Ganga (गङ्गा)

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Ganga (Samskrit: गङ्गा) is the highly revered river of Bharata.

उत्पत्तिः ॥ Origin

Ganga had her origin during the Vamana avatara (incarnation) of Mahavishnu. It is said that, when Vamana measured the three worlds in three steps the nails on his left feet were raised high. They caused a pore on the upper side of the universe. And Ganga, starting from the finger of Vishnu's feet fell in heaven. This story of the river Ganga appears in 5th Skandha (Chapter 17) of the Bhagavata Purana.[1]

भगवत्पदी ॥ Bhagavatpadi

In the Yajna performed by Raja Bali, Lord Vishnu himself appeared as Trivikrama (Vamana) and asked for three feet of land as dana. However, standing there, the Lord covered the entire earth by his right foot - the first feet. He raised the left foot to measure the heavenly regions when the upper portion of the cosmos got cracked by the nail of the big toe of his left foot. Through that opening, rushed in the stream of waters, covering externally the cosmos. The waters washed the lotus-like feet of the Lord and thus became reddish by the pollen-like dust on the Lord’s feet. The waters washed away dirt, in the form of the papa of the whole world, by her touch and yet, herself remained pure (unpolluted by papa). She was, at first, designated as Bhagavatpadi (born from the feet of the Lord) to the exclusion of other epithets like Jahnavi, Bhagirathi etc. After a long period of time, measured in thousands of yugas, she descended on the top of the celestial regions which the sages call Vishnupada.[2]

विष्णुपदी ॥ Vishnupadi

Vishnupadi, the flowing water of which washes away the papa of the people in the universe is the same as Ganga. It was called so because for many yugas (eras), this river confined itself to the heights of the sky, otherwise called Vishnupada. This particular spot is known as Dhruva mandala as it is here that Dhruva, son of Raja Uttanapada, did his penance. The Saptarshis (seven sages) who constantly go round and round the Dhruva mandala take their bath in this sacred river.[1]

भागीरथी ॥ Bhagirathi

Ganga took the name Bhagirathi as Bhagiratha brought her to this earth. (See Descent of Ganga on Earth)[3]

गङ्गायाः पथः ॥ Course of the River Ganga

Ganga, originating from Vishnupada, falls on devayana glittering with crores of vimanas and therefrom it descends on Chandra mandala which it submerges. It follows its course again from there dividing itself into four tributaries called Sita, Chakshus, Alakananda and Bhadra and then falls in Brahmaloka wherefrom it flows in all directions.

Course of Ganga[4]

Of the four tributaries, Sita falls on the head of Mount Meru, flows down to Gandhamadana, then circling through Bhadrashva varsha falls into the eastern sea. Chakshus falls on the peaks of mount Malyavan, flows through Ketumala and falls into the western sea. Alakananda falls on mount Hemakuta, flows through Bharatavarsha and falls into the southern sea. And Bhadra falls on the head of mount Shrngavan flows through uttarakuru and falls into the northern sea. Alakananda that flows through Bharatavarsha is regarded as the most sacred of the four tributaries.[1]

Flow of the four main tributaries of Ganga[5]

गङ्गावतरणम् ॥ Descent of Ganga on the Earth

It is mentioned by Devarshi Narada in the 9th Skandha (Adhyaya 11) of the Devi Bhagavata that Ganga, of the nature of Vishnu and appearing from the feet of Vishnu, the Ishvari of the Devas, appeared on Bharata due to the curse of Bharati. He then requests Lord Narayana as to elaborate on

  1. the reason for her descent on Bharata
  2. the yuga in which she descended
  3. And to grant whose wish she descended

Lord Narayana replied to this query of Devarshi Narada with a story. He said,

Sagara, a very prosperous raja from the Solar dynasty had two beautiful wives viz. Vaidarbhi and Shaivya. Soon, Shaivya delivered a very lovely son named Asamanja. Then, Vaidarbhi, desirous of getting a son, worshipped Shankara, the Lord of Bhutas who became pleased and granted her request. Accordingly, Vaidarbhi became pregnant and after one hundred years of pregnancy, she gave birth to one mass of flesh. Seeing this, the queen became extremely sorrowful and taking refuge of Mahadeva began to cry out loud. Shankara, then, appeared there in the form of a Brahmana and cut that mass of flesh into thousand pieces. Those thousand pieces turned into thousand very powerful sons with their bodies more brilliant than the mid-day sun.

