In the previous episode, we were amidst an interesting and an important discussion about the famed “Soorya-Vamsha”. In due course, we had witnessed one section of the long list of kings who were part of this great family tradition. It all starts from Bhagawan Brahma and then transcends all the way to King Ambareesha, about whom we’ve already discussed in detail. Subsequent to King Ambareesha was King Kakutsa, King Maandhaata, King Sagara, King Asamanjas, King Amsuman, King Dileepa and King Bhageeratha. We’ve witnessed how King Sagara wanted to perform a huge “Ashvamedha Yaaga” and how the plan got foiled up because the horse went and stood by Sage Kapilaachaarya. As King Sagara’s 60,000 sons go in search of this horse, they were burnt down by Sage Kapilaachaarya, because these sons wrongly concluded that Sage Kapilaachaarya had abducted the horse. Subsequently as King Amsumaan requests Sage Kapilaachaarya to give a re-birth to these 60,000 sons, Sage Kapilaachaarya suggests that he prays to Mother Ganga and sprinkles the holy water on to them, and with that, there is a chance for them to get up again! Accordingly, King Amsuman goes in for a penance to bring Mother Ganga to the world, but he couldn’t succeed. King Dileepa, who came as King Amsuman’s successor also tried his level best, but again, he couldn’t succeed.
Now it is all upto King Bhageeratha, who was the successor of King Dileepa. He now takes up his father’s penance and continues it further deeper. Impressed by King Bhageeratha’s deep penance, Mother Ganga answers him thus, “Oh Bhageeratha! I’m extremely moved and convinced by your penance, I know the reason for which you’re calling me. However, please note – If I’ve to lower myself into the earth, I would lash my waters at a great speed and intensity, in such a way that I might end up destroying the world! This is the reason why I hesitated to respond to the prayers of your forefathers too. If you can give me a solution for this, then I can come down to the earth’s surface, as per your wish!”
Upon listening Mother Ganga’s reply, King Bhageeratha was pleased and happy. He requested Mother Ganga to wait for sometime and now he commences a severe penance towards Bhagawan Shiva. King Bhageeratha requests Bhagawan Shiva for help in this regard. As King Bhageeratha requests thus, Bhagawan Shiva accepts it and requests Mother Ganga to flow into His dense hair on his head. This is why, Bhagawan Shiva is also referred to as “Gangaadhara” or “Jataadhara”. These beautiful names for Bhagawan Shiva originated because He is the one who holds Mother Ganga on the top of His head. As Bhagawan Shiva receives Mother Ganga into His head, Mother Ganga becomes a bit arrogant here. She comes in with lot of force. Upon seeing this, Bhagawan Shiva thinks thus, “Oh! Who is she to exhibit so much of arrogance? Look what I’m going to do to her now!” Thinking thus, Bhagawan Shiva ties his dense hair around and blocks Mother Ganga there itself!
As King Bhageeratha is desperately waiting for Mother Ganga to fall on the earth, he somehow understands that she has been stuck amidst Bhagawan Shiva’s hair! Again, King Bhageeratha continues his penance towards Bhagawan Shiva, requesting Him to release her. Upon Bhageeratha’s request, Bhagawan Shiva lets out one strand of His dense hair, and through that little strand, Mother Ganga comes down to the earth’s surface!
Readers should note here that all of these events unfold at the holy place called “Haridwar” in the borders of the north Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttharakand. The place where River Ganga originates today is referred to as “Bindusaras”, near to Badree Ashrama. It is one of India’s most sacred places of worship and we can see the crystal-clear water of Mother Ganga originating from a huge glacier called “Gangothri”. This huge glacier is itself worshipped as Bhagawan Shiva or Bhagawan Gangaadhara or Bhagawan Jataadhara. It is only at this Haridwar is King Bhageeratha sitting and doing all his penance.
Now as Mother Ganga falls down on the earth, she requests King Bhageeratha thus, “Oh Bhageeratha! Please hurry up! Take your chariot and start driving it along. I shall follow your chariot wherever it goes!” As King Bhageeratha drives his chariot fast, Mother Ganga follows him all the way. Thus we see that the River Ganga passes through innumerable places in North India and every place through which Mother Ganga passes by, are all extremely holy places! We can witness today too, the River Ganga passing through Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Patna, and finally passing through Hooghly near Kolkata in West Bengal, before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
In this process, the river passes through one ear of Jambu Maharishi and passes out through his other ear, and this is why Mother Ganga has the divine name called “Jaanhavi”! Since it was brought down by King Bhageeratha to the world, Mother Ganga is also referred to as Mother Bhaageerathi. Thus, Bhaageerathi, Jaanhavi, Alaknanda, etc. are all the sacred divine names of this holy river Ganges and if we chant these names itself, we would be eligible to attain Moksha! This is the significance of River Ganga and all our readers should make it a point that we visit all these places along this great river atleast once in our life time.
So for today, let us understand the significance of River Ganga and let us experience it’s beauty. We shall wait till the next episode to continue with the “Soorya-Vamsa” discussion. Stay tuned! 😊