Join on Facbook

Gangga

THE SACRED GANGGA RIVER

Gangga River

Gangga River

The Ganga (Hindustani: [ˈɡəŋɡaː]), also Ganges (/ˈɡændʒiːz/ GAN-jeez) is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state ofUttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into theBay of Bengal. It is the third largest river in the world by discharge.

The Ganga is the most sacred river to Hindus. It is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically, with many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Pataliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Kashi, Patna, Hajipur, Munger, Bhagalpur,Murshidabad, Baharampur, Kampilya, and Kolkata) located on its banks.

The Ganga was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world in 2007. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to corruption, lack of technical expertise, poor environmental planning, and lack of support from religious authorities.
The name “Ganges”, ending in “-es”, came to English via Latin from Ancient Greek sources, particularly from accounts ofAlexander the Great’s wars, which entered India.

The Ganges begins at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers. The Bhagirathi is considered to be the true source in Hindu culture and mythology, although the Alaknanda is longer. The headwaters of the Alakananda are formed by snowmelt from such peaks as Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Kamet. The Bhagirathi rises at the foot of Gangotri Glacier, at Gomukh, at an elevation of 3,892 m (12,769 ft), being mythologically referred to as, residing in the matted locks of Shiva, symbolically Tapovan, being a meadow of ethereal beauty at the feet of Mount Shivling, just 5 km away.

Although many small streams comprise the headwaters of the Ganges, the six longest and their five confluences are considered sacred. The six headstreams are the Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini, and Bhagirathi rivers. The five confluences, known as the Panch Prayag, are all along the Alaknanda. They are, in downstream order, Vishnuprayag, where the Dhauliganga joins the Alaknanda; Nandprayag, where the Nandakini joins; Karnaprayag, where the Pindar joins, Rudraprayag, where the Mandakini joins; and finally, Devprayag, where the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda to form the Ganges River proper.

After flowing 250 kilometres (160 mi) through its narrow Himalayan valley, the Ganges emerges from the mountains at Rishikesh, then debouches onto the Gangetic Plain at the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. At Haridwar, a dam diverts some of its waters into theGanges Canal, which irrigates the Doab region of Uttar Pradesh, whereas the river, whose course has been roughly southwest until this point, now begins to flow southeast through the plains of northern India.
The Ganges follows an 800-kilometre (500 mi) arching course passing through the cities of Kannauj, Farukhabad, and Kanpur. Along the way it is joined by the Ramganga, which contributes an average annual flow of about 500 m3/s (18,000 cu ft/s). The Ganges joins the Yamuna at the Triveni Sangam at Allahabad, a holy confluence in Hinduism. At their confluence the Yamuna is larger than the Ganges, contributing about 2,950 m3/s (104,000 cu ft/s), or about 58.5% of the combined flow.

Now flowing east, the river meets the Tamsa River (also called Tons), which flows north from the Kaimur Range and contributes an average flow of about 190 m3/s (6,700 cu ft/s). After the Tamsa the Gomti River joins, flowing south from the Himalayas. The Gomti contributes an average annual flow of about 234 m3/s (8,300 cu ft/s). Then the Ghaghara River(Karnali River), also flowing south from the Himalayas of Nepal, joins. The Ghaghara(Karnali), with its average annual flow of about 2,990 m3/s (106,000 cu ft/s), is the largest tributary of the Ganges. After the Ghaghara(Karnali) confluence the Ganges is joined from the south by the Son River, contributing about 1,000 m3/s (35,000 cu ft/s). The Gandaki River, then the Kosi River, join from the north flowing from Nepal, contributing about 1,654 m3/s (58,400 cu ft/s) and 2,166 m3/s (76,500 cu ft/s), respectively. The Kosi is the third largest tributary of the Ganges, after the Ghaghara(Karnali) and Yamuna.

