Ganga Flows in Heaven, Earth, and Hell
Goddess Ganga assumed the form of a river and flowed in all the three worlds: celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean. In the celestial region, she has three streams known as Swargaganga, Mandakini and Alakananda. In the terrestrial region, she begins her course from Gangotri in the Himalayas to finally merge with the Bay of Bengal, and is known as the river Ganges or Ganga. Ancient texts tell that on earth, seven streams of Ganga are flowing, namely, Hladini, Pavani, Nalini, Sita, Sindhu, Suchakshu and Bhagirathi. In the subterranean region, Ganga is known as Vaitarini, and a departed soul has to cross this river to reach hell. Vaitarini, is also known as Patala Ganga.
Some sources claim that Goddess Ganga flows in the heaven as Mandakini, on the earth as Ganga, and in the nether world as Bhogavati or Bhagirathi. Since she is present in Swarga, Prithvi, and Patala, she is also known as Tripathaga or Tripathagamini – one who travels three paths or three worlds.
The purifying waters of Ganga is the same in all the three worlds and thus anyone who has a bath in the holy Ganga in any of the three worlds gains liberation from the cycle of birth. The soul attains the four aims of life, namely brahmacharya, artha, kama, and moksha. The soul is free from all shackles of life and death, remains united with the supreme soul and bliss is obtained forever. The powers of Ganga are unlimited and has to be experienced to fully understand the truth behind the sayings of the great monks, the great rishis and munis of India.
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