Epic Power

The legend of Ganga

In part eleven, we join Sage Vishvamita as he recounts the story behind the birth of god Kartikeya and its connection to Ganga and her three-way path

Later, addressing Rama as Ramachandra, Vishvamitra narrated the legend of how and why River Ganga became a three-way travelling three-path river in its entirety. He said, "In ancient days, Lord Shiva married Parvati and spent a hundred divine years. However, despite spending so many years together, Shiva had no son with the Goddess Uma. All the gods including Brahma pondering over this were afraid that the son likely to be born after a lapse of so many years, would possess magnetism to the extent of being unsustainable even by all the three worlds combined. They mentioned to Lord Shiva that the worlds cannot bear his progeny born out of his radiance and requested him to bestow his grace on them. The Devatas further requested Shiva to perform a Great Vedic Ritual. Penance must be performed along with the Goddess Uma in union with Vedic Postulates of Yoga. By doing so, all three worlds would feel safe and happy".

Vishvamitra continued, "Lord Shiva affectionately assured the Devatas that he will do as requested by them. The Devatas said that the radiance which was already stirred up when discharged will be endured by the earth. Then Shiva discharged his seed with which the earth together with forests and mountains got inseminated. The Devatas felt that the earth was unable to bear the burden of his radiance and thus, requested the Fire-God and Wind-God to assist. The Fire-God's efforts led to the creation of Sarvana. Highly brilliant Kumara Swamy emerged out of it. Since he was born through the fire god and the great radiance of Shiva, he was known as a son of fire and since he was born in Kritika stars, he was also called Kartikeya".

Parvati cursed the Devatas

"As all this happened as per the plan and desire of the Devatas, Uma cursed them in a fit of spite. She said, 'I, who was desirous of having a son was prevented by you and therefore, you shall be incapable of begetting children through your wives. From now onwards, your wives shall remain infertile'. Later, she also cursed the earth and said that its appearance shall be strange and it would be the wife of many but shall not have the happiness of having children. Shiva, uncomfortable with the sorrow of Devatas and unable to convince his wife, proceeded to the northern peak of the Himalayas for penance."

After narrating the story of Parvati, Vishvamitra started narrating the story of Ganga, her earthly course and how she birthed Kartikeya.

Story of Kumara Swamy

Vishvamitra continued his narrative, "After Lord Shiva left for the Himalayas with his wife Parvati for holy penance, all the Devatas along with the sages approached Lord Brahma. They told him that Lord Shiva who was earlier dispensed with the responsibility of the Chief of Army for divine forces divested it and engaged in penance along with Goddess Uma. In the interest of the welfare of three worlds, they requested for a suitable replacement to Shiva. Responding to their request and referring to the curse of Parvati, Lord Brahma said that, Uma's curse that Devatas cannot have children is unambiguous and impossible to overcome. He said that for the time being that has to be set aside. Referring to the request of appointment of a new Chief of Army for the Divine Forces, Brahma said that, the Fire-God will soon beget a son through Ganga and he would become the Chief of Army. Brahma further said that the son born to Ganga will also be acceptable to Parvati who will treat him as her own son. On hearing these words from Brahma, the Devatas worshipped him and proceeded to Mount Kailash and met the Fire-God and requested him to beget a son through Ganga. Then the Fire-God approached Ganga and expressed his desire to have a son with her. She readily agreed and adopted a divine form in preparation. The Fire-God drenched River Ganga with the radiance of Shiva which he contained till then. With this the entire River Ganga radiated tremendously".

"River Ganga was unable and incapable of bear the rampant passion of Fire-God and all her body parts were weakening and were being burnt with the fire of Shiva compounded with that of the Fire-God. On seeing the miserable condition of Ganga, the Fire-God suggested that she should stow away the embryo at the bottom of the Himalayas. Accordingly, River Ganga ejected the radiant embryo. The place where it was ejected became a place of gold and silver. In the process, copper and iron were also generated and the residue became tin and lead. Thus, the embryo on reaching the earth evolved into various other elements. The actual place where the embryo was laid down on the Himalayas became glittering gold all throughout. From then onwards, the gold was renowned as Jatharupa.

Birth of Kumara Swamy

"Then all the Gods headed by Indra, who were told by Brahma that the boy thus born from this divine union would become the Chief of Army for Divine Forces, evinced interest in him and motivated the Kritikas to breastfeed him. Agreeing to the breastfeeding, they put a condition that the boy shall be recognised as their son which the Devatas accepted. The boy who was named Skanda later became Kritikananda and Kartikeya. Human beings worship the boy as Skanda only. The boy sucked the breasts of all the six Kritika stars simultaneously and became a six-headed boy in order to achieve this. He became an adolescent soon, triumphing over monsters by his own valour. The Devatas and all the divine bodies together anointed him as the Chief of Divine Army". Thus, Vishvamitra in detail narrated the legend of River Ganga to Rama and Lakshmana.

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