Stories of yore—even simple ones—have layers that can be peeled off to reveal newer meanings that are hidden beneath them. It’s easy to observe parallel events getting enacted right now in our lives that seem to take a leaf out of popular ancient lores that we grew up on, as with this one.
As mere mortals react to looking at their assets, King Kubera’s chest would often puff up with pride. The abundance that spread before him seemed never-ending. And why not? He wasn’t a mere CEO of a multinational, a famous star, or a crowd-pulling politician. He was the lord of wealth, right at the epicentre of universal material wealth.
One day, Kuber invited Shiva to his kingdom for a feast. Shiva knew it was merely a ruse. Kuber’s real intent was to show off his immense wealth. Shiva excused himself and instead asked his son Ganesh to attend the feast. However, Shiva warned Kubera that Ganesh’s appetite can be insatiable at times. Kuber smirked and boasted with arrogance, ‘Don’t worry, I’m after all the lord of wealth.’ Shiva smiled.
When he reached Kuber’s kingdom, Ganesh was pleased with the protocol and the lavish spread in front of him. Kuber’s pride swelled and started bordering on arrogance. Even when Ganesh quickly started gulping the laddoos, Kuber’s arrogance did not ebb. However, his haughtiness received a dent when the laddoos disappeared, as did the modaks, the puris, rice, payasam and… The food stock in Kuber’s kingdom was rapidly depleting, but Ganesh was still hungry and angry at not getting enough food. Ganesh threatened to eat Kuber instead of food. Kuber was petrified and ran for his life, followed by Ganesh close on his heels. Reaching Kailash and falling at Shiva’s feet, Kubera begged forgiveness for his excessive pride.
Picture Kuber. Wonder if you’ve seen him before! Ha, ha, every day, every moment. And not in an undefined sphere, but in real life—in our lives, in our habits. This Ganesh Chaturthi, when Ganesh visits us to gorge on lovely modaks and other delicacies prepared for him, may we not gloat at the opulence we’ve created around us and the assets we’ve accumulated. Instead, let realisation dawn upon us as to how fortunate we are to be blessed with prosperity and abundance. Remember that material abundance is not even a speck in the face of divine infiniteness.
Rajessh M. Iyer is a storyteller who explores human relationships through meaningful anecdotes, parables, and stories; he shares his work on www.rajesshmiyer.com.