Volume I Number I
Water, even a single drop of it can soothe a scorched soul; a reason why here, in India, our ancestors gave it a significant identification. A reason why offering Jal/water to a thirsty person or animal is considered a sacred deed. And even today, we not only revere the water sources but worship them by regarding them with the Motherly status viz. Ganga, Yamuna, Kaveri and others. These rivers having their sources at different point of origins from where they flow, interspersing the element of life; while we treat those origin places as pilgrimages and offer our prayers as well. On the occasion of Ganga Dussehra this May, let’s get to know the most revered river deity, Maa Ganga.
The Legend of Tripathgamini:
The birth legend of Devi Ganga goes back to the days of Satyuga, the Vamana Avtar. During his 5th incarnation as a Vamana (dwarf), Bhagwan Vishnu asked 3 steps of land from the benevolent king, Bali. After Bali’s grant, Vishnu enlarged himself to a giant and covered Earth in his first step, the cosmos or the heavens in his second step and then with Bali’s humility, Vishnu put his third step on his head, granting him immortality. Let’s focus on the second step, when Vishnu lifted his second step to cover the heavens, Brahma wanted to honor Vishnu by washing his feet. At that very moment, divine water manifested in his kamandal with which Brahma washed Vishnu’s feet. This divine water was the birth of Devi Ganga, who after passing through Vishnu’s feet was called Vishnupadi and then flowed in the cosmos, sanctifying the devas. But her destiny was beyond it; centuries
later, a Suryavanshi king, Bhagirath, brought Devi Ganga in Earth through rigorous penance. And since then Ganga is redeeming the mankind by washing its sins taking the role of Mokshadayini. Since she flows in the heavens, Earth and the netherworld, she is also revered as Tripathgamini.
But the world is indebted to her in more than one ways:
Ganga’s role in Kartikeya-Birth: When the all three worlds shuddered from the atrocities of Tarkasur, Maa Ganga made her motherly contribution in the demon’s annihilation. The demon could only be killed by son of Shiv; but unfortunately, Parvati couldn’t get to bear Shiv’s radiance as it transferred to Agni.
But the lord of fire too felt helpless and he requested Devi Ganga to carry Shiv’s radiance. Benign as her nature was, she agreed and played her important role by carrying the radiance of Shiva; who later was known to the world as Kartikeya, the war God. So in spite of not related to Shiva, Ganga bore his seed, which resulted in her stiff relation with Parvati.