Collected words from talks of Swami Tirtha

“Shukadeva Goswami told: “O my dear king, Lord Vishnu, who is the recipient and the enjoyer of all the yagyas or offerings, appeared on Bali Maharaj’s arena like Vamanadeva. With one step of His left foot, He reached the end of the universe. And with the nail of the big toe, He just pierced the covering of the universe. Through this hole the pure water of the Casual Ocean appeared in this universe as the Ganges river. The Ganges water miraculously have the color of the roses, because its water have washed the lotus feet of the Lord, which are covered by reddish powder. Touching the transcendental water of this river, all the living entities can be purified in their minds from all material contamination; nevertheless the Ganges still remains pure. It has a direct connection with the lotus feet of the Lord before it comes to this universe, therefore it is called Vishnu-padi also. Later on it got different other names like Jahnavi and Bhagirathi. After thousand epochs, the water of the Ganges descended on Dhruvaloka, which is the supreme planet of the universe. Therefore Dhruvaloka is called by all the knowledgeable persons and wise men as Vishnu-pada, which means the planet that is situated on the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu.”[1]


Shrila Prabhupada explains: “In this verse Shukadeva Goswami glorifies the Ganges river. The water of the Ganges is called “patita-pavani”, because it liberates all the fallen entities. It is approved fact, that such a person, who takes bath in the Ganges regularly, will be purified outside and inside also. The body will resist all different diseases and inside the divine dedication towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead will be revealed step by step. In India many thousands of people live on the banks of the Ganges and due to taking bath regularly there, they will be purified, no doubt, in the bodily and in the spiritual sense also. Many wise men have glorified the Ganges, like Shankaracharya. It is the glory of India that she has such beautiful rivers as Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna and Narmada. All those, who live on the banks of these rivers naturally will achieve spiritual consciousness. Shrila Madhvacharya says: “Lord Vamana was standing on the right foot and with the left He was just stepping towards the end of the universe. Therefore He is called Trivikrama, who performed three glorious deeds.”


So this is the descend of the Ganges. When we have to prepare the achman water we have a mantra, meditating and inviting all the rivers into the achman pot: “ganga cha yamuna chayva godavari sarasvati narmada sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru”. In this way we invite all the sacred, holy waters into this small pot and it is very much purified. Therefore you can purify your hands to perform the puja. In this way, by touching different parts of the body with special mantras you can purify the whole body. Because we firmly believe, that the holy rivers purify the existence. Many people just do not understand why these Hindus are just going to the Ganges and taking bath there in so crowded places – ah, it must be some infections there definitely. They do not understand. For example in Hungary during the summer all the rivers are forbidden to take bath inside, because it is infectious. Especially if there is not enough water, if it is a little bit dry. But the Ganges – although it is a huge river and many people go there and sometimes you find dead bodies floating on the river also, still it has some purifying effect. It was examined also by scientists and in biological sense it also has some disinfectious effect. If you put some bacteria inside a bucket of Ganges water, they will be killed. So in a physical sense it also has some purifying power. But we are not searching for a physical purity.


Once I had to give a lecture at some conference. The conference was about the different aspects of pilgrimage. An I was of course talking about the Hindu way of pilgrimage, about the holy cities and holy rivers. And you know, some old professors were very much reluctant to listen at the first moment. But later on when I just started to describe why the Ganges is sacred for the Hindus, they immediately started to look up in their books and started to write and started to listen very carefully. Because it is coming from the lotus feet of our Lord, therefore the spiritual purifying power is there. And it also depends on the consciousness that you have when you visit a holy place. Because it is also said that such a person, who visits a holy place just like a tourism and goes to a holy river to take only bath, is considered to be a horse, a mule or an ox – just like an animal.




[1] From Seventeenth Chapter of the Fifth Canto of “Shrimad Bhagavatam”

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