Unveiling the Legend of Goddess Ganga and Lord Shiva’s Transformation into Gangaadhar

The Goddess of purification and forgiveness – Ganga was a beautiful woman and one of the free-spirited daughters of King Himavan and Queen Mainavati. She is the elder sister of Maa Parvati and rides Makara (crocodile). In Rigveda, she is considered as the holiest river in India. Ganga was the first born daughter of Himavan. After spending a few years with her parents, later on Ganga resided in Heaven on the request of Lord Brahma.

 Let’s know the history of Ganga and how she flawed from the jata of Lord Shiva.

 The Ramayana and other vedas say that Brahma created Himavan who later ruled the Himalayas and married Mainavati. After a few years, they were blessed with a child (first born daughter) who they named Ganga. After that, they got blessed with another daughter named Parvati. When Ganga grew up, Brahma requested Himavan and Mainavati to take her to Heaven because Devas needed her to be there. Later on, Ganga fled from Heaven to Earth. 

Now, what made Ganga flow on Earth? Let’s go.

First let’s get started with why Brahma asked Ganga’s father to bring her to Heaven. We all know that this universe has both forces. Positive and negative. Likewise, Devas and Asuras were born as the forces of division and chaos. There was a powerful asura named Tarkasur. A long time ago, he pleased Lord Shiva by his penance and Shiva gave him a clever boon that he could be defeated only by the son of Shiva. 

After several years, after Sati’s death, 108 Shakti Peethas came to exist on Earth. One of the Shakti Peethas was Manikarnika Shakti Peeth at Banaras. Tarkasur sent his son – Vidyunmali to destroy this Shakti Peeth. At the same time, King Himavan, her wife Mainavati and her daughter Ganga were traveling to Balaji to seek blessings of Lord Vishnu. In between, King Himavan helps to protect the Manikarnika Shakti Peeth from asuras. At the same time, Ganga meets Mahadev while he was suffering from the trauma of Sati’s death. She tells him her feelings for him. She had fallen in love with Shiva but he didn’t reciprocate her feelings. Ganga gets angry and leaves.

On the other hand, Tarkasur attacks Heaven and makes it unholy to rule this entire universe. There was a great need to make Heaven holy and that was possible only by bringing a holy river. All the Devas requested to bring any river to Heaven to maintain its purity. At that time, Brahma went to Himavan and Mainavati and asked them to allow him to bring their first born daughter Ganga to be in Heaven in the form of a river. And, then Ganga took the form of the river and flawed from heaven to Earth. Ganga accepts this request of Lord Brahma but puts a condition. And the condition was “She will only descend to Earth when Shiva will invite her”.

Meanwhile, Lord Vishnu tells Lakshmi that Adi Shakti will be born as the daughter of Him Naresh and Menavati and Mother Parvati gets born as a daughter of Him Naresh and Mainavati.

After a few years passed, there was a king called Bhagiratha, and he did a thousand years of penance to please Lord Brahma so that he could bring the Ganges to Earth for the souls of his ancestors who needed salvation and peace. Ganga was free and the purest in the realm of Gods. Rishi Bhagirath pleaded to the Gods to let Ganga cleanse the Earth as well. 

With being beautiful and brave, Ganga was also mighty and free-spirited. It was mandatory to maintain her flaw if she descended to Earth. Since the mighty river Ganga would have destroyed the realm of man with her descent, Lord Shiva decided to slow her down by containing her water by locking it in his jata (hair). 

Now, the question is how Bhagirath brought Ganga to the Earth. So the Vedas say that Ganga requested Bhagirath to guide her. She would follow the path of him on Earth to flow as a river. Therefore, king Bhageerath led the way for her, and she followed him across the north and east of India and finally merged with the ocean – Bay of Bengal. In her course, she washed the ashes of Sagara’s sixty thousand sons, who ascended to heaven while praising and blessing Bhageerath.

For this, Ganga is also known as Bhageerathi (daughter of Bhageeratha) as indicated by Lord Brahma.

Thus, the condition of Ganga was also fulfilled and from there, she fell to the Earth and has remained here ever since. Lateron, she even gave birth to Bhishma, guardian of Hastinapur.