Although Ganga Mata descended upon earth many thousands of years ago, devotees were touched to listen to a reading which revealed that She appeared in human form in this day and age. In a reading, taken from the book, Mother Ganga, Papaji, a well-known God-realised saint and disciple of Ramana Maharishi, narrates his divine meeting with Ganga Mata at the Maha Kumbha Mela in Prayag in 2001.
Papaji wrote, "One day, it was too crowded for me, so I went for a walk downstream. After about 5 kilometres, a girl ran up to me and fell at my feet. I looked around but her family was nowhere in sight, which was very strange because a young Indian woman never goes out alone.
"'Where are your parents?' I asked.
"She replied, 'I have no parents, I am alone'
"'Why are you here?' I continued. 'Why don't you go to the Prayag where the Kumbha Mela is being performed? Why are you alone out here?'
"Then she said, 'In this Mela, everybody comes to remove their sins by having a bath in the confluence of the three Holy rivers. Everybody leaves their sins, but what can I do with them? I have vowed to take the sins away from these people, and I do, but I must leave them at the feet of a true saint and be free of them. I have been searching the Mela for seven days, but I have not found anybody who could take these sins. But now I have found you who are the only person to whom I could release their sins. I am Ganga!'
"Then I looked at her beautiful eyes and knew that they were not human, and I noticed that her body was transparent and that I could look right through it. She stood up and walked out onto the river and slowly became one with the water. I stood there for many hours wandering what had happened and how I could have been so blessed to have seen her in her real form. She had been living in the heavens, but has compassionately come down to earth in response to Bhagiratha's penance. Now she blesses all those who see her, or taste her, or touch her. This is the experience of my Mother."
In the screening of the DVD programme that evening, we saw how King Bhagiratha did penance to invoke the Grace of Ganga Mata. The earth would not be able to bear the pressure of the great, vast and powerful currents of Ganga Mata as She made Her way down from the celestial regions. Left uncontrolled, the whole earth would be submerged in Her waters. Again, at the bidding of Lord Brahma, King Bhagiratha did rigorous penance for a full hundred years. Lord Siva was pleased with him and readily accepted his entreaties to check and control the flow of Ganga Mata. With surge, fury and foam, Ganga Mata began to descend from the celestial regions. Flashes of lightning followed by thunder and the uncontrollable flow seemed as if a deluge was about to devour the whole world. But Lord Siva coolly received Her in His matted locks and let Her drip over Him. This divine journey from the celestial regions to the matted locks of Lord Siva, is celebrated as Ganga Saptami.
In this turbulent current period, due to many malpractices, the divine river is threatened by severe pollution. This poses a danger not only to humans but also to animals. Pujya Swamiji was very concerned about this threat and wrote in the book, Glory of Guru's Grace, "DLS of S.A. wished to collaborate with the directors of Eco-Friends, Kanpur, India who were rendering great service to the Ganga by trying to restore the river to its pristine purity. Plans were made to set up Ganga Cultural Centres along the river. Unfortunately, the Ganga Cultural Centres did not materialise due to apathy of some individuals".
In that same article, Pujya Swamiji states, "Regarding the sanctity and purity of Ganga water, Sri Amitabha Mukerjee of India states in the Internet, 'Water from the Ganges has the recursive property that any water mixed with even the minutest quality of Ganga water, becomes Ganga water and inherits its healing properties. Also, despite its many impurities, Ganga water does not stink if stored for several months."
We conclude this report with an excerpt from a poem read on that night, written by our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda:
Sitting for five minutes on Thy bank, gives inspiration and peace, Ganga Rani
Again, and again, salutations unto Thee, O Ganga Rani!
Bless me, guide me, protect me, Ganga Rani.