Bholenath is one of the most interesting names of Lord Shiva that means the innocent Lord (Bhole – innocent; Nath – Lord). Shiva is merciful and highly compassionate to his devotees. The easily pleased Lord blesses his devotees with bounteous boons often without even reflecting on the repercussions of the boons he gives. This is an obvious reason why ends up inviting troubles for himself after granting the boons his devotees asked. In granting boons and showering mercy, Shiva has no parallel and hence this name Bholenath applies to him in a highly fitting way. Here is an interesting story that shows how careless (unmindful or generous) Lord Shiva is in giving away the boons asked.
Once there was a demon named Gajasura who was a terror to the three worlds. He was named so since he had an elephant head. Once upon a time, Gajasura committed himself to a severe penance and Shiva appeared in front of him to grant the boons he wanted. Gajasura demanded that the Lord entered his stomach and resided there all the time. Without a second word, the Lord complied with the demon’s request and entered the stomach of Gajasura. All the worlds got confused not being able to find the Lord anywhere. The situation continued for some time.
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At Kailas, Mother Parvati (the consort of Lord Shiva) was getting worried on not knowing the whereabouts of the Lord. It was a huge surprise for everyone to miss the all-powerful Lord nowhere to be seen. Being helpless, Mother Parvati approached her brother Lord Vishnu and reported the matter. Lord Vishnu went in search of Lord Shiva and found out the entire story that had happened. He reported that Lord Shiva had entered the stomach of Gajasura and was residing there.
In order to bring out Lord Shiva, he assumed the form of a street player and left for the country where Gajasura ruled. The divine bull (Nandi and the captain of Shiva’s army) accompanied Lord Vishnu. Directed by Lord Vishnu in the disguise of the street player, Nandi performed several interesting dances. The whole of the city was enamored by such a thrilling dance by a bull they had never seen in their lives.
The matter reached the king Gajasura that there was a bull and the street player who were offering fantastic dance performances. Gajasura wanted to view the mysterious performance and therefore summoned the street player and his bull to the court. Lord Vishnu agreed to offer a special show for the king on a condition that the king gave him whatever he wanted at the end of the show. Gajasura gave the word and the performance started.
The mysterious dance by Nandi delighted the king beyond compare. He now asked what they wanted in return to the performance. Vishnu in the disguise of the street player demanded that he released Lord Shiva from his stomach. In order to keep his promise, Gajasura agreed to free Lord Shiva. The Lord tore open Gajasura’s stomach and came out. All the three returned to Kailas. Mother Parvati rejoiced getting her Lord back. In this way, often the most merciful Lord gets into trouble because of the vulnerability created by his innocence and therefore the name Bholenath very well applies to him.