The river that is a gift from the God above, Ganges has seen many dynasty’s rise and fall. It has been carrying the joys and cries of people for thousands and thousands of years. It’s not just a river, but a faith healer, a companion, a friend and a God from the time one is born to the time we transcend from one world to another.
It’s sacred to Hindus and not without reason. Here are 22 points that elaborate why Ganges is our Goddess and will always be:
1. Ganges is believed to have originated from the Feet of Lord Vishnu – the Maintainer, Preserver or Protector.
Lord Vishnu in one of his incarnations, extended his feet to measure the universe, and pierced a hole into the cover of the earth with his toe. Through this opening, flowed divine waters, later known as the River Ganges.
2. It is also known as Bhagavat Padi i.e. ‘Emanating from the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan’.
Lord Vishnu had Lotus feet, covered with reddish saffron, and when Ganges washed his feet, it turned the color pink.
3. Before setting out on a final journey to the Earthly plane, Ganges settles in the abode of Lord Brahma, in Brahmaloka.
4. Ganges obliged Bhagiratha’s request to absolve the sins of his forefathers and agreed to descend to the Earth after he meditated upon Brahma.
When King Sagara’s 60 thousand sons were charred to death by a curse from sage Kapila, one of his descendants, Bhagiratha vowed to bring down Ganges in order to cleanse their souls.
Absolution was now possible but who would hold the mighty River Ganges falling off the heavens on earth was the next question.
Bhagiratha meditated upon Lord Shiva and He obliged. Lord Shiva was ready to bear the force of River Ganges on his head.
5. Legend states that Ganges flows over the head of Lord Shiva, who divides the waters into several streams without letting its waters destroy the Earth.
6. Ganges finds mention in the Rig-Veda, the holiest and most authentic of all scriptures in Sanatan Dharma.
It is referred to as Jahnavi; the Ganges River dolphins have also been mentioned.
7. Ganges is also the mother of Ganesha, along with Parvati.
While Parvati created Ganesha out of her bodily impurities, it was only after the immersion of Ganesha in the waters of Ganges, that he was endowed with life.
8. The waters of River Ganges are said be to self- cleansing in nature.
Scientifically, this is termed as anti-putrefaction. It was British physician C.E Nelson, who first noticed that water from Ganges, even when taken from the dirtiest parts of Hooghly, remained fresh throughout their journey to England.
Normally, water putrefies over a period of time due to lack of oxygen, but this did not hold true of Ganges water.
9. Hindus believe that a single dip in the holy waters of the Ganges can wash away sins of a lifetime.
10. Ganges water has anti-bacterial properties, which is why no matter how dirty its waters are, they generally don’t spread around contagious diseases.
In 1896, a British physician, E. Hanbury Hankin tested the waters of Ganges and found that bacterium Vibrio Cholerae, which is responsible for Cholera, when out into the water of Ganges dies in less than 3 hours. In normal course of time, it take over 48 hours to die.
11. Ganges purifies the earthly remains of the dead.
It was in 1927, when French Biologist discovered that bodies floating in Ganges, even of diseased people, would have no germs on them.
12. At Varanasi, Ganges flows backwards, from South to North, towards its source of origin, a phenomenon considered to be very auspicious by the Hindus.
13. Ganges is believed to be the daughter of the Mountain God, Himalaya.
14. Hindus believe that if the ashes of a dead person are poured into the Ganges, their soul ascends straight to paradise.
15. The Holy water is often brought down from Kashi, sealed in copper pots, which when had at the time of one’s death, helps attain salvation.
16. River Ganges is in all three worlds; that is why it’s also known as Triloka-patha-gamini, which means it exists in heaven, earth and netherworld (hell).
17. A bath in Ganges is believed to purify a seeker, internally and externally.
Externally, their bodies become immune to disease, and internally, they develop a devotional attitude.
18. Ganges- Sagara, the place where Ganges pours itself into the Bay of Bengal, is the place where thousands of people take a dip during Makara-Sankranti in the hope of liberation.
19. Lord Krishna said in Bhagavad-Gita “Of flowing rivers, I am the Ganges”.
20. The Holy Rivers Ganges and Yamuna confluence at Allahabad, which is considered as the Holiest place for the Hindus, and where the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years.
It is believed that any person who takes a bath that confluence of Ganges and Yamuna in the month of Magha, it is equivalent to sacrificing thousands of cows in charity.
21. Ganges is home to more than 140 species of fish and 90 different species of amphibian, many of which are on the verge of extinction.
22. Mistpouffers or Barisal Guns have been heard in the delta regions of Ganges and Brahmaputra.
These are unexplained sounds that resemble a sonic boom and have been reported from many delta waterfronts around the world. In Indian they’ve only been heard in Ganges.