River Ganges – The Legend

The Legend behind the River Ganges
Since the Vedic age till now, river Ganges has been worshipped as a Goddess. She is
the most important river in India, beside Rivers Indus and Saraswati and is still
considered holy by devout Hindus. There are many legendary myths related to goddess
Ganga or Ganges, where she has been stated to be originally residing in Heaven and
she descended to Earth to relive humans of their sins, which is mentioned in Ramayana,
the mythological epic of Hindus.

The Fable
Once upon a time, an ancestor of Lord Rama and the ruler of Ayodhya, King Sagar
carried out Ashwamedha Yagya successfully 99 times, sending his horse around the
world that returned every time unchallenged back to his kingdom. This success story
didn’t please Indra – the King of God’s at all, who conspired to spoil King Sagar’s 100th
attempt at this yagna. Indra, this time abducted the Yagna horse in Kaplia Muni’s
Hermitage.

When 60,000 princes of Ayodhya arrived at hermitage of Kapila Muni, they
misunderstood the hermit to be the kidnapper of the horse and attacked him, only to be
burned into ashes by the sage. King Bhagiratha, grandson of King Sagar, in a bid to
rescue his ancestors begged Kapila Muni, to help him with a solution. The sage’s
answer was to bring the heavenly river Ganges to Earth, which could bring all the dead
princes to life.

To make amends for the deeds, King Bhagiratha mediated and observed strict penance
for the salvation of his ancestor’s souls to Bramha for a 1000 years. Lord Bramha being
satisfied with King Bhagiratha’s devotion granted him his wish according to which,
Ganges would descent on Earth washing away the ashes of his ancestors, releasing
them of their curse and allowing them to enter Heaven. However, along with the boon,
Bhagiratha was also cautioned that he has to pray to Lord Shiva requesting him to hold
Ganges in his long tangled hair, to sustain her enormous weight and speed.

Lord Shiva allowed Ganga to settle in his hair letting trickles of Ganga water to meander
through his locks and reach Earth washing away King Bhagiratha’s ancestors’ ashes.
For this myth, Lord Shiva is known as Gangadhar.

Manifestation of Goddess Ganga
Goddess Ganga is described as an extremely fair goddess with four arms and three
eyes. With the three eyes she is Trikaldarshini, which means she can see through all the
three times – past, present and future. In her four hands, she holds a lotus, two jars full of
fertile water that brings prosperity to mankind and blesses the entire humanity with
peace.