Sri Ganga Dashahara

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!


Gangapujan Dashahara or Dussehra is the "appearance day" or day that marks the descent of Mother Ganges - Ganga Maiyya to the world of humans.

Throughout India this festival lasts ten days beginning on the Amavasya (dark moon night) and going through to the dasami tithi (tenth phase of the Moon, the day before Pandava Nirjal Ekadasi). The Ganga Sagara Mela festival is celebrated at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal.

The sacred Ganga is worshipped as a nurturing mother as well as a Goddess, particularly by people of Uttara Pradesh, Bihar, and Bengal through which she flows and renders the land fertile. On this day, if a devotee is unable to visit and bathe in the river Ganga, then Ganga jal (water) kept in most Hindu homes is used for purification.

Ganga has a lofty position in the Vedic belief-system. She is repeatedly invoked in the Vedas, the Puranas (old stories), and the two Indian epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Emerging from the big-toe of Sriman Narayana, she is considered one of His Shaktis.

Originally, Sri Ganga devi flowed in the heavenly regions. She was brought down to earth by the single-minded penance of the King Bhagiratha of the Solar dynasty and that is why she is also called Bhagirathi.

According to the legend, King Sagara of the Ikshvaku dynasty ruling at Ayodhya had two queens, Keshani and Sumati, but neither had a child. King Sagara performed severe austerities before his wives could produce sons. But whereas Keshani gave birth to a son called Asmanjas, Sumati bore a mass of flesh which miraculously divided itself into 60,000 babies.

In his old age, King Sagara performed the Ashwamedha sacrifice to declare his suzerainty over the entire land. According to the prevalent custom, the sacrificial horse was let loose and allowed to wander into the neighbouring kingdoms. If the horse was caught, then a battle ensued and the outcome decided the winner.

The 60,000 sons of Sagara were following the horse when they saw it enter a cavern in Patala where the great sage Kapila sat in meditation. Not seeing the horse in the cavern, they presumed that Kapila muni had captured it and was pretending to sit silently in samadhi, not responding to their questions.

They did not kill Kapila as he was a sage but they started disturbing his meditations. Annoyed at being disturbed, Kapila with a curse burnt the 60,000 sons of Sagara. They remained in Patala as a great mountain of ashes and bones unable to get deliverance because nobody knew of their whereabouts and their shrardha had not been performed.

Time passed and two generations later, Bhagiratha, the great grandson of Sagara, who knew the family history, desired to perform the shrardha ceremony of his dead departed ancestors in order to give them release from their pitiable state in the netherworld.

He prayed ardently to Lord Brahma who informed him that the souls of his ancestors could only be delivered if the shrardha was performed with Ganga water.

Brahma asked him to pray to Sri Hari - Vishnu, the Supreme Saviour, to allow the heavenly Ganga, originating from His big toe, to come down to earth. Vishnu when prayed to by Bhagiratha agreed, but asked him to pray to Lord Shiva, to allow the powerful descent of the river on his head before it came to the earth, as the current of the river was very forceful and if she were allowed to descend unchecked, her fall would split the earth.

Shiva agreed to take the gigantic weight of the cascading Ganga in the matted hair piled high on his head. This ensnared and delayed the progress of the river which, in meandering through the labyrinth of his hair, lost its force and then gently descended to the Himalayas from whence it flowed to the plains bestowing its purifying waters on the parched earth.

And that is why the image of Ganga is shown in the matted hair of Shiva who is also called Gangadhara, the Bearer of the Ganga. Being born in the Himalayas, Ganga is considered the elder sister of Parvati, who is also a daughter of the Himalayas and the eternal consort of Lord Shiva.

According to the Agni Purana and Padma Purana, the Ganga descended to the earth on Ganga Dashahara day and a bath in the holy river on this day is said to purify one of all sins.

To die on the banks of the Ganga is considered most auspicious. If that is not possible, then the immersion of the ashes after cremation in the river Ganga is a must, as it then releases one from the cycle of birth and re-birth.

The seven ways of worshipping the Ganga are: by calling out her name, Jai Ganga Maiyya, Har Har Gange! ; having darshan of her; by worshipping her waters; by worshipping and bathing; by standing in the waters of the river; and by carrying the mud dug out of the river.

Ganga in her deity form is shown as a beautiful young goddess riding on a crocodile (her vehicle), and holding a waterpot in her hands. Her image, with that of the Goddess Yamuna, is often depicted on the doors of temples and palaces.

Ganga’s holy water has the recursive property that any water mixed with even the minutest quantity of Ganga water becomes Ganga water, and inherits its healing and other holy properties. Also, despite its many impurities, Ganga water does not rot or stink if stored for many days.

To this date the water of holy Ganga is believed to have Amrit (nectar) in it. Scientists are unable to explain how the water collected from Ganga at its origin remains in a pure state and even after being kept for several years, does not get contaminated.

Sri Ganga devi in Navadwipa

Rasika saints aver that Ganga devi cherished a desire to have the Lord bathe and frolik in her waters as He had done with Yamuna in Vraja. To fulfill her innermost wish, the Supreme Lord as Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared in Navadwipa on the banks of the Ganga on a night when there was an eclipse and the entire town was immersed in the river chanting "Hari! Hari !"

The whole of Navadwipa - nine islands - are situated in and around the Ganga.

The holy Ganga was central to the Lord's leela in Navadwipa. Every day - twice or thrice a day - Mahaprabu and his associates would plunge into the cooling waters of Ganga and create quite a commotion - reminiscent of Sri Krishna's pastimes in Vrindavan. Mahaprabhu's family had their own private ghat on the Ganga.

It was on her banks that His 'tol' or class would gather and sit and listen to Nimai Pandit expounding on grammer and scriptures.

At the time of dusk, when the sun was just about to set and the environment was very peaceful Visvambhara and His friends went to have darsana of the River. On both sides of the river many brahmanas, saintly persons and women offered respects and prayers to Ganga-devi, with lighted lamps and flowers.

Ganga devi would be overjoyed at the presence of Gauranga Mahaprabhu and surge forward joyfully, overflowing the banks. People would step back at the sudden force of the current, but Mahaprabhu, knowing her heart's desire, would stand still and allow her waters to wash His lotus feet.

After touching His feet, the river would magically calm down and flow quietly again toward the sea. Many people witnessed this strange occurance and were convinced that Vishwambhar was none other than the Supreme Person Sri Krishna.

Sri Ganga devi is verily the spiritual heart of Bharat-varsha. She is special wherever she flows, but in Sridham Mayapur-Navadwipa, she is most merciful as she bestows Gauranga-prem on whoever visits her shores or worships and bathes in her waters.


Jai Ganga Maiyya !!

Nitai Gaur Hari Bol !!

Jai Jai Sri Radhey !!

Jai Guru !