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Report: Ganga Dussehra

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Ganga Dussehra was celebrated online as well as at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills on Thursday, 9 June 2022. In the book, Mother Ganga, our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda gives us a detailed account of the origin of this festival, "Ganga came out of the Supreme Being. She entered the Feet of Lord Hari and reached Vaikuntha. She issued from Go-Loka and passed through the regions of Vishnu, Brahma, Siva, Dhruva, Chandra, Surya, Tapa, Jana and Maha and reached Indra-Loka and flowed as Mandakini. From the celestial regions, Ganga was brought to the earth by rigorous penance of Bhagiratha. It came about like this.

In the days of yore, there lived a great king, Sagara. He was one of the mighty monarchs in the Solar race. The incarnation of Lord Rama was in this race. The monarch performed one hundred Ashvamedha sacrifices aspiring for Indrahood ─ kingship of Devas. In the hundredth sacrifice, the sacrificial horse was stolen by Indra for fear of being dethroned by the aspirant. Tied to a post, the horse was left within the premises of the Rishi Kapila's Ashram. All the sons of Sagara, sixty thousand in number, set out in the search of the horse. As soon as they found the horse in front of the sages Ashram, they mistook the sage unhesitatingly for the thief and began to wage war with him. The innocent sage, aroused by their thoughtless action, cursed them and burnt them to ashes.

Time rolled on. Kings after kings ruled and died. Long after this lamentable incident, there arouse another illustrious king, Bhagiratha, in the same family. He shuddered at the pitiable fate of his forefathers, and was extremely anxious to perform the necessary obsequies and religious rites levied by the scriptures. He consulted great Rishis and was advised to invoke Mother Ganga who alone could wash off the powerful curse of Rishi Kapila and satisfactorily fulfil his desires. Bhagiratha did great Tapas with all severities. Pleased with his penance, Mother Ganga appeared before him, and directed him to seek the help of somebody who could check Her flow, otherwise the whole earth would be submerged in her waters.

Again, Bhagiratha did rigorous penance for a full hundred years. It is needless to say that Lord Siva, the protector of all His devotees, was immensely pleased with the king and readily accepted to check and control Ganga through His matted locks. With surge, fury and foam, Ganga began to descend from the celestial regions. Flashes of lightning, thunders from clouds, 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 is Ganga Saptami Day.

Taking Her course into the interior of the Himalayas, Ganga was about to wash away Rishi Jahnu's Ashram. Sage Jahnu was naturally more powerful than Her and simply sipped the water. Bhagiratha was very disappointed. He did severe penance again to please Rishi Jahnu. At last, the sage let Ganga through his ears. Flowing from this outlet, Ganga flowed with entire modesty and all-embracing filial love and motherly affection. By Her Divine Grace, She uplifted all the sixty thousand princes to the highest abode of immortal bliss. This day is celebrated as the most sanctifying Ganga Dussehra.

Ganga Saptami and Ganga Dussehra are observed in Northern India. Ganga Saptami generally falls during the last week of April. Ganga Dussehra falls on the tenth day of the bright half of the month of Jyeshta and celebrates the flowing of the holy Ganga at the request of Raja Bhagiratha. This is an important bathing day. A big Mela is held in Haridwar from this day until the full moon, the fifteenth of Jyeshta. This is attended by a large number of people from the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

The video presentation depicts the torrential flow of Ganga Mata, descending onto the earth plane. King Bhagiratha then addresses the spirits of his ancestors, "Ancestors, the vow that I had taken for your salvation is now fulfilled. By the Grace of Goddess Parvati, Lord Siva and Lord Brahman, Ganga Mata has reached here."

The ancestors replied, "We thank you a million times, Son Bhagiratha. You are great! We are being salvaged because of you. We will attain emancipation."

Ganga Mata, radiant in white apparel, then appeared before King Bhagiratha. The king addressed Her reverentially thus, "O Ganga Mata, these countless piles of ashes which are lying before Thee are my ancestors, which were burnt alive by sage Kapil's curse. I had to take the trouble of bringing Thee here because of their untimely death. Mata, please grant them salvation!"

Ganga Mata replies, "Son Bhagiratha, every man makes an effort for his welfare. But the one who makes the effort for others is indeed rare. After this, the world will know me too as Bhagirathi. Son, now your name will become my identity. I grant salvation to your ancestors as per your wish."

Our obeisance to Ganga Mata, again and again for blessing us with Her divine presence.

Last modified on Wednesday, 13 July 2022 18:26
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