On one occasion, a competition was arranged among the Gods for selecting the leader of the Ganas (troops Oof demigods who are the attendants of Siva). Participants had to go round the world quickly and come hack to the feet of Lord Siva. The gods started off on their own vehicles. The elder son of Siva also enthusiastically entered the competition. He had an elephantine head. His vehicle was a mouse! Therefore, his progress was severely handicapped. He had not proceeded far, when Narada appeared before him and asked him, "Whither are you bound?" The son was very much annoyed. He fell into a rage. For, what happened was a bad omen, doubly unpropitious for those going on a journey. It is inauspicious if the first person you come across when you are on a journey is a lone Brahmin. Though the foremost among the Brahmins (he was the son of Brahma Himself), Narada was a bad omen! Again it is a bad omen if you are going somewhere and someone asks you, "Whither are you bound?" Narada put him that very question.

Nevertheless, Narada was able to assuage his anger drew forth from Siva's son the cause of his predicament and his desire to win. Narada consoled him, exhorted him not to yield to despair, and advised him thus: "Rama-the name is the seed from which the gigantic tree called the universe has emanated. So, write the name on the ground, go round it once, and hurry back to Siva, claiming the prize. "He did so and returned to his Father. When asked how he was able to return so soon, he related the story of Narada and his advice. Siva appreciated the validity of Narada's counsel. The prize was awarded to the son, who was acclaimed as Ganapati, (Master of the Ganas) and Vinayaka (Leader of all).

Illustrations by
Sri Sathya Sai Balvikas Student (Group III)