Once, gods instructed sage Vyasa to write down Mahabharata. Vyasa wanted the help of someone to write it down, while he recited the verses. His wish was to give the task to the most knowledgeable one in the universe. He visited Lord Shiva and expressed his wish to have Ganesha as the scribe. Ganesha agree to do the task. But he put forward one condition. Vyasa should recite the tale without any break and pause. If the sage stopped once, Ganesha would terminate writing and Vyasa would have to look for another writer.
Sage agreed to recite the entire epic at one go, without pausing at all. But he also put forth one condition. He told that Ganesha should understand every hymn before penning it down. Maharishi told this condition with the idea that when he recited some difficult verses, Ganesha would be pondering on the meaning. The time that Ganesha took to decipher the meaning would give him a few moments of rest.
But, Ganesha was really fast in grasping the meaning of the verses and in writing down. He scribbled down the verses even before the sage had thought of the next. But after sometime Ganesha’s pen broke and he could not keep pace with Vyasa’s recital. He broke off his left trunk and dipped it in ink and used as pen. As the legend goes, it was with this broken tusk that Ganesha completed writing the great epic Mahabharata. This story is the reason for Ganesha’s name Ekadanta, meaning “Single Tooth”.
It is believed that lord Ganesha wrote the entire Mahabharata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Veda Vyasa narrated them. Vyasa is believed to be the author as well as a character in Mahabharata.