Mahodara (Great-Bellied One)
The legend of Mohasur’s creation is an interesting one, evocative of the demon’s defining characteristic – delusion. When Shiva was once so lost in meditation that he did not emerge from his trance to help the gods, Parvati assumed the form of an alluring tribal girl and wandered close by, creating disturbance. Shiva opened his eyes and gazed at her, momentarily confused. From that ‘confusion’ emanated Mohasura, who was promptly whisked away by Shukracharya. The guru initiated Mohasura into the secret of propitiating the sun god. Mohasura soon received the boon of invincibility from Surya and wreaked havoc in the universe. Surya then advised the gods to seek Ganapati’s help. When Mahodara manifested, Shukracharya told Mohasur to surrender or face death. Accordingly, the demon pleaded for mercy. Mahodara spared his life and banished him forever to the underworld.
Mahodara also destroyed two other demons – Durbuddhi (Negative Thought) and Jnanaari (Ignorance). In this form, He embodies the wisdom of the Universal Spirit.
Avatar in Sanskrit means “descent”; in Hindu mythology, a deity descends from heaven to earth for a specific purpose. Sacred texts like the Ganesha Purana and Mudgala Purana state that Ganesha assumed eight avatars, each manifesting in a different epoch and descriptive of a single attribute. All the avatars had one purpose – to slay a demon.