The Holy River of India-River Ganges

Topics: Ganges, Allahabad, Varanasi Pages: 24 (9500 words) Published: June 19, 2011
The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India's age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga." - Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India, born in Allahabad on the Ganges

Ganges (Hindi Ganga), major river of the Indian subcontinent, formed in the southern ranges of the Himalaya, in northern Uttar Pradesh State, India. The Ganges is mainly in India, but also flows through Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The river, about 2,510 km (1,560 mi) long, rises in a snowfield called THE GANGOTRI GLACIER, situated among three Himalayan mountains all more than 6,706 m (22,000 ft) high. It issues as the Bhagirathi River from an ice cave, 3,139 m (10,300 ft) above sea level, and falls 67 m per km (350 ft per mi). About 16 km (10 mi) from the source is Gangotri, the first temple on its banks and a traditional resort of pilgrims. At the village of Devaprayag, 214 km (133 mi) from the source, the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda to form the Ganges.

The Hindus revere the Ganga as a goddess, as sister of Parvati who is the daughter of Himavan and the bride of Lord Shiva. The Ganga is called ‘the Mother’ and the lands through which she flows, are very fertile and prosperous in all aspects. The river provides spiritual sustenance to 1 billion Hindus, who regard it as sacred. And it provides physical sustenance to hundreds of millions of people who live in its watershed. The river passes through India's most populous state, its most lawless state, its holiest city and its cultural capital, Calcutta.

The Ganga is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. The Ganga is mentioned in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west. In RV 6.45.31, the word Ganga is also mentioned, but it is not clear if the reference is to the river. RV 3.58.6 says that "your ancient home, your auspicious friendship, O Heroes, your wealth is on the banks of the Jahnavi (JahnAvyAm)". This verse could possibly refer to the Ganga. In RV 1.116.18-19, the Jahnavi and the Gangetic dolphin occur in two adjacent verses. During the early Indo-Aryan Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati were the major rivers, not the Ganga. But the later three Vedas seem to give much more importance to the Ganga, as shown by its numerous references. According to the Hindu Purans, Goddess Ganga used to exist only in Heaven. Then prince Bhagirath worshipped Ganga to descend on earth.This is why Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. In the Mahabharath this story is also mentioned. In fact, Ganga is a major character in the Mahabharath, where she is the mother of Bhisma. Another version of the myth tells us that Ganga descended to earth to purify the souls of the 60,000 sons of an ancient ruler, King Sagara, who had been burnt to ashes by an enraged ascetic.

The Ganga is considered to be flowing in three worlds; heaven, earth, and the netherworlds, often referred to us triloka-patha-gamini ( During the early Indo-Aryan Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati were the major rivers, not the Ganga. But the later three Vedas seem to give much more importance to the Ganga, as shown by its numerous references.. Ganga in Hindu religion

The festival of Ganga Dashara is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Jyestha, when monsoon rains signal the descent of the Ganga from heaven to earth The Ganga Dashara is regarded as the birthday of the Ganga and bathing in the water is believed to destroy sins of ten lifetimes In one Vedic myth, Indra combats the serpent Vrtra that has trapped the celestial waters and by defeating Vrtra releases the sacred Ganga waters

The South Indian King, Raja Raja Chola, carried home the Ganga water after a victorious campaign in the North...
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