Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bhageeratha - Epitome of perseverance

Bhageeratha is an epic character from Ramayana. His name is an epitome for great perseverance in any good cause.

King Sagara was waiting in vain for his sixty thousand sons who had gone in search of the sacrificial horse who went to Paatala. After some days he called his grandson, Amsumaan and asked his help to find them. At the nether world he found the sacrificial horse grazing but could not find the princes. But he found heaps of ashes all around. He was informed by Garuda, the bird-king, brother of Sumati, Sagara's second wife, that the princes were consumed by the wrathful glance of Sage Kapila and that if these ashes are to be watered according to custom so that the souls of the princes may rest in peace, Ganga should be brought down here from the land of the Devas.

Amsumaan returned back with the horse and informed the king all that he had found and learnt. According to the Ramayana, Sagara lived for 30,000 years. Amsumaan succeeded Sagara as King of Ayodhya and was, in turn, succeeded by Dileepa. Bhageeratha succeeded Dileepa. Bhageeratha was a childless King. He left his kingdom at the care of his ministers and went to Gokarna to perform a penance to obtain progeny and to bring Ganga to the earth". Bhageeratha went through severe austerities like eating only once in a month, standing in the sun with fire surrounding etc. Finally Lord Brahma appeared to grant him his wishes. But he informed him that the earth cannot withstand the force of Ganga landing on it and only Lord Siva can help. Bhageeratha had to perform another penance and severe austerities to please Lord Siva. Pleased by his penance, Lord Siva appeared in front of him and granted his wish. But when Ganga started her descent to earth, in her arrogance she thought she can sweep Lord Siva to the nether worlds (Paatala). Lord Siva became angry and wanted to teach Ganga a lesson. Ganga tried her best but not a drop could emerge from the tangled maze of Siva’s matted locks. This was an obvious disappointment for Bhageeratha who wanted Ganga to be bought to the earth. He had no choice but to perform another penance to please Lord Siva again who took pity on him and gently let out the waters of Ganga in Bindu Saras from where they flowed down in seven small separate streams. Three of them flowed west and three east; and the seventh river followed Bhageeratha. But on her course, Ganga damaged the yaga platform of a sage called Jahnu. The sage took the entire flood in his palm and sipped it off. The Devas and other rishis approached Jahnu and begged him to forgive Ganga and allow Bhageeratha to reap the fruit of his great austerities and perseverance. Finally, Ganga reached Paataala and with the holy waters, Bhageeratha performed the funeral rites for his arcestors and secured for them their entry to heaven.

I have submitted the same article on wikipedia. Please edit as needed in wikipedia.

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