Gajendra Moksham – The Story of Surrender

The story of Gajendra Moksham is a narration of surrender from Srimad Bhagavatam, which contains stories from Hindu mythology pertaining to Lord Vishnu. These stories reconfirm the power of faith and surrender.


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Gajendra, the elephant king lived in the forest of the Trikuta Mountains. He was strong and powerful. He was a happy creature, but harboured pride over his strength and valour. All went well, until the day he went out with his herd to quench his thirst in a big lake. The elephants began to splash water on one another not only to beat the heat, but to engage in gleeful merriment.

The merry making of the elephants disturbed the peace of the place and Gajendra resorted to over-do it while his comrades climbed on to the bank. Sure enough, a crocodile named Makara, who dwelled in the lake got irritated with Gajendra’s play, which hindered his peace. He expressed his anger by sinking his teeth into the leg of Gajendra. Gajendra writhed in pain as the crocodile claimed his leg. He resorted to release himself by twisting and turning his body, but all went in vain as the crocodile was firm in its resolve. It went on for long, the tug of war between Gajendra and the crocodile. The more Gajendra tried to free himself, the more the crocodile dug its teeth deep into his leg, adding more to the pain. What is one to do in such a situation, when every single attempt for release only added to the pain?

Gajendra had nothing else to do other than to call out to the Lord in anguish when all his attempts went in vain. As the crocodile clutched his leg, Gajendra directed his focus on to Lord Vishnu to save him in the hapless hour. He began to sing the praises of the Lord, which has come to be known as Gajendra Stuthi by people. He sang with an attitude of surrender beseeching Lord Vishnu to protect him. With sorrow reaching its height, Gajendra continued to praise and plead with the Lord to save him. It was only too natural for the Lord to rush to free his devotee.

On seeing the Lord approaching on his Garuda vahana, Gajendra managed to pluck a lotus from the pond and waived it in the direction of the Lord in complete surrender, unmindful of the terrible pain. The Lord took no time to swirl his discus in the direction of the crocodile, which severed its head. The elephant totally humbled, knelt at the feet of the Lord, his heart brimming with gratitude. The Lord granted moksha to Gajendra who had humbly surrendered to him.

Lord Vishnu then related to Gajendra the reason for his suffering. In its previous birth, the elephant was a certain king Indrayumna, who was a great devotee of Vishnu. Sage Agasthya cursed him on account of disrespecting him when he visited his court, pointing out his arrogance. He damned him to take birth as an elephant in his next life and suffer for his egoistic nature despite his meritorious deeds in the current life.

The crocodile too had a past life history of misdemeanour. In its past life it was a king called Huhu and was cursed by Sage Devala, who visited his court. When the two were bathing in the river and while the sage was offering  prayers to the Sun god, the king mischievously pulled his legs, which angered the sage. He cursed him to take birth as a crocodile in his next birth. When the king begged in repentance, the sage softened a little and said that though born a crocodile in the next birth, he will gain liberation in the hands of Lord Vishnu.

Thus the story of Gajendra moksham and the liberation of the crocodile both had the common mistake of egotism, which was destroyed in the hands of Lord Vishnu.

We too in life, many a time harbour egotism and pride, which will have to be given up by surrendering to the Lord.

Value from Gajendra Moksham
Prayer and surrender are two important aspects that can safely take us ashore in times of difficulties as in the story of Gajendra Moksham in Srimad Bhagavatam. Ramana Maharshi says that surrender is the mightiest prayer.

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