NARADA PURANA

Naradapuran

Sacred Ganga from Vishnus feet to Earth by Bhagirathas tenacity

Sage Narada enquired from Maharshi Sanandana as to how by the mere touch of Ganga, which originated from the feet of Lord Vishnu, purified the entire clan of King Sagara causing them all to reach Vaikuntha! Sanaka Maharshi then recounted the story of King Bahu of Surya Vamsha who ruled ‘Sapta Dwipas’with great ability when the entire Public was highly contented and happy with ‘Dharma’ (Virtue) and ‘Nyaya’ (Justice) in full swing. In course of time, King Bahu developed a superiority feeling and ego that he was a powerful, wealthy, intellectual, youthful King without parallel; it is said that:
Youvanam dhanasampatthih Prabhutvamavivekitaa,
iaka kampanya -naarthaaya kim yatra chathushtayam!

(Either of Youth, Wealth, Superiority and Ego would be enough to bring about disaster to a person; if all the four are in place, what else to talk about him?)When King Bahu became too overbearing and developed hostilities with his neighboring Kings viz. the Haihayas and Talajanghas, the latter defeated the King Bahu and he became a fugitive along with his queens and progeny and fled into forests without food, shelter and sleep. He then regretted saying:
Naastyakirti samo Mrityur Naasti krodhasamo Ripuh,
Naasti nindaasamam paapam naasti moha samaasavah/
Naastyasuuyaa samaakirtih naasti kaama samonalah,
Naasti raga samah paasho naasti sangasamam visham/
(There is no disgrace worse than death; no enemy worse than anger; no humiliation worse than sin; no obsessionworse than terror; no jealousy worse than disrepute; no passion worse than fire; no desire worse than shackles; and no Company worse than poison!). Out of shame and disease, the King Bahu died in the Ashram of Sage Aurva and the youngest Queen who was expecting a child desired to immolate but the Sage prevented her from doing so and assured her that a very renowned son would beget her. As the day of birth was nearing, the elder Queen being envious of the younger Queen poisoned her but due to the ‘Satsang’ (Good Company) and service given to the Sage, a bright son was born whom the Sage named as ‘Sa’+ ‘Gara’(with poison) that is Sagara. The Sage trained Sagara as he grew of age in archery, military skills and Raajaniti (Kingship talents). Soon, Sagara was able to defeat enemy Kings and became a renowned Monarch, especially after Maharshi Vasishtha guided him in all the matters of importance. Emperor Sagara married Keshini and Sumati and Sage Aurva blessed the Queens to beget progeny with two choices viz. one to secure one single boy whose son would be a great King and another who could beget sixty thousand sons; Keshini opted for a single issue while Sumati preferred the latter. Keshini gave birth to Asamanjasa who turned out to be whimsical although his son Amshuman grew up as an up-holder of virtue and wise with all the qualities of a Monarch. But the sons of Sumati grew up as a bunch of notorious, quarrelsome and unmanageable crowd often causing tremendous embarrassment to the Emperor. Even Indra complained to Sage Kapila to control the gang of sons as they were too uncontrollable day by day. Sage Kapila suggested performing Ashvamedha Yagna as a diversion to the vagabond sons of the Emperor. The Yagna horse was hidden by Indra and the sixty thousand sons of Sagara who searched for the horse and finally found it where Sage Kapila was in concentrated Tapasya. The sons suspected that Sage Kapila stole the horse, abused as also man-handled him and by his mere vision of fury the Sage reduced them to ashes. Sagara was concerned and sent Amshuman to search and came to learn of the entire episode; he prayed to the Sage Kapila who informed that his grandson Bhagirath-the son of Dilip- was destined to bring Ganga from heavens to the place where his great-grand-uncles ie. the sixty thousand sons of  the Emperor were lying scattered as ashes and liberate their souls to Salvation. As Bhagirath came of age, he executed very severe Tapasya to Lord Brahma, who appreciated the grit and resolve of the Youth and blessed him to fulfil his wish. Emboldened by his success in securing Brahma’s boon, Bhagirath displayed his tenacity and doggedness to perform rigorous Tapasya to Bhagavan Shankara and with his grace the Holy River Ganga landed on Shiva’s head; a stream of the River was released from Bhagavan’s Jatajut (curled hair) down to the Earth which was guided by Bhagirath to the Place where the ashes of his great-grand fathers were lying dispersed and their souls were redeemed and directed to Swarga. This kind of persistence which purified the souls of his fourth generation kith was indeed so exemplary that came to be popularly known as Bhagirath’s tenacity in the annals of Bharata Varsha.

   Narada was desirous of knowing from Sanaka Kumara as to how the Holy Ganga descended from Vishnu’s Sacred Feet. This was traced back to the Story of Vishnu’s Incarnation as Vamana and Bali Chakravarti / the Great Sovereign of Three Lokas. The Illustrious Muni Kashyapa had two wives viz. Diti and Aditi, the former having begotten Hiranyakashipu who was killed by Lord Narasimha-another incarnation of Vishnu- to save the Danava’s son Prahlada, the exemplary Vishnu Bhakta. Prahlada’s son was Virochana and the latter’s son was Bali who conquered the Three Lokas. Aditi the other wife of Kashyap was the mother of Devas who were all dislodged from Swarga by Bali; pained by this disaster Aditi performed Tapasya to Lord Vishnu that Indra and Devas be re-installed in Swarga. Devi Aditi secured a boon that Narayana would be born to her as Vamana (midget) Brahmachari and free Swarga from the control of Bali. At the Yagna being performed by Bali under the supervision of Daitya Guru Shukracharya, Vamana Deva arrived and asked for three feet of land to perform Tapasya. Bali agreed despite Shukracharya’s protests saying that if Vishnu had arrived as Vamana Murti himself and asked for charity of three feet, he was fully prepared to ‘oblige’ the Lord! Bali further told the Guru: Jihvaagrey vasatey yasya Harirtyhakshara dwayam, sa Vishnu loka maapnoti punaraavritthi durlabham (He whose tip of the tongue recites the two letters-Hari- has no birth again and achieves Vishnu loka!). As Bali picked up the ‘Kalasha’ (Vessel) full of water to formalize the charity, Shukacharya made the last attempt by sitting inside the vessel trying to stop the flow of water through the nozzle so that  formalization of the ‘daan’could be obstructed. But the omniscient Lord Vishnu pushed a darbha (grass piece) into the nozzle making permanent damage to one of the Guru’s eyes. As the act of Charity was done successfully, the Vamana  expanded his body to occupy his head touching Brahmaloka, measured the entire Bhumi with one of his feet and the other foot was lifted to the top-tip of ‘Brahmanda’ piercing it into two pieces by the impact of his toe.While millions of streams of water sprang out, Ganga water beyond the top of Brahmanda was sanctified by washing Vishnu’s foot and flowed downward thus purifying all the Three Lokas; Brahma, Devatas and ‘Saptarshis’ too purified the unending flows which fell on Meru Mountain. The third foot suppressed Bali down to the lower lokas and made him the Monarch of Rasatala. The provision of food to King Bali and his followers included whatever was thrown into ‘Agni’ without Mantras; whichever daana was given as ‘Apaatra daana’/ Nishphala daana or ill-deserved charity.

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