Gajendra Moksha: Story behind The Famous Painting / Image containing Elephant Holding Lotus in Trunk, Praying To God Vishnu and Crocodile biting Elephant's leg

Gajendra was not just a mere elephant, but a Great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Gajendra Moksha or

The Liberation of Gajendra is one of the famous Story and this is present in the 8th Skandha , 2nd Adhyaya of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa

This story was Narrated By Shuka Muni (Son of Veda Vyasa) to Emperor Parikshit ( Son of Abhimanyu, Grand Son of Arjuna)

Long story short ,

In garden Ritu mat located in Mount Trikuta

Once Gajendra The King of Elephant Herd along with his wives and Children entered the lake , drank water untill they were fully satisfied and had bath . Gajendra then with his trunk sprayed water all over.

A strong crocodile was angry at the elephant and attacked the elephant’s leg in the water. The elephant was certainly strong, and he tried his best to get free from this danger.

seeing Gajendra in that grave condition, his wives felt very, very sorry and began to cry.

The other elephants wanted to help Gajendra, but because of the crocodile’s great strength, they could not rescue him by grasping him from behind.

because of being pulled into the water and fighting for many long years, the elephant
became diminished in his mental, physical and sensual strength. The crocodile, on the contrary, being an animal of the water, increased in enthusiasm, physical strength and sensual power.

Gajendra Thought for Itself , The other elephants, who are my friends and relatives,
could not rescue me from this danger. What then to speak of my wives?
They cannot do anything. It is by the will of providence that I have been attacked by this crocodile, and therefore I shall seek shelter of the Supreme God
who is always the shelter of everyone, even of great personalities.

Unable to get out of the clutches of the Crocodile , Gajendra cried and called God Vishnu. 

He Starts To Pray to God Vishnu by reciting following Sthuthi which later came to be known as Gajendra Sthuthi
This is the starting of Gajendra Sthuthi,

1. Om namo bhagawathe thasmai yathayetha chidhathmakam, 
Purushaa yaadhi bheejaaya paresayaabhi dheemahi.

Which means,
Salutations to the all powerful divine God denoted by “OM”, 
Due to
whom the body and mind are made conscious, 
And he also exists within them in the form of the seed for the spirit. 

And Ends with

28. Nayam Veda swamaathmaanam yacchakthyaa hamdhiyaa hatham, 
Tham durathyaya maahatmyam bhagawantha mitho asmyaham. 

Which means ,
I am searching that God, whose power can never be surpassed, 
And due to the illusion of ego created by him , people think that , 
Their body is their soul and are not able to understand their real soul. 

Immediately the Lord arrived and freed Gajendra by killing the crocodile. The Lord also gave salvation to Gajendra. (Bhāgavata Purāṇa 8.3.33)

This Entire Episode is Called as Gajendra Moksha. Which is found in
8th Skandha , starting from 2nd Adhyaya of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa
Below is the link (English version)

Reference : Bhāgavata Purāṇa

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