Subscribe for Newsletters and Discounts
Be the first to receive our thoughtfully written
religious articles and product discounts.
Your interests (Optional)
This will help us make recommendations and send discounts and sale information at times.
By registering, you may receive account related information, our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
By subscribing, you will receive our email newsletters and product updates, no more than twice a month. All emails will be sent by Exotic India using the email address

Please read our Privacy Policy for details.
Sign In  |  Sign up
Your Cart (0)
Best Deals
Share our website with your friends.
Email this page to a friend

Moksha of Gajendra: Liberation by The Formless God

Article of the Month - February 2015
Viewed 13557 times since 15th Feb, 2015
There once lived a king named Indradyumana, who was a great bhakta of Bhagawan Vishnu. As is the nature of devotees, he considered his puja as the most significant part of his daily routine. Once as he was engaged in puja, a saint came to visit him. However, because of his preoccupation, Indradyumana was unable to attend properly to the saint. The latter was enraged at the king's behaviour and cursed him saying: "Since you behave like an imperious elephant, become one."

Elephant Herd



When he was reborn as an elephant, even then Indradyumana was the king of his herd. Because of his worship of Bhagwan Vishnu, he lacked no creature comforts even in this lowly birth. He had numerous female elephants with him, and also several children.




One hot summer day, he was leading his herd, the thump of their feet seemed to loosen up even the mountains. Soon they all felt extremely thirsty and hurried to a nearby lake, entering its waters. First Indradyumana, who was now known as Gajendra (literally ‘king of elephants’), quenched his thirst along with his obedient companions and then they all bathed in the waters. Like a true householder attached to his family, Gajendra sported in the water with his wives, children and friends, sprinkling each other with showers and playfully pouring water into their mouths. Under the spell of Bhagawan’s maya, the poor elephant did not realise that there was danger looming over him.

Suddenly a crocodile emerged from the waters, caught hold of Gajendra’s leg and started dragging him into the lake. Finding himself in this calamity by the will of God, the mighty elephant tried to extricate himself. However, since the crocodile is a marine creature, its strength is maximum in water. An elephant on the other hand, being a land animal, has a greatly reduced strength in water. Therefore, inspite of his immense efforts, Gajendra was unable to rescue himself.

His companions, seeing the plight of their beloved master, started shrieking. Some of the elephants tried to help by attempting to pull him from the back; but to no avail. In this way, the struggle continued for a long time. His helpless companions, now extremely tired, realised that they were fighting a losing battle. Understanding that his end was imminent, they all slowly withdrew, till Gajendra was left alone. He was the titan of a big clan; but all deserted him at the end. He pondered over this for a long time, and through the grace of God came to the following conclusion: "Even my most powerful male friends could not rescue me from this plight; what then to speak of my poor female elephants! Indeed, this is nothing but the noose of providence tightening around me. Nobody in this world is truly mine. Kala is all powerful. It slithers across like a serpent, consuming all that comes in its way. Only the creature who, though fearful of Kala, takes refuge with Bhagwan Vishnu, is definitely saved by the great Lord. Even death fears Bhagwan Vishnu. He is the refuge of all. It is to Him that I now surrender myself."

If we reflect on it calmly, we will realise that there is no house in the world where the story of Gajendra does not play out. It happens in every house. Gajendra is the individual soul who is enjoying a material life in the lake of life. In the same house where we enjoy ourselves, Kala lies in wait. We are careless, but Kala is ever vigilant. Kala grabs a man by his legs and they start weakening. Indeed when our legs start weakening, we should realise that the end is near.

The one who is careful towards the end is able to reform his death. The one who is careless, spoils it. When Kala grabs a man by the legs, his family tries to protect him, but they are not successful. Only when Bhagwan, who is the ‘Kala’ of Kala comes carrying His Sudarshan-chakra, are we freed from the pangs of suffering. The word sudarshan means the ‘true way’ (su) of ‘seeing' (darshan). The ‘true way of seeing’ is seeing God in everything. This is the liberating vision given by God to His devotees. When Kala grips us by the legs, our family will try their utmost to save us. However, when many days will pass and no progress will be observed, exhausted by serving the patient lying on the bed, they too will get on with their lives, leaving us to the will of God. If even at that moment, we do not make efforts to remember Bhagawan Vishnu, then God help us!

