Sage Narad thought himself to be a great musician. He practiced the ragas (6 ragas and 36 Raginis. Ragas are male musical schemes and Raginis are female musical schemes).
He had such a voice that the ragas and raginis became very stressed and lost their potential.
One day Narad while taking a stroll, found 6 males and 36 females groaning in pain by the wayside.
He wanted to know why they were in such a state. They told him that one novice had unmusically invoked them creating this disaster. His singing had permanently maimed them.
Narad inquired about the novice’s name and to his utter embarrassment discovered that it was he himself.
He wanted to reduce the havoc done but when they came to know that it was Narad himself they fled in fright.
However Narad soon caught up with them and implored them to tell him what could be done to restore them to health.
They said that was impossible because only if the best singer Mahadev(Shiva) sang the 6 ragas and 36 raginis, their health would be restored.
Navad went to Mahadev. Mahadev agreed to sing but on one condition – he must have the perfect audience who would appreciate his music.
Narad wanted to know who was such a listener and Mahadev said there was only one – Vishnu. Narad rushed to Vishnu who was happy to comply.
So on an appointed day, Mahadev started singing. Artistic, Narad and the others were present but the main audience comprised of Vishnu.
Mahadev sang on. As he was singing Vishnu’s body started melting. Narad was quick to note this and he collected it in his Kamandalu (ascetic’s pot). At the end of the session the ragas and raginis walked in and lay prostrate at the feet of Mahadeva and Vishnu. Narada sprinkled the liquefied form Vishnu which was the water in the Kamandalu.
This water was called Ganga. It is the watery body of Vishnu, which makes it so holy. The state of Vishnu’s liquefaction once started had/has no end. This was a great power which needed to be brought to the world.
That was a great order and left unabated could destroy the world so Mahadeva agreed to let this water first come down upon His head and then precede towards the earth.
This is the reason why we sprinkle Ganga Water to sanctify and this is why compassion is holy and sympathy is not.
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