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Why is Lord Ganesha known as Ekdant?

Lord Ganesha is one of the most revered deities of the Hindu sect. He is the son of the Cosmic Couple, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is worshipped not only in India but also in many parts of the world as Vijnahartha or the remover of obstacles. He represents the attainment of mastery over intellect and wisdom and triumph over time. As the God of beginnings, he is frequently prayed to at the starting of ceremonies, the inauguration of businesses, and also before attempting examinations.

One-tusked Ganesha via Unsplash

Lord Ganesha is depicted as having a huge human body with an elephant head, but having only one tusk. His followers believe that the single tusk indicates his ability to overcome all forms of dualism, i.e existence of two realities, and acquire the knowledge of ‘One Truth’. There are various narratives in Hindu Mythology that explain how Lord Ganesha lost one of his tusks and came to be known as Ekdant (meaning ‘one tooth’). Some of them are:


Legend has it that when Sage Vyas wanted to compose the Mahabharata, he needed someone who was extremely intelligent to write down the verses quickly as he dictated them. As a result, Vyas prayed to Lord Brahma for help. Brahma advised him to approach Lord Ganesha for this noble task, as he was the most intelligent of them all.

Vyas dictating Mahabharata to Ganesha, via Wikimedia Commons

However, Lord Ganesha had one condition. Vyas must continuously dictate the verses without stopping even once. So, Vyas gave it some consideration, came up with an idea, and set a counter-condition that Ganesha must first comprehend the verses before transcribing them. Lord Ganesha agreed. As he started writing, the feather he was writing with broke. To keep the continuity, Ganesha cut one of his tusks and resumed writing.


It is believed that Parshuram, the 6th avatar of Vishnu was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Once when Parshuram arrived to visit Lord Shiva, he found Ganesha guarding their inner quarters. Ganesha refused his entry to the chambers as his parents were resting.

Parshuram via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the warning, Parashuram insisted on meeting Shiva, and thus, both of them clashed. Ganesha wrapped his trunk around Parashuram’s body and flung him into the air, leaving him unconscious for a while. When Parshuram regained his consciousness, he hurled his axe (given to him by Shiva) at Ganesha. The Elephant-headed God humbly accepted his father's weapon upon one of his tusks, which it instantly cut, leaving him with only one tusk.


One night, when Lord Ganesha was returning home after the grand feast at Kubera's palace, his vehicle, the mouse, spotted a snake and dashed behind a bush. Ganesha lost his balance and fell to the ground with a thud. His tummy burst open, and its contents scattered all around. As Ganesha began to stuff the food back into his stomach, the Moon God, Chandra, saw him and burst into a fit of laughter. Outraged, Ganesha broke off one of his tusks and aimed at Chandra. He cursed him that he would turn black and would not be noticed by anyone. And, if someone looked at the moon on the night of Ganesh Chaturthi, they would face false allegations. Petrified, Chandra begged for pity and compassion. Ganesha agreed to reduce the intensity of the curse. He declared that the moon would follow a lunar cycle. It would lose some light each day and disappear once every month, which is known as Amavasya and is widely believed to be inauspicious.

The stories of how Lord Ganesha became Ekdant are indeed fascinating and extremely popular among children. Along with being an interesting read, each tale throws insight into the personality of the one-tusked God. These narratives educate us to be dedicated and sincere, make thoughtful judgments, show humility and be sensitive to all living beings.



Divya Balvally

Pratha Content Writer


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