GANESHA’S LESSON – India
Theme: Kindness, non–violence

Click here to download MP3 recording of the story (4MB)

One day the elephant–headed little boy–god named Ganesha went off to play in the woods of Mount Kailasa where he lived. He was a mischievous little boy and he especially loved to run and play and pretend that he was a warrior.

One day he took out his play bow and arrows.

“What can I hunt?” he thought. He spotted his little white cat and immediately pursued it. He shot his little arrows at the cat, and the cat ran off terrified. But Ganesha thought that the cat was having fun. So Ganesha searched for it and found the little cat shaking in fear behind a tree.

“Aha! I found you,” he cried, and again shot arrows at the cat. But the little cat, still terrified,
ran off. Once again Ganesha found the cat under a log and this time he pounced on the cat, rubbed its little body into the dirt, then threw it up in the air. But the cat ran off and Ganesha couldn’t find it again.

“Well,” Ganesha said. “This is no fun.” And he went back home.

When he got there, he saw his mother, the Goddess Parvati. He stopped in his tracks when he saw that she had mud stains on her face and hands and scratches on her arms.

“Mother, what happened to you?” he asked.

Parvati looked at herself and said: “I don’t know. Did you do this to me?”

“ME?” Ganesha exclaimed. “Why NO!” But just then, he looked down at his feet and said, “Oh, but you know what? I was rather rough with our cat today.”

“Oh,” his mother said, gathering him up in her arms. “Now I understand. You know, Ganesha,
I am this whole world. My body is this whole earth. Anytime you do anything to it, you hurt me. You see, I was that little cat, too. So anything you did to it, you did to me."

“Oh, I understand now. My actions really do matter. I am so sorry, mother. I won’t do it again.”

“It’s impossible not to do any harm to everything, but we can be very aware of our actions, so that we do as little harm as possible.”

Ganesha thanked his mother for his lesson and went off to play again with the little cat, but without his bow and arrows.

GANESHA’S LESSON – yoga poses

Ganesha — elephant swings, warrior I, virabhadrasana I — bring hands and index fingers together to a point for a trunk and extend upward.

Mountain — mountain pose, tadasana

Cat — cat, cow pose

Trees — tree pose, vrksasana

Chasing the cat — side angle pose, parshvakonasana — and — triangle pose, trikonasana — or for little kids — running in place.

Bow — bow pose, dhanurasana — or left leg back, right foot forward, hips squared to front. Inhale arms up overhead and bring index fingers together at a point. Gently arch back like a bow.

Arrow — warrior III, virabhadrasana III

Mother Parvati — warrior II, virabhadrasana II

Gathering into lap — bound angle pose, badha konasana

Rocking in lap — take right leg and press right foot into left hand. Hold right knee inside right elbow. Then cradle foot into left elbow and rock like a baby. Repeat other side.

Run off to play again — bow pose, dhanurasana — then roll side to side.

Discussion

How can we be aware of our actions? How do we know the effect we have on others?

Give examples of cause and effect. If you run a red stoplight, what happens? If you pick a fight with somebody instead of making peace, what happens?

How do we do things to harm ourselves, such as negative thinking, poor choices, etc.? How can we treat ourselves kindly without harsh judgment? Tell a personal story about how your actions had a good or bad result, or how you have hurt yourself in the past.

bound angle pose
mountain pose
cat pose
cow pose
side angle pose
triangle pose
bow pose
warrior I
warrior II
warrior III
tree pose

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