I wish to know about river worship in Hinduism.
What do Hindu scriptures really say about river worship?
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It was the Grandson of Asamanja and the son of Ansuman- the illustrious Bhagiratha, who made persistent efforts to meditate Devi Ganga, Vishnu and Sankara and finally succeeded in bringing the Holy River from Vishnu’s feet to Sankara’s head and down to Bhu Loka and purified the ashes of the thousand Sagara ‘Putras’(Sons) and relieved their tormented souls to Heavens.The Holy River flowing as a ‘Jeeva Nadi’ till date across the entire ‘Aryavarta’ from Gangotri to the Bay of Bengal, is a unique land mark of Bharata Varsha, blessing lakhs of devotees for bathing and purifying their sins at several points dotting from Haridvar, Varanasi, Prayaga and Patna. Even a mere bathing in the River washes off several sins, and performing it with a ‘Sankalpa’or resolve especially on a day when Sun passes from one Zodiac Sign to another bestows significance thrice over.
Maharshi Narayana explained to Narada the mehodology of Worship to Ganga in brief: one should have a hearty bath in Ganga, don clean clothes, be seated on the banks of the River to perform the daily Sandhyavandana first and invoke the blessings the Six Devatas viz.Ganesha, Sun, Agni, Vishnu, Siva and Sivani. Do worship Ganesha to remove the obstacles, Surya Deva for good health, Agni Deva for purification, Vishnu for wealth and power, Siva for knowledge and Sivani for salvation. Then, imagine a mental image of Ganga Devi in fulfledged form with ‘Ashta Hasta’ ( Eight hands) fully decorated with a smiling face, ornaments, flower garlands, and armoury and above all an ‘Abhaya Mudra’ or a protective posture of two hands- one to provide security and another for giving away boons. The ‘Dhyanam’ or meditation is to be highly concentrated and serious without mind wavering on any other object or thought, excepting the Image of Ganga, in physical form to facilitate ‘dhyana’ or meditation. Then perform the Shodadasa Sevas viz. ‘Asana’, Padya’, ‘Arghya’, ‘Snana’, ‘Anulepaya ( Ointment), ‘Dhoopa’( Inscence), ‘Dipa’( Light)’, ‘Naivedya’ ( Offer of Food Items), ‘Tamboola’ ( betel leaves and nuts), ‘Paniya’ (cool water), ‘Vastra’ ( clothing), ‘Abharana’( Ornaments), ‘Pushpa’ (flowers), ‘Gandha’( Sandal Paste), ‘Achamaniya’ (water for sipping) and ‘Arati’ ( Camphor lighting). Thereafter, the devotee should render ‘Stotras’ ( Hymns) to say that in Vaikuntha the River is six lakh yojanas wide and four times that in length; in Brahma Loka, thirty lakh yojanas in width and five times that in length; in Dhruva Loka it is one lakh yojanas in width and seven times as long and so on.
The quotes are taken from the 1st link given above.