Papaji and the Ganga Goddess

I had managed to get a twenty-day leave from my job because I had accumulated holidays from the previous Easter and Christmas. That gave me plenty of time to take in all the sights. As I wandered around I could see that all the big ashrams and swamis had representatives there. They had all set up little camps and they were trying to entice the visitors to buy their books or listen to their teachings. Some of the camps were having satsangs that were going on twenty-four hours a day.

On one of the days of the mela I walked about five kilometres downstream along the banks of the Ganga because I wanted to be alone for a while. I finally reached a spot where I thought I could rest for some time in solitude. Suddenly, though, out of nowhere a girl appeared in front of me and fell prostrate at my feet. When she did not get up, I gently pulled her shoulders and looked around to see if her parents or her friends were anywhere in the vicinity because she didn’t look old enough to be out by herself. She looked about seventeen years years old, and Indian girls of that age don’t go to lonely places by themselves. I couldn’t see anyone else in the neighbourhood. Eventually she stood up. Though I could see that she was a very beautiful girl, I also noticed that her eyes were set very wide apart. They were black and shining, but they didn’t look like human eyes. They looked more fish-like than human.

I asked her where her parents were and she replied that she didn’t have any.

I then asked, ‘Why are you walking here alone? Why don’t you go to the mela where all the other people are?’

She replied, ‘I am Ganga. I remove the sins of all those who come to bathe in my waters. I descended from heaven on account of the severe penance performed by the rishi Bhagirath, which he did for the benefit of all human beings. During this Kumbha Mela eight million people have bathed in my waters and have washed off all their sins. What can I do with all these sins? I have been searching for a true sage at whose feet I can lay all these sins, but so far I have found none here except you.’

‘Every day thousands of people immerse themselves in my waters to free themselves of their sins. And I accept them because I have taken a vow that I will take on the sins of all those who bathe in me. But I cannot accumulate them indefinitely. I have to find someone I can give them to. I have been searching for the last seven days for a realised sage to give all these sins to, and finally I have found you. I touched your feet to hand them all over to you.’

I looked into her eyes to see what sort of being she really was. They were beautiful eyes, but as I have said before, they were definitely not human. As I was studying her, I found that I could see right through her. She was translucent enough for me to see what was immediately behind her.

She turned around and began to walk back towards the river. At the river bank she kept on walking, not into the water, but across the surface of it. After taking a few steps along the surface she slowly subsided into the river and became one with its waters again.

Excerpt From Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 213-215
By David Godman