Believed to be the liquid manifestation of Shakti and the nurturer of the three worlds with her life-sustaining waters. Goddess Ganga is the epitome of beauty and purity, famous for her indomitable spirit and boundless charm, Renowned as a devoted daughter, a caring mother, a passionate lover and a merciful saviour, she is here to absorb and absolve us of our sins. A constant goddess, she is part of the Indian ethos, revered and loved across the ages.
The exquisite epic that is Ganga’s story-from her miraculous origins, her sojourn in the heavens, her poignant relationships with the divine trinity, the birth of her sons Kartikeya and Bhishma, and her descent into a wicked world that is not worthy of her-is dazzlingly told by Anuja Chandramouli.
This book is a vibrant retelling of the story of Ganga, who has the power to save us all and bestow the gift of moksha with her all-encompassing compassion.
About the Author
Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and widely regarded as one of the finest writers in mythological fiction and fantasy. She followed up her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince (named as one of the top five bestsellers in the Indian writing category for the year 2012 by Amazon India) with Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Shakti: The Divine Feminine, Yama's Lieutenant and its sequel, Yama's Lieutenant and the Stone Witch. Her articles, short stories and book reviews appear in various publications like The New Indian Express, The Hindu and Femina. Her latest books are Kartikeya: The Destroyer's Son, Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts and Padmavati: The Burning Queen.
An accomplished orator and storyteller, Anuja Chandramouli regularly conducts workshops on creative writing, mythology and empowerment in schools and colleges across the country. She is a student of classical dance and yoga.
It was nothing that had not happened before or wouldn't again. And again but still, when it did happen, it was quite something. In his capacity, as the divine protector, Vishnu was perennially detached from it all, labouring from a comfortable distance that set him just beyond the immediacy of the inevitable carnage, unspeakable violence and blood-curdling destruction he was leaving behind with nary a backward glance; but it did make him feel. .. a pang. In those briefest of moments, he liked to remember that, ultimately; nothing could be eliminated to the point where nothing remained. And that counted, he decided. For something.
Still, the sheer magnitude of loss and ruination would have made him sigh, had he been the sighing sort. But Vishnu wasn't. Some would even say that he, or at least a particularly potent portion of his essence, had engineered it all; that his latest avatara had been the instrument of their doom. And since he was also Hari, the embodiment of truth, he wouldn't have gone so far as to say they were incorrect, merely inaccurate. It wouldn't have made any of his accusers feel better. Their pain, bitterness and regret was theirs alone. Never his.
They cursed him with their dying breath for failing to save them, their children and the world. But they didn't affect him any more than the others-the gracious souls who thanked and blessed him for the elusive hope of salvation that their doom had made possible. In a way, he was not unlike the chaos he had left behind, the kind that did not discriminate between curses or blessings, sweeping it all up indiscriminately to be dumped pell-mell into the bottomless void.
Everything disappeared into the void. Mighty deeds and ignominious acts of cowardice. Passion that made toe; curl and boredom that benumbed the senses. Miraculous love and toxic hate. Laughter and tears. Every insignificant thought, every trifling memory, every fickle feeling. There were no exceptions. It was the detritus of life and death. They alone endured in the nothingness of the void. Bodies deteriorated, taking along the minds housed within them. But the impressions made on both remained. Preserved in the waters. Till it was time for a fresh beginning.
For the circle of life and death had neither a beginning nor an end, but was merely a constant repetition, Vishnu mused to himself. Still, this particular cycle wasn't quite done as yet and it wouldn't be until his own destruction. It entailed divesting himself of everything that had been gained and lost during the course of this avatara. Which one was it again? The fish that had helped humanity negotiate its way past the great flood? The tortoise that had helped the devas and asuras churn the ocean of milk for the nectar of immortality? The enchantress, whose sticky web of illusion could tempt one into sin, before delivering the sinner from evil? The boar who had rescued the ravished Bhumi Devi, the Earth mother? The half man and half lion who had torn apart the entrails of ego? The dwarf who destroyed a good man and laid waste his world because time had run out? Or the ones that were yet to manifest, such as the axe-wielding warrior Brahmin, or the good king who rescued his wife from a ten-headed demon, only to banish her over a question of sullied virtue?
