Stories under the tree - Myths and legends from around the world.
The story of Ganesha and the mango.
Of the many Hindu myths, there is one that stands out, sublimely showing the importance of love in building family bonds. The protagonist of this story is Ganesha, typically depicted with an elephant's head with a single tusk, a pronounced belly and four arms. In this case, Ganesha is in the guise of a child (Bala Ganapathi) and in his four hands he holds: a sugar cane, a sweet, a branch and a fruit of the mango tree. And it is this mango tree that's at the centre of the story, a divine fruit, whose name is Jnana palam.
One day, little Ganesha was at home with his brother Kartikeya, a lanky young man riding a beautiful Indian peacock, and his parents, his father Shiva and mother Parvati, when the traveller Narada arrived to visit the family.
In Hindu mythology Narada is wise, but often behaves mischievously. He is known to be a bit of a meddler and frequently provokes conflicts between the gods for his own amusement. On seeing him arrive, Shiva and Parvati immediately smelled trouble, but their hospitality meant that they opened their home and welcomed him.
"Thank you for welcoming me! In return I will offer you this beautiful fruit," Narada said, pulling a beautiful mango out of his pocket and offering it to Shiva. "Thank you Narada," replied Shiva, "but let me give it to the one I love, Parvati." Shiva handed the fruit to Parvati, who, seeing that her two sons seemed intrigued by the beautiful fruit, in turn said, "Thank you, but this gift would make me much happier if my sons were to receive it".
She then took the fruit and was about to divide it equally, when Narada stopped her. "This fruit cannot be divided! It must be eaten by only one person." Shiva and Parvati realised Narada's trick, because both their sons wanted the fruit for themselves.
"Why don't we have a contest," Narada suggested, "and the winner will get the fruit. Shiva and Parvati, sighing, accepted the proposal.
"It will be a race: the first of the two children to run three times around the world will win the precious mango". Hearing these words from Narada, little Ganesha saw himself doomed. How could he, with his small legs, compete in speed with his brother Kartikeya, who was so agile, slender and capable of riding that swift peacock? But by now it was decided, and Narada gave the go-ahead.
Kartikeya set off as fast as the wind to quickly complete three laps around the world and return home. When he returned he found Narada, his parents and his brother Ganesha holding the mango. Stunned by this, as he thought he had victory in his pocket, he exclaimed: "How did Ganesha win the fruit?".
"You see Kartikeya," his mother Parvati answered him, "while you were running swiftly around the world, Ganesha completed three small laps around me and your father Shiva, because we represent the whole world, for him."
A simple and beautiful story. And if you feel like planting your own Mango tree (perhaps to donate it to someone) you can have a look on Treedom!