Ganga – Purity of Heaven on earth
Ganga Dussehara, also known as Gangavataran, is a popular Hindu festival commemorating the avatarana or descent of the Ganges onto this earth from heaven. This auspicious day occurs on Dashami, the 10th day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Jyeshtha (during May and June).
There are three aspects in this celebration of Ganga’s arrival on the earth:
- Ganga’s appearance from Bhagvan Vishnu’s feet into Brahma’s kamandal (Ganga Saptami – May 18th 2021)
- Ganga’s journey from Brahma’s kamandal onto Bhagvan Shankar’s head (Ganga Dussehara – 20th June 2021)
- Ganga’s descent from Bhagvan Shankar’s head onto the earthly Ganga Sagar in the ocean (Kartik Purnima (Kartik Nahan) – 19th November 2021)
Legend of Ganga Dussehara
According to Hindu scriptures, in Satya Yuga there lived the great king Sagara of the Solar dynasty (Suryavamsa). His grandson, Bhagirath, prayed to Mother Ganga to liberate his ancestors’ souls. Through his efforts, Ganga came on this earth, merging into the ocean at Ganga Sagar in Bengal, India.
Ganga – A Scientific Approach
The Ganges or Ganga, is one of the holiest rivers in the world. There is continuous research by modern science (chemical and biological), on the purity of Ganga’s waters. Scientists declared that the Ganga waters contain the ability to kill bacterial germs, thus behaving as antibiotics do. Because of this, its water is always pure. In Ganga’s flow from the Himalayas to Ganga Sagar, many chemicals, which are helpful and healthful, meet and mix in the water.
Glory of Ganga
The first Prime Minister of independent India, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, was a great modern and scientific thinker. His popular book, Discovery of India, states that Ganga encompasses Mother, history, culture, civilization and progress of Mother India. His last will specified, “after my death, my ashes are to be poured in the Ganga”. Many people prefer to perform funeral cremations on Ganga’s river bank and sanyaasins and devotees take bath in its waters due to the belief of liberation and purification.
Ayurveda (Vedic medical science) states “Aushadam janhavitoyam”, meaning “Ganga water is a medicine”. The entire belt of the Ganga is 100% fertile land, improving the economy of its country, Mother India.
Ganga holds the place of Mother in our Sanatan Dharma culture. In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, verse 31, Bhagvan Krishna declared “I am Ganga, among the rivers” (srotasām asmi jāhnavī).
Adi Shankaracharya, who wrote great hymns dedicated to Ganga, composed The Ganga Stotram – eight verses praising Ganga. He declares:
Patito dhaarinni Jaahnavi Gangge Khannddita-Giri-Vara-Mannddita-Bhangge |
5.1: (Salutations to Devi Ganga) O Jahnavi Ganga, You are the uplifter of the fallen, and You flow meandering through the Great Mountains (of Himalayas), cutting through them and adorning them.
Ganga in the Caribbean
Sri Swami Ganapathy Sachchidananda, Spiritual Leader of the Dattatreya Yoga Centre, first arrived in Trinidad on 12th August 1976. His search for the holy Sararipu River in the Western hemisphere led him to the Aripo river. This river was originally described in the Brahmanda Purana, stating it’s location in Uttara Kashi. Sri Swamiji confirmed that this was indeed the river He was searching for and renamed it the “Aripo Datta Ganga”. It is a major pilgrimage centre where local and foreign devotees can take a spiritual bath and receive physical and spiritual healing. Here, one experiences the merging of earth, water and sky in the midst of Nature’s ornate holy setting.
Ganga Dhaara commenced under the guidance of Sri Raviji and the Hindu Prachar Kendra. Swami Brahmaswarupananda, founder of Brahma Vidya Peetham International (BVPI), also joined in this Ganga Dhaara celebration, describing it as a teerath – a pilgrimage site located at the Marianne River in Blanchisseuse where devotees have been worshipping for almost 3 decades.
Under the guidance of the late Shri Satnarayan Maharaj, former Secretary General of Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and great Hindu leader, Kartik Nahan has been gloriously celebrated where pundits and devotees pay their respects to Mother Ganga by performing offerings near the oceans and rivers. According to Sadhvi Anandamaiyee Giri, Secretary General – BVPI, “their tribute that we felt in the atmosphere is so similar to that experienced in Haridwar, Prayag, Patna and Ganga Sagar”.
When Swamiji travelled from India to the UK, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other diaspora countries, shlokas to Ma Ganga were frequently recited by pundits and devotees – “Ganga Cha Yamuna Chaiva Godavari Saraswati Narmada Sindhu Kaveri Jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru”. Some have never visited the Ganges physically but held deep heartfelt reverence for Ma Ganga.
In Suriname, Swamiji and local devotees started Ganga Sagar, where he delivered many discourses and conducted pujas to large gatherings. Similarly, in Guyana, Mother Ganga is revered in Kartik Nahan celebrations. In Mauritius there is Ganga Talaab, in Fiji and Nickerie there is also Ganga Ghat. Respect and celebration for Ganga is also popular in Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Marteen, St. Kitts, French Guiana and Venezuela. Swamiji and Sadhviji attended these countries’ Ganga celebrations continuously over many years. Swamiji stated “Ganga celebration is Indo-Caribbean and Hindu religious ecology”.
Mother Ganga in Yoga philosophy
In yoga philosophy this body contains:
- three layers – physical, psychic and astral
- seven chakras or divine centres, starting from the tailbone and culminating on the head.
There are 72000 nerves in the body, and three are of paramount importance: ida, pingala and sushumna. According to yoga:
- Pingala represents Saraswati – nerves of knowledge
- Ida represents Yamuna – nerves of action
- Sushumna represents Ganga – nerves of the emotion and love
These three nerves merge at the Agya Chakra, the centre of the forehead which symbolizes Prayag. In Prayag, the merging of the rivers occur and from there the Ganga flows toward Ganga Sagar. That description is contained in the Tulsi Ramayan, Baal Kaand but it is most detailed in the Purana.
Mother Ganga is a perennial symbol of purity, flowing towards Prayag, cleansing the body, mind and soul of all humanity on this Mother Earth. Jai Ma Gange!
Swami Brahma Swarupananda
Sadhvi Anandamaiyee Giri
Brahma Vidya Peetham Int’l
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