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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :-

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

' Ganga Mahatmiyam '

  • P.Natarajan. ( camp: Canton MI )

Ganges, the sacred river flows around as if it is an ornamental beauty to the mother Earth. Ganges exist through the yugas and the life of Ganga is intertwined with Thirumurthy. Sri Rama heard about the significance of Ganga from Sage Viswamitra in Treta Yuga. In Kaliyuga Ganga is considered as the most sacred. The sins of living beings get dissolved in the ganges as they bathe in the holy waters. Ganges is one of the world's major rivers running for more than 2500 K.M. from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.

During Vamana Avatar, the lord measured the Earth by the first step. The second step extended beyond the Brahmaloka when Lord Brahma performed abhishek of the ‘pada’ of the Lord Vamana with the holy Ganges water -  Ganga came to be known as  ‘ VISHNUPADA ‘ in Brahmaloka. The rishis paid obeisance to the Vishnupada. The waters then entered ‘ Dhruva Loka ‘ and Dhruva became immensely happy when ganges water fell over his head. The Ganga moved next to Swargaloka when the Devas called her as ‘MANDAKINI’ and worshiped by raising their hands together over their head.  

The Ganga was not to descend to Bhuloka at that time, so the sacred river was in rounds in Devaloka only for a long, long time. It was Bhagirathan, son of Dilipan, took the initiative and performed ‘tapas’ with a mission to bring Ganges down to Bhuloka. Ganga appeared before Bhagirathan and posed him with a question what action was contemplated when the immense force of her flow would pierce through the Bhuloka to ‘ pathala loka ‘ and beyond. It opened Bhagirathan’s eyes and he started a severe penance targeting Lord Shiva. Shiva was pleased and agreed to his request to bear the ganges water in his head as a rescue measure. There was no other trouble and Ganga started her descend to Bhuloka. As the waters reached the Himalayas, Lord Shiva bore her in the matted locks in his head. Shiva is worshipped as ’Gangadharan’ due to this reason. Further the river which was being called hitherto as Mandakini became known as ‘GANGA‘. ‘Gow’ means ‘Bhumi’ and  ‘hanga’ means ‘reached’ in Sanskrit. In other words  ‘ Gow +  Hanga ‘ = Ganga which name is popular today after her reaching the Bhuloka.

Ganges got the name ‘ HEMAVATHI ‘ meaning daughter of Himavan, the king of Himalayas, when her journey from Swargaloka reached the Himalayas.  As Ganga entered into Shiva’s  matted hair and poured as a fountain and dripped through, it came to be called as   ‘ ‘ ‘ALAKNANDA ‘. Alak means ‘Kesa’ or hair and nanda means ‘ to become happy’.
As Ganga was happily flowing, she lost her way and entered the Ashram of the Sage JAHNU.
making noise as a dancing child wearing ‘kolusu’ around her feet. Sage Jahnu reduced the force of the flowing water by capturing it in his ‘Kamandal’ or the sacred vessel.  Bhagirathan requested the sage who consented to release ganga from his Kamandal. The sage owned Ganga as his daughter and  the river came to be known as ‘ JHANHAVI ‘.

The waters followed Bhagirathan faithfully after overcoming the intermediary hurdles. It came to be known as ‘ BHAGIRATHI ‘. At the request of Bhagiratha, Ganga flowed into Pataal loka and showered over the heads of ‘Sakara puthras’ numbering 60000 who became alive as their sins were washed away by the holy river. Ganga river as it entered pathala loka, got another name as ‘ BHOGAVATHY ‘. The ‘ efforts ‘ or  ‘prayatna’ in Sanskrit undertook by Bhagiratha to bring Ganga from Devaloka to Bhuloka got a catch word ‘ Bhagirath Prayatna ’. The term is now used to denote great and formidable endeavours yielding success after many trials.
People who have lived a chaste life during their several previous births only, are considered fortunate to be able to have bath in Ganges in three holy places namely (1) Haridwar (2) Kasi or Varanasi (3) ‘Sagara Sangamam’ in West Bengal. Hari+Dwar = Haridwar,

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( Ganga in Haridwar )

Hari meaning Vishnu and dwar meaning the orifice and a bath in this place in Ganges is believed to be sacred.

Similarly at Kasi where mere mention of the name Kasi.connects with the river Ganga. The glory of Kasi as a Kshetra is because of the glory of Ganga. Knowing of sastras or unknowing makes no difference at this place. The boatmen sing folksongs setting the tune in a vedic background - thanks to the air they breathe flowing over the Ganges. In Triveni Sagara Sangam, the three sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathy flow together.

( Triveni Sangam - Ganga, Yamuna and the Invisible Saraswati )

Ganga represents ‘Gnyana’ Yamuna bhakti and Saraswathy which is invisible represents ‘Vairagyam’ or firmness. A bath in Triveni Sangam is sacred and Ganga, at this place gets a new name ‘ THEERTHA RAJAM ‘.  Kumbhmela, a festival connected with the sacred bath in the holy waters takes place normally once in every  3 years. Ardh Kumbhmela (half) is celebrated at Haridwar and Prayag every 6 years. The purna (complete)
Kumbhmela takes place every 12 years at Haridwar, Prayag and Ujjain and Nashik. The Maha Kumbh Mela comes after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas or once in 144 years and is held at Prayag
( Allahabad ). Ritual bathing with religious rites is the main event in ‘Kumbh Mela’ followed  by prayers at the shrines.


( Ganga in Varanasi or Kashi Kshetra )

The ganges flow through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The ganga suffers from extreme pollution due to variety of reasons commonly known. The Govt. of India had announced in July 2014 an Integrated Ganga Development Project known as
‘NAMAMI GANGA’  and allocated Rs.2037 Crores for this purpose.

Snana’ Mantras
गन्गेते यो ब्रूयात योग्नना शतैरपि !
मुच्यते सर्वपापेभ्यो विष्णुलोक गछति !!

गङ्गे च यमुना चैव गोदावरी सरस्वती !
नर्मदे सिन्धु कावेरी जलेस्मिन सन्निधिंकुरु !!

The mantras above are to be chanted while taking bath. Uttering the name “Ganga, Ganga...”, while taking bath, purifies the water being used. The names of the seven holy rivers stated in the mantra above mitigates all the sins committed. This effect is known as गङ्गा महात्म्यम   ‘Ganga Mahatmya’  or  ‘ GLORY OF THE GANGES ‘. Ganga Ashtothram expresses :- “Oh Mother - Necklace adorning the World's; Banner raising to the Heavens ..” , as explained in the opening sentence of this article.


( Ganga Aarti every evening @
  Dashashwamedh ghat in Kashi )

Ganga waters enter into the tap waters at home at dawn on the occasion of Deepavali hence the most customary and kind enquiries from kindred people : “ Had your Ganga Snanam, A happy Deepavali to You “ !



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