It is a belief and a matter of faith for the followers of Sanatana Dharma that the waters of the sacred rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna and Kaveri have the power to purify us — not merely the physical impurities but also the contaminated inner selves comprising the mind and its workings. Hence a dip at the confluence of holy rivers such as at Prayag is considered an essential part of spiritual wellbeing.
In the hymn Saundarya Lahari, Adi Sankara celebrates the extraordinary power of the Divine Mother’s glances to purify Her devotees, even as a dip at the sacred Prayag is held to rid people of their sins, said Sri B. Sundarkumar in a discourse.
The acharya’s poetic fancy equates the power of Her eyes to the union of the three streams — Ganga, Yamuna and Sona — whose waters are famed for their distinctive shades they reflect — white, black and red. Her compassionate eyes assume these colours as well; and are seen to signify the three Gunas, Satva, Tamas and Rajas respectively by which the Divine mother manifests Her creative power.
The poet sees the representation of the entire universe in her.
Ironically, human birth provides an opportunity to strive for salvation along with the prospect to commit sins. The impurities enveloping the atma are not easily washed off and individual effort alone is unsuccessful.
A Jivatma is born as the result of one’s past karma and travels through births endlessly, experiencing alternating joy and sorrow in the course of a lifetime. Sometimes it is not possible to explain in rational terms the cause of one’s suffering or enjoyment.
Seeking the compassionate glances of Divine Mother, bathing in the holy rivers and chanting Her divine names are advised for the welfare and purity of the atma.