Once, the 1000 sons were all burnt to ashes by the curse of Kapila Muni. At this, Raja Sagara, lamenting bitterly, entered into the forest. His son and the brother of the 1000 princes, Asamanja practised tapasya for one lakh years to bring Ganga onto Bharata and in the process quit his mortal coil. This effort was then continued by Asamanja's son Amshuman who practised tapasya for one lakh more years. However, eventually his lifetime also came to an end. Then came the wise Bhagiratha, son of Amshuman and a great devotee of Vishnu. He also practised tapasya for one lakh years to bring Ganga on earth and at last was blessed with the sight of Sri Krshna. Bhagiratha having seen that unforeseen appearance and filled with ecstasy, bowed down to the Lord and requested for the deliverance of his family by the descent of Ganga on Bharata.[3]

Lord Sri Krshna then addressed Ganga saying,

भारतं भारतीशापाद्गच्छ शीघ्रं सुरेश्वरि । सगरस्य सुतान्सर्वान्वृतान्कुरु ममाज्ञया ।। २० ।।

त्वत्स्पर्शवायुनाः पूता यास्यंति मम मंदिरम् । बिभ्रतो मम मूर्तीश्च दिव्यस्यंदनगामिनः ।। २१ ।।

मत्पार्षदा भविष्यंति सर्व कालं निरामयाः । समुच्छिद्य कर्मभोगान्कृताञ्जन्मनिजन्मनि ।। २२ ।।[6]

bhārataṁ bhāratīśāpādgaccha śīghraṁ sureśvari । sagarasya sutānsarvānvr̥tānkuru mamājñayā ।। 20 ।।

tvatsparśavāyunāḥ pūtā yāsyaṁti mama maṁdiram । bibhrato mama mūrtīśca divyasyaṁdanagāminaḥ ।। 21 ।।

matpārṣadā bhaviṣyaṁti sarva kālaṁ nirāmayāḥ । samucchidya karmabhogānkr̥tāñjanmanijanmani ।। 22 ।।

Meaning: O Sureshvari ! Go quickly and appear in Bharata, under the curse of Bharati. By my command go quickly and purify the sons of Sagara. They will all be purified by the touch of the air in contact with the Ganges and rise up in divine aerial cars, assuming forms like mine and they will come to my abode. They will remain there always as my attendants and they will not be involved in the papas that they committed in their previous births. In this context, the Lord also described in detail how people can get deliverance from their papas by bathing in the sacred waters of the Ganga.[3] He further says,

तत्रैव त्वमधिष्ठानं करिष्यस्यघमोचनम् । सार्धं सरिद्भिः श्रेष्ठाभिः सरस्वत्यादिभिः शुभे ।। ५३ ।।

तत्तु तीर्थं भवेत्सद्यो यत्र तद्गुणकीर्तनम् । त्वद्रेणुस्पर्शमात्रेण पूतो भवति पातकी ।। ५४ ।।[6]

tatraiva tvamadhiṣṭhānaṁ kariṣyasyaghamocanam । sārdhaṁ saridbhiḥ śreṣṭhābhiḥ sarasvatyādibhiḥ śubhe ।। 53 ।।

tattu tīrthaṁ bhavetsadyo yatra tadguṇakīrtanam । tvadreṇusparśamātreṇa pūto bhavati pātakī ।। 54 ।।

Meaning: O Auspicious One ! You will wash away the papas of the papis, by your stay in Bharata with other best rivers Sarasvati and others. That will be at once a sacred place of pilgrimage where your glories will be chanted.

The Lord also said that the inhabitants of Bharata will praise and worship her with great devotion with the very stotra that was composed by Bhagiratha.

Devi Ganga then asked the Lord about how to free herself from the papas that people will cast in her. And when she would return to the parama pada (highest abode) of Vishnu.

To this the lord replied that, whatever papas will be cast in her by thousand of papis bathing in her will be destroyed by the touch of the devotees of Prakrti Devi. Even if thousands and thousands of papis touch the dead bodies and bath in her, all those will be destroyed when Devi Bhaktas, the worshippers of Bhuvaneshvari and Maya Vija, will come and touch her.

