The mango is known as the symbol of wisdom. A Vedic story tells us why mango became the fruit of wisdom.
Here’s the story.
The protagonist is Ganesha, typically depicted with an elephant’s head with a single tusk, pronounced belly and four arms. In this case Ganesha is in his guise as a child (Bala Ganapathi) and in his four hands he holds: a sugar cane, a sweet, a branch and a mango, that is at the center of the story.
That day little Ganesha was at home with his brother Kartikeya, a handsome young man who rides a wonderful Indian peacock, and his parents, his father Shiva and mother Parvati, when the traveler Narada came to visit the family.
Narada was a wise traveler, often being a bit meddlesome and sometimes provoking conflicts between the gods just to have fun. Seeing him coming, Shiva and Parvati immediately felt the air of trouble, but the duty of welcome required them to open their home.
“Thank you for welcoming me! In return I will offer you this beautiful fruit,” said Narada, pulling a wonderful mango out of his pocket and offering it to Shiva. “Thank you wise Narada,” replied Shiva, “but let me give it to the woman I love, Parvati.” Shiva thus handed the fruit to his wife, who, however, seeing that her two sons seemed very intrigued by that beautiful fruit, said, “Thank you, but this gift would make me much happier if my children receive it.”
She then took the fruit and was about to cut it into equal parts, when Narada stopped her. “This fruit cannot be divided! It must be eaten by one person only.” Shiva and Parvati understood Narada’s trick, but both their sons wanted the fruit at that point.
“Why don’t we make a race,” Narada suggested, “and the winner will get the fruit.” Shiva and Parvati, sighing, accepted the proposal.
“The race will be like that. The first of the two children who will run 3 times around the whole world, will win the precious mango”. Upon hearing these words of Narada, little Ganesha saw himself doomed. How could he, with his small legs, compete with his brother Kartikeya, so agile, slender and able to ride that very fast peacock?
But it was decided so, and Narada gave the go-ahead. Kartikeya set off as fast as the wind to quickly make 3 rounds around the world and went back home.
But once there, he found his brother Ganesha holding the mango. Astonished, he exclaimed “How could Ganesha win the fruit?” You see Kartikeya,” his mother Parvati replied, “while you were running fast around the world, Ganesha made three little turns around me and your father Shiva, because we are his whole world.”
It is from this wise victory of Ganesha that the mango became known as the Fruit of Wisdom.