Along the way between Allahabad and Malda, West Bengal, the Ganges passes the towns of Chunar, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Patna,Bhagalpur, Ballia, Buxar, Simaria, Sultanganj, and Saidpur. At Bhagalpur, the river begins to flow south-southeast and at Pakur, it begins its attrition with the branching away of its first distributary, the Bhāgirathi-Hooghly, which goes on to become the Hooghly River. Just before the border with Bangladesh the Farakka Barrage controls the flow of the Ganges, diverting some of the water into a feeder canal linked to the Hooghly for the purpose of keeping it relatively silt-free. The Hooghly River is formed by the confluence of the Bhagirathi River and Jalangi River at Nabadwip, and Hooghly has a number of tributaries of its own. The largest is the Damodar River, which is 541 km (336 mi) long, with a drainage basin of 25,820 km2 (9,970 sq mi). The Hooghly River empties into the Bay of Bengal near Sagar Island.[21] Between Malda and the Bay of Bengal, the Hooghly river passes the towns and cities of Murshidabad, Nabadwip, Kolkata and Howrah.

After entering Bangladesh, the main branch of the Ganges is known as the Padma. The Padma is joined by the Jamuna River, the largest distributary of the Brahmaputra. Further downstream, the Padma joins the Meghna River, the second largest distributary of the Brahmaputra, and takes on the Meghna’s name as it enters the Meghna Estuary, which empties into the Bay of Bengal.

The Ganges Delta, formed mainly by the large, sediment-laden flows of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, is the world’s largest delta, at about 59,000 km2 (23,000 sq mi). It stretches 322 km (200 mi) along the Bay of Bengal.
Only the Amazon and Congo rivers have a greater average discharge than the combined flow of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and theSurma-Meghna river system. In full flood only the Amazon is larger.

History

The birth of Ganges

The birth of Ganges

The birth of Ganges

The Late Harappan period, about 1900–1300 BCE, saw the spread of Harappan settlement eastward from the Indus River basin to the Ganges-Yamuna doab, although none crossed the Ganges to settle its eastern bank. The disintegration of the Harappan civilization, in the early 2nd millennium BC, mark the point when the center of Indian civilization shifted from the Indus basin to the Ganges basin. There may be links between the Late Harappan settlement of the Ganges basin and the archaeological culture known as “Cemetery H”, the Indo-Aryan people, and the Vedic period.

This river is the longest in India. During the early Vedic Age of the Rigveda, the Indus and the Sarasvati River were the major sacred rivers, not the Ganges. But the later three Vedas give much more importance to the Ganges. The Gangetic Plain became the centre of successive powerful states, from the Maurya Empire to the Mughal Empire.
The first European traveler to mention the Ganges was Megasthenes (ca. 350–290 BCE). He did so several times in his work Indica: “India, again, possesses many rivers both large and navigable, which, having their sources in the mountains which stretch along the northern frontier, traverse the level country, and not a few of these, after uniting with each other, fall into the river called the Ganges. Now this river, which at its source is 30 stadia broad, flows from north to south, and empties its waters into the ocean forming the eastern boundary of theGangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of the largest-sized elephants.” (Diodorus II.37) In the rainy season of 1809, the lower channel of the Bhagirathi, leading to Kolkata, had been entirely shut; but in the following year it opened again, and was nearly of the same size with the upper channel; both however suffered a considerable diminution, owing probably to the new communication opened below the Jalanggi on the upper channel.