Sri Hari also enumerated that when Ganga would descend as a river, she will gain the salt ocean who is an amsha of Hari himself, as her husband as she is herself of the nature of Lakshmi. And in this way, Ganga would have to remain in Bharata for a period of five thousand years.

Thus having enumerated the glory of Ganga, Sri Hari then instructed Bhagiratha to worship Ganga Devi with devotion and chant hymns in her praise. The pure Bhagiratha also meditated with devotion as per Kauthuma Shakha, worshipped the Devi and praised her repeatedly. Then Ganga and Bhagiratha bowed down to Sri Krshna as he disappeared at once from their sight.

As Bhagiratha praised Ganga Devi with the stotra enumerated below (See Ganga Stotra), she went with him to the spot where the Sagara's sons were burnt to ashes by the curse of Rshi Kapila. And by the contact of the wind in touch with the particles of water of the Ganges, those sons of Sagara were instantly freed of their curses and they all repaired to Vaikuntha.[3]

गङ्गामाहात्म्यम् ॥ Ganga Mahatmya

In the 9th Skandha (Chapter 11) of the Devi Bhagavata, Lord Narayana describes the greatness of Ganga and her waters. It is stated therein that,

  • Even if one utters 'Ganga', 'Ganga' though one is one hundred Yojanas away from the Ganges, one will be freed of all papas and go to Vishnuloka.
  • By the mere touch of dust of the Ganges, the papi will be at once purified and he will dwell in the Deviloka (Mani Dvipa) for as many years as will be the dust there.
  • While, he who will leave his body on the lap of the Ganges with full consciousness and remembering the name of Sri Hari, will certainly go to the lord's abode and will remain, as the lord's chief attendant for an infinite period and will see countless Prakrtika Layas (dissolutions of the Universe).[3]

Elaborating on this, the lord says,

मृतस्य बहुपुण्येन तच्छवं त्वयि विन्यसेत् ।। ५७ ।।

प्रयाति स च वैकुण्ठं यावदह्नः स्थितिस्त्वयि । कायव्यूहं ततः कृत्वा भोजयित्वा स्वकर्मकम् ।। ५८ ।।

तस्मै ददामि सारूप्यं करोमि तं च पार्षदम् । अज्ञानी त्वज्जलस्पर्शाद्यदि प्राणान्समुत्सृजेत् ।। ५९ ।।

तस्मै ददामि सालोक्यं करोमि तं च पार्षदम् । अन्यत्र वा त्यजेत्प्राणांस्त्वन्नामस्मृतिपूर्वकम्।। ६० ।।

तस्मै ददामि सालोक्यं यावद्वै ब्रह्मणो वयः । अन्यत्र वा त्यजेत्प्राणांस्त्वन्नामस्मृतिपूर्वकम् ।। ६१ ।।

तस्मै ददामि सारूप्यमसंख्यं प्राकृतं लयम् । रत्नेंद्रसार निर्माणयानेन सह पार्षदैः ।।६२।।

सद्यः प्रयाति गोलोकं मम तुल्यो भवेद् धुवम् ।।[6]

prayāti sa ca vaikuṇṭhaṁ yāvadahnaḥ sthitistvayi । kāyavyūhaṁ tataḥ kr̥tvā bhojayitvā svakarmakam ।। 58 ।।

tasmai dadāmi sārūpyaṁ karomi taṁ ca pārṣadam । ajñānī tvajjalasparśādyadi prāṇānsamutsr̥jet ।। 59 ।।

tasmai dadāmi sālokyaṁ karomi taṁ ca pārṣadam । anyatra vā tyajetprāṇāṁstvannāmasmr̥tipūrvakam।। 60 ।।

tasmai dadāmi sālokyaṁ yāvadvai brahmaṇo vayaḥ । anyatra vā tyajetprāṇāṁstvannāmasmr̥tipūrvakam ।। 61 ।।

tasmai dadāmi sārūpyamasaṁkhyaṁ prākr̥taṁ layam । ratneṁdrasāra nirmāṇayānena saha pārṣadaiḥ ।।62।।

