No germ can flourish in the waters of the Ganga. It is saturated with antiseptic minerals. In the West, doctors prescribe Ganga water for rubbing in the treatment of diseases of the skin. Ganga is not merely a river. It is a sacred Tirtha. It is possessed of mysterious powers which are not found in any other rivers of the world. Even scientists have admitted the efficacy of the Ganga water.
"For a Hindu the word 'Ganga' has its own sacred association. Every Hindu thirsts for a dip in the Ganga, and for a drop of water at the time of his death. Aspirants and mendicants build their huts on the banks of the Ganga for practising penance, and meditation. Bhishma spoke very highly on the glory of the Ganga in his parting instructions to the Pandavas from his bed of arrows. Whenever a pious Hindu goes to take his bath, he invokes first the Ganga, and feels Her presence in the water before he takes a plunge in the river. If he lives in a place far away from the Ganga, he intensely yearns to see Her on some day and feels blessed by bathing in the holy waters. He carries some water to his house and carefully saves it in a vessel so that he may use it for purposes of purification.
"Hindus believe that all their sins are washed away if they take a dip in the sacred waters of the Ganga. In the Satya Yuga, all places were sacred. In the Treta Yuga, Pushkara was considered as the most holy place. In the Dvapara Yuga, Kurukshetra was regarded as the most sacred place. In Kali Yuga, the Ganga has that glory.
"Devi Bhagavata says: 'He who utters the name of Ganga even from hundreds of miles afar, is freed from sins and attains the abode of Lord Hari'. The Ganga comes out of the Supreme Being. She enters the Feet of Lord Hari and reaches Vaikuntha. She issues from Goloka and passes through the regions of Vishnu, Brahma, Siva, Dhruva, Chandra, Surya, Tapah, Janah, Mahah, and reaching Indraloka flows as Mandakini. The Ganga entered the matted locks of Lord Siva at the request of Bhagiratha who did rigorous penance for the descent of Ganga to Patala for the redemption of his ancestors, the thousand sons of Sagara, who had been burnt to ashes by sage Kapila. Thereupon, She flowed down from the locks of Lord Siva. She was drunk up by the sage Jahnu, as the water inundated the Yajnasala of the sage. Then again, she issued out of the ear of the sage and acquired the name of Jahnavi. She is also known by the name Bhagirathi, daughter of Bhagiratha. The Ganga flowed into Patala as Bhagirathi. The ancestors of the king were raised to Svarga by the touch of the sacred waters of the Ganga.
"Ganga is the form of Vishnu. Her sight is soul-stirring and elevating. She flows in the valleys and lives by the side of Parvati, daughter of Himavan. How magnificent She is when She flows in the valley of Rishikesh! She has a blue colour like that of the ocean. The water is extremely clear and sweet. Rich people from the plains get water from Rishikesh. They take it in big copper-vessels to far off places in India. To have a look at the Ganga in Rishikesh, is soul-elevating. To sit for a few minutes on a block of stone by the side of the Ganga, is a blessing. To stay for some months in Rishikesh on the bank of the Ganga and do Anushthana or Purascharana, is great Tapas which will take the aspirant to the abode of Lord Hari. To live for ever on the banks of the Ganga and spend the life in meditation is Sivanandam.
"May Mother Ganga bless you all! May She help you to live on Her banks and practise Yoga and Tapas!"
This beautiful poem was also read at our Ganga Saptami Satsang:
Glory to Ganga - Sri Swami Sivananda
I love Ganga and the Himalayas.
Ganga is my Mother Divine.
The Himalayas is my Father Divine.
They inspire and guide me.
I take bath in Ganga
I swim in Ganga.
I adore Ganga.
I feed the fishes of Ganga.
I wave light to Mother Ganga.
I pray to Ganga.
I do salutations to Ganga.
I sing the glory of Ganga.
l write about the grandeur and glory of Ganga.
Ganga has nourished me.
Ganga has comforted me.
Ganga has taught me the truth of the Upanishads.
Glory to Ganga.
Poem extracted from "Siva Gita" by Sri Swami Sivananda.
Our Master gives us the following advice, "Mother Ganga starts from Gangotri in the Himalayas. She encounters many obstacles on Her way, but She finally reaches the goal ─ the ocean. Similarly, the Sadhaka should never give up his struggle, however insurmountable the obstacles in the path may appear to be. All difficulties and obstacles will be removed through the Grace of the Lord if he is sincere in his Yogic practices, and he will reach the goal".