Tapobhoomi Rishikesh & Devbhoomi Uttarakhand:
Ganga Snanam in Rishikesh was my childhood dream and every Bharathiya would like to have at least once in their life to go and have a holy dip in Maa Ganga.
What to say about this experience to be in Tapobhoomi Rishikesh which witnesses our Rishis doing “Tapasya”, Punya Katha Shravena, yagna etc. Once I reached, immediately headed to Ganga to do my first Ganga Snanam and within few minutes, I reached the holy lap of Ganga.
On 23rd July-2012, I had the blessings to experience the Tapobhoomi “Rishikesh” and stayed in Kovilur Mutt which is near to Dayananda Saraswati Ashram just on the banks of Maa Ganga.
Ganga, the mother, the lifeline of millions, sacred river, is flowing with an extraordinary speed in Rishikesh since this city is almost at the end of the Shivalik range of Himalayas in Uttarakhand and next Ganga touches Haridhwar. For every sanatani, every Bharathiya, every devoutyatri, the moment standing in front of Ganga is eternal, busting of devotion, tears in eyes, joy in heart, peace in mind, energy in soul, what else shall I express.
The descendence of Maa Ganga:
When Vamana murthi become Trivikrama and measuring every world through his feet, it entered Brahmaloka and Brahma immediately washed the feet of Trivikrama by the water available in his “Kamandalu” and that water “Padhotakam” become holiest and named Mandakini, Ganga etc and it was there in Brahmaloka.
Srimadh Valmiki Ramayan explains the “Ganga Vadaranam (the descendence of Ganga to earth)” with majestic Sanskrit verses in 42nd chapter in Balakanda. As per Ramayana, The King Sagara had son named Asamanjas from his wife Kesini and another 60000 sons from another wife Sumathi. He intended to do Ashwa medha yagnya as per his Guru Vashishtha’s suggestion. During the yagnya, the yagnya horse was stolen by Indira since he always fears that he would be ousted from Indira designation if somebody completed 100 Ashwa medha yagnya. Due to this theft, King Sagara’s yagnya get disrupted and he sent his 60000 Son’s to search the horse throughout the earth and when they started enter into downside (Padala loka), they had dharshan of Rishi Kapila and found their horse near to him and then they got cursed by Kapila and they all become an ash since they disrupted Kapila’s meditation. (Actually, Indra stole the horse and just left near Kapila rishi and disappeared)
After some period, King Sagara sent his grandson “Amsuman” to search horse as well as his 60000 sons and Amsuman had dharshan of Kapila rishi and prayed him to takeover the horse. Rishi Kapila blessed him and Garuda told Amsuman that he needs to bring “Ganga” from Brahmaloka to do the final rites for his 60000 forefathers. Then, He took the horse and completed the yagnya. However, King Sagara, then Amsuman, his son Thiliban all were unable to bring “Ganga” to earth despite their honest efforts.
Then, Thiliban’s son Bhagiratha become the King of Ayodhya, he was true achiever and handed over his kingdom to his ministers and went to Sri Gokarna to do the penance towards Lord Brahma, After many years Brahma appeared and Bhagiratha requested Brahma to release “Ganga” to the earth and Brahma told him that If the Ganga directly descend to earth, earth wouldn’t bear her speed and somebody has to control the speed of Ganga and only Shri Parameshwara is alone capable of bearing the unmeasurable speed of Ganga, hence Brahma suggested him to do tapasya towards Shri Parameshwara.
Bhagiratha went to Gangotri and continued his tapasya towards Lord Shiva and after prolonged period, Shiva appeared before him and assured to bear the Ganga in his head.
After this, Brahma released Ganga from Brahma loka, she then travelled through “Dhruva mandalam”, Saptha rishi mandalam and reached the heads of Shri Parameshwara, while entering, she intended to push Shiva himself downwards with much fast, but but what she can do in-front of Shri Parameshwara, He controlled her inside his “Big Jata” and she was unable to find the path to reach earth and she simply disappeared. Now Bhagiratha again started worshipping Shiva then Shri Parameshwara released Ganga through small stream, she followed the chariot of Bhagiratha and every devi, devata’s, rishis everyone took the holy bath in Ganga since her association with all tri murthis’s Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
(Image: Rishikesh – Triveni ghat – The descendance of Ganga to the earth)
During her journey, she entered yagnyashala of Rishi Janhu and he simply drank the river, she again disappeared, however nothing of this obstacles could stop Bhagiratha, he prayed to Rishi and he released Ganga from his right ear and due to this, she got another name Jhanhavi (The daughter of janhu rishi).
