Husain's Ganga continues the artist's search to create the archetypal female form. Here the woman is depicted as Ganga, the sister of Parvati who descended to Earth with tremendous force and vitality, emerging from Shiva's hair. Today, followers believe that a dip in the Holy River has the power to cleanse and purify the soul of all misdeeds.
As seen through his representation of Ganga, Husain's woman embodies shakti or the life force. For him, "Woman is a talismanic form, a deity, a mother; the most powerful and primary principle of life." (Roshan Shahani, Let History Cut Across Me Without Me, New Delhi, 1993, p. 8.) While his fascination with women does relate to the loss of his own mother at a very young age, his visual expressions are not a melodramatic lament. "The experience of loss, the search for nurture is an undertow of feeling. It is also quickly knocked out of the way, flattened onto the surface and left as a nebulous destinal force." (Roshan Shahani, ibid.) He avoids depicting his women with predictable expressions and emotion. "Rather it is compressed and frozen in outline; abbreviated and withdrawn pride is held up as a rhythmical stroke of the universe." (Roshan Shahani, ibid.)