The importance, which the ‘Bhagawad Gita’ has in the field of spirituality, the same prominence, and importance has been given to
the holy river Ganges in the field of religion and religious activities.
No other river has been as much mentioned in the `Purana’ as the holy Ganges. According to the Puranas the Ganges is the holiest
of all the shrines on this earth. Not only the man, but even the most mean creatures like insects etc get liberated and achieve
The holy sight of Ganges gives knowledge,Splendours,name,fame etc. The gravest of sins like Brahmhatya (killing of a brahmin)
and Gauhatya (killing of a cow) gets absolved by the mere touch of Ganga holy water.
himself has described the importance of river Ganges in the
following way, he says to Garuda.
(Thousands of man sin gets destroyed by the holy sight of the Ganges, and he becomes pure, by the touch of Ganges water, by
having it, or by just pronouncing ‘Ganga-Ganga’. For this reason Ganges is also called SANSARTARINI (Saviour of this world).
ORIGIN OF GANGA
There are many versions of stories regarding the origin of Ganges. According to the Valmiki Ramayana Ganges was the
daughter of ‘Himalaya’ and ‘Maina’. The deities abducted her and took her to heaven. From that time onwards, ‘Ganga’ started
living inside the ‘Karmandala’ (a spout shoped vessel).
According to Kritivas Ramayana the deities had taken ‘Ganga’ to Lord Shiva to get her married with him. When ‘Maina’ did not find
her in the house, she cursed to attain the form of water.
According to another version, king Sagar the descendent of Sun God (Suryavanshi) performed a ‘Ashvamedh Yagya’ in which a
horse was set free followed by his sixty thousand sons. Indra, with the motive of destroying the effects of that ‘Yagya’ stole that horse
and tethered it outside the hermitage of sage Kapila. The sixty thousand sons of Sagar came searching for the horse to the
hermitage of Sage Kapila. They started to create nuisance, sage Kapila cursed them and they burnt to ashes.
Anshuman another son of king Sagar came searching for his sixty thousand brothers, to Kapila’s hermitage. When he came to know
about the whole story he requested him to tell about the means by which his brothers could attain salvation. Kapila said that his
brothers would attain salvation, if the water of Ganga were sprinkled on them.
Following the instructions of Kapila, Anshuman started doing penance on the Himalaya. But he was not successful in his attempt to
bring Ganga to earth. His son Dilip too tried, but in vain, atlast Bhagiratha, the son of Dileep was successful in getting a boon from
Lord Brahma, as a result of which ‘Ganga’ descended down to earth. The force of the current was so great that there was a fear of her
entering the nether world, unless she was stopped on the earth. Bhagiratha pleased Lord Shiva and requested him to hold her in
his Jata (hairs). Lord Shiva accepted it and did the same as requested. He released Ganga on the earth, as a result of which
Ganga was subdivided into seven streams 1) Dwadini, 2) Pavani and 3) Nalini flew towards the east 4) Vakshu, 5) Sita, 6) Sindhu flew towards the west and the seventh
stream followed the route, as instructed by Bhagiratha, and hence was called 7) Bhagirathi. Ultimately all the sixty thousand sons
of Sagar were liberated by the sprinkle of the water of the Ganga.
JANHVI – Another name of the Ganga is Janhvi.
Ganga followed Bhagiratha who was on his chariot. Because of her tremendous speed, all the villages, Forests, etc in the way were
either getting submerged or drowned.
Sage Jahnu who was doing a yagya in his hermitage got angry when his hermitage was submerged in the Ganga. He drank whole of
the Ganga by his yogic power. At this the deities, and the men became restless and they requested Jahnu to release Ganga. ‘Jahnu’
released Ganga from his thigh by cutting it and for this reason Ganga is also called 'Jahnavi' or 'Jahnusta'.
River Ganges is the longest river in India, The origin of river Ganges lies at the height of 13800 feet in the mountain ranges of
Himalayas, in Tehri Garhwal, near Gangotri.
The cave from which river Ganges, originates is called ‘Gomukha’ ,known as Bhagirathi’. It is known as Bhagirathi in this
region. River Ganges gets water from the melting snow of Nanda devi, Gurla, Mandhata, Dhaulagiri, Gesaisthan, Kanchenjunga and
Mount Everest. Many small and big rivers merge with the Ganges in the Himalayan region.
From, the point of her origin up to ‘Badrinath’ in the eastern region, the Ganges is known as ‘Vishnu Ganga’. In the western
region it is the ‘Dhaula Ganga’ of the ‘DronaGiri’.Dhaula Ganga merge with Vishnu Ganga near ‘Joshi Math’ and this combined stream is known as ‘Alaknanda’.
After Rudraprayag’ river Ganges enters ‘Rishikesh’ and after that she turns toward ‘Haridwar’ which is situated in south-West direction from Rishikesh.
At Allahabad river ‘Yamuna’ merge with river Ganges. In the ancient times there was also another river named ‘Sarswati’
which merged at Allahabad , but it has now become extinct. This union of three rivers at Allahabad is also known as
After Prayag the Ganges reaches ‘Varanasi’. Later on this river ‘Gomati’ merge with the Ganges.
After that the Ganges enters the state of Bihar. Near Patna river ‘Gandak’ coming from Nepal also merge into the Ganges. One
stream is known as 'Hughli' and ultimately merges into the 'Bay of Bengal'.
The Ganges travels a distance of 1557 miles beginning from the point of origin till she ultimately merge into the ocean.