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What do we get in mind if we say ‘INDIA’?

We get in mind…: 

We get in mind… We get in mind, a country, which has the second largest population in the world and is a melting pot of cultures with nature’s beauty everywhere you look. Such a country, is our India. In such a country, water is considered very important. Water is used for our various everyday uses, but in India, water is also considered sacred.

Importance of water: 

Importance of water In the pre-historic times, when man evolved, he settled down near sources of water. Only when he settled there did he understand water’s importance. Life depends upon water. So it is considered sacred. Cultural evolution is based on water. All the ancient civilizations were formed near rivers. Even the Indus valley civilization in India is one such.

…In India: 

…In India In India, rivers are believed to be sacred and are respected as goddesses. The God of water in Hindu culture is known as ‘Ganapati’ and those who worship him are called ‘GAANAPATYA’ (Worshipper of Ganesh)

Which are the most sacred rivers?: 

Which are the most sacred rivers? Some examples: The following rivers are considered to be holy : Ganga (Ganges) Kaveri Narmada Yamuna Gandak Godavari Gomati and Saraswati (imaginary, believed to be running under Gujarat)


River Ganga is the longest river in India. The Ganges lies at a height of 13800 feet in the mountain range of the Himalayas in the Tehri Garhwal near Gangotri. The river Ganges is considered as the holiest of all rivers in the Bhagawad Gita. No other river has been more mentioned in the ‘Puranas’ as the Ganga. According to the Puranas, the Ganges is considered as the holiest of all shrines. Not only man, but even the most mean creatures like insects get liberated and achieve salvation. One dip in the Ganga is said to free a man from all sins.

More on the Ganga: 

More on the Ganga The holy sight of the Ganges gives knowledge, splendour, names, fame etc. Killing of a Brahmin and/or a cow gets absolved by a mere touch of the Ganges’ waters. The Ganga is a major river of the Indian subcontinent, associated in myth and reality with the land and people of India as well as neighbouring countries like Bangladesh. The people say that the Ganga purifies a man immediately after taking bath in its waters.

The story of origin of the Ganga: 

The story of origin of the Ganga The Ganga has an exalted position in the Hindu ethos. It is repeatedly invoked in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the two Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Ganga is a goddess, Ganga devi, one of two daughters of Meru (the Himalayas), the other being Uma, consort of Shiva. In her youth, Indra had asked for Ganga to be given to heaven to soothe the Gods with its cool waters. The story of its descent to earth appears in slightly different forms in Ramayana (Bala Kanda: Vishwamitra narrates it to the child Rama), Mahabharata (Aranya Parba: Agastya narrates it to Rama), and in the Puranas. These myths are variously dated between 2000 to 400 BC

The story of origin of the Ganga…: 

The story of origin of the Ganga… The king Sagara had two wives. By a favour of the lord Shiva, one wife bore him sixty thousand sons, all of whom were to die simultaneously, and the other bore him one son, Asamanjas, who would continue the dynasty. The sixty thousand sons grew to be great warriors, while the mighty Asamanjas caused so much misery to the populace that his father the king had to expel his own son, though a grandson, Ansuman, was left behind. King Sagara once performed the horse ceremony, in which a horse is allowed to roam at will, and is followed by warriors.

The origin of the Ganga…: 

The origin of the Ganga… Stopping the horse is a challenge to war; not stopping it is a compact of obeisance. In this instance, the sixty thousand sons were following the horse, but surprisingly, the horse was lost. After much recrimination, they dug up the entire earth and the underworld, the oceans, searching for the horse. Eventually it was found in a deep cavern, loitering close to where the sage Kapila sat in radiant meditation. The sons gathered the horse but they disturbed the great Kapila (Vasudeva), who was very annoyed, and instantly burnt them to ash with his fiery gaze.

…The story of origin of the Ganga: 

…The story of origin of the Ganga Sagara heard of this fate through Narada, the heavenly wanderer, and sent the grandson Ansuman to undo the harm. Ansuman descended to the underworld and met Kapila, who was much pleased with the youth's bearing and conversation. He granted that the soulse of the sons of Sagara may be released by the waters of Ganga, then resident in heaven. Despite much austerity and prayer, neither Sagara, nor Ansuman after him, nor his son Dilipa, could get Ganga to appear on earth. Finally it was Dilipa's son Bhagiratha, who after severe austerities, propitiated the Goddess, and she agreed to come down to earth. However, the impact of her fall would be so severe, that it could be borne by none less than Shiva himself.

The story of origin of the Ganga…: 

The story of origin of the Ganga… Therefore Bhagiratha went into meditation again and obtained Shiva's consent after many more austerities. Finally, the river came down and fell into Shiva's matted hair, and thence to earth. This is the presumed site of the present-day temple at Gangotri. Bhagiratha led the way on horse back and the river followed. In this manner they reached the spot where lay the ashes of the six thousand sons. They were thus liberated, and an ocean formed from the waters there. This is the Sagar Island of today, where the Ganges flows into the Bay of Bengal ("Sagara' is also Sanskrit for ocean).

More Legends on the Ganga: 

More Legends on the Ganga Many other tales are associated with the Ganga and points on it. Hari (Lord Vishnu) himself bathed in its waters at Haridwar, which is so holy that sins as great as the murder of Brahmins may be washed away by bathing here. Hindus to this day use the water of the Ganga to cleanse any place or object for ritual purposes. Bathing in the Ganga is still the lifelong ambition of many of India's believing masses, and they will congregate on its banks for the tremendously overcrowded Sangam, Sagar Mela or Kumbh Mela which are held on auspicious dates every few years.

More legends on the Ganga: 

More legends on the Ganga The Ganges has many names associated with its many roles in Sanskrit mythology. Bhagiratha himelf is the source of the name Bhagirathi (of Bhagiratha), which is its initial stream, but is also another name for the Hooghly. At one point, Bhagiratha went too close to the sage Jahnu's meditation site, and the disturbed hermit immediately gulped up all the waters. Eventually, after more persuasion from Bhagiratha, the sage yielded the waters, but Ganges retained the name "Jahnavi". Another explanation for the same name is based on the word for knee in Sanskrit, Janu (akin to genus in latin), + the case form for "born of" yield Jahnavi; this is from a version of the story in which the saint released it through a slit at the knee.

Properties of the Ganga Waters: 

Properties of the Ganga Waters Water from the Ganga has the recursive property that any water mixed with even the minutest quantity of Ganga water becomes Ganga water, and inherits its healing and other holy properties. Also, despite its many impurities, Ganga water does not rot or stink if stored for several days (This is true, I think, though it may have alternate explanations).

A Quote on the Ganga: 

A Quote on the Ganga The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India's age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.   - Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India, born in Allahabad on the Ganges.  

Another legend of origin of the Ganga: 

Another legend of origin of the Ganga There are many versions of stories regarding the origin of Ganges. According to the Valmiki Ramayana Ganges was the daughter of ‘Himalaya’ and ‘Maina’. The deities abducted her and took her to heaven. From that time onwards, ‘Ganga’ started living inside the ‘Karmandala’ (a spout shoped vessel). According to Kritivas Ramayana the deities had taken ‘Ganga’ to Lord Shiva to get her married with him. When ‘Maina’ did not find her in the house, she cursed to attain the form of water.

Why the Ganga is called ‘Jahnvi’: 

Why the Ganga is called ‘Jahnvi’ JANHVI – Another name of the Ganga is Janhvi. Ganga followed Bhagiratha who was on his chariot. Because of her tremendous speed, all the villages, Forests, etc in the way were either getting submerged or drowned. Sage Jahnu who was doing a yagya in his hermitage got angry when his hermitage was submerged in the Ganga. He drank whole of the Ganga by his yogic power. At this the deities, and the men became restless and they requested Jahnu to release Ganga. ‘Jahnu’ released Ganga from his thigh by cutting it and for this reason Ganga is also called 'Jahnavi' or 'Jahnusta'.

What is the ‘TRIVENI’?: 

What is the ‘TRIVENI’? The three rivers : Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati (now believed to be extinct), have a confluence at Allahabad. This place is called as ‘Triveni’ The river passes the holy bathing sites at Haridwar, Allahabad (where the Yamuna River enters the Ganges), and Varanasi. Below Allahabad the Ganges becomes a slow, meandering stream with shifting channels.


The Yamuna’s confluence with the Ganges is sacred to Hindus; Allahabad is a major pilgrimage center. Along the Yamuna’s banks are many historic monuments, including the Taj Mahal at Agra. Formerly an important trade artery, the Yamuna is now the source of irrigation for Uttar Pradesh and Punjab states. The East Yamuna, West Yamuna, and Agra are the major canals on the river.

The Legendary Introduction to the Yamuna: 

The Legendary Introduction to the Yamuna People say that the water of the Yamuna purifies a man in seven days after bath in its waters. Yamuna, the great among the greatest rivers is also known as the Queen consort of Lord Shri Krishna. Goloka the divine abode of the Lord is the home of Yamuna. When the Lord dictated Yamuna to descend on the earth, she first went round Shri Krishna. Thereafter, with great force, she descended on the peak of Sumeru Mountain. Her journey began thence towards the southern side of the great mountain chains. In the course of her journey Yamuna crosses many lofty peaks.

The story of origin of Yamuna: 

The story of origin of Yamuna Right among the peaks, the dark-complexioned Yamuna parted with the fair-complexioned Ganga, and reached a peak Kalind, to start her journey downwards since Yamuna began her journey downwards from the peak Kalind, hence she got an epithet Kalindi. Crossing and piercing many peaks and wetting expansive planes in the way, Yamuna reached Khandav Vana, where the modern city of Delhi stands.

…The story of origin of Yamuna: 

…The story of origin of Yamuna Yamuna had longed to see almighty Lord Krishna as her husband. Hence taking the guise of an extremely pretty woman, she began severe penance in Khandava Vana. Lord Surya, Yamuna’s father, built an under water palace there for her to tale rest. It is believed that she still resides there. From Khandava Vana, Kalindi travel fast to reach Vrindavana and Mathura in Vraja region.

The story of origin of Yamuna…: 

The story of origin of Yamuna… In Gokul, the extremely pretty Yamuna constituted a group of teenaged girls to participate is Raas of Lord Krishna. She also selected an abode there for permanent stay.

The Story of origin of Yamuna: 

The Story of origin of Yamuna From Vraj, Yamuna continues her journey due south and south-east ward purifying many regions in the way. She reached Prayag, the holiest among all the holy places of pilgrimage. There she meets again with Ganga. Both of them travel together from Prayag onwards upto Ksheer Sagar.

The story of origin of Yamuna: 

The story of origin of Yamuna Near the sea, with over whelming Yamuna says: Gangey, you are great that you originate right from the feet of Lord Krishna. You are venerable in all the three world. From here, I am ascending again to reach the abode of Shri Hari. If you wish, you may also accompany me.

The story of origin of Yamuna: 

The story of origin of Yamuna Ganga says: Yamuney you have the power of sanctifying the whole universe. You originate from the left part of Lord Krishna. You are an embodiment of the supreme joy. You are the queen consort of Lord Krishna, hence venerable in the whole world. Your sight is rare, even to the gods. I greet you. But I can’t accompany you. With Lord Krishna dictate, I now go to the Patal Loka. Thus, both of them greeted each other and went to their respective destinations. Yamuna ascended in the form of jog like stream, on the tops of the peaks. Thence, rising sky wards, she reached to the heaven. From there she reached Lord’s Krishna Goloka via Brahma Loka, her original abode. This is the story of the origin of the Yamuna.


       Kaveri is predominantly the river of southern apart of India, which is 475 miles long, originating from the hills of ‘Kurya’, some 20 miles away from Arabian Sea. It flows towards the south-east direction and passes through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and ultimately merges into the Bay of Bengal, after making a delta at its mouth.An island named as ‘Shiva Samudram’ and situated approximately 35 miles east of Mysore, divides its course into two parts. This river is considered so sacred that it is called the Ganga of the South.

Legends about the Kaveri: 

Legends about the Kaveri The Kaveri, India’s second most sacred river, is sometimes called the Ganges of the South. According to Hindu legend, Vishnumaya, daughter of the god Brahma, was born on earth as the child of a mortal, Kavera Muni. In order to bring beatitude for Kavera Muni, she became a river whose water would purify all sins.

Legends about the Kaveri: 

Legends about the Kaveri In India the river Kaveri has been famous since times immemorial. It is believed to be an omnipresent river. If a bath is taken on the fourteenth day of the Paksha, falling on Tuesday and having Vyatipat yoga, it gives immense benefits. Those people who get killed by weapons, can attain heaven, if ‘Ekodisht Shradh’ is performed at the banks of Kaveri and Seasame seeds which is mixed with the water of Kaveri are sprinkled in their names.

Legends about the Kaveri: 

Legends about the Kaveri       South of Narmada, a sacred place known as ‘Kaveri’ Kund has been unearthed. By merely taking a dip in its holy water,a man achieves godliness. There is also a ‘Siddh Linga’ called ‘Kundeshwar’, which is worshipped by the deities and the Siddhas alike. If any person worship this ‘linga’ even unknowingly, it gives immense benefits.The benefits attained by taking a bath in the holy water of Kaveri is simply incomparable .


       This river originates from the Himalayas, and while flowing in the southwest direction, enters India. In Nepal this rivers is known as ‘Salgrami’ in Uttar Pradesh it is known as ‘Sapta Gandaki’, and ‘Narayani’. Before reaching the Mountain Triveni, an auxiliary river ‘Trishul Ganga’ merges with it. Altogether it covers a distance of 192 miles and ultimately merges into the Ganges near Patna.


       Since it gets water from the melting snow perennially, it poses danger of floods to the plains during the rainy season. Because of its perennical flow it is also known as River ‘Saata Meera’.        At the source of Gandak, ‘Shaligram’ stones are found which are considered as the embodiment of Lord Vishnu, and worshipped throughout India.


The Godavari River is sacred to Hindus and has several pilgrimage centers on its banks. Godavari is a famous river of India. This river flows in the southern part of India, starting from the western ghats towards the eastern ghats. Godavari originates from a large reservoir situated among the hills at the back side of the village “Tryanibak’ in the Nasik district of Maharashtra.


Before getting merged into the ocean, it travels some 60 miles through the narrow and high walls of the mountains. Ultimately it merges into the ‘Bay of Bengal, making a delta near ‘Daulekharam’ and getting subdivided into seven streams. Out of these seven subdivided streams, Gautami and Godavari are the main rivers.

Religious Beliefs about Godavari: 

Religious Beliefs about Godavari From the religious point of view Godavari is considered as one of the most sacred rivers of India as she emancipates people of all the sins. After every twelve years, Pushkaram fair is organised at its banks, near ‘Rajmundri’ Andhra Pradesh. Performing of ‘Tarpana’ (libation of water to the deceased ancestors) liberates people from all their sins, and they attain the blessings equivalent to the donation of thousands of cow.


       River Gomati is considered as the daughter of Sage Vashistha. One can get emanipated of all sins by taking a holy bath in her water. The virtues attained by taking a bath in the holy water of Gomati is equivalent to the bath taken in the river in Kurukshetra, during solar eclipse.

Legends about the Gomati: 

Legends about the Gomati The performance of ‘tarpan’ of the deceased ancestors gives liberation even to the souls suffering in the hell or born as meanest of creatures like insects.An offering of ‘tarpana’ made even without ‘Akshat’ (rice grain) and Kusha (grass), but with the holy waters of the Gomati, liberates the souls of the dead ancestors, and is equivalent to the ‘Shraddh’ performed at ‘Gaya’. River Gomati is considered as a supreme liberator of all the sins.

Geographical Position: 

Geographical Position        River Gomati flows in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. It originates from a small reserviour named ‘Gomat tal’,which is situated approximately 20 miles east of ‘Pilibhit’ in Uttar Pradesh. After covering a distance of 35 miles,river Joknai merges into it, after which it becomes broader. Many other small rivers too merges with it subsequently.        Gomati, finally merges into river Ganges, some 20 miles north of Varanasi.


In the present times, river Narmada has its source in the mountain series of ‘Maikal’ and it submerge into the ocean at ‘Bharonch’. Narmada is also known as ‘Reva’, ‘Samodbhava’ and ‘Mekhalsuta’. The sacred pilgrimage of Kanyatirtha’ was also situated at its bank.        Narmada is the most important river of Madhya-Pradesh and Western part of India.

Legends about the Narmada: 

Legends about the Narmada There was a king called ‘Pururva’ in the ancient times. He was the descendant of the Chandravansh (Moon). One day he asked his courtiers about the means by which a man who attracted by sins could attain heaven, without performing religious rites like ‘Yagya’ etc.The courtiers replied that only river Narmada is capable of doing that. But, she will first have to be brought down to the earth from the heaven.

Legends about the Narmada: 

Legends about the Narmada        Pururva decided to bring Narmada to the earth. He commenced a tremendous penance to please Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva after being pleased, appeared before him, and asked him to demand any boon.Pururva demanded river Narmada to be sent down to the earth. Lord Shiva expressed his inability, and asked him to demand anything else, by saying that this demand is rare even for the deities.But Pururva did not relent. Lord Shiva then ordered to descend to the earth. Narmada said that how could she descend to the earth without any base.

Legends about the Narmada: 

Legends about the Narmada After hearing this Lord Shiva called the eight mountains and asked them as to who was capable of giving a base to Narmada.The mountain ‘Vinshya’ said that his son ‘Paryank’ is capable of achieving this feat. But ultimately when Narmada descended the whole earth including the mountains, Forests etc was flooded with its water. The deities requested Narmada to maintain some discipline, which she did by controlling her force.Pururva performed the ‘tarpana’ of his dead ancestors by the holy water of Narmada consequently all of them achieved liberation.

The Purification Strength of various rivers: 

The Purification Strength of various rivers        The water of river Saraswati purifies a man in three days. Yamuna purifies a man in seven days. The Ganges purifies a man instantly after taking a bath. But the Narmada absolves a man of all his sins, and makes him pure, by merely her divine sight.


By all these examples, we know that Indian culture is intricately dependent on water. All of these show that water is given a very important place in Indian culture and that water is inseparable from it.



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