Shiva lived in a small cottage on Mount Kailash with his wife Parvati, and sons Skanda and Ganesha. The two brothers were unlike each another. Skanda, the elder brother, was lean, athletic and always active. He was always out with his friends, playing sports like running, high jumps, or swimming.
Ganesha, the younger one, loved to curl up with his books. And when he was not reading, he would be eating. Modaks, a sweet dish, was his favourite.
One day, Sage Narada arrived at the cottage. He found Ganesha eating a plate full of modaks, whereas Skanda was nowhere to be seen. “Hi, Ganesha,” said Narada, “Where is Skanda?”
Ganesha gulped down the modak in his mouth and said, “Bhaiyya has gone out to play with his friends. Do you want me to call him?”
“Oh, yes! I have a surprise for both of you,” said Narada.
Ganesha was excited. He let out a loud yell “Bhaiyya! There’s someone here to meet you.”
Skanda was far away. But he could hear Ganesha’s voice clearly. He immediately got on his pet peacock and rushed home.
Narada was very happy to see both brothers. He said, “Skanda, Ganesha, I’ve got something yummy for both of you.” He took out a golden-coloured mango from his bag.
Ganesha reacted first, “that fruit smells so good!” Skanda too was excited. It was hard to find mangoes on Mount Kailash.
“Unfortunately, I have brought just one,” said Narada.
“I’m sure Ganesha’s stomach is full after eating all those modaks. I will have the mango,” Skanda said very cleverly.
“But this is only my first plate,” protested Ganesha, “Plus, mother is always telling me to eat more fruits.”
Both looked to Narada for a solution. The Sage smiled, “Let’s make this fun. We can have a race.” There was a huge smile on Skanda’s face upon hearing the word ‘race’. Ganesha, on the other hand, looked worried. But Narada did not seem to notice. “Whoever circles the entire universe three times first is the winner, and he can have this mango,” he declared.
Without waiting any further, Skanda hopped on his peacock and sped away. Ganesha went and sat on his bed, picked up a book and started reading. Narada was confused, but didn’t speak.
After five minutes, Skanda returned having completed the first circle around the world. He smirked as he saw Ganesha lying down on the bed and reading. He asked his peacock to go even faster.
Two minutes later, he came back having finished his second round. Ganesha had not moved from his spot.
Just as Skanda had disappeared for his third round, Shiva and Parvati stepped out of the cottage. Ganesha got up, and went around them three times. And then he stood, smiling in front of Narada.
Soon, Skanda arrived having finished three circles of the world. He walked confidently up to Narada, and declared that he had won.
“I’m sorry, bhaiyya,” said Ganesha, “But I have won. It was a good race.”
Skanda was shocked, “But how! You were lying here lazily while I circled the world thrice. In fact, you should be disqualified.”
“But I circled the world thrice before,” Ganesha said with a smile. “My parents are myuniverse. When I went around them, I circled the universe thrice and finished before you.”
Again, the two brothers looked to Narada to settle the argument. The Sage smiled, “Skanda, you did very well. But Ganesha is right. So, the mango goes to him.”
Ganesha received the mango from Narada, but gave it to his elder brother. “You have it, bhaiyya. I think there’s another plate of modaks ready for me!”
Skanda and Narada laughed aloud as Ganesha sat down to eat the next plate of modaks.