Maha Shivratri 2021: The legend behind how Lord Shiva came to be known as Gangadhar!

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The auspicious festival of Maha Shivratri is celebrated marking the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati. Lord Shiva is also known as “The Destroyer” in the Hindu trinity. Shivratri falls once every month before the full moon, usually on a month’s 13th night/14th day. But the most important one is Maha Shivratri which occurs in late February or March. This year Maha Shivaratri or ‘the Great Night of Shiva will be celebrated on Thursday (March 11). 

There are countless legends about Lord Shiva and his mighty powers. On the occasion of Maha Shivratri, we decided to take a look at the story of the time when Lord Shiva held the mighty Ganga in his matted locks. 

King Bhagiratha succeeded in pleasing Lord Brahma after his great-grandfather Sagara angered Sage Kapila by accusing him of stealing the sacrificial horse meant for performing the Ashwamedha Yagya. The horse was actually stolen by Lord Indra who feared Sagara would grow more powerful than him after performing the Yagya.

Sage Kapila cursed Sagara and his descendants by saying they will never be able to attain Moksha until they bring the divine Ganga to earth from the heavens.

Brahma, who gets pleased by Bhagiratha’s prayers, asks Ganga to descend to the earth. But Ganga takes offence to this and decides to destroy the earth with her mighty force. Brahma who knew of Ganga’s fury asked Bhagiratha to seek Lord Shiva’s help to combat Ganga’s rage.

Lord Shiva agrees to help Bhagiratha. Ganga, who is oblivious of Shiva’s power, descended with tremendous force thinking she would wash him away. But Shiva, the lord of the lords that he is, held her tightly in his matted hair. Soon, Ganga realised Lord Shiva was no ordinary being and calmed down.

Only a stable, strong and invincible mind can sustain through the temptations of the materialistic world. Nothing can distract him. Hence to attain the truth, one needs to be unshakable. Stability alone can bring peace and happiness.

To defeat arrogance, pride and ego, one needs to have a strong mind. In this case,(Ganga’s force) is arrogance and Shiva symbolises a strong mind.

Since Shiva held Ganga in his locks, he is known as Gangadhar.

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy Maha Shivratri!

 





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