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A Mythological Story - Descent of Ganga

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The mythological story of Ganga is an amazing story that teaches children that:

  •  With patience, anything can be achieved. 

  •   Good wins over evil.

An Overview of the Story of Descent of Ganga

This is a story about how Ganga came to earth when king Sagara’s children were burned to ashes by Sage Kapila. He wanted to purify the souls of his lost sons and started a Tapasya to please lord Brahma. He died during this prayer, and his grandsons continued to do the Tapasya.

One more version of the story is about Arjuna's penance for his payment to Lord Shiva's help in the battle of Mahabharat. This story teaches the children how patience is rewarded and that good wins over evil. 

The Descent of Ganga Story

Once upon a time, demons and gods were at odds. The demons devised a strategy to defeat the gods. They hid in the ocean during the day and attacked the gods at night. Fearing defeat in this manner, the gods sought assistance from Sage Agastya.

Agastya resolved their issue by drinking the entire ocean. The gods soundly defeated the demons now that they had nowhere to hide. The gods then asked Agastya to return to the ocean. Agastya said he could not because he had already digested the ocean.

The earth's inhabitants now had no water because the ocean had dried up. The gods became concerned and went to Vishnu, requesting that he bring water to earth. Meanwhile, King Sagara, who had sixty thousand sons, was conducting a yagna to conquer the entire world.

He had sent out a white horse, and the king of that kingdom either had to fight Sagara or give him his crown, according to custom. Sagara wanted to become the most powerful by conquering the entire world in this manner. Indra decided to take the horse and hid it in the ashram of sage Kapila. Sagara dispatched his sons to find the horse. They arrived at Kapila's ashram. Sage Kapila was meditating when he became disturbed.

With one annoyed look in his eyes. Kapila reduced them all to ashes. Sagara was devastated by his sons' deaths. He desired to cleanse his sons' souls, but only the Ganga could do so by washing their ashes. Ganga had to be returned to earth. So, in order to please Brahma, Sagara performed tapasya. However, he died before completing the Tapasya. His grandson then continued the Tapasya.

Bhagiratha, Sagara's seventh descendant, was able to delight Brahma. Brahma granted his wish and directed the Ganga to flow to earth. But Ganga refused to leave heaven and return to earth. The pressure of her flow threatened to wipe out all life on earth. Only Shiva's powerful hair could contain Ganga's power. Bhagiratha requested Shiva's assistance, and then the descent of Ganga began.

Shiva spread his hair across the sky. As soon as Ganga began to flow down, he collected her water in the form of several small streams in his hair. She then accompanied Bhagiratha to the location of his ancestors' ashes. Ganga flowed carelessly because she was young. She flooded Sage Jahnu's ashram. Jahnu was performing a yagna at the time.

When Jahnu performed a yagna, the water extinguished all the fires. Jahnu, being enraged, swallowed Ganga. When he learned about the lengthy Tapasya performed to bring Ganga to earth, he consented to let her go. Ganga flowed out of him after he cut open his left thigh. Ganga became known as Jahnvi, Jhanu's daughter.

Ganga flowed on, purifying Bhagiratha's ancestors' ashes. As a result, Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. Following that, Ganga started flowing and filled the empty ocean. It was the descent of the Ganges Mahabalipuram. The ocean became renowned as Sagara after King Sagara's name. The people of earth then had access to clean water.

However, an alternative interpretation of the story known as Arjuna penance, which is the penance done by Arjuna in exchange for Shiva's assistance in battle, has also been proposed.

Lord Shiva Spreading his Hair to Contain Ganga’s Power

Lord Shiva Spreading his Hair to Contain Ganga’s Power

Moral of the Story of the Descent of Ganga

The story of the descent of Ganga is about how Ganga came to earth as a result of the Tapasya of king Sagara and his grandsons as his penance for interrupting Sage Kapila's meditation. It teaches children to have patience in life. This story also helps kids understand that evil wins over good and good intentions are rewarded in the end.

Note to Parents 

Parents can narrate this mythological story of Ganga to their children and explain how the river Ganga and its stream were born, how the gods won over the demons, and also the patience of king Sagara and his grandsons, which made Lord Brahma bestow on them the precious river of Ganga from the heavens to the earth.

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FAQs on A Mythological Story - Descent of Ganga

1. Where did the river Ganga descend?

The descent of the Ganges in Mahabalipuram is depicted in the story. According to the story, it descends from Shiva's hair.

2. Why did Sage Kapila kill King Sagara’s son?

Sage Kapila was meditating when he was disturbed by King Sagara and his sons. With one look of annoyance, the sons turned into ashes.

3. Who performed the Tapasya after King Sagara’s death?

His grandsons performed the Tapasya after King Sagara’s death.


The mythological story of Ganga is an amazing story that teaches children that:

  •  With patience, anything can be achieved. 

  •   Good wins over evil.