Monday, November 12, 2012
Since Ganga had descended
Since Ganga had descended from heaven to earth, she is also the vehicle of ascent, from earth to heaven. Sony VAIO VPCY21S1E/G battery
As the Triloka-patha-gamini, (Skt. triloka= "three worlds", patha = "road", gamini = "one who travels") of the Hindu tradition, she flows in heaven, earth, and the netherworld, and, consequently, is a "tirtha," or crossing point of all beings, the living as well as the dead. It is for this reason that the story of the avatarana is told at Shraddha ceremonies for the deceased in Hinduism, Sony VAIO VPCF24M1E battery
and Ganges water is used in Vedic rituals after death.Among all hymns devoted to the Ganges, there are none more popular than the ones expressing the worshipers wish to breathe his last surrounded by her waters. The Gangashtakam expresses this longing fervently
O Mother! ... Necklace adorning the worlds!Banner rising to heaven!I ask that I may leave of this body on your banks, Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H Battery
Drinking your water, rolling in your waves,Remembering your name, bestowing my gaze upon you.
No place along her banks is more longed for at the moment of death by Hindus than Varanasi, the Great Cremation Ground, or Mahashmshana. Those who are lucky enough to die in Varanasi, are cremated on the banks of the Ganges, and are granted instant salvation. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery
If the death has occurred elsewhere, salvation can be achieved by immersing the ashes in the Ganges. If the ashes have been immersed in another body of water, a relative can still gain salvation for the deceased by journeying to the Ganges, if possible during the lunar "fortnight of the ancestors" in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin (September or October), and performing the Shraddha rites.Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery
Hindus also perform pinda pradana, a rite for the dead, in which balls of rice and sesame seed are offered to the Ganges while the names of the deceased relatives are recited. Every sesame seed in every ball thus offered, according to one story, assures a thousand years of heavenly salvation for the each relative. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery
Indeed, the Ganges is so important in the rituals after death that the Mahabharata, in one of its popular ślokas, says, "If only (one) bone of a (deceased) person should touch the water of the Ganges, that person shall dwell honoured in heaven." As if to illustrate this truism, the Kashi Khanda (Varanasi Chapter) of the Skanda Purana recounts the remarkable story of Vahika, Sony VAIO VGN-AW110J/H Battery
a profligate and unrepentant sinner, who is killed by a tiger in the forest. His soul arrives before Yama, the Lord of Death, to be judged for the hereafter. Having no compensating virtue, Vahika's soul is at once dispatched to hell. While this is happening, his body on earth, however, is being picked at by vultures, one of whom flies away with a foot bone. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H Battery
Another bird comes after the vulture, and in fighting him off, the vulture accidentally drops the bone into the Ganges below. Blessed by this happenstance, Vahika, on his way to hell, is rescued by a celestial chariot which takes him instead to heaven.
Hindus consider the waters of the Ganges to be both pure and purifying. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B Battery
Nothing reclaims order from disorder more than the waters of the Ganges. 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 Ganges, 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11XU/Q Battery
What the Ganges 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 Ganges 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B Battery
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, Sony VAIO VGN-AW120J/H Battery
the water of the Ganges 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.
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 his kamandalu (water-pot). Sony VAIO VGN-AW150Y/H Battery
She is also Vishnu's consort. Not only does she emanate from his foot as Vishnupadi in the avatarana story, but is also, with Sarasvati andLakshmi, one of his co-wives. In one popular story, envious of being outdone by each other, the co-wives begin to quarrel. While Lakshmi attempts to mediate the quarrel, Ganga and Sarasvati, heap misfortune on each other. Sony VAIO VGN-AW160J/Q Battery
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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW170Y/Q Battery
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.It is Shiva's relationship with Ganga, that is the best-known in Ganges mythology.Her descent, the avataranais 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW180Y/Q Battery
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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190JAH Battery
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: Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NAB Battery
One should not be amazed ... that this Ganges is really Power, for is she not the Supreme Shakti of the Eternal Shiva, taken in the form of water?
This Ganges, filled with the sweet wine of compassion, was sent out for the salvation of the world by Shiva, the Lord of the Lords. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NBB Battery
Good people should not think this Triple-Pathed River to be like the thousand other earthly rivers, filled with water.The Ganges 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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190NCB Battery
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. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YAB Battery
When Bhishma is mortally wounded in battle, Ganga comes out of the water in human form and weeps uncontrollably over his body. Hence Ganga is not different from Parvati.