In 1951 a water sharing dispute arose between India and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), after India declared its intention to build the Farakka Barrage. The original purpose of the barrage, which was completed in 1975, was to divert up to 1,100 m3/s (39,000 cu ft/s) of water from the Ganges to the Bhagirathi-Hooghly distributary in order to restore navigability at the Port of Kolkata. It was assumed that during the worst dry season the Ganges flow would be around 1,400 to 1,600 m3/s (49,000 to 57,000 cu ft/s), thus leaving 280 to 420 m3/s (9,900 to 14,800 cu ft/s) for the then East Pakistan. East Pakistan objected and a protracted dispute ensued. In 1996 a 30-year treaty was signed with Bangladesh. The terms of the agreement are complicated, but in essence they state that if the Ganges flow at Farakka was less than 2,000 m3/s (71,000 cu ft/s) then India and Bangladesh would each receive 50% of the water, with each receiving at least 1,000 m3/s (35,000 cu ft/s) for alternating ten day periods. However, within a year the flow at Farakka fell to levels far below the historic average, making it impossible to implement the guaranteed sharing of water. In March 1997, flow of the Ganges in Bangladesh dropped to its lowest ever, 180 m3/s (6,400 cu ft/s). Dry season flows returned to normal levels in the years following, but efforts were made to address the problem. One plan is for another barrage to be built in Bangladesh at Pangsha, west of Dhaka. This barrage would help Bangladesh better utilize its share of the waters of the Ganges.

Religious and cultural significance

Embodiment of sacredness

Embodiment of sacredness

Embodiment of sacredness

Ganga Aarti offered every evening at the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi

The Ganga is a sacred river to Hindus along every fragment of its length. All along its course, Hindus bathe in its waters, paying homage to their ancestors and to their gods by cupping the water in their hands, lifting it and letting it fall back into the river; they offer flowers and rose petals and float shallow clay dishes filled with oil and lit with wicks (diyas). On the journey back home from the Ganga, they carry small quantities of river water with them for use in rituals (ganga jal, literally water of the Ganga). When a loved one dies, Hindus bring the ashes of the deceased person to the Ganga River.

The Ganga is the embodiment of all sacred waters in Hindu mythology. Local rivers are said to be like the Ganga, and are sometimes called the local Ganga. The Kaveri river of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in Southern India is called the Ganga of the South; the Godavari, is the Ganga that was led by the sage Gautama to flow through Central India. The Ganga is invoked whenever water is used in Hindu ritual, and is therefore present in all sacred waters. In spite of this, nothing is more stirring for a Hindu than a dip in the actual river, which is thought to remit sins, especially at one of the famous tirthas such as Gangotri, Haridwar, Prayag, or Varanasi. The symbolic and religious importance of the Ganga is one of the few things that Hindu India, even its skeptics, are agreed upon. Jawaharlal Nehru, a religious iconoclast himself, asked for a handful of his ashes to be thrown into the Ganga. “The Ganga,” he wrote in his will, “is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her racial memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever-changing, ever-flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.

The purifying Ganga

The purifying Ganga

The purifying Ganga

Devotees taking holy bath during festival of Ganga Dashara atHar-ki-Pauri, Haridwar
Hindus consider the waters of the Ganga to be both pure and purifying. Nothing reclaims order from disorder more than the waters of the Ganga. Moving water, as in a river, is considered purifying in Hindu culture because it is thought to both absorb impurities and take them away. The swiftly moving Ganga, especially in its upper reaches, where a bather has to grasp an anchored chain in order to not be carried away, is considered especially purifying. What the Ganga removes, however, is not necessarily physical dirt, but symbolic dirt; it wipes away the sins of the bather, not just of the present, but of a lifetime.

A popular paean to the Ganga is the Ganga Lahiri composed by a seventeenth century poet Jagannatha who, legend has it, was turned out of his Hindu Brahmin caste for carrying on an affair with a Muslim woman. Having attempted futilely to be rehabilitated within the Hindu fold, the poet finally appeals to Ganga, the hope of the hopeless, and the comforter of last resort. Along with his beloved, Jagannatha sits at the top of the flight of steps leading to the water at the famous Panchganga Ghat in Varanasi. As he recites each verse of the poem, the water of the Ganga rises up one step, until in the end it envelops the lovers and carry them away. “I come to you as a child to his mother,” begins the

Ganga Lahiri.
I come as an orphan to you, moist with love.
I come without refuge to you, giver of sacred rest.
I come a fallen man to you, uplifter of all.
I come undone by disease to you, the perfect physician.
I come, my heart dry with thirst, to you, ocean of sweet wine.
Do with me whatever you will.

