Long long ago, in an island amidst the ocean was a huge mountain by name Trikuta. It had three peaks whose colours resembled iron, silver and gold. The mountain was very huge in its base and had terrific height also. It was surrounded by a dense forest. The mountain contained in itself many caves and there was a beautiful valley also. The scenic beauty around the mountain and the forest could not be described in words. The multi coloured birds making sweet sounds, the green trees, the fragrance of the flowers and the cool scented breeze made it a paradise on earth. There were lot of wild animals in the forest, lions, tigers, leopards and elephants.
There was a herd of elephants led by Gajendra, the majestic one. Gajendra was always surrounded by many female elephants and elephant calves. Gajendra was indeed so majestic and powerful that he was a terror to all the other animals in the jungle. The trumpeting of Gajendra would send lions and tigers running for cover.
Near the valley around the mountain, there was a beautiful lake owned by Lord Varuna. It was a huge lake with great depth and it was a treat to the eyes with its blue coloured water and pink lotuses in full bloom. The animals of the forest quenched their thirst there and the lake was house to crocodiles also.
One day, Gajendra came with his herd to drink water in the lake. The herd was thirsty and on seeing the water, they got into the water and frolicked and played to their heart’s content. Gajendra went inside deeper into the water. Suddenly, a crocodile came and caught his leg. A painful tug, and before he could realise what was happening, he was being pulled in deeper.
Gajendra was not the one to give up or even think of giving up. He tried to pull out his leg with all his might. Gajendra put up a brave fight trying to extricate his leg from the jaws of the crocodile but the crocodile would not give up so easily. It was a ‘tug of war’ which no one had ever witnessed ever before. Both of them seemed to possess equal strength. But as the saying goes, crocodiles are stronger in water. Gajendra , however strong he was seemed to be losing his might.
The herd of elephants, on seeing Gajendra’s plight, came and tried with their trunks to pull Gajendra out, but could not succeed. Soon they gave up and all they could do was to shed tears.
The fight went on for a long long time and slowly, Gajendra’s physical strength started depleting. He was overcome by fatigue and a feeling of helplessness. Once the physical strength diminishes, the mental strength follows suit. Gajendra was becoming desperate. At the same time, the crocodile was gaining strength and was now confident of pulling Gajendra into the deeper waters.
Suddenly, the tired mind of Gajendra, in a flash, remembered Sri Hari, the Lord of all the beings. All this long Gajendra was fighting with his own might and when he could not manage anymore, he remembered his earlier birth in which he was a great devotee of Lord Narayana (Sri Hari). Now that he remembered the Lord, he knew that the Lord was his only saviour and therefore called out to the Lord , singing a hymn and seeking asylum.
With such sincerity and devotion did he call out that Sri Hari immediately mounted his Garuda and came to the rescue of Gajendra. The next moment the crocodile was vanquished by the Sudarshana Chakra of the Lord. Gajendra, overwhelmed by the Lord’s mercy, plucked a lotus and offered it to the Lord addressing him as “Akhila Loka Natha” (Lord of all the worlds). Tears were streaming from the elephant’s eyes in joy as the very appearance of Sri Hari was ever so blissful.
From the body of the crocodile, rose a Gandharva, who bowed to Lord Sri Hari, thanking him for releasing him from a curse that had made him live the life of a crocodile.
Now this Gandharva, by the name of Huhu in his earlier birth, was once bathing in river Godavari with his wives. In another part of the river was a Sage by name Devala who was in deep prayer offering Arghya (water offering) to the Gods. Huhu, wanted to amuse his wives and so swimming under the current, he went and pulled the sage’s leg. The sage was greatly angered by this act of Huhu and cursed him. “May you become a crocodile, as you are acting like one!” said the sage. Huhu immediately realised his folly and sought for forgiveness. When he repented, the sage relented and said that the curse will be lifted when he would be hit by Sri Hari.
Huhu now having regained his beautiful original form, left for his abode.
The Lord was pleased with Gajendra and as he blessed Gajendra by keeping his hand on Gajendra’s head, a beautiful being who was as beautiful as Sri Hari emerged from the body of Gajendra and the being merged with Sri Hari.
Gajendra was, in his previous birth a valiant Pandya king by name Indradyumna. Though he was a king, he was a great devotee of Sri Hari and his mind was always filled with the name of the Lord.
Once when Sage Agastya went to his palace, the King was deeply engrossed in the thought of Sri Hari. So he did not realise the arrival of the sage and did not get up or welcome him. This enraged Agastya who cursed him. “You are acting so dull like an elephant and therefore may you become an elephant!”
Now, he was released from his curse by Lord Sri Hari himself and was given a place with the Lord permanently!
This is the story of Gajendra Moksham from Srimad Bhagavatham.