Article

Ganga

Kelly D. Alley and Georgina Drew

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0034
Ganga

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The Ganga (or Ganges) River is iconic in Hindu philosophy, myth, and ritual and also in ecological sciences and climate change discourses. It is venerated as a goddess with unparalleled purifying powers and, as a mother, it absorbs all worldly dirtiness and sin. The Ganga’s vast waters and river streams connect the great storages in the Himalayan glaciers with the plains civilizations and the wetlands and estuaries that drain into the sea. The river has supported human settlements in South Asia for more than two and a half millennia. Over that period, adherents of many different religions have revered the Ganga as a living embodiment of the divine. Its religious and symbolic meanings and importance are complex for millions of Hindu believers; Ganga’s flow is interrelated with Hindu social life, the cycles of life and death, and daily practice. The religious meanings of the river and the science of its flow and geomorphology are usually combined at some level in writings about this sacred river.

Article.  9740 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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