Life’s attractions tempt with their glitter and unless one has the discrimination to sift between the right and the wrong one is sure to be led astray. Sacred texts and scriptures impress on us the option to choose the right and reject the wrong. Vedanta Desika celebrates the selfless service of the great sages, Parasara, Vyasa and Valmiki, whose compositions, the Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana respectively, are a source of redemption for mankind, said Swami Buddhidananda in a lecture.

Their effort in this regard is comparable to that of Bhagiratha, says the poet. Bhagiratha did severe and austere penance to bring the Ganges to the earth. His aim was to release his ancestors from sage Kapila’s curse which had reduced them to ashes. He was told that only the waters of Ganga could accomplish this task.

But to bring Ganga to earth was as difficult as asking for the moon and demanded of anyone nothing short of arduous penance. The immediate descendants of Sagara had failed in this attempt. But Baghiratha was determined to do his best for the sake of his ancestors and for the welfare of his kingdom. He performed the most severe of penance that lasted for a thousand years. Brahma granted his wish that the Ganga to be brought to the earth. But Brahma also asked him to propitiate Siva with whose help alone the fierce flow of the Ganga could be mitigated. So Bagiratha did further penance and sought Siva’s grace. Siva agreed to hold the waters of the Ganga in his matted locks and restrict the mighty speed of the rushing waters.

The Ganga thus brought from the celestial regions to the earth till date is serving humanity by washing away their sins and purifying them symbolically.

Penance is integral to human effort be it for personal, material or spiritual gain. The purity of Rishis and Jnanis is to be appreciated. Pride is an obstacle to reach God. Ego may take us places in this world but also further away from God. Every saint prays to god to protect him from the sin of “I.” Vedanta Desika’s plea for humility inculcates this value in us as well.

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