|GANGA DESCENDING TO EARTH
Dalip had no son from any of his two wives. With god Shiva's blessings he did
get a son named Bhagirath who was deformed. When this boy became young a sage
blessed him and he turned into a healthy and handsome prince. Bhagirath now addressed
prayers regularly to different gods for the restoration of his sixty thousand
relations suffering on account of a curse. He performed severe penance and prayed
earnestly for a very long time. Both god Shiva and goddess Ganga were ultimately
propitiated. As Ganga had to fall from heaven to earth, Bhagirath was afraid
lest the earth be crushed by her fall.
|BHAGIRATHA PERFORMING PENANCE
|SHIVA CHECKING GANGA'S FALL
|BHAGIRATHA LEADING GANGA
Ganga swept down in three great installments and Shiva standing on Mountain Himalaya,
caught Ganga in his matted hair to mitigate the impact. At length Shiva allowed
a part of Ganga to fall on earth and Bhagirath blowing the conch given to him
by god Vishnu led Ganga to seas. Later she was taken to patal (nether region)
and so all the sixty thousand sons of Sagar were purified and saved from doom.
On way to the nether region what happened to Ganga is no less interesting. Accompanying
Bhagirath Ganga asked him at what spot his sixty thousand relations were lying
whom she was to deliver. As he could not inform the location Ganga before entering
the sea divided herself into a hundred streams so as to ensure the salvation
of the cursed wherever they might be laying.
When Ganga was thus falling from heaven on the earth, the gods prayed to Brahma
that they also needed Ganga in the heavens to wash off their sins. At this Brahma
assured them that a part of Ganga would main in heaven too. Thus the goddess
Ganga is called MANDAKENEE in heavens, GANGA on earth and BHAGIRATHI in patal.
This goddess bears a great importance in holy books. Purana declare that the
sight, the name and the touch of Ganga take's away all sins and that bathing
in Ganga bestows blessings of the highest order. Not only those
who bathe in Ganga obtain SWARGA (heaven), but also those whose bones, hair, etc., are left
in the river. All the land over which Ganga flows is to be regarded as hallowed
The cremation of a dead body at the banks of Ganga and throwing the remains in
its water even when the dead bodies burnt elsewhere is thought propitious. It
is preferred that bones of the deceased be brought to Ganga and cast into holy
river. It is said that this leads to salvation of the deceased.
Hindus particularly choose this river for holy rituals because the merits of
works performed here become manifold in their results. Another
name of Ganga is VISHNUPADI, the one flowing from the foot of god Vishnu. Vishnu Purana says
that Ganga encloses Brahma's great city situated on Mount Meru and then divides
into four mighty rivers flowing in four directions. GANGAJAL, the water of Ganga,
is held so sacred that with this in hand no Hindu dare speak untruth. Those who
die within specified limits around Ganga, called GANGAKSHETRA (the land of Ganga),
are believed to go to the heavenly world and all their sins washed off.