|13 ‘Ganga’: Bhagirath’s efforts, Puja to her and final restoration as Vishnu’s wife|
Of the two wives of King Sagara viz. Vaidarbhi and Shaibya, Asamanjasa was born to Shaibya while Vaidarbhi delivered a ‘Maamsa pinda’ (piece of meat); Vaidarbhi meditated to Bhagavan Shankara sincerely and the latter arrived in the form of a Brahmana and cut the piece of meat into thousand pieces which turned out to be as many sons. As they grew of age, the thousand sons accompanied a horse meant for Rajasuya Yagna of King Sagara and behaved flippantly with Kapila Muni while in Tapasya and the furious Muni burnt off the thousand sons into ash. As the King approached the Muni for clemency, the latter assured that if Sacred Ganga were brought from heavens to the ashes of the sons cursed by him, their souls would attain salvation. Asamanjasa and his son Amshuman resorted to Tapasya to Devi Ganga for long time and died but the son of Amshuman named the legendary Bhagirath was fortunate to vision Shri Krishna who in turn instructed Devi Ganga who in any case was to descend to Bhuloka owing to Sarasvati’s curse and the pursuant dispensation of Bhagavan Vishnu. Shri Krishna blessed Ganga not only to provide Mukti to Sagara’s sons but purify the sins of the troubled human beings through out Kali Yuga who would bathe in Ganga and worship her; even by saying ‘Gangey Gangey’from a distance the devotees would be relieved of their sins and if per chance any Prani died while touching Ganga, that Prani would surely attain Vaikuntha!
Narada Muni enquired of Narayana Maharshi about the formal procedure of worship to Ganga desirous of reaping maximum advantages. In fact, King Bhagirath was stated to have followed the following procedure as described by the Maharshi. He performed worship to six Deities before qualifying the puja to Ganga Devi, viz. Shri Ganesha, Bhagavan Surya, Agni Deva, Vishnu, Shiva and Bhagavati Parvati. Subsequently, Bhagiratha prayed to Devi Ganga as follows: ‘You are pure like the white champaka flower ready to demolish the sins of those worshipping you as you have been materialised by the Vigraha of Paramatma Shri Krishna who had given you the status of thousands of ‘Sharatkaala Chandras’as you are the most propitious Narayana Priya, always peaceful and smiling with adornnents of Malati Pushpa garlands, ‘chandana bindus’ on your broad forehead shining prominently with ‘Sinduri bindu’; with pearl like teeth and profusely kind eyes; with such soft feet that put the most delicate white lotus petals to shame; surrounded by Devatas, Siddhas, Muni Ganas and Tapasvis. I greet that Maha Ganga who only knows to bestow boons, purify sinners and enhance the levels of devotees to finally reach peaks of Self-Realisation on par to Mukti. After performing Dhyana on the above lines, the devotee would carry out ‘Shodshopa -chaaraas’ of Asana, Paadya, Arghya, Snaana, Anulepana, Dhupa, Deepa, Naivedya, Tambula, Sheetala Jala, Vastra, Aabhushana, Maalaa, Chandana, Aachamana and Shayya. Thus dedicating his total self Bharirath requested Ganga to follow that route which passed through where the ashes of Sagara Putras were rested as a result of Muni Kapila’s curse, thus relieving their souls and receiving the epithet of ‘Bhagirathi’.
Maharshi Narayana conveyed an interesting episode to Narada about a Radha Mahotsava which was being celebrated on a Kartika Purnima at a Rasamanadali. Devi Saraswati took up her Veena and created mellifluous tunes in perfect ‘Tala Swaras’ and Brahma was delighted to gift a rare ‘Ratna’ as a gift. Shiva gifted an invaluable ‘Mani’, Krishna gifted Koustubha, Devi Radha prsented a wonderful Navaratna Maala and various Devatas gifted their own gifts too. Meanwhile Bhagavan Shankara rendered a fantastic Poem which was scripted with highly envigorating usage of select words that shook up the moods of the Raasleela congregation. On hearing the extraordinary piece of rendition, the entire audience was spell bound in unbelievable rapture and ecstacy and took time to gain normalcy. But the Rasamandala was in deep distress as Radha and Krishna were not traceable. There was an ‘Akaasha Vani’ or a Celestial Voice which directed Bhagavan Maha Deva to materialise Tantra Shastra and create Mantras and Kavachas that would be appropriate to the Tantras to be thus created. In reply, Shankara made a vow by swearing over ‘Gangaajal’ which was present in Shiva’s ‘kamandalu’(vessel) which indeed was the Sangam of Radha and Krishna who were untraceable so far in the Raasa Sabha that was spell bound hitherto pursuant to Shiva’s rendition!
After the effect of curses by Sarasvati to Ganga and Lakshmi to assume their own Rupas on Martya Loka, lasting for Kali Yuga’s five thousand years, the respective Devis reached back to Vaikuntha and including the Rupa of Devi Tulasi got materialised as Four Wives of Shri Hari; these four wives reached their positions, representing also like Four Vedas. Indeed these formations of Sarasvati, Ganga, Tulasi and Lakshmi were of Bhagavan Shri Hari’s ramifications. Paramatma Shri Krishna in Goloka who created the Trinity along with his alter-ego Devi Radha or the Devi Prakriti is the Unique Paramatma Swarupa.
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