Legend descent of Ganga and similarities with impact event
Mahesh U Patil
Role of comets and icy asteroids in getting water to Earth is under discussion for last few decades. In the recent history, we have observed and recorded two comet impact events in the solar system. Both the impacts of solwind and Shoemaker levy-9 support the argument that the impacts by comets may be a regular feature and Earth is no exception to it. In the history of mankind, there is a strong possibility that such events were observed by various civilizations.Early settlements of ancient India observed various celestial objects like stars, constellations, planets and comets.Vedas like Rigveda, Atharvaveda refer comets as “Dhumketu”. Certain hymns of Rig Vedastrongly support the possibility of impact event being observed and recorded as eyewitness account. Reference of these celestial bodies is found in various ancient legends of India. These legends may be work of imagination based on real observations. One such legend is descent of Ganga from heaven. As per Valmiki Ramayana many aspects of this legend like its composition, appearance, descent path and effects at the time of descent have close resemblance with the impact event of a celestial body like comet. Ancient Stone carvings depicting the event provide major clue about the celestial movement and the impact event.In this paper we have used ancient description from Ramayana and Veda, and compared it with modern scientific facts and geological features of the region described in the legend.There are Multiple water bodies and lakes in the Tibet behind mount Kailash. This lake region is rich with finds like coesite, stishovite and other ultra high pressure finds that are usually associated with the impact site. These lakes play crucial role in the water cycle of Asia.Though there are lot of similarities in the legend and the available facts, as on date there is no conclusive evidence which can prove the origin of river Gangaas a result of this event as mentioned in thelegend. Thus this legend may be a result of observations mixed with belief.