The Asuras (demons) used to trouble the gods often. Some of them used to grow strong by obtaining boons from Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma after doing severe tapas (intense meditation and prayer). And because of the boons they used to become arrogant. They used to delight in torturing men and gods. Talasura was one such wicked asura. One day Ganesha humbled him. Here is the story:
Talasura was the King of Ramanaka. He was very strong but wicked. He was a haughty and obstinate asura. The gods shivered at the very mention of his name.
Talasura had an eye on Devendra (Indra), the king of the gods for a long time. His greatest desire was to defeat Devendra in the battle and become the Lord of all his wealth and splendor.
Indra’s assembly was in progress. The hall was filled with melodious music and lovely nymphs were dancing. Indra and the other gods had forgotten themselves in the <span>music</span> and the dance. Seizing this opportunity Talasura ordered his demon force to enter heaven, and attacked Indra’s palace. This unexpected attack caused great confusion in the assembly of the gods.They were totally unprepared for war. In the end, Talasura won the battle. The defeated Devendra and the other gods ran away like deer at the sight of the hunters. After the battle Talasura became the master of all the wealth of the gods. He became Lord of Kalpavriksha (the tree that fulfils all desires), Kamadhenu (the divine cow which can give whatever a man seeks), Airavata (the white elephant of Indra), and many other unique treasures. Devendra lost everything and became miserable. He went into hiding lest Talasura should see him – he was so terrified. He also began to plan how to regain his wealth and kingdom from the wicked asura.
Talasura performed strict tapas because he wished to get boons from Brahma. Brahma appreciated his devotion. He appeared before him and said, “Talasura, I am pleased with your devotion. You can ask whatever you want.” Talasura said, “Lord, grant that I may not be feared by any body.” Brahma thought for a while and said, “How can I grant such an absolute boon? You have to fear some species of living beings. Remember this and ask for a boon. There are four species – the gods, human beings, animals and birds. Whom would you fear?”
Talasura thought over the question of Brahma. Then he said to him, “Father, my desire is to rule over gods and men with pride of power. Therefore I should not have fear of death from them. But let me fear the elephant, the strongest of animals.” Brahma granted the boon and disappeared.
Talasura was already a wicked fellow. Once he secured the boon from Brahma his arrogance knew no limits. Indra and the gods were in hiding. He began to search for them and to torture those whom he found.
One day Devendra, who could no longer bear the torture of Talasura, went to Brahma along with other gods. He explained to him the injustice and wicked deeds of Talasura. He begged Brahma to show a way to destroy Talasura.
Brahma said, “Devendra, that wicked asura has grown strong because of my boon. No one can overcome him except an elephant. If you approach Shiva, he can help you through his son Ganesha. Ganesha can easily subdue that asura as he has the head of an elephant.”
Accordingly Devendra went to Kailasa. He explained the havoc caused by Talasura and the suggestion of Brahma. He prayed, “Lord Parameshwara, please save us from this trouble soon.”
Shiva was moved at the plight of Indra and other gods. Immediately he called Ganesha and said, “Ganesha, go at once to the city of Ramanaka and conquer Talasura, the wicked enemy of the gods.”
Ganesha was all-powerful and the enemy of the Asuras. So, as his father had commanded, he rushed to Ramanaka. He destroyed all the wealth of Talasura.
He smashed his huge army. He challenged Talasura and waged a fierce fight with him. The great warrior Talasura also fought with great valor. However, he could do nothing against Ganesha. In the end, Ganesha lifted him bodily in his trunk and dashed him to the ground.
The fierce blow made Talasura unconscious, and he vomited blood. When he regained consciousness he saw the angry Ganesha before him, with the shining Parighayudha in his hand. Talasura looked at him for a moment, his eyes filled with fear. Then he remembered that, according to the boon granted by Brahma, his life could be in danger from an elephant. At once his arrogance and strength melted away like butter melting before fire. He caught hold of the feet of the elephant faced Ganesha and begged him for mercy, “Vighneshwara, please excuse me and spare my life.”
Ganapati is as kind as he is strong. He said to Talasura, “Talas you were proud of your strength Brahma’s boon. You troubled all. You drove away Indra from the heaven. Only if you are going to learn lesson will I pardon you and let live.”
Talasura replied, “Vinayaka, I have done wrong. I will not trouble the gods. You have taught me a lesson. The pride that I am the strongest has now vanished. Pardon me.” The kind Ganesha forgave him.
Ganesha is known as Vigneshwara because the devotees believe that Ganesha roots out obstacles and difficulties. There are many stories, which narrate how he saved even the gods.