--> Skip to main content

Why Ganga Is Known As Angrijha? – Water Used To Wash The Feet Of Bhagavan Vishnu

Ganga, the sacred river in Hinduism, is often referred to as "Angrijha," a name derived from a significant episode in ancient Hindu mythology. The term "Angrijha" translates to "water used to wash the feet," specifically referring to the feet of Bhagavan Vishnu. Here's a more detailed account of the legend and its significance:

The Legend of Bhagirath and the Descent of Ganga

Bhagirath's Ancestry and Quest:

Bhagirath, a prince of the ruling family of Ayodhya, was a descendant of the legendary King Sagara. His father, King Dilipa, had passed away, and Bhagirath was born by the grace of Shiva.

Troubled by the taunts of his peers about his fatherless status, Bhagirath learned from his mothers about his lineage and the story of his great-grandfather, Sagara.

The Curse and the Need for Ganga:

King Sagara had 60,000 sons who were cursed by a sage and turned into ashes. The curse could only be lifted, and their souls liberated, by the holy waters of the Ganga descending to earth and purifying their remains.

Bhagirath's Penances:

Determined to bring Ganga to earth, Bhagirath embarked on a rigorous penance. He first prayed to Indra, who directed him to seek the blessings of Shiva.

After a prolonged period of worship, Shiva appeared and advised Bhagirath to pray to Vishnu, assuring him that his quest would eventually succeed.

Divine Intervention and the Name "Angrijha":

Bhagirath's persistent devotion finally led Vishnu to appear before him. Vishnu, acknowledging his devotion, took Bhagirath to Brahma, the creator god.

In the presence of Vishnu, Brahma, filled with reverence, washed Vishnu's feet with the sacred water he had stored. This water was the "Narayani Ganga."

Since this water had the honor of cleansing the feet of Vishnu, it was referred to as "Angrijha" – the water that washed the feet ("Angri" means feet, and "jha" implies washing).

The Descent of Ganga:

Vishnu and Brahma, impressed by Bhagirath's unwavering devotion, commanded Ganga to descend to earth with Bhagirath.

Ganga agreed and descended to earth, flowing with immense force. To prevent the earth from being overwhelmed by her descent, Shiva caught Ganga in his matted locks and gently released her streams, allowing her to flow down in a controlled manner.

The sacred river's touch was believed to purify all sins, liberating the souls of Sagara’s sons and blessing all who came into contact with her waters.

The Significance of Ganga as Angrijha

  • Spiritual Purity: The name "Angrijha" emphasizes the sanctity of the Ganga, highlighting her divine connection as the water that touched Vishnu's feet, thereby embodying the essence of purity and holiness.
  • Cultural Reverence: This story underlines the cultural and religious reverence for the Ganga in Hinduism. It portrays the river not just as a physical entity but as a divine purifier and a symbol of spiritual salvation.
  • Mythological Importance: The tale of Bhagirath's efforts and the eventual descent of Ganga reflects the themes of devotion, perseverance, and divine grace, core aspects of Hindu mythology and spirituality.

In essence, the name "Angrijha" captures the profound sacredness attributed to the Ganga, marking her as a river of divine origin and eternal purity.