Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ganga will follow Saraswati

There was perhaps a time in ancient past when Ganga was not there. Whether the legend of King Bhagirath who is credited with having brought the Ganga on the earth from the heavens is just myth is not sure. One version depends on the fact that Ganga appears very late in the Vedas. It is quite possible that until the Aryas reached in its precincts they were ignorant about its existence. When their eyes first fell on the it and its sweep they thought that it was a blessing from the Heaven. Perhaps the Bhagirath branch of the Aryas was the first to cast its eyes on Ganga and he was given due credit for it by crediting him with having brought it from the Heavens in the story of Descent of Ganga.A yet another none the less romantic possibility the plains of North India were initially dull and dry as there was no water source to wet them. King Bhagirath diverted the flow of Ganga from its Northwards direction(into Tibet) to Southward into India.
The myth that Ganga was the daughter of Bhagirath (Hence the name Bharathi) suggests that.The invocation of celestial help in absorbing the initial force of the torrent was an oblique compliment to the tremendousness of the effort . The well chiseled look of the georges through which Ganga comes down the Himalayas may pardon the conjecture that it was human effort which brought the Gange flowing into the North to the South. The sole credit given to the Bhagirath for the descendance of Ganga on the earth would therefore, an appropriate . However, a closer look at the gorges would show that their smoothness is perhaps the result of water flowing through them through ages mellowing the rocks. Leaving aside the fact that engineering might not have attained those heights in those days it has to be conceded that is a distinct possibility within the reach of human efforts when we hear the present tales of diversion of the Brahmputra and even Ganges by China to water their fields.
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However, whether Ganga was a godsend or an outcome of human efforts one thing appears to be clear that it is human negligence and misuse or overexploitation that will make Ganga, at least in the present life-giving form, disappear.’ Even before China lifts its hands on stemming its Southward flow and make it Uttarwahini.This distinct possibility has been predicted in the Puranas in an oblique way. It is said that in the Kali Yug the Ganges would lose its sin-destroying (Aghnashan) property. The waters which at one time were considered so powerful that just taking one dip in it destroyed all our sins is progressively(or rather regressively) ‘dis’credited with the distinct possibility that the dip may earn skin or even more infections . Quite apart from its much-extolled name ‘aghanashini’(destroyer of sins) it did and does have distinct possibility of remaining pure over a long time. In earlier times world sea farers who had to remain on the seas for long stretches gratefully acknowledged the property of the Ganga waters to remain pure almost indefinitely. The waters could be straightway drunk even after long storage on the ships ,without the need of boiling them first, a property no other river water had.

While Bhagirath brought it for us all the way—may be from Heaven or the Himalayas- we have proved ourselves unworthy of being called his successors. The purification property of the waters have been stretched far, too far. While it was quite reasonable to expect it to clean our bodies to stretch it to washing our sins which though actually committed through the agency of the body were essentially the dictates of a diseased mind. The concept was conveniently stretched to cleaning our sins and not only crmations of bodies occurred on its banks but the idea was further extended ludicrously to purity ourselves of all sins by actually being drowned it it.(Jal Samadhi). No just common men but even kings and sadhus considered drowning oneself in the waters as seeking exemption from all the bodily sins. This further deteriorated to cremating the bodies only perfunctorily on the banks and throwing the half-burnt bodies in the running waters and believing that it would take care of burning out all the sins committed by the bodies. The sight of half-burnt human bodies coming down with the current presents such a disgusting spectacle and throws poor light on our consideration on our departed dear ones, we who did not arrange a decent cremation or burial of the departed ones.The pollution of the water was a side effect of our callousness. Is it that we ourselves are working overtime to bring to fruition the ancient curse that sooner or later, sooner rather than latter, the Ganga will lose its unique property of obtaining absolution from sins for us?

Not only but many other rivers which also were commonly called Ganga are regressively losing their purification properties. During the last half a century there has been a fall of 20 percent in the Ganga flow.There is every indication that this rate is going to increase in the coming years. At this rate Ganga will dry up completely in the next fifty years.If China goes on with its efforts for diversion of the Ganga at source this may come about much earlier. Ganga which came all the way from the Heavens on account of solicitation for us will willy-nilly not be any more able to oblige us because where in its first fall from the heaven it got entangled in the flowing hairs of Lord Shankar this time it may be stemmed by the Chinese. In any case, why should it take to descend again looking to the insult we have heaped upon her so far? Never mind if our sins are not washed away her drying up will the Ganga holding back itself will devastate the over 300 millions human population living on its banks not to count the unaccountable countless fish, tortoises,crocodiles and other water animals and dry up the green forests on its banks.

Bhagirath has done his job may be not for us but for the emancipation of his ancestors from the curse of the sage . We are the incidental beneficiaries of this bounty. Perhaps if the descent of Ganga was actually brought about by the king employing labour to chsel a way for Ganga through the Himalayas it is all the moiré necessary for us to save Ganga if the labours of the countless labourers which might have been employed and worked on the job.The saving of Ganga will be our silent tribute to those generations of labourers who had worked on the Herculean job.

Are we really descendents of those indefatigable generations of labourers?
If we are not Ganga will one day hide herself like Saraswati and we would be looking for us for generations. In fact, as people have increasingly lost hope of finding Saraswati and have almost given it up putting it down as just a dream we may find ‘learned’ people among us arguing that Ganga never existed.

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