The Merciful Mother “Ganga” Part IV - Myths and Legends of Ganga

Ganga as mother of Ganesha 

Uma or Parvati created an image of a boy child from her bodily impurities as she was having a bath. She loved this image and wanted him to come to life and become his son. So she approached her sister Ganga and immersed this image in the waters of the Ganga, who also felt a unique motherly love towards this image of a boy child. Gangagave life to this image and Ganesa - the second son of Siva and Parvati was born. Thus Ganga is also considered to be the mother of Ganesa, who in turn is also known as Gangeya - the son of Ganga. Ganesa is also known as Dvaimatura - one who has two mothers, namely Parvati and Ganga.

Ganga as foster-mother of Kartikkeya

In the Ska?da Purana, Ganga is mentioned as being instrumental in the birth of Kartikkeya, the eldest son of Siva and Parvati, and is thus considered as the foster-mother of Kartikkeya. The Maheswara Khand of the Skanda Purana states that Siva and Parvati were happily enjoying conjugal bliss on Gandhamadan Mountain. It so happened that an extremely small quantity of Siva"s sperm fell on the ground, while they both were in the raptures of making love. The sperms generated considerable heat and the world began to burn. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma instructed Agni to find some method to curtail the heat. Dressed as a hermit, Agni went to the GandhamadanMountain and asked for alms from goddess Parvati, who had nothing to give at that moment and so gave Siva"s sperms that had fallen on the ground to Agni. In order to destroy the sperms, Agni swallowed the sperms and saved the world from being burnt. However,Parvati discovered the trick played by Agni and cursed him that he shall become omnivorous and the sperms would cause terrible inflammations in his body

As a result, Agni suffered extreme heat due to the inflammations and sought Lord Siva"s help in relieving himself from this pain. Siva told Agni to implant the sperms in any woman"s womb and thus obtain relief from the inflammations. Agni went away and on the way, he met six Krittikas, who were shivering with cold. Agni planted the sperms of Siva in the six Krittikas through their skin pores and thus relieved himself of the intense inflammations. When the husbands of the six Krittikas learnt that their respective wives were pregnant, they became furious and cursed them into becoming Naksatras or constellations in the sky. Before becoming the constellations, the six Krittikas aborted their fetuses or Skanda at the Himalaya mountains. The river Ganga during her course in the Himalayas, carried the six fetuses with her and kept them in a secluded place which was full of reed bushes. In time, Kartikkeya, with six heads, emerged from those reeds and Parvati, also known as Uma, took Kartikkeya as her eldest son. Kartikkeya was born to kill Tarakasura, which he did.

Ganga as the wife of Siva

Ganga serves as the mother of Ganesa and the foster-mother of Kartikkeya and hence is also known as the spouse of Siva. Ganga"s residence in the matted locks of Siva further gives her the place as the second wife of Siva besides Uma, who happens to be Ganga"s sister, as they both are daughters of King Himavan. Thus, in the Ska?da Pura?a, Siva is married to both the sisters, Ganga and Uma.

Ganga as the wife of Vishnu

In Chapter 2.6 Hymns 13-95 of the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, it is stated that Lord Vishnu has three wives, namely Laksmi, Ganga, and Saraswati. All the three wives love Vishnu dearly and fight for his attention at all times. In order to do so effectively, they proclaim their respective supremacy over the other, which leads to quarrels. Due to their constant quarreling amongst each other, finally Vishnu keeps Laksmi for himself, and gives Ganga to Siva and Saraswati to Brahma.

Ganga as the daughter of Brahma

One of the legends states that the water in the kamandalu or water vessel of Brahma automatically transformed itself into the goddess Ganga. Since she came from Brahma"s water vessel, Ganga is also revered as one of the many Saktis of the goddess Mahamaya Adisakti.

Ganga as the daughter of Himavan
King Himavan and his queen Mena, had two daughters, Uma and Ganga. Indra had asked Himavan to give Ganga to the heavens so that the Gods could soothe themselves with its cool waters, and thus Ganga went to the heavens, and was brought up as a daughter under the love and care of Brahma. Uma also known as Parvati was wedded to Lord Siva.

Ganga as the daughter of Sage Jhanu
The royal sage Bhagiratha while taking Ganga to the nether world, came near the hermitage of Risi Jhanu, and Ganga drowned the hermitage. The sage in his anger, drank up the entire Ganga. After much pleading by Bhagiratha, the sage Jhanu released Ganga from his ear and since then Ganga is also known as Jhanavi -the daughter of Jhanu.

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