The Ganges is the distilled lifeblood of the Hindu tradition, of its divinities, holy books, and enlightenment. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YBB Battery
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.Early in ancient Indian culture, the river Ganges was associated with fecundity, its redeeming waters and its rich silt providing sustenance to all who lived along its banks. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YCB Battery
A counterpoise to the dazzling heat of the Indian summer, the Ganges came to be imbued with magical qualities and to be revered in anthropomorphic form. By the 5th century CE, an elaborate mythology surrounded the Ganges, now a goddess in her own right, and a symbol for all rivers of India. Sony VAIO VGN-AW190YDB Battery
Hindu temples all over India had statues and reliefs of the goddess carved at their entrances, symbolically washing the sins of arriving worshippers and guarding the gods within. As protector of the sanctum sanctorum, the goddess soon came to depicted with several characteristic accessories: Sony VAIO VGN-AW220J/B Battery
the makara (a crocodile-like undersea monster, often shown with an elephant-like trunk), the kumbha (an overfull vase), various overhead parasol-like coverings, and a gradually increasing retinue of humans.Central to the goddess's visual identification is the makara, which is also her vahana, or mount. Sony VAIO VGN-AW230J/H Battery
An ancient symbol in India, it pre-dates all appearances of the goddess Ganga in art. The makara has a dual symbolism. On the one hand, it represents the life-affirming waters and plants of its environment; on the other, it represents fear, both fear of the unknown it elicits by lurking in those waters and real fear it instils by appearing in sight. Sony VAIO VGN-AW235J/B Battery
The earliest extant unambiguous pairing of the makara with Ganga is at Udayagiri Caves in Central India (circa 400 CE). Here, in Cave V, flanking the main figure of Vishnu shown in his boar incarnation, two river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna appear atop their respective mounts, makara and kurma (a turtle or tortoise). Sony VAIO VGN-AW290JFQ Battery
The makara is often accompanied by a gana, a small boy or child, near its mouth, as, for example, shown in the Gupta period relief from Besnagar, Central India, in the left-most frame above. The gana represents both posterity and development (udbhava).The pairing of the fearsome, life-destroying makara with the youthful, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF Battery
life-affirming gana speaks to two aspects of the Ganges herself. Although she has provided sustenance to millions, she has also brought hardship, injury, and death by causing major floods along her banks. The goddess Ganga is also accompanied by a dwarf attendant, who carries a cosmetic bag, and on whom she sometimes leans, as if for support. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H Battery
The purna kumbha or full pot of water is the second most discernible element of the Ganga iconography. Appearing first also in the relief in Udayagiri Caves (5th century), it gradually appeared more frequently as the theme of the goddess matured. By the seventh century it had become an established feature, as seen, for example, the Dashavatara temple, Deogarh, Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF Battery
Uttar Pradesh (seventh century), the Trimurti temple, Badoli, Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, and at theLakshmaneshwar temple, Kharod, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, (ninth or tenth century), and seen very clearly in frame 3 above and less clearly in the remaining frames. Worshipped even today, the full pot is emblematic of the formless Brahman, as well as of woman, of the womb, and of birth. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H Battery
Furthermore, The river goddesses Ganga and Saraswati were both born from Brahma's pot, containing the celestial waters.
In her earliest depictions at temple entrances, the goddess Ganga appeared standing beneath the overhanging branch of a tree, as seen as well in the Udayagiri caves.Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH Battery
However, soon the tree cover had evolved into a chatra or parasol held by an attendant, for example, in the seventh-century Dasavatara temple at Deogarh. (The parasol can be clearly seen in frame 3 above; its stem can be seen in frame 4, but the rest has broken off.) The cover undergoes another transformation in the temple at Kharod, Bilaspur (ninth or tenth century), Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q Battery
where the parasol is lotus-shaped, and yet another at the Trimurti temple at Badoli where the parasol has been replaced entirely by a lotus.
As the iconography evolved, sculptors in the central India especially were producing animated scenes of the goddess, replete with an entourage and suggestive of a queen en route to a river to bathe. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF Battery
A relief similar to the depiction in frame 4 above, is described in Pal 1997, p. 43 as follows:
A typical relief of about the ninth century that once stood at the entrance of a temple, the river goddess Ganga is shown as a voluptuously endowed lady with a retinue. Following the iconographic prescription, she stands gracefully on her composite makara mount and holds a water pot. Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B Battery
The dwarf attendant carries her cosmetic bag, and a ... female holds the stem of a giant lotus leaf that serves as her mistress's parasol. The fourth figure is a male guardian. Often in such reliefs the makara's tail is extended with great flourish into a scrolling design symbolizing both vegetation and water. Sony VAIO VGN-AW50DB/H Battery
Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage in which Hindus gather at the Ganges river. The normal Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 3 years, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Prayag, the Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years, at four places (Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik). Sony VAIO VGN-AW51JGB Battery
The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Allahabad.The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town it is being held. Sony VAIO VGN-AW52JGB Battery
Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages.Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. Sony VAIO VGN-AW53FB Battery
The sadhusare seen clad in saffron sheets with ashes and powder dabbed on their skin per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter.. Next Kumbh Mela will start on 27-January-2013 at Allahabad.
The Ganges and its tributaries, especially the Yamuna, have been used for irrigation since ancient times.[ Sony VAIO VGN-AW70B/Q Battery
Dams and canals were common in gangetic plain by fourth century BCE.
Megasthenes, a Greek ethnographer who visited India during third century BCE when Mauryans ruled India described the existence of canals in the gangetic plain. Kautilya (also known as Chanakya), an advisor to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of Maurya empire, included the destruction of dams and levees as a strategy during war. Sony VAIO VGN-AW71JB Battery