MISCELLANEOUS

Ceaseless effort

Chennai: Nothing in life comes without effort. Sometimes a little effort is all that is required to accomplish a task, but sometimes, a marathon effort is required. The key is not to give up, said Thentirupperai Aravindalochanan. Bhageeratha’s effort in bringing the Ganga to the earth is an example of such untiring effort. The story begins with the birth of 60,000 sons to Sumathi, wife of King Sagara, and the birth of Asamanja to Keshini, another wife of Sagara. Amsuman is the son of Asamanja.

When Sagara performs the Aswamedha Yaga, his horse is stolen by Indra. Seeing the horse tethered beside Sage Kapila, the 60,000 princes accuse Kapila of having stolen it. Kapila, who is none other than Lord Narayana, burns them. Kapila then tells Amsuman, that only the water of the Ganga can save their souls. Amsuman fails in his effort to bring the Ganga to the earth from the celestial world. But Amsuman’s grandson Bhageeratha performs rigorous penance that pleases Lord Brahma, who, however tells him that the earth cannot withstand the force of the Ganga as she descends to the earth.

The only one who can bear the force is Lord Siva. So Bhageeratha continues his penance until Siva appears before him, and agrees to bear the Ganga on his head. However, Ganga, in her arrogance, thinks she can knock down Siva. Sensing her mischievous intentions, Siva traps her in his matted locks. So again Bhageeratha has to make renewed efforts to get the Ganga to the earth. He prays to Siva to release her, which Lord Siva does.

Bhageeratha then guides the Ganga. But on the way, in her exuberance, the Ganga destroys the sacrificial fire of the sage Jahnu, who swallows her. So again Bhageeratha has to pray to the sage to forgive Ganga and release her, which he does. Because she was swallowed and released by the sage Jahnu, Ganga is called Jahnavi. Bhageeratha then directs Ganga over the ashes of his ancestors, and they gain salvation.

Thus, it was the untiring effort of Bhageeratha, that gave humanity the river Ganga. So not only did the river take his name, and come to be known as Bhageerathi, any unceasing, tireless effort is spoken of with a reference to Bhageeratha’s effort.

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