In Indian culture vairaagyam was always given ultimate importance. But careful, there is a very thin line that separates vairaagyam and laziness. In vairaagyam all karma is done but without expecting anything in return, without being involved in the materialistic aspects of karma. Bhagiratha, with his unparalleled effort to bring Ganga to earth, showed us how much effort a man can put in and as a result what wonders can be done.
On knowing that his ancestors (60000 Sagara Kumaras) will reach swarga only if the pure waters of Ganga flow through their ashes, from his mother, Bhagiratha immediately leaves to Himalayas to do tapas for Lord Brahma:
- After purifying himself in a pushkarini, it starts tapas with extra-ordinary concentration.
- Starts with padmaasana and in winter stood in the freezing waters of the lake with water up to chest!
- In Summer stands in the middle of burning pancha-agnis (four agnis + sun) and steadily stared at the sun with eyes wide open (all the while concentrating on Brahma deva)!!
- During the first few days, he had food only once a day. Later it was once in a few days. Then it became once in a month. After that, he just used to drink a little water and continue his ‘Tapas’. Finally the air was his only food!!!
- 1000 years passed….!!!!
Brahma, the creator of the worlds, on the requests of Gods to save them from the tremendous tapaagni of Bhagiratha, appears before him and blesses him with children and Ganga. However, Brahma deva suggests that none except Parama Shiva can take the force when Ganga falls onto earth, and if not with that force earth will be washed away…
Men are of three kinds:
- There are cowards, who do not begin their work at all, afraid that some trouble may arise midway.
- Those who begin but later give up the task, afraid of the difficulties that arise.
- Brave people who belong to a third group. They continue to work in spite of even an army of difficulties, and finally achieve the goal.
Bhagiratha belonged to this third category of brave men. He again began a severe ‘Tapas’ to please Lord Ishwara. With folded hands, and standing on one leg, he meditated on Lord iswara with the deepest concentration. So a whole year passed. Pleased with Bhagiratha’s devotion Lord ishwara takes the immense force of Ganga and controls her in his jataajutam. He completely stops her from flowing to teach her a lesson (she was a mischievous girl, proud of her strength!), but for Bhagiratha it was another difficulty… But he again with tapas pleases Lord Shiva to release Ganga down to earth. Ganga followed Bhagiratha shyly and slowly, like his daughter (Bhaagirathi). But she grew a little mischievous, though Shiva taught her a lesson once, when near Jahnu maharshi’s ashram. She wandered all over the Ashrama like a small girl and the entire place was filled with water. Disturbed from tapas by it, Jahnu maharshi in a single gulp swallows her entirely. And suddenly difficulties again for Bhagiratha. But it is not the first time for him, so immediately pleases Jahnu maharshi (Jaahnavi comes out of Jahnu maharshi’s ear) and finally sends his ancestors to higher worlds…..
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Morals in the story:
- Karma must be done in massive quantity as Bhagiratha did, but selflessly…
- Brave people continue to work in spite of even an army of difficulties, and finally achieve their goal.
- Man can achieve wonders, once he puts in effort and dedication….
- One must never be proud of one’s strength or other qualities. Else you will be humiliated when you meet a greater person. (Shiva taught the naughty kid, Ganga, a lesson by controlling her unparralled strength & force, with great ease….)
Let us all put effort, learn all the good qualities and be true Indians. Impossible is nothing.
Search Terms: Bhageeratha, Bhagirata, Siva, Bhaageerathi