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Ganesha - Lord who removes obstacles

Story of Ravana & Aathma Lingam

Ravana, the king of Lanka was an asura, but he was an ardent devotee of Lord Siva. He reached mount Kailas & prayed to Lord Siva, that his Lanka should never be destroyed. Lord Siva gave him an Aathma Lingam, with the condition that he should go back on foot to Lanka & that he should not put down the Lingam at any point. If he were to put the Lingam down, the Lingam would remain rooted at that spot.

The Devas were worried that the Aathma Lingam would add to the might of Ravana & that he could never be destroyed, if he succeeded in taking the Aathma Lingam to Lanka. They prayed to Lord Ganesha for help. Lord Ganesha caused Ravana's stomach to be filled with water. Ravana grew desperate to answer nature's call. Ganesha appeared before Ravana as a small boy. Ravana handed over the Aathma Lingam to the boy. Ganesha declared that he could not wait for long & when he grew tired, he would call out Ravana's name thrice & if he did not come & take the Lingam, he would place it on the ground & go away. Ravana agreed.

Soon Ganesha called out Ravana's name thrice, and since Ravana could not come and take the Lingam, he placed it on the ground. The enraged Ravana tried to remove the Lingam from the ground. But, in spite of using his twenty hands, he could not budge the Lingam. Though the Lingam could not be moved, the pressure from Ravana's hands had changed its shape like the ear of a cow & hence the place came to be called Gokarnam (Go-cow, karnam-ear). The lingam came to be called Mahabaleswarar since it could not even be shifted by the mighty Ravana (maha-great, balam-power, Eswarar-Lord Siva).

Ravana started chasing the boy to hit him on his head. Lord Ganesha showed his true form & blessed him. The Ganesha statue in the temple has a hollow on the head, where Ravana is supposed to have strcuk him (Kuttu - to hit with folded fists). Lord Ganesha can be pleased by doing kuttu (gently tapping both temples with folded fists).
Stories on Lord Ganesha