Bhagiratha is a sage who is well credited for bringing the Ganges to the earth. But we are still unaware of the fact that why exactly his image is carved beneath the stone spout? Actually, in each stone spout (Ga: Hitis) of Kathmandu Valley. Was it just a way to show gratitude toward him?
It’s another page that we found Bhagirath’s image in different positions. Somewhere, dancing and somewhere sitting. But in most of the spouts, it usually seems carved in a standing position.
Ga: hitis (the stone spouts), found in the Kathmandu valley and Bhagiratha seems to have a deep relationship. The makers of dhungedhara might want to glorify the act of Bhagiratha of bringing Ganga into the earth. Perhaps, that’s why they make the modelling of Bhagiratha in water conduits. But the actual reason is still unclear to us.
It is said that the lichhavi era was the period when the making of such spouts was started. Probably the Prachanda Dev, who came from gaur (current Bengal) might have influenced the story of bhagirath. Or, the traders who pass by Nepal Mandal to reach Tibet.
Although we have no evidence regarding this statement, yet there is a little chance that he could actually have ordered to make the statue of bhagirath beneath the stone spouts. Or, the makers of the hiti might have their essence to make that statue over there.
Following, there is another question, why make the image of Bhagirath beneath the conduit? why not in the other areas of the hiti (water conduit)?
Well, it is assumed that the Ganga befell from Aakash (sky). And it was hard to handle her waves. Thus to handle her weight as well as the long and heavy mouth of the stone spouts (through with the water (Ganga) flows), the stone base representing bhagirath is said to be installed beneath the conduit.
How did Bhagiratha bring the Ganga into the earth?
As already mentioned, Bhagiratha was a sage but before that, he was a legendary king of the Ikshvaku dynasty (the dynasty which also belongs to Lord Ram). When he learned about the dreadful endings of his forefather, it is then he decided to bring Ganga to the earth.
For that, he performed a very harsh penance in the Himalayas. He wanted to bring the river Ganga to earth from heaven so badly because only she could bestow nirvana to Bhagirath’s ancestors who were burnt to ashes because of sage Kapil’s curse.
Here, the story about the curse of Kapil sage starts with king Sagara and his dharma. It was assumed that king Sagara was a great person who performs dharma and karma very well. After realizing that because of his karma from a past life of giving kanyadan, he got enhanced thus desired 60,000 daughters so that he could earn more punyas. But instead of daughters, he got 60,000 sons.
It is said that the lord Indra was too scared from his dharma thus to prevent him from doing that much of kanyadan, he requested Goddesses Saraswati to change the words at the time when Sagara ask for the boon. There, he said he wanted 60,000 Putra (sons) instead of putris( daughters). Thus, he ended up with 60,000 sons.
After that when he was performing Ashwamedha Yagya (a horse sacrificing event), he had to lose his sons. The basic rule of the Yagya was that the white horse is freed for a year, which ultimately had to the very same place from where he started the journey. But within that time, the horse went missing, although it was followed by the soldiers. The myth says that Lord Indra stole that horse and kept it aside to the Kapil sage who was in deep penance.
When the 60,000 sons of Sagara found the horse near the ashram of Kapil sage, they accused him of stealing the horse, which was an insult to Kapil sage. Thus, the sage burned them down all into ashes.
After that unfortunate event, king Sagara including his grandson, Amshuman and his great-grandson dileepa tried to bring the Ganga into the earth. But they failed. Thus which after the son of king Dileepa, Bhagiratha adjoins them.
After many years of penance, Bhagirath was able to please Ganga. He heard the oracle from the Heaven above,” I am ready to come to earth as per your wishes, but who will be able to stop my mighty sweep away the whole planet and up in the ‘patal lok’ (Below earth).
So being perplexed, Bhagirath asked Ganga for a solution. Ganga said that only Lord Shiva can channelize her. If he agrees to keep me on his head, things will work out in favour of everyone. Hearing this from Ganga, Bhagirath started praying to Lord Shiva. Pleased by the penance, Shiva agrees to let Ganga flow from his hair.
This is how Ganga descended from heaven.