The bhakti Gajendra had performed in his previous birth came to his rescue and He was granted the memory of Bhagawan Vishnu at the end. Gajendra sung out: "I take refuge in You O Lord, Who remove all fetters of those surrendering unto You. I bow to You Who exist in the hearts of all creatures. God! Take me to the abode where Kala can never grab me again."

How can there be peace where the entry of Kala is imminent? Where there is Kama there is Kala. Where Kala has entry, there is also fear. The only One who can save us is the One who is Himself beyond Kala. It is significant to observe here that all of Gajendra’s prayers at the end were directed to the Supreme God Who is beyond the restrictions of space and time. Indeed, Gajendra’s hymn of praise is one of the greatest philosophical poems in the annals of world literature.

Gajendra began by stating his present position and then describing what he thought God was like: "(Due to my leg being caught by the alligator) I can but offer my salutations only mentally to the glorious God Who is denoted by the symbol OM. God!, though devoid of any form, You are not only in all forms, but are also the forms themselves. Though we cannot see You with our eyes, the fact that this temporal world exists, points to Your eternal presence, because You are the cause of everything, but Yourself are without a cause."

Then Gajendra specified what he wanted from God: "Lord! You are difficult to be attained by people who are attached to material wealth like wife, children, money etc. May You, the Lord of infinite mercy, rescue me from the clutches of samsara (the alligator). However, my wish is not to extricate myself from this alligator and continue to survive here in this body. What interest have I in this elephant body which is forever enveloped in the darkness of ignorance? What I crave for is eternal emancipation from that veil of ignorance which shrouds the spiritual light of the soul; a veil, which can be destroyed only by the knowledge that You, the Supreme Soul, is the soul of all.

"I bow to You, Who protects those who resort to You for shelter; but Whose path is inaccessible to those whose senses are directed towards material objects."


Gajendra Moksha (Liberation of Elephant King from the Jaws of Crocodile by Vishnu


Here we must observe that Gajendra did not call out to God by any specific name. He addressed himself to the highest God, who is cause of all names and forms, but is Himself beyond any name or form. So, none of the other deities like Brahma etc came to his rescue, because they all identified themselves with a particular name and form. It is only the Supreme Bhagawan Narayan who is beyond all manifestation, who replied to Gajendra's call and seated on His bird Garuda, came surging to liberate him.


Gajendra Moksha



With great difficulty, Gajendra picked up a lotus in his trunk and offered it to Bhagawan. All creatures of the world rejoiced on seeing God’s vigilance in answering the distress of those who ask for His help.





The story of Gajendra occurs in the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 8, Chapters 2-4.


References & Further Reading:

