Sri Ganga Appearance day is very special. On this day, Ganga Ji is being worshipped in India, and this is the birthday of mother Ganga.
Places Sri Krishna resides in:
In the 20th verse of the 16th chapter of the 11th skand in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Krishna tells I’m Ganga in the holy and flowing objects.
Vrindavan das Thakur is telling that there are 4 places where Sri Krishna always lives:
- Place where Srimad Bhagwatam is
- Place where Tulsi plant is
- Place where mother Ganga always flows
- Place where devotees live
In these four places, Sri Krishna always lives. If we bring Vighrah to our home, then before their service, Pranprathishtha is needed, but in these four places, Sri Krishna always lives.
Potency to give freedom from Repeated Birth and Death:
Srila Kavikarnpurna mentions in Mahakavya Chaitanya Charitramrit that Ganga has enough potency to dry the ocean of birth-death in which the jiva always flows with repeated birth and death. She can bring out the jiva from this birth and death cycle.
When we hear this glorification of mother Ganga, that she can bring us out from the Birth and death cycle, then a question comes to mind ‘if mother Ganga is powerful enough, then what is she doing in this material world?’ what was the reason that Ganga Ji appeared on this earth?
So, there are two stories behind it:
Vamana Dev’s charnamrit:
Once, Balimaharaj was performing a very vast Yagya. A Brahman voluntary could have come and asked for anything when these rituals were done. Then, a beautiful dwarf child came in front of everyone in the assembly. Then Balimaharaj asked that brahman that “What boon do you want?” then that child replied and asked for 3 steps of land. When Balimaharaj heard this, he got very surprised. He said, “You came to a King, ask for something big” then Vaman dev said, “the person who doesn’t get satisfaction in three steps of land if he is being provided three worlds yet then he will not become satisfied” then after hearing this Balimaharaj agreed to give three steps of land to that child. Still, the master of Balimaharaj- Sukracharya, denied it and said, “He is Vishnu; he will snatch everything from you.” Then Balimaharaj thought, “If he is Vishnu and has come to take all of mine, then I’m not able to stop him”.
Then Balimaharaj agreed to give three steps of land to Vaman dev. Then that small child, who was Vishnu himself, started to measure. He measured the world only in 1 foot. When he lifted his second leg to measure the upper worlds, then his toe went to the upper of Bharamloka and the covering of universe where Virja river flows, when the toe of Vamana dev touched the covering of universe than a drop of Virja river fall and came on earth and came in the form of mother Ganga when it was the velocity of only of a drop then Bhrama filled that in his Kamandalu. So, at that time, mother Ganga only used to flow on heavenly planets and didn’t come to earth. So, as Ganga came after touching the feet of Vaman dev, Ganga is the charnamrit of the lord.
How Ganga Appeared on earth from the Heavenly Planets?:
As we always know, the demons, and the non-devotees, always persecute the sages. So, once upon a time, many demons used to hide in the ocean during the day, and at night they all used to come out from it and persecute the sages. They used to destroy the Ashrams and Yagyashalas of sages. So, once the sages went near a sage named August. When he learned that these demons used to persecute the sages, he drank the whole water of the ocean as the demons used to hide in it. Now his thinking was quite good as he did all because to help devotees, but every place got dry by this action on the earth.
So, once there was a king named Sagar Maharaj. He was very powerful. He was having 2 wives named Keshani and Sumati, but there was no child in his family. For a child, both of her did very hard penance by which Keshni got a child and Sumati got 60,000 children. To show his power, king Sagar organized the Ashvamegha Yagya, in which he left a horse.
Anyone who caught that horse would have to fight with the King, and when King’s horse was going, King’s 60,000 sons were also following that horse. Then that horse went into the ashram of Kapil Muni, and all the King’s sons thought that Kapil muni might have caught the horse, but as Kapil muni was a sage, they all didn’t kill Kapil muni, but they began to destroy all the nearby things. As Kapil Muni’s penance got disturbed, he got very angry with them and converted all the 60,000 sons into ash.
Now, the time passed, and Bhagirat Ji went there. When he saw the bones of his ancestor, then he decided to do shradh of them. But there was no water on earth, and it was very dry at that time because August Muni drank whole the water.
Then he performed a hard penance, and mother Ganga got very happy by watching the great penance of Bhagirat Ji, and she got ready to come on earth, but she was having two distresses:
- The velocity of her is very high, if she collides with earth, then earth will burst into pieces, and she will go into lower worlds as Pataal Lok.
- There are very sinful people; she will become dirty if they all take a bath in her. How will she be purified?
So, the solution came; Shiv Ji would hold mother Ganga in his queues. So when Ganga Ji came with her fast velocities, Shiv Ji held her in his queue. That is why Shiv Ji is being called Gangadhar. Then after Ganga Ji came out from the Himalayas, she is also known as the elder sister of Parvati Devi, and then Shiv Ji opened his only queue and left the Ganga Ji on this earth. So first tension was gone. Then god said to Ganga that whenever the Vaishnav, the devotees of the supreme lord, will take a bath in her, she will be purified.
So, by this, the prayers of Bhagirath Ji and Ganga Ji appeared on this earth. She also flows as Mandakini in the heavens and also flows as Bhogvati in the lower worlds.
So, Ganga Ji appeared on this earth to bring out the all jivs of this material world from the ocean of birth and death. So by the appearance of Ganga Ji, the ocean of birth and death got dry. If someone leaves his body on the bank of Ganga Ji, then this is very auspicious for him.