Ganga continuously followed the chariot of Bhagiratha and travelled from North to eastwards and enriched Bharatvarsh forever and fulfilled his desire to do the final rites for his forefathers who were all cursed to become an ash.
What a man Bhagiratha is, what a devotion, persistence and consistency in his efforts, due to his unrelenting efforts, The Bharatavarsh and entire planet is getting benefitted. Every Bharathiya and Sanatani’s will always cherish the memory of Bhagiratha for his unrelenting efforts to bring Maa Ganga to the earth, without him we couldn’t imagine how the world looks like without Ganga. Due to this, there was the term coined “Bhagiratha Prayatna”.
This is an evergreen story of “Ganga reaching the earth” as explained by Brahmarishi Viswamitra to Prabhu Ram during their journey to mithila as per Srimadh Valmiki Ramayana.
The Glory of Maa Ganga:
Skanda Puran, Kashi kandam, Linga Puran and other all puranas & epics are speaking exclusively about glory of Maa Ganga and before doing Ganga Snanam, it is very essential to understand, then only, we will be able to experience the ever prevailing divinity of Ganga.
- The foremost glory is, Ganga’s association with all trimurthi’s Shri Brahma, Shri Hari and Shri Parameshwara. What Valmiki rishi said in many verses in Ramayana, Aacharyal Aadhi Sankaracharyaa explained the same in one sloka in Gangashtakam.
Aathow aadhi pithamahasya niyama viyabara patre jalam
Paschath pannaka saiyino bhagavathah padhotakam pavanam
Bhuuya sambhu jata vibhoosana manihi janhor mahar seriyam
Kanya kalmasha nasini bhagavathi baghirathi pathumam.
-4th Sloka, Gangashtakam, Aadhi Sankaracharya
(Ganga, you were earlier in Brahma’s kamandalu, then when you touch the feet of Narayana, you become pure and you are being the glorious jewel in Parameshwara’s head, then you become daughter of Janhu maharishi, hey Ganga, you remove all our sins and please protect me).
- Ganga is the only river flowing in Brahma loka, bhooloka and padala loka. In Brahma loka, she is called as a “mandakini”, Ganga in our bhooloka and Bhagirathi in Padala loka. Since she is flowing in all three worlds, she is called as a “Tripataka”.
- Srimadh Bhagavatham was taught to Parikshith chakravarthy by Sukha Brahma Rishi on the banks of Ganga in the place called “Sukthall” which is small town in muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh state.
- Maa Ganga possess the divinity prevail in all sacred ponds, lakes, tirthas in entire world, If the person baths once in Ganga, he would reeceive the benefits of doing bath in all other punya tirthas.
- How worshipping one shiva linga denotes the entire world, similarly, bathing in Maa Ganga receives the benefits of bathing in other all sacred kunds, tirthas in entire world.
- I have seen many people chanting Ganga, Ganga, Ganga when they bath in their house, native village. This simple chanting provides the benefits of doing bath in Maa Ganga. Devi Bhagawatam says, “The one who chants the names of Ganga far away from her is freed from his sins and reaches the abode of Narayana”
- Thinking and chanting the name of Ganga during every activity in day to day life sitting, walking, eating, traveling etc, possess the potential to destroy all our sins done knowingly or unknowingly.
- Whether you do the bathing in Ganga with or without knowledge or forced, Ganga will eradicate all the sins committed by you knowingly or unknowingly.
- Shri Krishna says in Bhagawat Geeta “Shrodasamasmi Jhahnavi” – Am being a Ganga among all rivers,
- Shri Ramakrishna paramahamsa said that Ganga is Brahmavaari, Ganga is the ‘Brahman’ in water form.