sadyaḥ prayāti golokaṁ mama tulyo bhaved dhuvam ।

Meaning: Unless a man has collected hordes of religious merits, he cannot die in the Ganges; and if he dies on the Ganges, he goes to Vaikuntha as long as the Sun rises in this world. I get many bodies for him where he can enjoy the fruits of his Karma and I then give him My Svarupa (Form resembling Mine) and make him My attendant. If any ignorant man, void of any Jnana, quits his body by touching merely water of the Ganges, I give him Salokya (place in My region) and make him My attendant. Even if one quits one's body in a far off place, uttering the name of the Ganges, I give him place in My region for one life time of Brahma. And if he remembers the Ganges with devotion, and quits his mortal coil at another place, I give him Sarupya (Form resembling Mine) for a period of endless Prakrtika Layas. He instantly gets on an aerial car made of jewels and goes with My attendants to the region of Goloka and gets form like Me.[3]

गङ्गास्नानम् ॥ Ganga Snana

The Devi Bhagavata (Skandha 9, Adhyaya 11) states that people taking birth in Bharata who have committed papa for millions and millions of births, their papa will be completely destroyed if they touch, once, the air in contact with and carrying the particles of the Ganges. While, the sight of the Ganges and the touch of the Ganges water give religious merits ten times more than the touch with the air in contact with the Ganges water. And if they bathe in the Ganges, people become freed of their papa then and there.

It is heard in the shrutis that Ganga Snana (bathing in the Ganges), if done according to rules, destroys all the papa acquired over one thousand millions of births, done consciously or unconsciously. Speaking of the greatness of Ganga Snana, it is said that the merits that are acquired by bathing in the Ganges on a day of religious merit, cannot be described even by the Vedas. Whatever is mentioned in the Agamas is in fact, just the tip of the iceberg. Even Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha cannot describe fully the merits of bathing in the Ganges. Lord Narayana himself, in the Devi Bhagavata, describes the effect of the Ganges bath done with a Sankalpa (resolve). He says,

  • Ten times more is the result obtained when the Ganges bath is done with a resolve (Sankalpa) than ordinarily. And if one bathes on the day when the sun passes from one sign to another (in the Zodiac), thirty times more religious merits accrue.
  • On the new Moon (Amavasya) day, the Ganges bath gives the merits as above mentioned; but when the Sun is in his Southern course (Dakshinayana) double the merits are obtained and when the sun is in his Northern course, ten times more religious merits are obtained.
  • Ganges bath in the time of Chaturmasya, full Moon day, Akshaya Navami or Akshaya trtiya yields merits that cannot be measured. And if on the above days both bathing, and making over gifts are done, there is no limit to the religious merits acquired; hundred times more than ordinary bath, religious merits are obtained.
  • Great religious merits accrue from the Ganges bath on Manvantara tithi, Yugadya, Shukla seventh day of the month of Magha, Bhishmashtami day, Ashokashtami day, and Sri Rama Navami day. Again double the merits than those of the above arise from bathing in the Ganges during the Nanda ceremony.
  • The Ganges bath in the Dashahara tenth tithi gives merits equivalent to Yugadya Snana. And if the bath be done on Mahananda or in Mahavaruni day, four times more religious merits accrue.
  • Ten million times more religious merits accrue from the Ganges bath on Maha Maha Varuni day than ordinary bath.
  • The Ganges bath in the Solar eclipse yields ten times more religious merits than in the Lunar eclipse. Again the Snana in Ardhodaya Yoga yields hundred times more religious merits than that of the (solar) eclipse.[3]

गङ्गापूजाविधिः ॥ Ganga Puja Vidhi

The vidhi (method) followed in the worship of Ganga is enumerated in the 9th Skandha (Chapter 11) of the Devi Bhagavata. It is said that,

  • One should first take bath and putting on a clean washed clothing should perform one's daily duties.
  • Then one should control oneself and with devotion worship the six Devatas - Ganesha, Surya, Agni, Vishnu, Shiva and Shivani.
  • First worship is to be given to Ganesha for the destruction of obstacles; the Sun is to be next worshipped for health; Fire, for purification; Vishnu is then worshipped for getting wealth and power; Shiva is worshipped for knowledge and Shivani is worshipped for Mukti.
  • When these Devatas are worshipped, one is entitled to worship the Deity. Otherwise, contrary become the effects.
  • The Purana also elaborates on the Dhyana practised by Bhagiratha towards Devi Ganga as per the Kanva Shakha that is said destroy all the papas.[3]

