Gangā and the river Ganges falling from heaven, while Shiva waits below to stem the fall with Nandi bull, Parvati and the sage Jahnu. Chromolithograph by R. Varma.
- Ravi Varma, 1848-1906.
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About this work
The Ganges was asked to flow from Vishnu's big toe in heaven by the prayers of the saint Bhagīratha to purify the ashes of the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara, who had been burnt by the angry glance of the sage Kapila. Gangā was angry at having to be brought down from heaven, so Shiva to save the earth from the shock of her fall caught the river in his brow and checked its course with his matted locks. Shiva is known in this instance as Gangā-dhara, 'upholder of the Ganges'. The descent of the Ganges disturbed the sage Jahnu as he was performing a sacrifice, and in his anger he drank the water up, but relented and let the water flow from his ear, hence the Ganges also has the name of Jāhnavī
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