Vishnu kept at the pleasant peregrinations within his own mind. They soothed and distracted him from the things he had done and the things he would, no doubt, be called upon to do again. And again. He was certain that these were moments that had already been experienced and would continue to be experienced, which, in his present state, was an exhausting thought.
Random thoughts swirled around in his consciousness as the countless souls brushed against his being, jostling for his attention. These souls were anxious to endure, in whatever form they could; even as discarded waste. Time was running out for them all, as the age was drawing to a close. Which one was it? Krita? Treta? Dwapara? He hoped it was Kaliyuga, but doubted it. Be that as it may, it was the end and they were all hurtling towards it in all its cataclysmic glory.
Vishnu did not mind. He knew that she awaited him on the other side. The constant goddess. Thinking about her comforted him in a way that he had not even known he needed comforting. It was in her embrace that he could hope to be healed. And it was only when he emerged restored to himself, having supped on her endless love and compassion, would he allow himself to acknowledge the fact that he too had been 'grievously wounded in his quest to rescue and restore dharma, which has been so damaged. Life itself, cradled within the bosom of Bhumi Devi was in the final, agonizing throes of death, and even then, he hankered to be with her-the other, whose smile could make man and god alike forget the pain of loss and suffering. To lose himself in her comforting depths became an urge that was impatient to be indulged. It wouldn't be long now.
His physical remains had been claimed by the goddess of the Earth, his treasured consort and true love whom he served with all the boundless devotion his heart could muster. His brave, constantly beleaguered beloved insisted on nourishing and sustaining the monsters, who needed her for their very survival but would not hesitate to kill her with their overpowering greed. In the end, she would pay them back in the same coin, and he would help. It was nearly over for her. And him as well. Until the next time. The rebirth.
Even so, the extent of her devastation tore at his heart and the sound of her grieving rang in his ears. For she always mourned the passing of her children. Even the ones who had hurt her the most. Vishnu did not look back. Nor did he have to. The body of his beloved had been reduced to a battleground, where it rained fire, poison and an endless stream of missiles and weapons. There were whirlwinds and storms that tossed about bodies, bones and blood. Death was everywhere.
The Earth mother's domain was in shambles and her coffers, with their endless bounty, lay emptied. Her mighty mountains lay shattered, uprooted like saplings. The rivers that hadn't dried up were contaminated and choking on the corpses, in addition to the effluence of an entire age's worth of sin. Forests and fields lay ravaged and bare, reduced to rubble. Proud monuments, palaces and temples, which man had erected at the height of his hubris, fit for the gods themselves, fared no better. Glorious testaments honouring the ascent of mankind to the very zenith of civilization lay crumpled and in ruins. There was little left of life. Not even for the foul scavengers and carrion birds that were the last to go, their stomachs having exploded while gorging on death and rotting remains-feasting on the fallout of the endless wars that had been fought, wars where everyone lost.
Shiva danced his Rudra tandava to the furious beat of his damaru and Kali joined him. They moved with passionate abandon to frenzied, furious rhythms only they could hear, on the glowing embers of a demolished age. Shiva's third eye flashed fire, claiming countless lives, and their remains rained down as burning ash upon the conflagration that civilization had been reduced to. Kali wielded her weapons with a thousand arms-tridents tore into still-beating hearts; swords severed necks; battle axes were raised and lowered, hacking and slashing into limbs and trunks. Her victims fell awash in their own blood. Beings from the three worlds who had survived the destruction, thronged to the Destroyer and his danseuse, dazzled out of their wits and hypnotized by the mesmerizing allure of the dance of death.
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