    ध्यानं च कण्व शाखोक्तं सर्वं पापप्रणाशनम् ।[7] dhyānaṁ ca kaṇva śākhoktaṁ sarvaṁ pāpapraṇāśanam ।

  • Thus, having meditated on Devi Ganga (as did Bhagiratha), one should offer to the Devi sixteen things viz. Asana, Padya, Arghya, water for bathing, anulepana (ointment), Dhupa (scents), Dipa (lights), Naivedya (offerings of food), betel, cool water, clothings, ornaments, garlands, sandal-paste, achamaniya (water for sipping), and beautiful beddings and worship Her with these.
  • Then, with folded hands, one should perform stotra to Her and bow down to Her with devotion.[3]

पूजाफलम् ॥ Fruit of Worship

The Devi Bhagavata (Skandha 9, Adhyaya 11) states that the one who will meditate on Ganga as per Kanvashakha and worship, praise and bow down to her daily, he will derive the fruit of one Ashvamedha Yajna.[3]

कण्वशाखोक्त ध्यानेन ध्यात्वा त्वां पूजयिष्यति । यः स्तौति प्रणयेन्नित्यं सोऽश्वमेधफलं लभेत् ।। ४९ ।।[6]

kaṇvaśākhokta dhyānena dhyātvā tvāṁ pūjayiṣyati । yaḥ stauti praṇayennityaṁ so'śvamedhaphalaṁ labhet ।। 49 ।।

गङ्गास्तोत्रम् ॥ Ganga Stotra

The stotra of Devi Ganga with which Bhagiratha praised her, is enumerated by Lord Narayana at the request of Maharshi Narada in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Navama Skandha (Adhyaya 12) as follows:[3]

शिवसंगीतसंमुग्ध श्रीकृष्णांगसमुद्भवाम् । राधांगद्रवसंयुक्तां तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। १८ ।।

यज्जन्म सृष्टेरादौ च गोलोके रासमंडले । सन्निधाने शंकरस्य तां गङ्गां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। १९ ।।

गोपैर्गोपीभिराकीर्णे शुभे राधामहोत्सवे । कार्त्तिकी पूर्णिमायां च तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २० ।।

कोटियोजन विस्तीर्णा दैर्घ्ये लक्षगुणा ततः । समावृता या गोलोके तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २१ ।।

षष्टिलक्षयोजना या ततो दैर्घ्ये चतुर्गुणा । समावृता या वैकुण्ठे तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २२ ।।

त्रिंशल्लक्षयोजना या दैर्घ्ये पंचगुणा ततः । आवृता ब्रह्मलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २३ ।।

त्रिंशल्लक्षयोजना या दैर्घ्ये चतुर्गुणा ततः । आवृता शिवलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २४ ।।

लक्षयोजनविस्तीर्णा दैर्घ्ये सप्तगुणा ततः । आवृता ध्रुवलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २५ ।।

लक्षयोजनविस्तीर्णा दैर्घ्ये पंचगुणा ततः । आवृता चंद्रलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २६ ।।

षष्टिसहस्रयोजना या दैर्घ्ये दशगुणा ततः । आवृता सूर्यलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २७ ।।

लक्षयोजनविस्तीर्णा दैर्घ्ये पंचगुणा ततः । आवृता या तपोलोके तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २८ ।।

सहस्र योजनायामा दैर्घ्ये दशगुणा ततः । आवृता जनलोके या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। २९ ।।

दशलक्षयोजना या दैर्घ्ये पंचगुणा ततः । आवृता या महर्लोके तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३० ।।

सहस्रयोजनायामा दैर्घ्ये शतगुणा ततः । आवृता या च कैलासे तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३१ ।।

शतयोजनविस्तीर्णा दैर्घ्ये दशगुणा ततः । मंदाकिनी येंद्रलोके तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३२ ।।

पाताले भोगवती चैव विस्तीर्णा दशयोजना । ततो दशगुणा दैर्घ्ये तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३३ ।।

