Goddess Ganga seated on her Vahana-Makara

19th Century (1892)

Indian Museum, Kolkata

Indian Museum, Kolkata
Kolkata, India

This painting shows Goddess Ganga is sitting on makara on padmasana. The word Ganga etymologically means that which emerges (ga) from the sky (gam). She is divine river that flows down to the earth from the heaven. Ganga water has always been considered as liquid medicine(Gangani pathyam or Himavat prabhava pathyah punya). She is considered sacred. Personified as a goddess, Ganga is worshiped by Hindus who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitaes liberation from the cycle of life and death. Pilgrims travel long distances to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of ganges, bringing their sprits closer to nirvana. There are several beliefs that give various versions of the birth of Ganga. According to one version, the sacred water in Brahma's Kamandalu (water vessel) became personified as a maiden, Ganga. According to Vaishnavite legend, Brahma had reverently washed the feet of Vishnu and collected this water in his Kamandalu. According to yet a third version, Ganga was the daughter of Himvat, king of the mountains, and his consort Mena; she was thus a sister of the goddess Parvati. Every version declares that she was raised in the heavens, under the tutelage of Brahma.


  • Title: Goddess Ganga seated on her Vahana-Makara
  • Date: 19th Century (1892)
  • Location: Indian Museum, Kolkata
  • Physical Dimensions: L. 45 cm; B. 28.2 cm
  • Provenance: Kalighat, Calcutta, Bengal, India
  • Type: Paintings

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