Maa Ganga: The River Goddess (Bhagavatpadi)
Maa Ganga: The Hindu culture is known to consider nature as divine. Likewise, the longest and most famous river in the country is considered a Goddess. She is very sacred and pure. It is believed that if you bathe in river Ganga, you will be washed off all your sins. The ashes of the dead people are also immersed in the as the belief is that, such souls will attain Moksha or eternal peace. Many of the sacred places for Hindus lie on the banks of the river Ganga.
Other names of Maa Ganga
Ganga is also known as Ganges, Bhagavatpadi, Jahnavi and Vishnupadi as she came into existence after touching the Lord’s feet.
Ganga is the sister of the Narmada, which is also a river. The stories say that on each Ganga Saptami, an auspicious day when everyone prays to the river, Maa Ganga comes out to take a bath in the Narmada.
According to Bhagavath Purana, Vamana, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu came to earth to end Mahabali, the king. He asked three feet of earth. When he kept his first foot, the nail of his big toe finger made a hole in the earth from which the river began to flow. As the river had washed the lotus feet of the Lord, which is saffron in color, the water of the Ganges also became pink.
From Brahmaloka, Ganga ran to earth after Bhagiratha requested in God for it. As Ganga flowed mercilessly, she was tied by Lord Shiva in his hair. He did so to save the earth from destruction. Finally, Lord Shiva released the River Ganga help the people of the country.
According to some legends, Mata Parvati and Ganga are both sisters as they were the daughters of Himavan.
Once, a king named Sagara, who had sixty thousand sons, performed a Yagna for the good of the kingdom. Before he could end the rituals by sacrificing a special horse, Lord Indra stole it out of jealousy. When Sagara’s son searched for it everywhere, they found it in the underworld, near Sage Kapila, who was meditating. Thinking that the Sage stole the horse, they scolded him, which disturbed his penance. When the sage opened his eyes, all the sons of Sagara were burnt to death. Their souls wandered as ghosts as their last rites were not performed. Anshuman, their nephew, prayed to Brahma, but he did not succeed. His son Dilip prayed without any results. But, then Bhagiratha, the son of Dilip, vowed to bring Ganga to Earth so the souls of Sagara’s sons could be cleansed. Finally, he succeeded in bringing Ganga to earth and sending the souls to heaven.
It is said that Ganga will dry up by the end of Kaliyug which means the end of the world.
Holy places on the banks of Ganga
- Har ki Pauri
- Ganga Maa Temple in Jeypore
- Ganga Maa Temple in Semiliguda
Ganga is a very sacred and the most beneficial river in the country. It has been given the respect similar to the gods and is visited once in a person’s life.