Just like Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, who have many avatars, Lord Ganesha has eight. These avatars were taken by the Ganpati to destroy monsters born in every era. Actually, these eight avatars were taken by Lord Ganesha to protect people from eight kinds of self-destructing habits – Kaam, Krodh, Mad, Lobh, Matsar, Moh, Ahankar and Agyan. Hindu mythology says that these eight elements contribute the most to affect human lives. The following are the eight avatars of Lord Ganesha.
Vakratunda: This is the first avatar of Lord Ganesha. It came about when a demon named Matsara was born. Somehow, Matsara managed to convince Lord Shiva to give him the boon of fearlessness. Once he got it, he conquered all the three worlds. Seeing no option, the defeated gods went to Lord Shiva for protection. All the gods, including Lord Shiva, then on the advice of Lord Dattatreya did penance after which Lord Ganesha appeared in the avatar of Lord Vakratunda. Vakratunda assured the gods that he would subdue the demon. The demon was so terrified at the sight of Vakratunda that he surrendered to Vakratunda and sought refuge at His feet. Vakratunda thus restored the lost glory and kingdoms to the gods, and to the various kings on earth.
Ekdanta: Lord Ganesha in this avatar, he had four arms, one tooth, huge belly and his head resembled that of an elephant. This avatar killed Madasur, a demon who was harming the gods. The gods had approached Lord Vishnu for protection. He told them to propitiate Lord ‘Ekadanta’ and seek his protection. ‘Eka’ stands for ‘Maya’ the ‘embodied’ and ‘Danta’ for ‘Truth’. Thus Ekadanta symbolises ‘the Supreme Truth which wields the Maya’. The gods then prayed for Lord Ekadanta. He finally appeared and assured them that he would end their miseries.
Mahodara: This incarnation was of Mahodara who vanquished Mohasura, the demon of delusion and confusion. This demon had conquered all the three worlds and was causing huge problems to everyone. It was the constant praying of the gods and kings that pleased Lord Ganesh and he said that he personally would destroy Mohasura. He took the avatar of Mahodra and met Mohasura. The later, instead of fighting with Mahodara, sought forgiveness for his sins. Lord Mahodara was pleased and commanded him to go back to ‘Pataal Lok’ and never return again.
Gajanana: Gajanana means ‘the Lord with the elephant face. Lord Ganesha took this avatar to fight ‘Lobha’ the demon of greed which was born out of Goddess Parvati’s curse. In other words, Lord Ganesha took the avatar to free the world from greed as it leads to many other vices.
Lambodara: This is another avatar of Ganesh to subdue Krodhasura, the demon of anger. Krodhasura was born out of the anger that Lord Shiva developed for Lord Vishnu who took to the form of ‘Mohini’ to subdue demons. Krodhasura also managed to get the blessings of Lord Sun and became a very powerful king. Seeing no other option the gods prayed and requested Lord Ganesha to help them. Lord Ganesha obliged and took to the avatar of Lamobodara to subdue Krodhasura. It should be stated here that ‘Krodh’ means anger. The human life is greatly influenced by ‘Krodh’ and Lord Ganesha plays a huge role in shackling it.
Vikata: Lord Ganesha took this incarnation to subdue Kama, the demon of desire. Kamasura, the embodiment of lust, was born out of the seeds of Lord Vishnu. Kamasura became the supreme ruler of the three worlds with the blessings of Lord Shiva. He got married to Trishna, the daughter of Mahishasura and had two sons – Soshana and Dushpoora. Tormented by the rule of Kamasura, the gods approached Mudgala Rishi. He told them to pray to Lord Ganesha. Satisfied with the prayers Lord Ganesh appeared in the avatar of Vikata and controlled Kamsura.
Vighnaraj: This is the most popular incarnation of Lord Ganesha. The avatar of Vighnaraj is known as the ‘Remover of all Obstacles’. Riding the ‘Sheshnag’, Vighnaraj into battle with Mamatasura, and overcame him. It must be stated here that Mamatasura was created born out of the laughter of Goddess Parvati Devi. Initially Goddess Parvati named the male form ‘Mama’ and asked him to worship Lord Ganesha. However a chance meeting with Sambara Asura took things for the worst. Sambara Ausra managed to allure Mama into the Asuric cult and initiated him into the demonic methods of worship. Hence his name became Mamatasura.
Dhumravana: Lord Ganesha took this avatar to defeat the demon Ahamkarasur, the demon of self-infatuation. Mythology says that it is the deity of Sun which created this demon. One day the Sun sneezed and out of it was born a demon. He went down to the world of Asuras and Sukracharya gave him the name ‘Aham’ on account of his birth from the ego of the Sun.