by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “the origin of the holy river ganga” and represents Chapter 35 of the Bala-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Bala-kanda].
Having passed the night with the other munis on the banks of the river Shona, Shri Vishvamitra said to Prince Rama at daybreak: “Arise, O Prince, the day has dawned, may prosperity attend you! Perform your morning devotions and let us prepare for our journey.”
Shri Rama listened to the instructions of the holy sage, recited his morning prayers and prepared to leave, saying: “O Knower of God, the waters of the holy river Shona appear to be very shallow and rest on a sandy bed, be pleased to instruct us where we should cross over it.”
The sage replied: “O Prince, I will show you where the great rishis traversed it.” Thereafter they forded the river and journeyed on and on, enjoying the many beautiful woods and forests through which they passed.
After proceeding a great distance, late one afternoon, they reached the holy river Ganges, beloved of the sages. On beholding the lovely river rendered beautiful by the presence of swans and cranes, Rama, Lakshmana and the sages were filled with delight.
They halted on the banks and bathed in the sacred river as prescribed by the holy ordinance, then lighting their sacrificial fires they partook of the remains of the offerings. According to the tradition, they offered water to their ancestors and spreading coverings, seated themselves by the holy Ganges.
Sitting in the midst of the sages with the two princes before him, Shri Vishvamitra was questioned by Shri Rama in the following manner:—
“O Lord, I desire to hear the story of this holy river, which traverses the three paths. How does the sacred Gunga, passing through the three worlds merge at last in the ocean?”
On this request, Shri Vishvamitra began to narrate the origin and genesis of the sacred river.
“O Rama, the great Himavat, Lord of the Himalayas, the treasury of all precious metals, had two daughters, who were unsurpassed in loveliness on earth. Their mother Mena, the wife of Himachala (Himavat) was the daughter of Mount Meru. Her elder daughter was named Gunga and the younger Uma.
“The devas wishing to observe certain sacred rites, asked for Shri Gunga to promote the success of their undertaking and with the permission of her father, took her away with them.
“Himachala, mindful of the good of all beings, gave his daughter Gunga, the purifier of the whole world, to the gods, thinking it to be his duty to do so. The gods supremely gratified took his daughter Gunga and blessing all, left Himachala.
“O Prince of the House of Raghu, the other daughter of Himachala, named Uma, practised great asceticism, considering it to be her chief wealth. Himachala gave this ascetic daughter Uma, who was venerated by the whole world, to Shri Mahadeva in marriage, thinking him to be a worthy consort.
“O Rama, now I have told you of the two daughters of Himachala, revered by the whole world, the river Gunga and Uma Devi.
“O my Son, O Chief of Disciples, I have related to you the story of Shri Gunga accompanying the devas to heaven. This beautiful daughter of the King of Himalaya, once resident in heaven, is the charming river Gunga, whose waters destroy all sin.”