Dear All,

Greetings and Namaste. Tomorrow (Wed, 30-May-2012) is Papahara Dashami which marks the end of 10 days of prayers to Sri Ganga. I am given to understand that special prayers are offered to Mata Ganga tomorrow.

In this connection, I am happy to attach a rare stotram cum Mahatmya of Ganga as told by Lord Rama in Brahma Puranam, Chapter 157.

On two other occasions last year, I had shared a couple of other rare Stutis on Ganga and since the current Distribution List is much wider than before, I am attaching them once again. Especially, the Ganga Stuti from Skanda Puranam is meant to be chanted on this occasion, as I understand.

As usual, a few snippets on Mata Ganga:

1. The Ganga Stuti by Lord Rama is unique. For instant purification and destroyal of sins, we always think of Lord Rama (as below) but Lord Rama mentions exactly the same about Mata Ganga in this stuti and therefore there is no need to emphasize the sacredness of Ganga.

mAnasaM vAcikaM pApaM karmaNA sampuArjitam |
shrIrAma smaraNenaiva vyapohati na saMshayaH ||

2. There are many Ganga Stutis, including many Gangashtakams. There are at least two Sahasranamas and there could be many more. The Gangashtakam by Sridhara Ayyaval has a unique story behind it.

When Sridhara Ayyaval was preparing to perform Shraddha for his parent, a poor and pregnant servant lady appeared and asked for food - her plight was really pitiable. Sri Ayyaval thought for a minute and asked his wife to give away all the food prepared for Shraddha, although it is prohibited from the ritual point of view. On seeing this the purohits refused to perform Shraddha on the pretext that he has committed a heinous crime. He requested them for a remedy and they suggested that the only way is to have bath in river Ganga. Sridhara Ayyaval told them that it would be impossible for him to go to Kashi at his age and therefore he would beseech Ganga to grace him. He sang Gangashtakam and river Ganga overflowed from the well in his house. He took shower and performed Shraddha (there is also a saying that Trinity themselves came as Brahmanas to perform the Shraddha). This event is celebrated even today annually at his residence in Thiruvisanallur.

3. Though Sridhara Ayyaval was a Shiva Upasaka, his Krishna Bhakti is well known and he never differentiated between the two excepting the form. He mentions this in many of his works. The following is one such beautiful exposition in Stuti Paddhati :

svakara pratipATita svacApaH - svadRRig ambhoja samarcita svakA~NghriH |
svapadAmbvavataMsita svamUrdhA - sharaNaM me.astu sa ko.api vishvahetuH ||

(Meaning : He broke his Dhanus with his own hands (referring to Rama breaking Shiva Dhanus); He prayed Himself with His own Eyes as Lotus flowers (referring to story of Vishnu praying Lord in Thiruveezhimizhali in Tamil Nadu); He adorned his head with water arising from his Padas (referring to Ganga that originates from Vishnu Pada and adorning Shiva's Jata). May That Mula Pursha, whatever name it is, be my refuge.)

Though he has composed several hymns on Vishnu also, his Dola Navaratna malika also has a special story behind. During annual Dolotsavam, Sri Krishna's portrait was kept in a chariot and was taken around the village. As per tradition, every houseowner in the way will offer prayers but the organizers did not stop at Sridhara Ayyaval's house on the pretext that he is a Shaivite (meaning he is not a Vaishnavite). When they went a few steps beyond his residence, Lord Krishna's portrait disappeared and everyone was wondering what happened. After a while, they entered the residence of Ayyaval and found him to be perform Ekanta Seva to Lord Krishna with this this Stuti. That differentiates ordinary mortals and noble souls and sages.

4. According to Brahma Vaivarta Puranam, River Ganga will be visible only for 5,00 years in Kali Yuga (if I derstood correctly). If this were true, we are already on borrowed time. Does it mean that Ganga will also disappear like Saraswati? Only time will tell.

Thanks & Regards,
K. Muralidharan (Murali)

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