Penance of Mother Ganga:
Once, Ganga Devi went to Antardvipa island in Navadvipa for penance because she thought the fortunate of Yamuna Devi was much bigger than that of her because Sri Krishna spent most of his time in the waters of Yamuna Devi, and he has done many of his pastime in the rivers of Yamuna Devi. She didn’t get this special mercy that Yamuna Devi received. So, upon hearing the prayers of Ganga Devi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performed most of his pastimes on the banks of Ganga Ji and in Ganga Ji also. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu daily used to go to Ganga Ji, and based on Ganga Ji’s desires, he has done his many pastimes in Ganga Ji. Sometimes, the kirtan of Haribol- Haribol used to be performed inside the Ganga Ji.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s love for Mother Ganga:
In Chaitanya Bhagwat, it is also told that sometimes Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to play and take a bath in Ganga Ji for 6 hours. As Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a supreme Shiksha Guru, he also taught how to enter Ganga Ji? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to respect Ganga Ji a lot before entering Ganga Ji; he always used to do Dandavat Pranaam to her. He used to give her respect as he gave his mother, Sachi Mata. Once, after taking sannyasa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu expressed his desire to go Navadvipa from Jagannath Puri because he wanted to meet two persons; his mother Sachi Mata and to take darshan of Ganga Ji.
Once, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stood up near the bank of Ganga. At that time, Ganga felt so much separated from Mahaprabhu, and due to her limitless love, her flow increased, and she crossed her river limit and reached the bank to touch the feet of Mahaprabhu; by this Ganga Devi was looking so gorgeous. So, there is a very special relationship between Mahaprabhu and Ganga Devi.
Once, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was telling that even if a bird, dog, fox, etc., takes a bath in Ganga, their fortune also increases, and they all will deliver.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says to mother Ganga that you appear to deliver all fallen beings, and there is no one merciful as you are. Just after a touch of fire, cotton converts into ash. Similarly, a person who touches you, only by your touch, all sins get destroyed.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu praises Ganga Ji very beautifully and says that your divine water is the form of love. Anyone who hears your name will get an exclusive devotional love for Vishnu. Then what about the person who has drunk your divine water? Only by your grace one can chant the name of Krishna. Apart from this, there is no other way to get the love of Krishna. Vrindavana Dasa Thakura says that any devotee who will listen to these prayers sung by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the hearts of those devotees, exclusive devotion to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu will be born.
Glories of Mother Ganga in the scriptures:
In Agni Puran, it is told that by seeing Ganga Ji, by hearing the name of Ganga Ji, by touching the Ganga Ji, anyone’s all the sins get destroyed.
To the many extents, Narad it is told in Narad Puran that if someone touches Ganga Ji, he will get a spiritual body. There is also an example of once Garuda Ji was feeling very hungry. What did they do in this hunger that they made snakes their prey? They were flying by holding that snake in their paws. From above Ganga Ji, the tail of this snake touched Ganga Ji. Then the snake converted into a four-handed form by just touching the Ganga Ji, just like the resident of Vaikuntha. When Garuda Ji saw that snake that had converted into the form of a four-handed, then Garuda Ji took that snake which had converted into the form of a four-handed, made him sit on his back and took him to Vaikuntha.
In this context, there is a story in the Puranas that once there was a Brahman who was the adviser of the King. Once he was going, he saw a bull sitting. He saw that when that bull sat, he got very angry that he should work in the fields, what is he doing sitting lazy and he took a stick and hit it on the head of the bull and killed it. When a stick hit the bull, the bull got very angry, and then the bull killed that Brahman with its horns. When that Brahman died, another Brahman was coming after bathing in the Ganga Ji, and when he saw the dead body of that brahman, he had some Ganga water in his hand. He put that water into that dead body. And after a while, this brahman went, and after some time, the Yamadutas were running away from there. Blood was coming out of their body.
He asked what happened to Yamadutas, and then they said that we came here to punish that sinner brahman for taking him to hell. Still, when we were taking him to hell to be tortured, some Vishnudutas came with four arms. When we were taking him out, Vishnudutas told us that now Gangajal has been sprinkled on it, so now he will not go with you now he will go with us to the higher worlds when we doubted on this matter then those Vishnudutas hit us for doubting that touching a drop of Ganga Ji will save the sinner.
These glories of Ganga Ji are in the Puranas, it has been told in the Padma Purana that if a sinner remembers Ganga Ji or has darshans of Ganga Ji, then all his sins will be eradicated and if someone has committed a lot of heinous sins and if he takes the name of (Ganga) by merely saying this, heinous sins will be eradicated. All sins will start running away from him, and that person will become eligible to go to Vaikuntha Lok. Mahabharata told that if a person applies the soil of Ganga Ji on his forehead or body, such a person gets the brightness like the sun.
How to worship Mother Ganga?
We can worship Ganga Ji in many ways. For example, if someone constantly speaks the name Ganga, Ganga, Ganga, Ganga, then that person gets the fruit of bathing in the Ganga. Another way is by visiting the Ganga. By touching the water of Ganga Ji and worshipping him etc. We can also worship Ganga Ji by taking a bath in Ganga Ji and taking the soil of Ganga Ji with us.
Prayers unto her Lotus Feet:
Now, what should we pray to Ganga Ji on this day? We can pray to Ganga Ji that the way Ganga Ji travels from mountains to sea, in which journey many difficulties come, many rocks come, but Ganga Ji is never misguided. In the same way, when we start doing devotion to Krishna, then there are many difficulties in our journey that can come and get us discouraged and broken.
We can pray to Ganga Devi that in our journey of devotion, may we overcome all difficulties very well and be engaged in devotion to Krishna with exclusive devotion.