River Ganga learns a lesson of humility

One might have great strength, divine abilities and occupy a special place in the creation, but if not possessing the virtue of humility, then they face a lesson which makes them realise the importance of the great virtue, and this lesson applies to all, be it a human, demon or divinity. River Ganga is one such divinity who learnt this lesson from Bhagwan Shiv after which she shed her pride and flowed as a River which makes one pure from heart and mind.



King Sagar who belonged to the Ikshwaku dynasty, once performed the great Aswamedha Yagn. But Devraj Indr, who feared that Sagar would be greater than him stole the sacrificial horse and left it in in the Ashram of Kapil Rishi in the neither world. Sagar sent his hundred sons in search of the horse. They roamed all the earth and finally went to the neither world. Seeing the horse in the Rishi‘s ashram, they accuse the sage of stealing the horse. Enraged, Kapil rishi burns them to ashes. King Sagar’s another son Amsuman seeks forgiveness and pleases the rishi. The rishi gives the horse and also mentions that his brothers would be purified by the touch of River Ganga. Time and again, the descendants of Sagar perform penance to bring down River Ganga from the celestial world, but fail.

Sagar’s great grandson Bhageerath gets determined to free his ancestors. He starts performing severe penance about River Ganga without taking food and water. Finally, Ganga is pleased with him. She agrees to Bhageerath’s request to come down to purify his ancestors, but with an air of pride asks him that who would be the one who would bear her great rush down on earth as, unless borne by someone powerful, the entire Earth would be washed away.

Bhageerath is first worried at this thought, but then he realises that he has a saviour. He prays to Bhagwan Shiv to bear the weight of the divine river and redeem his ancestors. Pleased with the sincere devotion of Bhageerath, the compassionate one agrees to this.

After knowing that Bhagwan Shiv would bear her, Ganga begins her descent to the earth. She is filled with a pride that Bhagwan Shiv is no match for her gushing torrents and jumps forward with great speed. Bhagwan Shiv looks at the powerful descent of Ganga and understands her intention of humiliating him. He decides to teach her a lesson and unfolds his hair. The moment Ganga touches his head, Bhagwan Shiv immediately locks her in the strands of his matted hair. Ganga tries in many ways to get out of his locks, but doesn’t find a way. Totally caught in Bhagwan Shiv’s hair, Ganga is unable to get out and understands that her power is no match in front of the Almighty.

But with the pleas of Bhageerath, Bhagwan Shiv unlocks one strand of his hair, and releases the holy river. It is at that time Ganga understands that power is no match without surrendering to the Almighty. She seeks his forgiveness and flows peacefully on Earth with Bhageerath leading the way. She reaches the neither world and flows over the ashes of Bhagerratha’s ancestors helping them ascend to the heavens. Bhagwan Shiv came to be called as Gangadhara, for bearing Ganga upon his head, and also teaching the world that power should be never displayed as a pride factor, but should be used for the benefit of the world.