The Ganga river is not an ordinary river but is considered to be the origin of all rivers. The information on Ganga river must include next to material informations also spiritual informations to make the picture complete. Beside we concider Ganges a perfect destination for ecotourism in West Bengal we ephmasize the spiritual importance of the holy river.
Many Hindus consider the Ganga river to be a person, a godess, whom we must pay attention and take care of, because as loving mother she gives her waters freely to one and all and gives also spiritual blessings. This is the reason many ashrams are founded on the bank of Ganges. It is a good idea to visit and stay in some of those ashrams.
The Ganga river has a great importance as holy river. Ganga water is considered to be very pure and serves in many rituals for material and spiritual purification. Ganga water is said to free one from all sins and bad Karma.
There are a lot of pilgrim places on the banks of the Ganga river. The Hindus want to take at least one time in their lives a bath in its waters, if possible live nearby, and at the end find final rest for their ashes within her. Many believe in its healing power and some homoeopaths take it as base for their medicine.
Although the Ganga river is very polluted, it has a phisical and chemical self-cleaning power, it can reduce organic water pollution by itself.
The Sanskrit word «ganga » means «the fast flowing ». Ganga is the spiritual name of the Ganges river who is considered to be a godess. She is mentioned in the Vedic scriptures, the Puranas, in many various narrations about her exalted nature and glories. She has a great significance to Gaudiya Vaisnavism and to Hinduism in general.
It is said that she has 108 different names, other sources tell one thousand. «She is able to award one the lotus feet of Lord Visnu, and thus she is known as Visnupadi.» (Sri Brahma-Vaivarta Purana.)
Ganga is also known as Jagan-mata and Visva-mata, which means the mother of the universe.
One other name is Tripathaga, or one who travels through the three worlds, what means she is not bound to only one geographical location, such as India, but flows also through the heavenly planets and the lower planets.
There are a lot of myths and legends how the godess Ganga had her birth into this world. The most famous one is the Bhagirath Maharaj story:
King Sagar (Sanskrit: ocean) had 60 000 sons. He wanted to expand his kingdom by sending a running horse in all directions. The demigods didn’t like this rapid expansion and caught the horse and brought it to the hermit Kapila at the golf of Bengal. The angry king Sagar sent his sons to find the horse. As they arrived to Kapilas place they wanted to attack him but he burnt them to ashes with his sight. Kapila consoled the king that his sons would be delivered by the waters of Ganga-Devi if one of his progeny would be able to call her on earth.
As Bhagiratha Maharaj appears several generations later he renounces the throne and spends his time as hermit in the Himalaya. After 5500 years of meditation and renunciation Ganga is ready to appear on earth.
But Lord Shiva fears that her waves will destroy the whole earth. So he stands on a summit to slow down her bounce. As she falls on him, he coshions her force through his hair. From his head Ganga flows in seven rivers which flow through all regions of India. Finally she reached the ashes of the 60 000 sons and delivered them.
One other legend tells that Ganga was born from the toe of Lord Visnu.
The earthly beginnings of the Ganga river are in the Himalaya near the Indian-Chinese border.
The boisterous current spurt out from the Gaumukh glacier in more than four thousand meter height.
One can reach Gaumukh from Gangotri in eighteen kilometer long walk. Here start and end all pilgrimages around the Ganga. Gaumukh means «mouth of the cow», and the river arises from an icy-cave.
The Skanda purana, a Vedic scripture, glorifies Gomukh as the most exalted Tirtha related to mother Ganga. A Tirtha is a pilgrim place near a holy water, where one can enter more easily into another world. It is said that this Tirtha has been born from the lotus feet of Lord Visnu. In order to attain the Lords mercy, one must take bath at the aperture of the icy-cave in a very devotional mood.
When we talk about informations on Ganga River unfortunatly we have to talk about pollution as well.
The Ganga river has a length of more than 2600 kilometers and flows through India and Bangladesh. She flows together with the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi and reaches the Indian ocean. The biggest cities on the Ganga river are Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna, Ghazipur, Haridwar, Varanasi and Kalkutta.
Varanasi is one of the holiest city for the Hindus. Many want to die here, as it is said that one who enters the Ganga at the end of life, can come out of the circle of birth and death. Every year ten thousands of people leave their body here. But often there is not enough money for firewood and the corpses are hint into the Ganga. After death the rotary process starts.
Bhakteriums are released and produce a poison named Botulinumtoxin, one of the most deadly substances in the world. It causes respiratory paralysis. Many people drink this highly polluted water, but still it is not illegal to tip cadavers into the river.
Another problem are the leather fabrics who produce more than 30 millions of hazardous waste daily. Highly poisoned substances like Arsen, Cadmium, plumb, and chrome, which is highly carcinogenic, are put into the Ganga river. Many illness are caused from the polluted water, like cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A or typhus. A lot of epidemies go round.
Ecotourism in West Bengal can contribute a lot to Ganges River. West Bengal with lots of trees and reach greenery finctions as a water purifier for Ganges. For that reason the water of ganges is suprisingly pure.
The necessity of clean and pure Ganga water is obvious, many inhabitants near the Ganga river are using Ganga water as their only drinking water. To keep the Ganga river water clean is a worthy goal.
In Mayapur we started the Friends of Mayapur campagne, whose objective is to keep the city of Mayapur clean and green. If you plan to stay in Mayapur we are ready to accomodate you. There is an equipe who cleans daily the shore of the Ganga by picking up garbage that has been thrown into Gangas water and around the river. To create and implement an effective system of collection is the base of the recycling plan.
Our proposal is to protect forested areas and reforest previously green areas. The Ganga action plan includes further to sensitize the population and pilgrims for the pollution problems and discuss measures with the gouverment and the creation of a solid residue filtration system.
We started with small steps, like picking up garbage, but after a daily endeavour during seven years now, the sourounding of Mayapur looks much more clean. The inhabitants, pilgrims and the gouverment started to pay attention to our proposals and aims. Everything starts with the awakening of conciousness for the problem.
The discrepancy between the material aspects of the Ganga river with its proplems with the pollution and the spiritual aspects of Ganga Devi as the most pure and merciful mother who takes away bad Karma and purifies the three worlds seems to be almost not reconcilable.
All the more it is important to start a Ganga Action plan and to help to keep the Ganga water clean. So that everybody can visit a holy place near the Ganga river and take a bath in her waters joyfully. Hope you got all needed information on Ganga river.