Post a Comment
  • I am very grateful for these stories, and the small illustrations.
    thank you very much for your efforts.
    by Dr. Evangeline Rand on 19th Feb 2015
I’ve started receiving many of the books I’ve ordered and every single one of them (thus far) has been fantastic - both the books themselves, and the execution of the shipping. Safe to say I’ll be ordering many more books from your website :)
Hithesh, USA
I have received the book Evolution II.  Thank you so much for all of your assistance in making this book available to me.  You have been so helpful and kind.
Colleen, USA
Thanks Exotic India, I just received a set of two volume books: Brahmasutra Catuhsutri Sankara Bhasyam
I Gede Tunas
You guys are beyond amazing. The books you provide not many places have and I for one am so thankful to have found you.
Lulian, UK
This is my first purchase from Exotic India and its really good to have such store with online buying option. Thanks, looking ahead to purchase many more such exotic product from you.
Probir, UAE
I received the kaftan today via FedEx. Your care in sending the order, packaging and methods, are exquisite. You have dressed my body in comfort and fashion for my constrained quarantine in the several kaftans ordered in the last 6 months. And I gifted my sister with one of the orders. So pleased to have made a connection with you.
Thank you for your wonderful service and amazing book selection. We are long time customers and have never been disappointed by your great store. Thank you and we will continue to shop at your store
Michael, USA
I am extremely happy with the two I have already received!
Robert, UK
I have just received the top and it is beautiful 
Parvathi, Malaysia
I received ordered books in perfect condition. Thank You!
Vladimirs, Sweden
Subscribe to our newsletter and discounts
Share with friends
Links Related to
"There is Rama, the son of Ayodhya's king Dasharatha in his human birth, and there is Rama's divinity, his divine aura that overwhelms the Tulasi's entire Ramacharit-manas, one manifest - with attributes, and the other, unmanifest - without attributes. With main emphasis on his majesty in South Indian tradition this crown is taller than usual. His 'khadgasana' images are usually in three modes; one with his right foot moved forward represents him in a commander's disposition ready to rush for protecting a devotee in crisis or redeem him from some calamity. Harihara, a form in which he shares with Shiva half of the body. Basically a bird Garuda is seen for ages as Vishnu's ardent devotee, a learned human being and an auspicious presence, and in iconographic tradition often conceived with a man's face, anatomy, ornaments and ensemble. The Puranas are replete with tales of Garuda's divine exploits."
Iconography of Vaishnava Images: Vishnu
"Durga Puja is more than the periodically observed navratra in the subcontinent..The akaal bodhon Durga Puja has evolved into great socio-cultural significance in the Eastern Delta region, and is the lifeblood of Bengalis everywhere...On dashami the next day, one could sense the pall that descends upon the delta...Ma Durga's time in Her girlhood home draws to a close. Now is the final throes of festive exuberance."
Durga Puja - Worshipping the Wife of Shiva, Daughter of Bengal
"No one spends even a single moment without doing some action or the other....We generally notice in history that almost all civilizations acquire a lot of material affluence in the beginning and after sometime they go into oblivion....We very well know that it is only the work based on well thought plan that solves problems and not our worry.....The success of any action depends not only on visible parameters but also invisible one....We are carried by the slogans of the times and move in the turbulent waters of life in a rudderless boat.....Want to give us a state of pleasure which is constant and never ending."
Dharma: The Only Remedy for Modern Man
"We assume that our happiness is the result of an interaction with external objects…. Suppose that an individual is deprived of sleep and food and pleasurable objects for a long time and then all of them are simultaneously offered to him…. Actually, seeking the answer to this question is the most significant pursuit in life…. The veil comes up again and the duality returns…. In this background, we can now analyse the nature of dukha (grief)."
Ananda: Analysis of Happiness in the Upanishads
"She has always believed that this would redeem her of her distress….A coconut, otherwise an ordinary dried fruit or the source of edible, or at the most, beauty oil, has always been revered as an auspicious object effecting good and well-being and the food that gods most loved….The tree in the Buddhist tradition was later identified as Bodhi-tree, seated under which Buddha had attained Enlightenment….Body gestures and symptoms, signs, indications among others must have been the early man’s tools of communicating oneself and knowing and understanding the world around….Kirttimukha was initially conceived as a mystical mask….Lion does not figure in the wide range of animal toys or figurines excavated from Indus sites."
Auspicious Symbols in Indian tradition
"people all over India will say approvingly for someone: "He is a Rama like son, a Rama like brother, or a Rama like king. " It is rare however to hear the following as a compliment "Rama like husband or son-in-law."... All of Sita's miseries in the confinement of Ravana pale in the emotional trauma and humiliation she was subjected to by Rama himself. In a bitter irony, what was to be her moment of deliverance, turned out to be the beginning of another trial... Sita sets a high standard as an ideal wife who stays unswerving in her loyalty and righteousness, no matter how undesirable her husband's response... She emerges as a woman that even Agni - who has the power to reduce to ashes everything he touches - dare not touch or harm..."