क्रोशैकमात्रविस्तीर्णा ततः क्षीणा च कुत्रचित् । क्षितौ चालकनन्दा या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३४ ।।

सत्ये या क्षीरवर्णा च त्रेतायामिंदुसन्निभा । द्वापरे चन्दनाभा या तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३५ ।।

जलप्रभा कलौ या च नाऽन्यत्र पृथिवीतले । स्वर्गे च नित्यं क्षीराभा तां गंगां प्रणमाम्यहम् ।। ३६ ।।

यत्तोयकणिकास्पर्शे पापिनां ज्ञानसंभवः । ब्रह्महत्यादिकं पापं कोटिजन्मार्जितं दहेत् ।। ३७ ।।

इत्येवं कथिता ब्रह्मन्गंगापद्यैकविशतिः । स्तोत्ररूपं च परमं पापघ्नं पुण्यजीवनम् ।। ३८ ।।

नित्यं यो हि पठेद्भक्त्या संपूज्य च सुरेश्वरीम् । सोऽश्वमेधफलं नित्यं लभते नात्र संशयः ।। ३९ ।।

अपुत्रो लभते पुत्रं भार्याहीनो लभेत्स्त्रियम् । रोगात्प्रमुच्यते रोगी बंधान्मुक्तो भवेद् ध्रुवम् ।। ४० ।।

अस्पष्टकीर्तिः सुयशा मूर्खो भवति पंडितः । यः पठेत्प्रातरुत्थाय गंगास्तोत्रमिदं शुभम् ।। ४१ ।।

शुभं भवेच्च दुःस्वप्ने गगास्नानफलं लभेत् ।[7]

śivasaṁgītasaṁmugdha śrīkr̥ṣṇāṁgasamudbhavām । rādhāṁgadravasaṁyuktāṁ tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 18 ।।

yajjanma sr̥ṣṭerādau ca goloke rāsamaṁḍale । sannidhāne śaṁkarasya tāṁ gaṅgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 19 ।।

gopairgopībhirākīrṇe śubhe rādhāmahotsave । kārttikī pūrṇimāyāṁ ca tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 20 ।।

koṭiyojana vistīrṇā dairghye lakṣaguṇā tataḥ । samāvr̥tā yā goloke tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 21 ।।

ṣaṣṭilakṣayojanā yā tato dairghye caturguṇā । samāvr̥tā yā vaikuṇṭhe tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 22 ।।

triṁśallakṣayojanā yā dairghye paṁcaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā brahmaloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 23 ।।

triṁśallakṣayojanā yā dairghye caturguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā śivaloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 24 ।।

lakṣayojanavistīrṇā dairghye saptaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā dhruvaloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 25 ।।

lakṣayojanavistīrṇā dairghye paṁcaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā caṁdraloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 26 ।।

ṣaṣṭisahasrayojanā yā dairghye daśaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā sūryaloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 27 ।।

lakṣayojanavistīrṇā dairghye paṁcaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā yā tapoloke tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 28 ।।

sahasra yojanāyāmā dairghye daśaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā janaloke yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 29 ।।

daśalakṣayojanā yā dairghye paṁcaguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā yā maharloke tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 30 ।।

sahasrayojanāyāmā dairghye śataguṇā tataḥ । āvr̥tā yā ca kailāse tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 31 ।।

śatayojanavistīrṇā dairghye daśaguṇā tataḥ । maṁdākinī yeṁdraloke tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 32 ।।

pātāle bhogavatī caiva vistīrṇā daśayojanā । tato daśaguṇā dairghye tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 33 ।।

krośaikamātravistīrṇā tataḥ kṣīṇā ca kutracit । kṣitau cālakanandā yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 34 ।।

satye yā kṣīravarṇā ca tretāyāmiṁdusannibhā । dvāpare candanābhā yā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 35 ।।

jalaprabhā kalau yā ca nā'nyatra pr̥thivītale । svarge ca nityaṁ kṣīrābhā tāṁ gaṁgāṁ praṇamāmyaham ।। 36 ।।

yattoyakaṇikāsparśe pāpināṁ jñānasaṁbhavaḥ । brahmahatyādikaṁ pāpaṁ koṭijanmārjitaṁ dahet ।। 37 ।।