- Few drops of Ganga water is enough and you won’t meet yama (It means, you won’t get scared of death and you will reach the abode of hari, Yamadhoothas won’t come to take your Jeevan but Vishnu parshada’s will come to take you to the abode of Vishnu) as per Bhajagovindam of Aacharyal Aadhi Sankaracharya “Ganga jalalava kanikaa peeta”.
- Bhisma Pitamaha spoke the glory of Ganga in Shanti Parva & Anusasana Parv in Mahabharatha.
- In Vedic hymns, Ganga is mentioned “Imam me Gange yamune saraswati”
- Guiding the people to do the devoutyatra to Ganga is as equal as taking the bath in Ganga and it means, just through guiding the people to go to Ganga, all the sins will be washed out.
- There is no need to wait for the auspicious time to dip into Ganga, Any time you can do the bath in holy Ganga. Since going near to Ganga itself is an auspicious time, then why look into the muhurtam at all, just dip & submerge in her divinity.
- Despite there is no need to wait for auspicious time, some particular days are most important due to its significance. Makar Sankaranti is the most auspicious time to bath in Ganga and this day, Sun will enter into Makar Rasi from Dhanur Rasi. Doing Ganga snanam on all sankaranti days will give the benefit which will be thousand times of normal day.
- Bathing in Ganga during lunar eclipse or Solar eclipse is the most pious time in life and the devotee will get the blessing which will be one lakh time benefit of normal day. As per our scriptures, all the good deeds you are doing during the solar as well as lunar eclipse will provide one lakh times benefit of normal day and in that case, if you do the Ganga snanam on eclipse day, it will give multiplication effect.
Sanatani’s & Ganga:
- Ganga is the purest in the world and all the auspicious occasions, every sanatani are remembering Ganga.
- Ganga water will cure the illness, the illness is not for physical body but the soul and Ganga water will eradicate the bondage in material life, these are unshakeable belief of every Sanatani.
- If the person died & cremated somewhere and the ashes are immersed in Ganga, he/she will attain the moksha, this is unbreakable belief of every sanatani.
- If a devotee stays near Ganga and dong Ganga snanam everyday for a month, he will attain Indra loka.
- If a devotee stays near Ganga and dong Ganga snanam everyday for a year, he will attain Vishnu loka.
- If a devotee stays near Ganga throughout his life and doing Ganga snanam, he will definitely attain Moksha.
When I was standing on the lap of Ganga in Rishikesh, these innumerable thoughts and unexplainable Goosebumps were swallowed me and still I was thinking how to keep the leg on my holiest mother, any time shall all we think about keeping leg on our mother??. No the same way, but what to do, let her shower mercy on me and instead of keeping leg first and shall we directly dived into the Ganga, but it is too risky if we see the speed of her flow in Rishikesh. Then what to do.
These are not new thoughts but our rishi’s must have thought lakhs of decades before and they blessed us the procedure what to do in the river in the form of shastras. As per dharma shastras, we should not enter directly into the river. Before that, we need to do the namaskara and to do the Aachamana.
I wholeheartedly did bow to her and did the aachamanam (Achutaya namaha, Ananthaya namaha, Govindaya namaha) and entered carefully into my ever holy mother Ganga, The first moment itself we all can experience about spiritual current, she is pushing into us, I felt that for this moment only, am living, getting birth in Bharatavarsh just to do the Ganga snanam in my life and henceforth, I will do it whenever she blesses me and despite am living 2000 KM away from her, if she decided to see me and intend to bless me, who else is there in this world to stop it. Now in 2019, almost six years are over after doing my first Ganga snanam but still am feeling same Goosebumps if one minute I thought about Ganga. Indeed she blessed me for multiple Ganga snanam in past 5-6 years.
After Sankalpam, Govinda nama sankeertanam, I chanted Gangashtakam with tears and proud in my eyes and chanted Aaditya hridayam. (For this moment alone, I learnt Gangashtakam) and then prayed her to bless me for many more Ganga snanam and specially asking her blessing for getting Vivekam, Vairagyam, bhakti and Gnanam in my life. Devoutyatri’s want these only not material things. Then I just completed the bath and again did the namaskara to her and left to my room.