Kalyan fancied himself as a great singer. He loved to sing. He believed in riyaz, or practicing various ragas. He would sit at home and begin to sing. But the moment he began singing, his father would shout at him: “Don’t start again, Kalyan. Go someplace where there’s no one around and practice.”
If his father was not at home and Kalyan started singing, the neighbours would knock at the door. “Please, lower your voice. You are disturbing my child,” the neighbour would say.
Wherever he practiced singing, people would shoo him away. Kalyan was disappointed with this attitude.
“These people have no ear for music,” he would say. “But sing I must.”
One evening, Kalyan went on a long walk. Outside the city, he saw an ancient temple. Nobody seemed to be around. Kalyan walked into the temple. The priest hurriedly performed the arati and went away, leaving Kalyan all alone.
Kalyan was thrilled. At last he found a place where no one would ask him to stop singing! So he closed his eyes and sang to his heart’s content. His voice flowed through the temple, loud and clear. When he finished singing, Kalyan found it was dark. He headed home.
“I’ve found the right place to practice singing,” Kalyan said to himself, as he walked home.
That night Kalyan slept peacefully.
The next morning, when the priest came to the temple, he was shocked to see Lord Ganapati with both hands pressed against his ears! This had never happened before! It was Tuesday and soon Moocha Raja would be coming to the temple. What would he say!
Before he could take any action, royal guards arrived and announced that Moocha Raja was on his way to the temple. Soon enough, Moocha Raja himself entered the temple. He joined his hands in salutation and closed his eyes in prayer. Only when he opened his eyes, he noticed that the Lord had closed his ears, which meant the Lord had not heard his prayer at all.
Moocha Raja was furious. “Why has the Lord closed his ears?”
The priest trembled. The minister sent for three old wise men who came, who saw and shook their heads in disbelief.
“This is a bad omen. The Lord of Obstacles is angry with us. We must do special Pooja,” said one wise man.
“Unless the Lord lowers his hands, some great calamity is going to befall on you,” said the second wise man with a long beard.
“This must be done before sunset. Today,” added the third.
No Pooja seemed to have any effect on Lord Ganapati, who continued to have his hands pressed against his ears.
In desperation, Moocha Raja announced a handsome reward to any wise man who would persuade Lord Ganapati to bring his hands down.
Many wise men came and tried every trick they knew but they failed.
When Kalyan woke up late in the morning he found his parents talking about the strange story of Lord Ganapati with his hands pressed against his ears. Soon Kalyan realised they were talking about the temple where he had practiced singing the previous evening.
It was evening when Kalyan reached the temple. He told Moocha Raja, “I shall set this right. I want all of you to clear the hall and leave me alone with the Lord.”
Moocha Raja and his ministers and priests stepped out of the temple. Kalyan went close to Lord Ganapati. “Lord, I’m the only one who knows why you have closed your ears. People are frightened. Please put your hands down.”
There was no response from the Lord.
“Alright, I’ll give you five minutes. If you do not answer our prayer,” said Kalyan, “I’ll start singing again.”
Even as he turned his back, Lord Ganapati hurriedly brought his hands down. Kalyan bowed to Lord Ganapati and promised that he would never sing in the temple again.
Kalyan invited Moocha Raja in. The King was thrilled to see the Lord as before. “Ah, now he will hear my prayer,” he said.
Moocha Raja gave a handsome reward to Kalyan, who used the money to join singing classes!