods in his kitchen made by the best chefs in the world. He became so arrogant of his wealth and wanted to show it off to someone or the other.
“The others in Devaloka should come to know of my great wealth”, he thought to himself. “Well what do I do to spread the word? Hmm…”
He got an idea. “Yes. I know what to do. I will invite Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati for a lunch in my palace and then the word will spread”, he said to himself. “I will do this immediately”
He took his vimana (aircraft) and immediately proceeded to Kailash to see the Lord Shiva.
Shiva was very much there in his abode with Parvati and was surprised to see Kubera coming in.
“Welcome, welcome Kubera .What brings you here?” asked Shiva.
“Well…. Umm… My Lord, I have a request for you and Mother Parvati. I am hosting a lunch for you both tomorrow in my palace and came to invite you for the same. Please do not disappoint me O Lord. What time will it be convenient for you?” Kubera talked nonstop expecting an affirmative reply from Lord Shiva.
The Lord looked at Parvati and then said, “Kubera, though we would very much like to come for the lunch hosted by you, this is the month of Shravan and I keep fast for the whole of this month. As you know, Parvati will not eat if I do not eat…”
“Lord, please, please do not disappoint me. I have made special arrangements for you” said Kubera hurriedly, alarmed that his plan would fizzle out.
“Well…” said Lord Shiva thinking for a while as he noticed little Ganesha entering the hall. “Okay Kubera, we do not want to disappoint you. Instead of us Little Ganesha can come and have lunch at your palace tomorrow as our representative. Is it okay?”
Kubera turned around to see the little Ganesha chewing on a ripe guava and thought to himself, “Well, this kid will not eat much, but at least he will be fascinated by my riches and spread the word of my riches in the celestial world”
Lord Shiva’s voice brought him back to the present.
“Yes Lord, I am honoured by Ganesha’s visit to my palace” said he with a grin and turned to little Ganesha.
“Ganesha, please come to my palace tomorrow and I will see that you will eat the tastiest food you have ever eaten in your life” The voice was full of pride.
Ganesha meekly shook his head. Kubera went home happy that his plan was working.
The next day Ganesha went to Kubera’s palace at the appointed time. Kubera was waiting at the entrance to receive his little guest. He had a beautifully decorated tray with sweet smelling Sandal powder and rosewater in a diamond studded vessel used for sprinkling rosewater in functions. He had a sweet smelling flower garland with flowers in vibrant colours one would have never seen.
He sprinkled rosewater and offered the flower garland and walked him around his gardens.
“Have you seen such sweet scented water like in the fountains of my beautiful garden Chaitra Ratha?” asked he with great pride.
“And the flowering plants in my garden have been brought from various places. Have you even seen flowers in these colours before?” he asked Ganesh sarcastically. “And see the fruit trees, mangoes, oranges, bananas and pomegranates, there is enough to feed your father’s Bhootaganas (army of Lord Shiva), Hahaha….” he guffawed.
Ganesha gave a look of disinterest and asked Kubera, “Is the food not ready yet?” He looked at the direction from where the nice aroma of food was coming.
“Oh! Oh!” said Kubera. “I am sorry. I did not remember that you are after all, a little boy and you need to be given food on time. Come on, I will take you to the dining place”. So saying, he lead Ganesha to the huge dining hall where a silk mat had been spread for Little Ganesha to sit and in front of him, two huge banana leaves were spread out neatly.
Ganesha sat down and Kubera asked him, “Well my little guest, my chefs have prepared over five hundred dishes for you. What would you like to have first, child? Some sweet dish or Kheer or fruit juice or mixed rice? Tell me, boy.”
Ganesha sniffed in the direction where the kitchen and said, “Bring a little of everything for me to taste”
“Waiters!” ordered Kubera, “Bring a little of everything first and serve our little guest”
All the waiters lined up and started serving all the delicious dishes one by one. Ganesha with full gusto started eating them up as they were served and to the surprise of one and all each dish disappeared as the next was served.
“Little Ganesha is hungry I suppose” thought Kubera to himself. “Let him eat to his heart’s content and he will go and tell others about the tasty food of my kitchen”
Thinking aloud he said, “Eat Ganesha, eat as much as you want. There is enough and more to be served. You can carry food back home for your brother Kartik too!”
Ganesha did not reply but started eating faster. The waiters had to increase the speed of their serving. From walking at normal pace, they started to walk faster, and faster and faster… They had started to run now. The quantity of the prepared dishes was fast reducing now. The lunch had been prepared keeping into account all the members in the household and the servants which was over five hundred people, but the way Ganesha was eating, it seemed all would get over soon.
Kubera was watching in awe when Ganesh called out. “Kubera” he said, “I am very very hungry and these little portions served with ladles are very unsatisfactory. Why don’t you tell the waiters to bring the dishes in the vessels in which they were made huh?”
