Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 9 Chapter 11



Chapter XI

On the origin of the Ganges

1-3. The Devarṣi Nārada said:

O Thou, the foremost of the knowers of the Vedas! I have heard the excellent narration about Earth. Now I want to hear the story about Gangā.

I heard, ere long, that Gangā, of the nature of Viṣṇu and appearing from the feet of Viṣṇu, the Īśvarī of the Devas, appeared, due to the curse of Bhāratī, on Bhārata; why has she come to Bharata; in which Yuga and asked by whom did she come to Bharata?

O Lord! Now describe to me this auspicious anecdote capable to destroy sins and yield religious merits.

4-38. Nārāyaṇa said:

O Child! In ancient days there was born a prosperous Emperor King of Kings, in the Solar dynasty. He had two beautiful wives; one was named Vaidarbhī, and the other was named Śaivyā. Śaivyā delivered a very lovely son; his name was Asamanjā.

On the other hand, the queen Vaidarbhī desirous of getting a son, worshipped Śankara, the Lord of Bhūtas who became pleased and granted her request; and Vaidarbhī became pregnant.

After one hundred years of pregnancy she gave birth to one mass of flesh. Seeing this, the queen became very afflicted and taking refuge of Mahādeva began to cry loudly and very often.

Bhagavān Śankara, then, appeared there in a Brāhmin form and cut that mass of flesh into thousand pieces.

Those thousand pieces turned out into thousand very powerful sons. Their bodies looked more brilliant than the mid-day sun. But they were all burnt to ashes by the curse of Kapila Muni.

And the King began to lament bitterly and he entered into the forest. Asamanjā practised tapasyā to bring the Gangā for one lakh years when he quitted his body in course of time.

His son Amśumān practised tapasyā for one lakh years to bring Gangā unto Bhārata and he, too, died. Then the son of Amśumān, the intelligent Bhagīratha, a great devotee of Viṣṇu, free of old age and death and the store of many qualifications, practised tapasyā for one lakh years to bring Gangā on earth.

At last he saw Śrī Kṛṣṇa brilliant like ten millions of summer suns. He had two hands; there was a flute in his hand; be was full of youth in the dress of a cow-herd.

A sight of His Gopāla Sundarī form, wearing a Sakhī's dress, makes one think that He is ever ready to show grace on His devotees. He is Para Brahmā, whose Substance is Will; he has no deficiencies.

Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Mahēśvara and the other Devas and Munis, etc. all praise Him, who pervades everywhere. He is not concerned with anything; yet He is the Witness of all. He is beyond the three Guṇas, higher than Prakriti.

A sweet smile is always in his face, which makes it the more lovely. There is none equal to him in showing Grace to the Bhaktas. His raiment is purified (uninflammable) by fire and he is decorated with gems, jewels and ornaments.

The King Bhagīratha saw that unforeseen appearance, bowed down and began to praise over and over again. His whole body was filled with ecstasy. Then he clearly told what he wanted for the deliverance of his family.

Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa then, addressed Gangā and said:

“O Sureśvarī! Go quickly and appear in Bharata, under the curse of Bhāratī. By My command go quickly and purify the sons of Sāgara.

They will all be purified by the touch of the air in contact with the Ganges and rise up in divine aerial cars, assuming forms like Mine and they will come to My abode.

They will there remain always as My attendants and they will not be involved in the sins that they committed in their previous births.

O Nārada! It is stated thus in the Vedas, that if the human souls, taking their births in Bhārata, commit sins for millions and millions of births, the sins will be completely destroyed if they touch once the air in contact with and carrying the particles of the Ganges.

The sight of the Ganges and the touch of the Ganges water give religious merits ten times more than the touch with the air in contact with the Ganges water. People become freed of their sins then and there especially if they bathe in the Ganges.

It is heard in the Śrutis that the bathing in the Ganges, if done according to rules, destroys all the sins, e.g., the murder of a Brahmin, etc., acquired in one thousand millions of births done consciously or unconsciously.

The merits that are acquired by the bathing in the Ganges on a day of religious merit cannot be described even by the Vedas. Whatever is mentioned in the Agamas is but a mere trifle.

Even Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśa cannot describe fully the merits of the bathing in the Ganges. O Brahmin! Such is the glory of ordinary bathing.

Now I will describe the effect of the Ganges bath done with a Sankalpa (resolve) ; hear:

Ten times more the result is obtained when the Ganges bathing is done with a resolve (Sankalpa) than ordinary bath and if one bathes on the day when the sun passes from one sign to another (in the Zodiac), thirty times more religious merits accrue.

On the New Moon (Amāvyas) day, the Ganges bath gives the merits as above mentioned; but when the Sun is in his Southern course (Dakṣiṇāyana) double the merits are obtained and when the sun is in his Northern course, ten times more religious merits are obtained.

The Ganges bathing in the time of Chāturmāsya, full Moon day, Akṣaya Navamī or Akṣaya Tritīyā yields merits that cannot be measured.

And if on the above Parva (particular periods of the year on which certain ceremonies are commanded) days both bathing, and making over gifts are done, there is no limit to the religious merits acquired; hundred times more than ordinary bath, religious merits are obtained.

Great religious merits accrue from the Ganges bath on Manvantara tithi, Yugādyā, Śuklā seventh day of the month of Māgha, Bhīsmāstamī day, Aśokāṣtamī day, and Śrī Rāma Navamī day.

Again double the merits than those of the above arise from bathing in the Ganges during the Nanda ceremony. The Gauges bath in the Daśaharā tenth tithi gives merits equivalent to Yugādyā Snānam (bath).

And if the bathing be done on Mahānandā or in Maha Vāruṇī day, four times more religious merits accrue. Ten million times more religious merits accrue from the Ganges bathing on Mahā Mahā Vāruṇī day than ordinary bath.

