Perspective

Can Ganga Truly Cleanse Our Sins?

The word Ganga is powerful enough to sanctify souls, as per Vedic culture. Geographically, she's just a vast body of water like any other earthly resource. 

No matter what grade the settlers nearby pollute the river by disposing the dead bodies, or dusting off the refuse of the religious rituals, the revered seers and sages of India can’t praise enough the divinities of this sacred gift. She descended on this mortal land by dint of the austerities and determination of our forefathers, a feat popularly likened to a "Herculean task" known as "Bhageerath Prayatna."

It’s a popular belief that one who partakes in the Ganga water either by drinking, taking a bath, or simply sprinkling all over the body gets purified instantly from all sins and afflictions. She’s served along with Holy Tulasi to the hapless who are counting their last days on deathbed to achieve higher consciousness in the next life and get a chance to serve the supreme Almighty.

Does she really cleanse our sins? is a question that lurks in every other curious mind on the path of self-realization. How can a mere water droplet compensate for all the wrongs we commit during our whole lifetime? Let's take a journey into the annals of mankind as we focus on Bhishma, the son of Ganga. An exalted personality, a man of unparalleled resolve who unfortunately had to sleep on the bed of arrows piercing his body by his own cherished disciple Arjuna.

This man of paramount virtue committed a sin 101 years ago by shoving off an insect slithering around his feet. It fell away, entrapped in a bush of thorns, for almost two months and eventually died.

The account book of Karma infallibly stamped a sin to his credit. For almost a century of rebirths, as he could surprisingly recall, his virtuous acts outperformed that one misdeed. He committed the next epic blunder by allowing his own daughter-in-law to get disrobed in a court of impious individuals. When he couldn’t stop that abominable act on his watch, the sins blew out of proportion. Dwarfing all pieties, it manifested in the form of arrows, piercing his flesh in the war that followed.

For 58 agonizing days, Bhishma clung to life, writhing in pain. He asked Lord Krishna why he suffered despite adhering to righteous virtues for a century. The Lord pointed to the dark episode of his 101st birth that scripted his tragic fate.

That’s the destiny of none other than Bhishma, son of Ganga. Despite symbolized a mother who absolves all sins of humanity but Ganga couldn’t reverse the inevitable for her own son. What to say about us ordinary men who purposefully and inadvertently commit zillions of sins every day?

This history brings a stark lesson: even the virtuous of acts doesn’t rollback the entries of sin etched in the ledger of our fate. However, they can guide our life's course towards a higher purpose. The takeaway from this history is to imbue our everyday acts with the purity of Ganga in our conscience rather than expecting Ganga’s water to cleanse our sins. After all, she may wash away 1,000 sins, but what about the 1001st?


Image (c) istock.com

12-Nov-2023

More by :  Bibek Sinha

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