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Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 9, [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/db/bk09ch11.htm Adhyaya 11].
 
Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 9, [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/db/bk09ch11.htm Adhyaya 11].
  
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 further enquires from Lord Narayana as to  
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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
 
# the reason for her descent on Bharata
 
# the reason for her descent on Bharata
 
# the yuga in which she descended
 
# the yuga in which she descended
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Lord Narayana replied to this query of Devarshi Narada with a story. He said,
 
Lord Narayana replied to this query of Devarshi Narada with a story. He said,
  
Raja 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 out into thousand very powerful sons. Their bodies looked more brillant than the mid-day sun.  
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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 out 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, he too, died. Then came the intelligent Bhagiratha, son of Amsuman 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 descent of Ganga on Bharata.
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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 . Then came the intelligent Bhagiratha, son of Amsuman 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 descent of Ganga on Bharata.
  
 
Lord Sri Krshna then addressed Ganga saying,  
 
Lord Sri Krshna then addressed Ganga saying,  

Revision as of 13:06, 28 August 2019

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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]

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[3]

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[4]

गङ्गावतरणम् ॥ Descent of Ganga on the Earth

Devi Bhagavata, Skandha 9, Adhyaya 11.

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 out 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 . Then came the intelligent Bhagiratha, son of Amsuman 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 descent of Ganga on Bharata.

Lord Sri Krshna then addressed Ganga saying,

“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 there remain always as my attendants and they will not be involved in the papas that they committed in their previous births."

The Lord also described in detail how people can get deliverance from their papas by bathing in the sacred waters of the Ganga. 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.

Sri Hari then 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 (due to the curse of Bharati).

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.

Whatever sins will be cast in Thee by thousand sinners bathing in Thee will be destroyed by the touch of the devotees of Prakriti Devî. Even if thousands and thousands of sinners touch the dead bodies and bath in Thee, all those will be destroyed when the Devî Bhaktas,the worshippers of Bhuvanes'varî and Mâyâ Vîja, will come and touch Thee. O Auspicious One! Thou wilt wash away the sins of the sinners, by Thy stay in Bhârata with other best rivers Sarasvatî and others. That will be at once a sacred place of pilgrimage where Thy glories will be chanted.

Thus having enumerated the glory of Ganga, Sri Hari 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 and worshipped the Devi and praised her repeatedly. Then Ganga and Bhagiratha bowed down to Sri Krshna as he disappeared at once from their sight.[5]

Ganga Mahatmya

O Nârada! It is stated thus in the Vedas, that if the human souls, taking their births in Bhârata, commit sins for millions and millions of births, the sins will be completely destroyed if they touch once the air in contact with and carrying the particles of the Ganges. 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. People become freed of their sins then and there especially if they bathe in the Ganges. It is heard in the S'rutis that the bathing in the Ganges, if done according to rules, destroys all the sins, e.g., the murder of a Brâhmin, etc., acquired in one thousand millions of births done consciously or unconsciously. The merits that are acquired by the bathing in the Ganges on a day of religious merit, cannot be described even by the Vedas. Whatever is mentioned in the Âgamas is but a mere trifle. Even Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes'a cannot describe fully the merits of the bathing in the Ganges. O Brâhmin! Such is the glory of ordinary bathing. Now I will describe the effect of the Ganges bath done with a Sankalpa (resolve); hear. Ten times more the result is obtained when the Ganges bathing is done with a resolve (Sankalpa) than ordinary bath 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 (Amâvyas) day, the Ganges bath gives the merits as above mentioned; but when the Sun is in his Southern course (Daksinâyana) double the merits are obtained and when the sun is in his Northern course, ten times more religious merits are obtained. The Ganges bathing in the time of Châturmâsya, full Moon day, Aksayâ Navamî or Aksayâ trittîyâ yields merits that cannot be measured. And if on the above Parva (particular periods of the year on which certain ceremonies are commanded) 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 Manvantarâ tithi, Yugâdyâ, S'uklâ seventh day of the month of Mâgha, Bhîsmâstamî day, As'okâstamî day, and S’rî Râma Navamî day. Again double the merits than those of the above arise from bathing in the Ganges during the Nandâ ceremony. The Gauges bath in the Das'aharâ tenth tithi gives merits equivalent to Yugâdyâ Snânam (bath). And if the bathing be done on Mahânandâ or in Mahâvârunî day, four times more religious merits accrue. Ten million times more religious merits accrue from the Ganges bathing on Mahâ Mahâ Vârunî day than ordinary bath. The Ganges bath in the Solar eclipse yields ten times more religious merits than in the Lunar eclipse. Again the Snânam in Ardhodaya Yoga yields hundred times more religious merits than that of the (solar) eclipse.

By the touch of the dust of Thine, the sinner will be at once purified and he will dwell in the Devî-loka (Mani Dvîpa) for as many years as will be the dust there. All Hail to the Devî Bhuvanes'varî! He who will leave his body on Thy lap with full consciousness and remembering My name, will certainly go to My abode and will remain, as My chief attendant for an infinite period. He will see countless Prâkritik Layas (dissolutions of the Universe). Unless a man has collected hordes of religious merits, be 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 Svârûpya (Form resembling Mine) and make him My attendant. If any ignorant man, void of any Jñânam, quits his body by touching merely Thy water, I give him Sâlokya (place in My region) and make him My attendant. Even if one quits one's body in a far off place, uttering Thy Name, I give him place in My region for one life time of Brahmâ. And if he remembers Thee with devotion, and quits his mortal coil at another place, I give him Sârûpya (Form resembling Mine) for a period of endless Prâkritik 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. Those that worship daily My Mantra, that pass their day eating the remnant of the food offered to Me, they need not have any distinction whether they die in Tîrath or not. They themselves can easily purify the three worlds. Getting on the excellent and best aerial car built of jewels, they go to the region of Goloka. O Chaste One! Even if the friends of My devotees, be born in animal births, they also will be purified by the devotion shown towards Me and getting on a jewelled aerial car will be able to go to Goloka, so diffcult of access. Wherever the Bhaktas may be, if they simply remember Me with devotion, they will become liberated while living by the power of My Bhakti.

Procedure of Ganga Stuti

70. The Devarsi Nârada said :-- “O Thou the foremost of the Knowers of the Vedas! How, by what Kuthuma S’âkhâ, the noble King Bhagi- ratha meditated on the Devî Gangâ; what stotra did he recite and what was the method with which he worshipped the Ganges.

71-75. Nârâyana said :-- O Nârada! One should first take one's 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 Devatâs Ganes’a, Sun, Fire, Visnu, S’iva and S'ivânî. Thus one becomes entitled to worship. First worship is to be given to Ganes'a for the destruction of obstacles; the Sun is to be next worshipped for health; Fire, for purification; Visnu is then worshipped for getting wealth and power; S’iva is worshipped for knowledge and S'ivânî is worshipped for Mukti. When these Devatâs are worshipped, one is entitled to worship the Deity. Otherwise contrary become the effects. Now I am saying what Dhyânam (meditation) did Bhagîratha practise towards the Devî Gangâ .

Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Ninth Book on the origin of the Ganges in the Mahâpurânam S’rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa.

Fruits of Ganga Stuti

He will derive the fruit of one horse-sacrifice who will meditate on Thee as per Kânvas'âkhâ and worship, praise and bow down to Thee daily. Even if one utter “Gangâ,” “Gangâ,” though one is one hundred Yojanas away from the Ganges, one will be freed of all sins and go to Visnu-loka.

References

  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. Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  4. Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
  5. 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.