Osho’s comment: “How many temples are there on the earth, of how many religions? And how many different kinds of gods have they imagined?”
I would like to tell you the story of Ganesha…
He is supposed to be the son of Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity of gods. The Hindu god has three faces, it is called trimurti, just like the Christian trinity: one is Brahma, who creates the world, the other is Vishnu, who maintains it, and the third is Shiva, who destroys it.
This elephant god, Ganesha, has the body of a man, of a very ugly man, because his belly is so big that he is all belly; and on top of it he has an elephant’s head.
The story is:
Shiva has gone out and his wife Parvati was taking a bath. It seems she has taken a bath only once in her life, because she collected all the dust from her body and made Ganesha. This elephant god is made by collecting all the dust… I have always wondered how thick the layer of dust was, that she must have been carrying on her body. Just playfully taking a bath, cleaning her body, she collected the dust and made a statue of it. And because she is a goddess, she breathed life into him. This is how he became the son of Parvati and Shiva – although Shiva has no contribution in it; he was not even aware that he has a son.
She told Ganesha, ”You sit outside and don’t let anybody come in. If somebody comes, tell him, ‘My father is out. Come some other time.’” At that time he did not have the head of an elephant.
But as chance would have it, Shiva himself came; and he prevented him with his sword, this little boy, and said, ”Don’t come in, my father is out. Come some time later on.”
Shiva could not believe it: ”Who is this fellow? Preventing me!” He became so angry he took away the sword and cut off the head of the child, and went in and asked Parvati, ”Who is that boy?”
She said, ”What happened?” He said, ”I have finished him.” She said, ”You don’t know, he was your son.” And then she explained the whole thing, and she started throwing a tantrum: ”Bring my son back!”
So he went out to look for the head… where the head has gone. They used to live on the Himalayas, so it must have rolled down somewhere into some valley, into pieces; just the boy was sitting without the head. So he ran around, found a small boy elephant; he cut off his head and glued that head on Ganesha.
These kinds of foolish things … and for thousands of years people go on worshiping.
How many temples are there on the earth, of how many religions? And how many different kinds of gods have they imagined? And they will not even see the stupidity of their imagination. In India you will find thousands of gods. In this part of the land, Ganesha, the elephant god, is worshiped most. Even the very well-educated, professors in the university, and the vice-chancellors, they also worship it – and nobody ever thinks at all.
Osho, Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance – Talks on Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’, Ch 20 (excerpt)
Image: The Hindu holy family: Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha