In the previous episode, we had witnessed the continuation of the discussion on how Mother Ganga landed on to the earth’s surface for the first time from the “Aakaasha”. Upon King Bhageeratha’s request and because of his deep penance, Mother Ganga was impressed and she agreed to descend down to the “Manushya Lokha”. However, upon her warning that if she comes down with the intensity of her flow of water, she may end up potentially destroying the vegetation and habitat on the earth. Hence, King Bhageeratha requested her to hold on for a while and performed a deep penance towards Bhagawan Shiva for a solution to this. Bhagawan Shiva accepted King Bhageeratha’s request and He held Mother Ganga in His head amidst His dense “Jataa-Mudi” (Divine hair). From there, Mother Ganga was about to flow down, however, Bhagawan Shiva felt that Mother Ganga had too much arrogance, which is not expected of a woman! Hence, Bhagawan Shiva decided to teach Mother Ganga a befitting lesson and locked her up into His “Jataa-Mudi”. However, as He does this, King Bhageeratha was waiting desperately for Mother Ganga to come down. As Bhageeratha again goes to Bhagawan Shiva and enquires, Bhagawan Shiva provides His divine “Anugraha” by opening up one of His divine hair strands. Through this one opening, Mother Ganga flows down to the earth. This place can be worshipped even today, which is called “Bindusaras”, amidst the great Himalayan Mountains in the Northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. This place is in the form of a huge glacier, termed as “Gangothri” and this is where Mother Ganga transcends into the earth surface from Bhagawan Shiva’s head.
Now that Mother Ganga had started flowing, she instructed King Bhageeratha thus, “Oh Bhageeratha! Now you take your chariot and ride it as fast as you can. I shall keep following you wherever your chariot is going. I will also stop at a point where your chariot will stop!” King Bhageeratha, as per the instruction, took his chariot and started riding it as fast as he could. On the way, his chariot passed through Sage Jambu Maharishi’s ashram, wherein Sage Jambu Maharishi was in deep penance. Not knowing how to bypass his ashram, King Bhageeratha tore open his ashram, and even ended up passing through Jambu Maharishi’s one ear and coming out of the other! Mother Ganga followed King Bhageeratha’s route meticulously and she too passed through Jambu Maharishi’s one ear! However, with this act, Jambu Maharishi’s penance got disturbed, and with this, he became angry! Thus, he did not allow Mother Ganga to flow out of his other ear, and instead, he drank up all the waters of Mother Ganga! King Bhageeratha did not realize this for a while, as he was riding extremely fast on his chariot!
However, after covering a certain distance, he did not hear the sound of the waters following him! Upon sensing this, King Bhageeratha realized that there is some problem and Mother Ganga has stopped following him! Hence, he immediately took a “U-turn”, to trace where Mother Ganga had got stuck! Upon coming back for a distance, he once again reached Jambu Maharishi’s ashram, only to find Mother Ganga being stuck inside him. Sensing this, King Bhageeratha deeply apologized for his mistake of barging in and tearing up his ashram and requested Jambu Maharishi to relent from his anger. As King Bhageeratha requested thus, Jambu Maharishi too thought that it was not his fault and thus, provided his divine “Anugraha”! With this, Mother Ganga was able to flow out of Jambu Maharishi’s body through his other ear! Thus, as Mother Ganga flows through the body of this great Jambu Maharishi, she is also referred to as “Jaanhavi”!
Thus, we witness here that the holy river of Ganga has multiple names – “Ganga”, “Jaanhavi”, “Bhaageerathi”, “Aalakanada”, etc. Since she decided to touch down upon the earth surface after an enormous effort of various people including King Amsuman, King Dileepa and finally King Bhageeratha, the river is called “Ganga”. Also, since the river was finally brought down by King Bhageeratha after a lot of effort, it is called “Bhaageerathi”. Since the river passes through Jambu Maharishi’s ears, it is referred to as “Jaanhavi”. Also, since the river comes from the “Deva Lokha”, it is also referred to as “Deva-Srothas”. Thus, we witness various such divine names for this holy river! Coming back to this discussion thus, King Bhageeratha once again commences his journey towards the eastern direction, and now Mother Ganga follows him without any hindrance. Thus, the duo pass through various important places like Varanasi, Prayagraj, Patna, etc. and finally enter Bengal as River Hoogly. Thus, the duo pass through the eastern Indian city of Kolkata and finally reach the sea coast near the “Sunderbans” forests.
This is why, we call this great effort of King Bhageeratha as “Bhageerata-Prayathnam”! Even today we use this term often in our everyday usage too – If someone is writing an exam repeatedly over and over again and fails to clear it, we say thus, “Oh wow! What a “Bhageeratha-Prayathnam” this person is doing!” 🙂 Of course, the term “Bhageeratha Prayathnam” in our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature is used for a good cause and to appreciate King Bhageeratha’s great effort. This term is not used to indicate someone who is failing every time in an examination! 🙂 Thus, as Mother Ganga starts flowing into the earth, King Bhageeratha is extremely happy and with the sprinkling of the divine waters from the river, all his 60,000 ancestors were woken up to life! With this, they also attained the highest “Moksha” as well! Thus, Sage Naarada is narrating all of these to Yudishtra, so as to drive home the important point of Mother Ganga coming into the earth for the first time. So for today, let us understand up to this point and in the next episode, we shall continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