Hindu Goddess Ganga Maa (River) Origin and Human Soul Purification
The overall life of Goddess Ganga Mata, who is rerepresented as the Ganga (Ganges) river in India, is fully covered and described in " The life of Ganga ". But following is a very short and valueable version of that famous Indian Epic.
At one time, the demon or evil 'Bali' acquired that much power that he chase Gods from the heavens and harm them. Which results into consultation of Gods from Lord Vishnu, and he promised help. After that Lord Vishnu took an avtar of the Dwarf Vamana and fooled Bali to give him as much as land of his kingdom that he could measure in 3 steps. When he took the first step, he covered all of Earth. When he took the second step, he covered all the sky and heavens and during that ponit of time Lord Brahma washed his feet in his kamandula or water pot, from which the birth of 'Ganga Maa' took place. When he took the final third step, Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana, pushed Bali back to the underworld or hell form where he belongs to.
From the water in Brahma's Kamandula or water pot, birth of Ganga takes place. Ganga was really very pretty and she danced in the heavens to the delight of all present there.
However Once when a gust of wind blew off cloth of the Rishi Durvasa, Ganga laughed too much at that time. The Rishi got angry and cursed Ganga Maa to become Reincarnatedas a river in which all humans will purifies themselves. The 8 Vasus got the vow from Ganga Mata that she would become their mother when changed herself as a river. Saint Vashista gave them a curse to incarnate and they were suffering through this curse and they hoped that Ganga Maa maybe drown them as soon they were born on earth.
The time when Ganga was needed on Earth, King Sagar decided to perform an Ashwamedh Yagya also known as horse sacrifice that made him Emperor of the entire Earth. When Indra Dev saw that happenned, he became worried by watching increasing power of King Sagar. Watching that happenning Indra Dev stole King Sagar's horse before the ritual could come to its end and tied it to a tree under which Sage Kapila was meditating without and interference of others. When 60,000 sons of King Sagar found their Ashwamedha horse, they thought Sage Kapila had stolen it and took it from them. Feeling disturbed and insulted form the meditation, Sage Kapila burned them into ashes with his yogic fire coming out of his third eye. When the last remaining son Ansuman, of King Sagar, came to know about his brothers, he asked Sage Kapila how to help them by liberating their souls from ashes. Rishi Kapila advised Ansuman to please Lord Brahma with penances so that he would release Ganga from his kamandula or water pot and bring Ganga to Earth to purify his brother's ashes and liberate his brother's soul. This task was taken to many generations ahead. After the seven consecutive generations of King Sagar Bhagiratha was born in their era. His daily austerities were so disciplined that he finally able to please Lord Brahma enough to help and release Ganga Maa. Lord Brahma had no objection in releasing Ganga Maa to the earth, but Bhagiratha had to worship Lord Shiva, so that he agrees to hold the powerfull force of Ganga in his hairs, and after that she could finally overwhelm the entire Earth.
Thus, Bhagiratha undertook the mission of penances to please Lord Shiva with full dedication. Finally Lord Shiva accepted his demand and When Ganga Maa descended from the heavens, Lord Shiva covered the sky with his hair and locks its flow, so that not even a drop would fall on Earth. When he fully captured Ganga Maa in his hairs, Lord Shiva freed a very small portion of Ganga's force and inform her to follow King Bhagiratha. When Ganga Maa flooded the ashram of Saint Janu and he swallowed her a lesson in respect of her but releases Ganga out of pity for Bhagiratha's hard work and dedication. Wherever Ganga Maa would flow by following Bhagiratha, people came there in numbers to bath and obtain purification for their sins. Finally Ganga reached where the ashram of Sage Kapila was and freed the 60,000 souls from their ashes which was there for seven generations. Today also, Ganga is still in her way to purify the people that take bath in her and Ganga herself is purified by the saints who will bath in her pure water.