Consort, shakti and mother

Consort, shakti and mother

Consort, shakti and mother

Representation of Goddess Ganga. Kalighat painting.

Ganga is a consort to all three major male deities of Hinduism. As Brahma’s partner she always travels with him in the form of water in hiskamandalu (water-pot). She is also Vishnu’s consort. She emanates from his foot as Vishnupadi in the avatarana story, and is also, withSarasvati and Lakshmi, one of his wives. In one popular story, envious of being outdone by each other, the wives begin to quarrel. While Lakshmi attempts to mediate the quarrel, Ganga and Sarasvati heap misfortune on each other. They curse each other to become rivers, and to carry within them, by washing, the sins of their human worshippers. Soon their husband, Vishnu, arrives and decides to calm the situation by separating the goddesses. He orders Sarasvati to become the wife of Brahma, Ganga to become the wife of Shiva, and Lakshmi, as the blameless conciliator, to remain as his own wife. Ganga and Sarasvati, however, are so distraught at this dispensation, and wail so loudly, that Vishnu is forced to take back his words. Consequently, in their lives as rivers they are still thought to be with him.

Shiva, as Gangadhara, bearing the Descent of the Ganga, as the goddess Parvati, the sageBhagiratha, and the bull Nandi look on (circa 1740).

It is Shiva’s relationship with Ganga, that is the best-known in Ganga theology. Her descent, the avatarana is not a one time event, but a continuously occurring one in which she is forever falling from heaven into his locks and being forever tamed. Shiva is depicted in Hindu iconography as Gangadhara, the “Bearer of the Ganga,” with Ganga, shown as spout of water, rising from his hair. The Shiva-Ganga relationship is both perpetual and intimate. Shiva is sometimes called Uma-Ganga-Patiswara (“Husband and Lord of Uma (Parvati) and Ganga”), and Ganga often arouses the jealousy of Shiva’s better-known consort Parvati.

Ganga is the shakti or the moving, restless, rolling energy in the form of which the otherwise recluse and unapproachable Shiva appears on earth. As water, this moving energy can be felt, tasted, and absorbed. The war-god Skanda addresses the sage Agastya in the Kashi Khand of the Skanda Purana in these words:
One should not be amazed … that this Ganga is really Power, for is she not the Supreme Shakti of the Eternal Shiva, taken in the form of water?

This Ganga, filled with the sweet wine of compassion, was sent out for the salvation of the world by Shiva, the Lord of the Lords.

Good people should not think this Triple-Pathed River to be like the thousand other earthly rivers, filled with water.
The Ganga is also the mother, the Ganga Mata (mata=”mother”) of Hindu worship and culture, accepting all and forgiving all. Unlike other goddesses, she has no destructive or fearsome aspect, destructive though she might be as a river in nature. She is also a mother to other gods. She accepts Shiva’s incandescent seed from the fire-god Agni, which is too hot for this world, and cools it in her waters. This union produces Skanda, or Kartikeya, the god of war. In the Mahabharata, she is the wife of Shantanu, and the mother of heroic warrior-patriarch, Bhishma. When Bhishma is mortally wounded in battle, Ganga comes out of the water in human form and weeps uncontrollably over his body.
The Ganga is the distilled lifeblood of the Hindu tradition, of its divinities, holy books, and enlightenment. As such, her worship does not require the usual rites of invocation (avahana) at the beginning and dismissal (visarjana) at the end, required in the worship of other gods.Her divinity is immediate and everlasting.

Online Registration
online
FEATURE ARTICLE
Photo Gallery
Ida-Pandita-Agni-Yoga-Saraswati.ok_ Ida-Pandita-Mpu-Dharma-Jnana-Putra Ida-Pedanda-Putra-Telabah Ida-Sri-Bhagawan-Satyananda-Saraswati Veerendra swamiji-paratmananda-saraswatiji dsc_0038_1 dsc_0098
Link