The Ganesha Purana (abridged)

Gaṇeśa Purāṇa

by Gregory Baily | 11,149 words

The Ganesha Purana is a Hindu religious text dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha (Gaṇeśa). It is an upapurāṇa that includes many stories and ritualistic elements relating to Ganesha. Ganesha Purana – Translated by Prof. Gregory Baily and Edited by C. Devadas...

Chapter 1 - The Description of Somakanta

The sages said, O very wise one who is expert in the Vedas and the Satras. Repository of all spiritual knowledge, you are the most qualified guru we have found. You are omniscient and of perfect character. You have appeared because of the pious deeds we have performed in this and previous lives. Our life is this world is now very auspicious and we, as well as our ancestors, the Vedas, the sastras, our austerities and hermitages are blessed.

O best of the Brahmins, we have heard the eighteen Puranas at length and now would like to hear the others as well. For twelve years we have engaged in Saunaka Rsi’s great sacrifice and our only reason for stopping is to drink the ambrosia of your tale.

Suta Gosvami said, O illustrious ones, due to your meritorious activities, your questions are very suitable. The inquiries of those who are virtuous and even-minded are beneficial to all living beings. O Brahmins, I also feel happiness when reciting these transcendental stories, especially in the association of pure devotees such as yourselves.

In any case, there are also eighteen minor Puranas such as the Ganesha, Narada, Nrsimha, etc. I am going to first recite the Ganesha Purana, which is rarely heard in this mortal world. Simply by hearing it, a person will have all his desires fulfilled. Neither Brahma nor Sesa can describe its majesty. But with your permission, I will recite it in summary. Those who have performed pious activities over many lifetimes are qualified to hear it. But those rebellious souls, atheists and demons will not hear it.

Since the post of Ganesha is eternal, without material qualities and has no beginning, no one seeks to describe His real appearance. However, those who are devoted and worship Him can describe His appearance, which is full of transcendental qualities. The blessed Lord Ganesha has the form of OM and He is situated as the first syllable of the Vedas. The great sages and demigods led by Indra always remember Him in their hearts and Brahma, Siva, Visnu and Indra continually worship Him, the cause of creation and cause of all causes.


At His command Lord Brahma creates the universe. At His command Lord Visnu maintains the universe. At His command Lord Siva destroys the universe. At His command the Sun, Lord of the day, moves throughout the universe. At His command Vayu directs the wind. At His command Varuna causes the waters to flow in all directions. At His command the stars shine in the sky. At His command Agni burns in the three worlds.

O Brahmins, His pastimes are hidden and not just told to anyone, but as I reveal them to you, please listen attentively. Brahma narrated it to the immeasurably splendid Vyasadeva. Vyasa narrated it to Bhrgu Muni and Bhrgu to the great King Somakanta. Myriads of meritorious results belong to those who visit sacred places, give gifts in charity, perform austerities, sacrifices and take vows. But for those who hear the Ganesha Purana, excellent Brahmins, wisdom blossoms and their minds turn away from worldly existence, land, wives and sons. They become excellent devotees, attentive to the pastimes of Ganesha, Lord of the Peacocks. So hear about His greatness by listening to this Purana’s tale of the great King Somakanta.

In Devanagara in the province of Surastra there was a king named Somakanta. He was well versed in the vedas and sastras and understood the meaning of the dharmasastras. Twenty elephants, two thousand horses and six thousand chariots followed him when he marched out from his kingdom. He also had countless foot soldiers, some of whom carried weapons made of fire and others who carried bows with quivers of arrows. He surpassed Brhaspati in intelligence, Kubera in wealth, the earth in patience and in depth, the ocean. And the king also surpassed the sun in brightness, the moon in splendor, heat in fire and Kamadeva, the god of love, in handsomeness. His five ministers were powerful and resolute, and were also expert politicians. In this way they defeated their enemies. The first minister was called Rupavat and another was Vidyadhisa. There was also Ksemamkara, Jnanagamya and the fifth was called Subala. Due to their great prowess they conquered various countries. They were very handsome when dressed up in a variety of attractive clothes and ornaments. Always engaged in their dharma they were all very dear to the king.

The king had a wife named Sudharma who was endowed with all good qualities. The other wives of the king were named Rati, Rambha and Tilottama. These queens, because of their jealousy toward Sudharma, could not find happiness anywhere. On Sudharma’s ears were splendid golden earings studded with many precious gems. On her neck she wore a golden ornament covered with pearls. On her hips she wore a girdle made of various jewels and wore matching anklets on her feet. She wore rings on her fingers, toes and hands and possessed valuable clothes by the thousands and of many colors. She was devoted to and revered her illustrious king and was also very generous and hospitable to her guests. In this way Sudharma served her husband day and night always obeying his command.

The king and queen bore an excellent son named Hemakanta who had the strength of a myriad of elephants. He was wise and courageous and instilled fear in his enemies.

Excellent Brahmins, such was Somakanta, best of kings. After he had conquered the entire earth, he established a kingdom based on dharma, sacrifice and generousity.

Thus ends the first chapter of Ganesha Purana Upasanakhanda called “The Description of Somakanta”

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