As per the myths, Ganga is the daughter of the mountain God Himalaya. Some ancient scriptures also say that the water of Ganga was created from the sweat of the feet of Lord Vishnu. Hence, a dip in the holy Ganga bestows helps attain salvation.
The need to bring Ganga to earth arose because of a curse on the dynasty of King Sagar. Kapil Muni, whose intense meditation had been interrupted by the sons of King Sagar, cursed them and reduced them to ashes. Only the holy water of the Ganga could free them from Patal and help them attain salvation.
King Bhagiratha, a descendent of the same dynasty, made it his mission to help his ancestors attain salvation. He underwent rigorous meditation and finally managed to bring Ganga to earth. As per the Hindu mythology, it is believed that when Ganga was flowing down to the earth from the heavens, the pressure of the water was so high that Gods feared that the entire earth might get destroyed by floods. So, Lord Shiva held Ganga in the lock of his hairs and released the water on to the earth in a controlled manner.
Ganga is then led by the Bhagirath to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Prayag, Varanasi, and finally Ganga Sagar, where she meets the ocean, reaches Patal, and saves the sons of King Sagar.
The beauty of Anuja Chandramouli’s book ‘Ganga: The Constant Goddess’ is that she humanises the Gods and Godesses. They are not bereft of human emotions. So, despite being a form of Shakti, she is jealous of her sister Parvati, who becomes the consort of Lord Shiva.
We are all familiar with the story of Ganga’s marriage to King Shantanu, which sets the ball rolling for the sequence of events in the Mahabharata. However, thanks to Anuja, now we know Shantanu was a reincarnation of King Mahabisha, and also gain knowledge about his history with Ganga.
More than anything, what keeps me hooked to Anuja’s books is the writing. The striking prose, luscious description – for example, “the silvery river wound its way sensuously through the peaks, glistening and lustrous as a string of pearls against the blackness of the rocky terrain” – and the free-flowing narrative will never let you lose focus.
Anuja Chandramouli’s Ganga is not just the one-dimensional Ganga Maiya whom everyone worships to cleanse their sins. She is a woman – a free-spirited goddess, who has her way. She is a prolific lover, a fighter and survivor and above-all, Ganga refuses to fit in. That is why Anuja touches upon the recent controversies surrounding #MeToo movement in her own style in this mythological fiction.
The deep philosophy inherent in this book makes it stand out. This is not just a ‘fresh take’ on mythology. No. Anuja Chandramouli, in her own style, has gifted us a new manifesto of feminism. It is also a spiritual guide to life – to keep moving, despite hurdles, come what may, beyond all setbacks. Just like the free-flowing water of the Ganga.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by the author
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