ityevaṁ kathitā brahmangaṁgāpadyaikaviśatiḥ । stotrarūpaṁ ca paramaṁ pāpaghnaṁ puṇyajīvanam ।। 38 ।।

nityaṁ yo hi paṭhedbhaktyā saṁpūjya ca sureśvarīm । so'śvamedhaphalaṁ nityaṁ labhate nātra saṁśayaḥ ।। 39 ।।

aputro labhate putraṁ bhāryāhīno labhetstriyam । rogātpramucyate rogī baṁdhānmukto bhaved dhruvam ।। 40 ।।

aspaṣṭakīrtiḥ suyaśā mūrkho bhavati paṁḍitaḥ । yaḥ paṭhetprātarutthāya gaṁgāstotramidaṁ śubham ।। 41 ।।

śubhaṁ bhavecca duḥsvapne gagāsnānaphalaṁ labhet ।

The Stotras begins as,

"I bow down to the Ganges who appeared from the body of Sri Krshna, enchanted by the music of Shiva, and, who was bathed with the perspiration (water coming out of the body) of Sri Radha. I bow down to Ganga Devi who first appeared in the Rasa Mandala in the region of Goloka and who always remains with Shankara. My obeisance to the Devi Ganga who remains in the auspicious grand utsav of Radha (Rasa Mandala), crowded with Gopas and Gopis, in the Full Moon night of the month of Kartika..."(Verses 18-20)

Describing the greatness of Ganga the stotra says,

"By the mere touch of one molecule of the water of the Ganges, all the horrible papas incurred in ten million births, even the killing of a Brahmana and so forth, are burnt to ashes."(Verse 37)[3]

गङ्गामानम् ॥ Dimensions of the Ganga

The stotra further enumerates the dimensions of Ganga as she flows through various lokas (regions). The details of her dimensions as mentioned in the stotra (Verses 21-34) are as follows:

Dimensions of Ganga[3]
Loka (region) Width Length
Goloka 1 koti yojanas 1 lakh times the width
Vaikuntha 60 lakh yojanas 4 times the width
Brahmaloka 30 lakh yojanas 5 times the width
Shivaloka 30 lakh yojanas 4 times the width
Dhruvaloka 1 lakh yojanas 7 times the width
Chandraloka 1 lakh yojanas 5 times the width
Suryaloka 60,000 yojanas 10 times the width
Tapoloka 1 lakh yojanas 5 times the width
Janaloka 1000 yojanas 10 times the width
Mahaloka 10 lakh yojanas 5 times the width
Kailasa 1000 yojanas 100 times the width
Indraloka (known as Mandakini) 100 yojanas 10 times the width
Patala (known as Bhogavati) 10 yojanas 5 times the width
Earth (known as Alakananda) 2 miles -

गङ्गायाः रूपम् ॥ Form of Ganga

The stotra (Verses 35-36) also describes the form of the river Ganga in the four yugas.

Form of the Ganga[3]
Yuga Form
Satya Yuga Colour of Milk
Treta Yuga Colour of Moon
Dvapara Yuga Colour of White Sandal paste
Kali Yuga As Water on Earth

As Milk in the heaven

फलश्रुतिः ॥ Fruits of Reciting the Stotra

The fruits of reciting the stotra are as follows:

  • The one who daily sings this praise of Ganga after worshipping her with devotion reaps the fruit of the Ashvamedha yajna.
  • Those without any sons get sons and those who have no wives get wives. The diseased get themselves free from their diseases, and the one who is under bondage, is liberated from that bondage.
  • The one who, getting up early in the morning reads this stotra of Ganga, becomes widely known even if he is not known at all and he becomes illumined with wisdom even if he be quite ignorant. Even if one sees a bad dream, (by reciting this stotra) he acquires the merit of bathing in the Ganges and of seeing good dreams.[3] (Reading of Devi Bhagavata Chapter 12 to be continued...)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  2. The Bhagavata Purana (Part 1), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, First Edition: 1950, Reprint: 1999.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Swami Vijnananda, The Srimad Devi Bhagavtam, The Sacred Books of the Hindus (Volume 26, Part 3), Edited by Major B.D.Basu, Third Edition, Allahabad.
  4. Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  5. Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 9, Adhyaya 11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Devi Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 9, Adhyaya 12.