Showing posts with label Goddess Ganga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goddess Ganga. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Is Goddess Ganga In Hindu Mythology? What Is Lord Vishnu's Promise To Her?


The deity whose physical form is the Ganges River in Hindu mythology.

The Ganges is revered because it is said to be a goddess who has the capacity to cleanse individuals who bathe (snana) in it of their sins.

Several stories exist to explain her origins.

The most well-known is the story of King Bhagirath, who succeeds in bringing the Ganges down from heaven to earth by ascetic discipline.

Bhagirath is the great-greatgrandson of King Sagar, whose 60,000 sons were burnt to ashes by the sage Kapila's magical abilities after falsely accusing Kapila of thievery.

Later, Kapila informs Anshuman, King Sagar's grandson and only living descendent, that bringing the Ganges down from heaven to earth is the only way to restore peace to the spirits of Sagar's sons.

Anshuman, like his son Dilip before him, tries miserably to achieve this goal.

Bhagirath, Dilip's son, is moved by their efforts and retreats to the Himalayas, where he practices asceticism until the gods agree to bring the Ganges down to earth.

Bhagiratha's efforts, however, are not yet complete.

Then he must win the favor of the deity Shiva, who must agree to absorb the impact of the falling river on his head.

Otherwise, the earth will be destroyed by its might.

The Ganges eventually crashes to earth on Shiva's head when everything is in place.

Bhagirath brings Ganga down of the mountains and to the sea, where she touches the ashes of his forefathers and the two of them eventually find peace.

This legend emphasizes the Ganga's salvific power as well as her close ties to the dead's final rituals (antyeshthi samskara).

According to another legend, the Ganges descends to earth as a result of a curse declared by Vishnu and his wives Ganga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati after a family feud.

Saraswati becomes enraged and proceeds to beat Ganga when she witnesses Ganga and Vishnu sharing passionate looks in public.

As Lakshmi attempts to stop her, Saraswati unleashes a series of curses, including Vishnu's birth as a stone (the shalagram), Lakshmi's birth as a plant (the tulsi plant), and Ganga's birth as a river, carrying the world's sins.

Saraswati is cursed to become a river throughout the struggle.

Ganga's punishment is sweetened by Vishnu's promise that she would be regarded exceedingly holy on earth and will have the capacity to cleanse people's sins.

She will also descend from heaven onto the head of the deity Shiva and become his spouse, according to Vishnu. 

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