A fine depiction of the popular mythic episode in which Lords Skanda & Ganesha engage in a ‘race around the world’.
Now, to explain in a bit more detail what has happened here (and why Lord Ganesha has already won … ):
The Sage Narada Muni came to Kailash and presented a most delectable enchanted mango – the eating of which would bestow immense wisdom. This was to be given to one of Shiva & Parvati’s Two Sons. But which one should receive the honour and the empowerment?
A contest was proposed. The first to successfully circumnavigate the world thrice and return home would be bestowed the mango.
Now, Lord Skanda, justly famed for His impetuous ferocity and prowess upon the fields of war (indeed, His name can mean ‘Charger’ .. ) – wasted no time. Taking up position upon His Peacock Vahana, He surged off in pursuit of the prize immediately and at great speed.
Lord Ganesha, however, took a moment of devotional contemplation … and then asked His Parents to sit together.
He then clasped His Hands in respect and walked around Them Thrice – Parikrama (note: the ‘Pari-‘ as in the ‘Peri-‘ of ‘Perimeter’, and from the same PIE root; ‘Krama’ as in ‘to step’, proceed), as we do in worship.
He Declared that to Him, His Parents are the World.
And so, Lord Ganesha was declared to have won the race.
I think there is something to it. For, in theological terms, we can most definitely say that Devi is Everything (Aditi), the World; and if we were to approach the concept viz. Their Vedic typological ur-expression (well, one of these), that of द्यावापृथिवी (DyavaPrithvi – the somewhat frequently encountered dvandva that is ‘Heaven-And-Earth’, both in a cosmological sense, as well as referring to the Sky Father and Earth Mother ) … well, there you have it.
The tale also fittingly illustrates that well-known Hindu precept of piety that service to one’s parents is the highest of expressions of piousness.
Now, for a few further points as to this depiction. The artist is Mahaveer Swami; and we are particularly interested to note that above Lord Skanda in the sky can be seen a planet that looks suspiciously like Saturn. This is, after all, ‘The Slow Moving’. It presents an eloquent juxtaposition for the great wind which seems churned up via Lord Kartikeya’s passage atop the earth. Showing that this is the ‘slower’ approach, we may suggest.
We are also quite enamoured of the Mouse that is Ganesha’s Vahana depicted in the lower right of the image.
Why so? Because whereas Lord Skanda’s Peacock is being ridden to an assumed victory (that turns out not to be so) … Lord Ganesha’s Vahana is also engaged in the trenchant pursuit of a victory.
Moving speedily to bring the Flower – Pushpam Samarpayami, indeed. Just as we do in pious offerings in our own Pujas. We offer the Flower.
That Mouse, He too is clever. And, just as with Lord Ganesha – Gets In Everywhere. Even outrunning the mighty Peacock of Lord Skanda, despite much shorter legs !
Now, a final point of interest – for the moment, at any rate – concerns the depiction of Lady Devi here. Parvati is intentionally rendered in a fashion that is quite overtly reminiscent in key elements to Her Great Husband. She holds the Damaru – the Drum; Her Arms are garlanded with Serpents. We find also the Serpents within Her Hair. [A further Serpent is forming the Sacred Thread of Ganesha, as well, as a brief point of interest].
Within the Hands – in Shiva’s, we see a Mala; just as the chanting goes ‘around’, so too has Ganesha’s Parikrama. Within Devi’s … I am not quite sure – however, it should prove tempting to presume it is the mystical Mango that had incepted this whole affair.
In any case, we praise all Gods observed in this glorious artistic rendition – and Their Vahanas, Too (and Nandi, of course, Who should never be overlooked!).
Skanda’s impetuosity and speed is no negative. It did not win on the day – yet is still an immense and worthy power. The desire to just get straight down to it and surge ahead to complete the task set by His Mother is a virtue.
Ganesha’s wit and wisdom is also something that deserves praise. A moment’s contemplation can most surely save many moments of exertion. And sometimes, a subtler solution is required than immense and direct application of energy. It can even enable seeming impossible outcomes and victories to be delivered – just as He Does for the Devotee.
We have particularly posted this image today for Vinayaka Chaturthi – The Lord Who Removes Obstacles (Vinayaka), on the Fourth (Chaturthi – it is like ‘Quad’, Quatre, Cuatro, etc. , and from the same PIE root).
During this evening’s Shaivite (and Shakta) observances for Somvar [Day of Soma] in Shravan Maas [the Shaivite Holy Month], I had felt particular ‘resonancy’ for Ganesha in relation to His Mighty Parents.
And also because great art – especially with a great spiritual message – it always deserves to be posted !
Jai Vinayaka, Swiftly !
Yet also Aum Skandaya Namah
And, of course,
Aum Namah Shivay & Jai Mata Di !
ॐ गन गणपतए नमो नमः !