Admit it, when you first read that portly Ganesha had a mouse, of all creatures, for his vehicle, you couldn’t suppress an irreverent grin, could you?
Turns out, there’s a story behind his choice (isn’t there always?). The mouse apparently was once a deity in his own right – albeit a minor one – named Kroncha. One day, he accidentally stepped on the toes of a sage called Muni Vamadeva. Now, sages don’t take kindly to that sort of thing. Perhaps Vamadeva was feeling particularly tetchy that day, for he mistook Kroncha’s blunder to be intentional and vented his wrath upon the ill-fated god.
“Tripping me up, are you? A curse upon you, Kroncha. May you become a lowly mouse!”
Kroncha was instantly transformed into a rodent. He pleaded and wept for mercy. Realizing he’d overreacted, Vamadeva cooled down, somewhat.
“Oh, alright, stop sniveling. Go to Ganesha, he’ll fix things for you.”
At the hermitage on earth, where Ganesha was staying, there was a huge commotion. Ganesha came out to see a mouse the size of a mountain scaring the daylights out of everybody. Quickly, Ganesha sent his divine noose flying in Kroncha’s direction. The radiant lasso whizzed through the air, looped itself tightly around Kroncha and brought him to Ganesha.
“Mouse, you have created enough confusion in two worlds. But you are repentant and therefore worthy of forgiveness. You shall henceforth be my personal vehicle.”
So saying, Ganesha lumbered up and sat on Kroncha.
“Ooooh, aaahhh! Master, you are too heavy for me, I’m being crushed,” groaned Kroncha, whereupon Ganesha took pity upon him and lightened himself considerably. Ever since, Kroncha has served Ganesha, while the elephant god goes about his business of removing obstacles and fulfilling his devotees’ wishes.
Other versions exist about Ganesha’s choice of the mouse as his vehicle.
Mooshika (little mouse) symbolizes ignorance and darkness, as also unfulfilled desires from previous births that drive us to actions in our present birth. Ganesha represents the power of intellect, the triumph of wisdom over folly. He is also supremely detached from desire, exemplifying the only way to conquer our baser selves and know true happiness.