Guiding Light: Bhageeratha Prayatnam

Guiding Light: Bhageeratha Prayatnam

Prof S AinavoluUpdated: Tuesday, December 26, 2023, 10:32 PM IST
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Lord Shiva and Ganga | Twitter

Drawing from our tradition, if someone puts an extra-ordinary effort to achieve a thing, it is called Bhageeratha Prayatnam (effort), offering remembrance to the Surya dynasty king Bhageeratha. Not all extra-ordinary efforts may yield the outcome, but the Bhageeratha’s effort yielded positive result.

Sagara was born to King Bahuka and Yadavi. He lost his father early and was administered poison before birth. As he was born with poison, he was named Sa+Gara (with Poison), and grew to become the king. Sagara performed Ashwamedha and the released yagya horse never returned. It was abducted by Indra and was hidden in Patala. Sagara deputed his sons, Sagaraputras to locate the horse. They dug down but were cursed to ashes by a penance-performing sage there named Kapila.

As the Sagaraputras never returned, King Sagara deputed his grandson Anshuman, the son of his other son Asamanjasa, to trace the horse and bring it back, which he did. The Sadgati (final accession) for Sagaraputras was pending, and the path indicated was by bringing the river Ganga to the place. Anshuman tried the task, and after him his son Dileepa too tried throughout their lives. Finally, Dileepa’s son Bhageeratha prayed and got Brahma’s permission to get Ganga on to Earth and Shiva were to hold its might when it descended. Upon Ganga flowing on the ashes, the ancestors reached better place. The entire effort of Bhageeratha in pleasing Brahma for Ganga, and again trying to make Shiva agree to “hold the might of Ganga” is called Bhageeratha prayatnam. In fact, then onwards Ganga is called Bhageerathi.

For the world to draw inspiration from Bhageeratha’s effort, the essentials have to be in place. First, the vision of getting river Ganga on to the earth was crystal clear to the effort-attempting Bhageeratha. This was a dream his grandfather and father lived for and died trying to achieve. So, the vision was sacrosanct. The mission of achieving the dream was also clear and it was to be achieved through tapasya. Once he was successful to “get” Ganga, the second effort was to make Shiva “hold” Ganga’s might.

Our takeaway can be, by having our own vision and mission we can attempt the Bhageeratha prayatnam in the chosen direction and make the world a better place.

Prof S Ainavolu is a Mumbai-based teacher of tradition and management. He is with VPSM. Views are personal. www.ainavolu.in/blog

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