Ganesha, the elephant-headed Lord and the remover of obstacles, is one of the most revered Gods in the Hindu pantheon. Also known as Ganpati, Vighnesha, Vinayaka and Pillaiyar, this son of Shiva and Parvati is worshipped by people cross the length and breadth of the country and beyond. Ganesha is known to be the Deva of intelligence and wisdom. He is also said to be a patron of the arts and sciences. This Gananayaka (Lord of the Ganas) is propitiated before the start of any ceremony or ritual and is also invoked as the Lord of Letters before the start of writing sessions.
Ganesha’s Vahana: The Mouse/Mushika
Some of the earliest depictions do not show Lord Ganesha with a vahana at all. The Mudgala Purana talks of eight incarnations of the Lord, in which Ganesha has a mouse in five of them. As Vakratunda, he uses a lion as a vahana. As Vikata, he has a peacock with him and the Sesha (divine serpent) is present with him in his avatar of Vighnaraja. The term 'Mushika' is derived from the Sanskrit word, 'mush', which means, 'to steal'. There is also mention of the Lord using an image of the mouse on His flag. The names, Mooshikavahana (mounted on a mouse) and Akhuketana (mouse flag) appear in the Ganesha Sahasranama.
A mouse (plural: mice) is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. The mouse is also used a lot in scientific research. The mouse is found in all corners of the globe, including parts of Antarctica. It is an easy prey for small mammals, birds and reptiles.
In nature, mice are largely herbivores, consuming any kind of fruit or grain from plants. However, mice adapt well to urban areas and are known for eating almost all types of food scraps.Primarily nocturnal animals, mice compensate for their poor eyesight with a keen sense of hearing, and rely especially on their sense of smell to locate food and avoid predators. Mice build intricate burrows in the wild. These burrows typically have long entrances and are equipped with escape tunnels/routes. n
Why Ganesha chose mouse as his vahana?
According to the Ganesha Purana, Lord Ganesha's mouse was actually a demi-God in his previous birth and his name was Kroncha.
At the assembly of Lord Indra, Kroncha accidentally stepped on the toes of Muni Vamadeva, who was a learned saint. Muni Vamadeva thought that Kroncha had done so intentionally and grew enraged and cursed Kroncha to become a mouse.
Terrified, Kroncha fell to his knees and pleaded for mercy. This subdued Muni Vamadeva's anger. He said that his curse could not go in vain, but that Kroncha would meet Lord Ganesha and become his vehicle. That way he would also become worthy of worship even by Gods.
And so it was. Kroncha was transformed into a mouse by the curse of Vamadeva Muni and fell into the hermitage of Maharshi Parashar. Kroncha, however, was no ordinary mouse. In fact, he was as big as a mountain and frightening to all who beheld him. He caused a lot of trouble and destroyed everything in his path. He became another name of terror for all the people on Earth.
At this time Lord Ganesha was invited to Rishi Parashar's ashram and was being taken care of by him and his wife Vatsala. Hearing of the gigantic mouse and the terror it created, Lord Ganesha decided to confront Kroncha. Ganesha unleashed one of his weapons: a pasha (noose), which he sent flying in the direction of Kroncha.
The pasha was so radiant its light filled the entire universe. Pasha chased the mouse and looped around his neck and brought Kroncha to Ganesha's feet. Thus, Kroncha asked for forgiveness and Lord Ganesha accepted him as His mount.
However, the most likely reason for why the mouse is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha is: Lord Ganesha choose mouse as his vehicle as it enables Ganesha to go into nooks and corners of the world and do His job because His vehicle is a mouse, which basically can slither through tiny holes and narrow pathways, even in the darkness of night.
Karni Mata Temple
In Rajasthan, there is a temple known as Karni Mata Temple, which is also called the Temple of Rats. The story behind rats at the temple is different according to some local folklore. Local folklores say that once around 20,000 army men upon sensing defeat deserted the battlefield and came running to the temple. For soldiers nothing can be more shameful than leaving the battlefield without fighting. They wanted to die. Karni Mata spared their lives but made them rats and offered the temple as their future place of stay. The army of soldiers expressed their gratitude and promised to serve Karni Mata lifelong. The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple.