Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Ganga - The Sacred River


Ganga is the name of the goddess of the sacred river Ganga. She originally resided in the heavens, but was brought to the earth by Bhageeratha, who wanted to send his ancestors to salvation. They had been burnt to ashes by the wrath of the great sage Kapila, and consequently no one had performed their funeral rites. Due to this, their souls could not ascend to heaven.

Bhageeratha also took the help of Lord Shiva, who was to bear the force of the river's flow when she would descend from heaven to earth. Thinking to unsettle the Lord, she used all her might in this descent. However, Shiva was more than equal to handling this playful goddess and imprisoned her among his matted locks. She was trapped! Upon Bhageeratha's besseching him, Shiva released a tiny portion of the flow to earth. This tiny flow is the mighty river Ganga who originates in the Himalayas.

Ganga was once cursed to marry a mortal. In fulfillment of the curse, she married Shantanu and begat him eight children. All except the last, she drowned in the river. The last one survived due to the intervention of her husband. This surviving child is Bhishma, who is referred to as Ganga-Putra. Since Shantanu had broken his promise never to counteract her, she left him, taking his son (who was at that time named Devaratha) with her. She later returned him to the King, after having him suitably eduacated both in the scriptures and in bearing arms.

Last Modified At: Thu Oct 21 22:19:17 2004