The Ganges bath in the Solar eclipse yields ten times more religious merits than in the Lunar eclipse. Again the Snānam in Ardhodaya Yoga yields hundred times more religious merits than that of the (solar) eclipse.

Thus saying to Gangā before Bhagīratha, the Lord of the Devas remained silent. The Devī Gangā with her head bowed down with devotion, said:

39-42. Gangā said:

If I am after all, to go to Bhārata as Thou commandest and under the curse given previously by Bhāratī, then tell me how I would be freed of the sins that the sinners will cast on me.

 How long will I have to remain there? When, O Lord! Shall I be able to return to the Highest place of Viṣṇu? O Thou, the Inner Self of all! O All Knowing! O Lord! Whatever else I desire, Thou knowest them all. So be pleased to instruct me on all these points.

43-69. Bhagavān Śrī Hari said:

O Sureśvarī! I know all that you desire; when you will assume the liquid form, the Salt Ocean will be your husband.

He is My part and you are of the nature of Lakṣmī; so the union of the lover with the love stricken in the world will turn out a happy and qualified one.

Of all the rivers Saraswatī and others in Bhārata, that go to mix with the ocean, you will be the best and highly fortunate of them all.

From today you will have to remain in Bhārata for a period of five thousand years, under the curse of Bhāratī. You will be able to enjoy daily and always the pleasures with the Ocean.

O Devī! As you are a clever lady, so He is also apt and expert. The inhabitants of Bhārata will praise Thee and worship Thee with great devotion by the stotra which Bhagīratha has composed.

He will derive the fruit of one horse-sacrifice who will meditate on Thee as per Kāṇvaśākhā and worship, praise and bow down to Thee daily.

Even if one utter “Gangā,” “Gangā,” though one is one hundred Yojanas away from the Ganges, one will be freed of all sins and go to Viṣṇu- loka.

Whatever sins will be cast in Thee by thousand sinners bathing in Thee will be destroyed by the touch of the devotees of Prakriti Devī.

Even if thousands and thousands of sinners touch the dead bodies and bath in Thee, all those will be destroyed when the Devī Bhaktas, the worshippers of Bhuvaneśvarī and Māyā Bīja, will come and touch Thee.

O Auspicious One! Thou wilt wash away the sins of the sinners, by Thy stay in Bhārata with other best rivers Saraswatī and others. That will be at once a sacred place of pilgrimage where Thy glories will be chanted.

By the touch of the dust of Thine, the sinner will be at once purified and he will dwell in the Devī- loka (Mani Dvīpa) for as many years as will be the dust there. All Hail to the Devī Bhuvaneśvarī!

He who will leave his body on Thy lap with full consciousness and remembering My name, will certainly go to My abode and will remain, as My chief attendant for an infinite period. He will see countless Prākriti Layas (dissolutions of the Universe).

Unless a man has collected hordes of religious merits, he cannot die in the Ganges; and if he dies on the Ganges he goes to Vaikuṇṭha as long as the Sun rises in this world.

I get many bodies for him where he can enjoy the fruits of his Karma and I then give him My Svārūpya (Form resembling Mine) and make him My attendant.

If any ignorant man, void of any Jñānam, quits his body by touching merely Thy water, I give him Sālokya (place in My region) and make him My attendant.

Even if one quits one's body in a far off place, uttering Thy Name, I give him place in My region for one life time of Brahmā.

And if he remembers Thee with devotion, and quits his mortal coil at another place, I give him Sārūpya (Form resembling Mine) for a period of endless Prākriti Layas.

He instantly gets on an aerial car made of jewels and goes with My attendants to the region of Goloka and gets form like Me.

Those who worship daily My Mantra, that pass their day eating the remnant of the food offered to Me, they need not have any distinction whether they die in Tīrath or not.

They themselves can easily purify the three worlds. Getting on the excellent and best aerial car built of jewels, they go to the region of Goloka.

O Chaste One! Even if the friends of My devotees, be born in animal births, they also will be purified by the devotion shown towards Me and getting on a jewelled aerial car will be able to go to Goloka, so difficult to access.

Wherever the Bhaktas may be, if they simply remember Me with devotion, they will become liberated while living by the power of My Bhakti.

Thus saying to Gangā, Bhagavān Śrī Hari addressed Bhagīratha:

O Child! Now worship Gangā Devī with devotion and chant hymns to Her.

The pure Bhagīratha meditated with devotion as per Kauthuma Śākhā and worshipped the Devī and praised Her repeatedly. Then Gangā and Bhagīratha bowed down to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and He disappeared at once from their sight.

70. The Devarṣi Nārada said:

“O Thou the foremost of the Knowers of the Vedas! How, by what Kauthuma Śākhā, the noble King Bhagīratha meditated on the Devī Gangā; what stotra did he recite and what was the method with which he worshipped the Ganges.

71-75. Nārāyaṇa said:

O Nārada! One should first take one's bath, and putting on a clean washed clothing should perform one's daily duties.

Then one should control oneself and with devotion worship the six Devatās: Gaṇeśa, Sun, Fire, Viṣṇu, Śiva and Śivānī. Thus one becomes entitled to worship.

First worship is to be given to Ganeśa for the destruction of obstacles; the Sun is to be next worshipped for health; Fire, for purification; Viṣṇu is then worshipped for getting wealth and power; Śiva is worshipped for knowledge and Śivānī is worshipped for Mukti.

When these Devatās are worshipped, one is entitled to worship the Deity. Otherwise contrary become the effects.

Now I am saying what Dhyānam (meditation) did Bhagīratha practise towards the Devī Gangā.

Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Ninth Book on the origin of the Ganges in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.