Friday, March 23, 2012

River Ganges: Vishnu’s blessings

According to a description in the Srimad Devi Bhagavata, Goddess Sarasvati and Devi Ganga used to live in the abode of Bhagavan Vishnu, where they revered him along with the Lord’s primordial power, Goddess Lakshmi. One day, Sarasvati and Ganga got into a tense verbal discussion and Goddess Saraswati cursed Ganga, “You will have to descend to Earth and get in touch with the bad karma of all beings.”

When the Goddess of wisdom and enlightenment displays anger and curses another form of Shakti, there has to be a rationale. What appeared to be a curse for a form of Shakti became a blessing for all her children on Earth. When Vishnu heard about the divine dispute, he gave Ganga the permission to descend to the planet as a river — the holy Ganges — and wash away the negative karma of mortals. He gave her a couple of blessings, “Contact with the breeze that flows over your water will be adequate to bring jivas to Vaikuntha. Chanting of your name will diminish bad karma, and bathing in your water will be the highest purifier.”

Hearing these blessings, Ganga looked somewhat worried. “I understand that my water will purify mortals. But won’t it accumulate their bad karma as a result?” she asked. Bhagavan smiled and replied, “Ignorant mortals alone will not bathe in your water; saints and my devotees will also give you their darshan. That will maintain the purity of your water.”

Happy Navaratri!

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