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Ganga in Scriptures

Hindu spiritual literature from the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, to the eighteen Puranas mention the purity and glory of Mother Ganga, and several of these texts have elaborate hymns in her praise. Below are just a few of these passages:

Bhagavad Gita

“Pavanah pavataam asmi, Raamah shastra-bhrtaam aham, jhasaanaam makaras caasmi, srotasaam asmi Jaahnavi.” – “Of purifers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rama, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganga.” – Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 10:31

“Living creatures are nourished by food, and food is nourished by rain; rain itself is the water of life, which comes from selfless worship and service.” – Bhagavad Gita 3:14


“Prithiviya Apo Rasah (“The water is the essence of earth.)” – Chhandogya Upanishad


“Food from the devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ganga water, the mind engaged in the Lotus Feet of Lord Vishnu and the day of Lord Hari, named Ekadasi, these are all pure and thus holy.” – Conversation between Markandeya and Bhagiratha, Hari Bhakti Vilasa 9/283 from the Skanda Purana

“India is great, the Himalaya are great, but the region in the Himalayas where Ganga is born is especially great because that is the place where She [Ganga] exists in confluence with Narayana.” – Skanda Purana

“Even if thousands and thousands of sinners touch the dead bodies and bathe in thee [Ganga], all those will be destroyed when devotees will come and touch thee.” – The Devi Bhagavatam, Skanda IX

“Thousands of man’s sins get destroyed by the holy sight of the Ganges, and he becomes pure by the touch of the water of the Ganges, by consuming it, or just by pronouncing Ganga.” – Garuda Purana

“Mountains of sins accumulated by a sinner in the course of his millions of transmigrations on earth disappear at a mere touch of the sacred Ganga water. Cleansed will he be also, who even breathes some of the air moistened by the holy waters.” – Brahmavaivarta Purana

Click here to read the story of Ganga’s descent and her praise in the Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana).


“By holding that sacred stream, touching it, and bathing in its waters, one rescues one’s ancestors to the seventh generation.” – Mahabharata

“That end which a creature is capable of attaining by penances, by Brahmacharya, by sacrifices, or by practicing renunciation, one is sure to attain by only living by the side of Bhagirathi and bathing in her sacred waters.” – Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 27, Verse 26

“One may, by putting forth one’s best powers, count the stones that occur in the mountains of Meru or measure the waters that occur in the ocean, but one cannot count all the merits which belong to the waters of Ganga.” – Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 27, Verse 97

“Ganga always extends her unto those that are devoted to her with humbleness of heart. She unites those that are so devoted to her with every kind of happiness.” – Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Chapter 27, Verse 100

Click here to read the entire eighty-one verse Praise of Ganga by Gangaputra Bhishma (the most honorable son of Ganga and King Shanatu) from the Mahabharata.

Other texts

“Apo hi stha mayobhuvah (Water is the great sustainer like the mother.)” – Taittriya Samhita  Click here to read more from the Taittriya Samhita.

“Bhagavadgitaa kinchidadhitaa gangaa jalalavakanikaa pitaa, sakrdapi yena muraarisamarcaa kriyate tasya yamena na carco.” – “One who has studied the Bhagavad Gita just a little, drunk even a drop of Ganga water, has worshipped Murari (Krishna) just once, does not meet with Yama (the lord of death).” – Bhaja Govindam, Verse 20, Adi Shankaracharya

In many other religions, Ganga and water in general is held in reverence. Here are a few passages from other religions’ Holy Scriptures in honor of Ganga/water:

“Some try to find the Guru by shaving their heads at the Ganga, but I have made the Guru my Ganga.” – Shri Guru Granth Sahib

“Water is the source of all life.” – The Qur’an