The Goddess Ganges

“Granting indiscriminately to everybody the inconceivable state of Vishnu, which is unattainable even by great acts of charity, meditations of various kinds, and immaculate masses of fierce penance—Tell us, to whom can you be compared?”

-from Ganga Lahari, by Jagannatha Pandita 17th c

 

The river Ganges of North India is without doubt the most renowned and revered of all the world’s most holy rivers. She is conceived as having emanated from the Milky Way, gently swaying across the night sky. The sage Bhagiratha performed great acts of austerity to bring about the descent of the celestial river to Earth. Such was the power of the Goddess Ganga that Shiva’s intervention was required. She fell on his matted hair and from there made her way from the Himalayas across the North Indian plains to the Bay of Bengal. All along her banks great sages and yogis, for countless centuries, have performed meditation and various yogic pursuits including both Papa Ramdas and Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Thousands of temples line her banks and her water is believed to convey blessings of Health, Spiritual Liberation, and Bounteous Good Fortune of all kinds. From all over India and further afield pilgrims gather at her shores to bathe and bring her waters back to their homes. A sip of Ganga water is given to those souls leaving their lives behind on their death beds. It brings great comfort to all as the faith is that their liberation is thus assured. To bathe in the Ganges is to participate in the spiritual wishes and longings of millions of devout Hindus and followers of other faiths also recognize her Divinity. All in all, an aura of vast sanctity and blessing power surrounds the mythology and actual presence of the beautiful River Ganges.

When Indian kings had to travel abroad they would take huge vessels of Ganges water for ritual bathing and drinking. To this day, it is preeminent in the worship of deities throughout the sub-continent in temples and home shrines. The royal palace of Jaipur houses the worlds largest silver vessels constructed for holding Ganges water for H.H. Maharaja Madho Singh. The urns each hold 900 gallons of Ganges water and were made in 1894 with a height of 5 feet and a circumference of 15 feet.

The painting, completed with Ganges water, depicts the Goddess in 4-armed form in a bucolic setting. She stands upon a fish and may also be depicted on a fresh water crocodile. Her upper hands hold Ganga-Yumuna (silver and gold) water pots with pink lotuses—the eternal symbol of spiritual unfoldment. Her lower right hand is in Varada mudra conveying compassion and blessing. The left holds a further lotus. Himalayan iris and poppies decorate the bank of the river and in the background the Himalayas rise. The style of the painting is reminiscent of the Jaipur School of Rajasthan.

The River Ganges personified as the goddess Ganga Mai is India’s eternal symbol of spiritual grace.

Narasimha
Triveni Ashram
2023

 

The Goddess Ganges print  |  18 inches x 14.5 inches  |  $325