Kubera was already panicky but could not help but obey Ganesha.
“Waiters, bring the dishes with the vessels in which they were made”, he ordered and the men obeyed immediately.
But within moments of the dish being placed in front of him, they had to carry back the empty vessel. Liquid items like Kheer, Sambar, Rasam, Buttermilk, Aam Panna, Juices etc. were pulled in by Ganesha using his trunk like a huge straw and all other items which were solid were grabbed by the trunk in one go and vanished into his mouth.
All the waiters were watching with their mouths wide open and eyes rolling in fright. All the dishes were over and as the last dish was placed before Ganesha, Kubera was literally trembling as to what Ganesha would ask next.
Ganesha looked around. “Over?” he asked. When the waiters pathetically shook their heads, he said, “I am still hungry Kubera. I don’t mind uncooked foods also. Where is the store room?”
And before Kubera could even react, he got up and stomped into the store room which was adjacent to the kitchen.
Lots of vegetables, fruits, grains, millets, milk and curd and ghee were kept in there. After all it was Kubera’s store room and it was always stocked well beyond what was needed!
With his trunk swishing and swashing here and there it was a matter of minutes when the store room became a scene of total disarray with all the empty vessels rolling all over the place and vegetable and fruits getting over and grains and millets strewn over everywhere after Ganesha had eaten them. Even the peels of the vegetables and fruits that remained to be thrown away after the lunch had been cooked was eaten up in a gulp by Ganesha.
“What Kubera? You have got only this much food. I am still hungry” said Ganesha as he looked around keenly as to what he could lay his trunk upon. Kubera was watching helplessly as a bunch of coconuts on a coconut tree outside in the garden met the eyes of Ganesha.
“Wow! Coconuts!” exclaimed Ganesha, “I simply love coconuts” and off he went into the garden and with his trunk lowered the tree and plucked the coconuts and ate them. Many trees unable to bear the pull of Ganesha’s trunk broke into two and fell. After coconuts, it was the turn of bananas, then the chickoos and the pomegranates and in no time all the fruits vanished.The garden was a sight of destruction with trees broken and twigs strewn around.
Kubera watched in horror as Ganesha next started ripping the leaves of the trees and eating them.
“Oh, God!” thought Kubera, knowing fully well that next the inanimate things would be Ganesha’s target. Through the back door, he ran to Mount Kailash, panting for breath.
“Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva!” he shouted as he entered the hall where Lord Shiva was preparing for meditation.
“Kubera! What happened? Where is Ganesha? Did he not come to your place as promised?” asked Lord Shiva as if he knew nothing of what had happened.
Kubera was almost in tears. He narrated to the Lord how Ganesha had consumed every single thing which was edible and was now eating whatever was in his sight.
“Please O Lord” pleaded Kubera, “please for my sake stop your son! All my property is being ruined Please O Lord, please call him back. I will do whatever you tell me to do to stop Ganesha…”
Shiva, with a smile asked him, “Kubera, did you call me and Parvati to really honour us or….?”
With his eyes downcast Kubera in a low voice said, “I am sorry Lord. I really wanted to only show off my wealth so that others would come to know of it and I realise now that I was very vain of my riches. Ganesha has taught me a lesson. I am really sorry my lord! Please give me a solution to my problem”. So saying, he fell at Lord Shiva’s feet.
Lord Shiva who is always compassionate, knowing that Kubera had learnt his lesson said “Take this fistful of rice and go back to your palace and offer it to Ganesha with sincerity and humility and he will accept it”. Saying so, he gave Kubera a fistful of rice.
Kubera rushed back to his palace where he noticed, Ganesha was drinking up the scented waters of his fountains. He ran straight to where Ganesha was. Ganesha put forward his trunk seeing Kubera.
“I am still hungry, Kubera” he said.
Kubera knelt on his knees with raw rice in his cupped palms and cried aloud “Oh Ganesha! Please forgive me for my arrogance. I have learnt my lesson. Please accept this offering with my sincere prayer to you to give your blessings. I shall never be arrogant hereafter. Please eat this rice and satiate your hunger. I have nothing more to offer. This moment I have become a pauper. Please do forgive me”.
He bent down and his head touched the feet of Ganesha and his tears washing Ganesha’s feet. His regret was from his heart and Ganesha could easily see that Kubera’s pride had been humbled.
Ganesha looked at him with sympathy and smiled. “I accept this Kubera!” So saying, he drew the rice from Kubera’s palms and ate it with relish. He burped with satisfaction and said, “Well Kubera, my stomach is full. I shall take leave”.
And off he went hopping on to his Mooshak while Kubera learnt a lesson of his life not to be arrogant ever.