REDISCOVERING THE GANGES
We had gone upto Gangotri in the summers. It was a soul healing experience. The epics had sprung alive. The power and purity of the Bhagirathi and the Ganga overwhelmed us.
Three months later we were at a little hamlet by the Ganges, 50 kms upstream from Rishikesh, staying at a sweet little resort on the river bank. Contrary to routine, I woke up at 5.30 A.M. with the chirping birds. So as not to disturb Ranjana, who was still blissfully sleeping, I tip-toed out of the cottage, to the river bank. There I sat down feeling completely at peace with myself.
The beauty of the Ganges, a part of my subconscious by then, catapulted thru’ my eyes and mind onto paper. The humble, spontaneous words which spilled out, I somehow managed to gather together and ensemble.
REDISCOVERING THE GANGES
(- Achal Bindraban)
As dawn breaks
Sitting by the bank of the Ganges,
The river, in its pristine glory
Hurtling towards Haridwar;
The mist over the water
Diaphanous, merging with the waves downstream
Lending an aura of mystery to Vishnupadi,
Kalidasa’s emissaries drifting away leisurely
Unveiling the tree line beyond.
I walk upstream
Thru’ light cobwebs, stretching
Across the lemon trees,
Remade, instantly, behind me.
As the Sun rays
Try to strike the water,
Flows on unharnessed.
The occasional cooing of a bird –
The music to the lyrics of the waves;
The bus struggling up
On the shoulder of the road,
The decibels drowned in
Samrat Sagar’s ultimate salvation.
And, the next morning
The Goddess, with its misty veil,
Jahnavi, singing the same song,
The Sun God’s messengers
The repeated, banal consistencies
Cleanse my soul !
How Ganga Descended To Earth – The Story
It is said that King Sagar performed a great horse sacrifice (Ashwamedha Yagna) to make him very powerful. Indra, the king of Gods, was afraid his position would get shaken. He stole the horse and tied it to a tree at Sage Kapila’s ashram. When the horse could not be found, Sagara’s 60,000 sons went looking for it and found it at Kapila’s ashram. Assuming that the sage had stolen it, they set about freeing it. All this commotion disturbed the sage’s meditation and when he realized that they thought he had stolen it, he was furious. With one fiery glance, he burnt them all to ashes!
They had turned to ashes before the rituals of death could be completed. Hence, they wandered as ghosts. The one remaining brother, Anshuman, begged the sage for a solution whereby the rituals for these ghosts could be completed, so they could ascend to heaven. The sage said the flow of the purifying Ganga on the ashes would complete the rituals. She could be brought down by praying to Brahma.
After several generations, Bhagiratha a descendent of Sagara, did great penance for thousands of years. Brahma was pleased and granted him his wish of wanting Ganga to descend to Earth. Ganga was a willful and powerful river. Deciding that she would come down in a torrent and sweep off everything in her path, she left the heavens. But Shiva foresaw her intention and imprisoned her in his matted locks!
Bhagiratha then had to pacify Shiva, who slowly released her from his locks. And, down she came as the Bhagirathi. On her way to the ashes, she flooded sage Jahnu’s ashram. He gobbled her up in great anger. Again, Bhagiratha had to beseech the great sage to release her. Out she came, but now she was also called Jahnavi. As Ganga flowed on, people flooded her to take a holy dip in her to wash off their sins.