Sita - The Silent Power of Suffering and Sacrifice
"This middle path lies in between extreme asceticism on one side, and extreme indulgence on the other…. When standing under a Ashok tree, tired and exhausted, she raised her right hand for seeking support of a branch of the tree…. The unique balance that defined his entire life was pre-determined in this duality….One day, in the palace garden he frightened his attendants…. He ate less and less till his diet reduced to a sesame seed, and himself, to a mere skeleton…. Seven days after the attainment of enlightenment gods sent food for breaking his fast…. However, he postponed his ‘nirvana’ for three months till he visited the places he had reminiscences of."
The Light That Enlightened Millions
(The life of Buddha in the popular mind)
"A man receives a wife given by the gods... Where women are revered, there the gods rejoice; but where they are not, all efforts are unfruitful…. The husband, tradition says, is the wife, They can never be cut loose from one another. This is the dharma made by Brahma himself….he king who bears patiently when those in anguish insult him will be exalted in heaven…. If the driver of a vehicle injures a man, animal or property, he needs to be punished along with the owner of the vehicle…. This in a nutshell, is the definition of suffering and happiness."
Living According to Manu: God’s Manual of Instruction for Life
"Here is a fragment from one of the most poignant episodes of Indian history…. This piece of history is from the Mahabharata…. She was dying with shame but inside, like a true kshatrani (woman of the warrior race), she was burning with anger…. I have heard that women who follow dharma were never brought before a public court….Greed is the destroyer of dharma. I do not desire a third boon…. Draupadi was as forgiving as mother earth herself…. Just then Arjuna saw his dear friend Bhagawan Krishna approaching him…. “Leave him, leave him. He is a brahmin and worthy of our worship. Their mother should not cry, like I have at the death of my children."
Analyzing the Eternal Dimensions of Dharma Through Itihasa (History)
"Both the Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga…. The following is a list of features typical to Kaliyuga…. A man will consider only those people to be his relatives who are related to him through….The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others….. We can save ourselves from Kaliyuga."
50 Characteristics of Kaliyuga
"Contrarily metaphysicians and theologians perceived his form as it manifested in the Upanishads and Puranas….The ‘Advaita’ philosophy also contends that the entire Creation is just the extension of One…. Dance illustrates one of the ever-first cosmic acts with which Shiva seems to have tamed violent motion and separated from it rhythm, moves that communicated emotions and states of mind – human mind and the cosmic, and disciplined and defined pace…. Unlike Vishnu who resorted to dance for accomplishing a contemplated objective, Shiva has been conceived more or less as a regular dancer performing for accomplishing an objective as also for pure aesthetic delight…. Unfurling locks of hair and his snakes floating into space portray the dynamics of the act."
Shiva, the Nataraja
"Bhishma undoubtedly is one of the central figures of the Mahabharata.…. One should not venture out too early in the morning…. But one should not go to sleep with wet feet….A person who desires to live long should never irritate the following three…. One must shun company of people who criticize the Vedas…. If we are traveling, one must find shelter inside a house…."
Living the Full Life: 50 Instructions from the Mahabharata
"One uniqueness of our Vedic religion is that it allows for salvation not only through renunciation (nivritti) but also through the path of material happiness (pravritti).... If dharma makes it mandatory that conjugal pleasure be restricted to the life partner, how is it that Krishna indulged in the amorous sport of Rasa with others' wives?.... Some stopped cooking, some stopped feeding, some stopped eating, some stopped washing clothes etc. and ran away.... Upanishads call the jiva in waking state as Vishwa and the dreaming jiva as Taijasa (Mandukya Upanishad Mantras 3-4)."
Krishna's Rasa Lila: The Vedantic Perspective
"Her epithet in the Devi-Mahatmya is Mahalakshmi. She is the wrathful four-armed goddess of battlefield represented holding in them various weapons…. A form of Lakshmi seated over a lotus laid over a golden seat and a pair of white elephants…. Except in some classical forms in Lakshmi-Narayana imagery Lakshmi is ordinarily two-armed…. Incarnation theory is the crux of Vaishnavism. Vishnu incarnates alone but Lakshmi also incarnates in simultaneity…. Though very rare some enthused artists have conceived on Ardhanarishvara line also Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images."
Iconography of Vaishnava Deities: Goddess Lakshmi
"The sources of Dharma have been systematically divided into four simple categories....This desisting from the prohibition is what constitutes the karma, leading to Dharma.....There are many Vedic Karmas which do not find mention directly in the Vedas but are found only in the Smritis....The Agnihotra mentioned above can be performed at any one of the three times....Lord Shiva drank the deadliest poison easily. However, if anybody else did the same, he would be reduced to ashes....However, this is the weakest source of Dharma out of the four."
Understanding Dharma: The Four Authentic Sources
Show More
All rights reserved. Copyright 2021 © Exotic India