Mother Ganga is the personification of the sacred river Ganges. She rides on her carrier fish called Makara.
Dilipa's son, Bhagiratha, performed very severe austerities to bring the Ganges to this material world. Thereafter, mother Ganges appeared before King Bhagiratha and said, "I am very much satisfied with your austerities and am now prepared to give you benedictions as you desire." Being thus addressed by Gangadevi, mother Ganges, the King bowed his head before her and explained his desire.
"...any water, as soon as it touches the lotus feet of Krsna, it becomes Ganga. Why Ganga is so adored? Because it is coming from the toes of Krsna. So any water touching Krsna's toes, that becomes Ganga. "
"If you go to the Ganges, they are taking bath, and they are offering worship to the Ganges. What is that worship? Now, you take little water from the Ganges, and with mantra you again throw it down. So that water you are offering to the Ganges, is it your property? That water you have taken from the Ganges, but with devotion, if you say, "Mother Ganges, Gangaji, it is your thing. Please take my offering," then mother Ganges is pleased. Similarly, everything belongs to Krsna."
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from various sources, including text and Purport of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Painting is from the collection of St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies.