Whanganui River in NZ, Ganges and Yamuna in India have been granted legal status of a person, writes Bhagawati.
Last month, unexpected and surprising news came from New Zealand: their third-longest river, the Whanganui River — known as Te Awa Tupua to the local Maori people — has been granted the legal status of a person.
The treaty settles the longest litigation in New Zealand’s history, which began with the signing of the violated Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. It gives the river the power to represent its own interests and advocate on its own behalf.
Days afterwards it was reported from India that the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Hindus in the country, have been given the status of living entities to save them from further harm caused by widespread pollution. The decision was made by a high court in Uttarakhand.
Furthermore, in another hearing the court also gave this status to glaciers, including Gangotri and Yamunotri (where the Ganges and Yamuna originate from), rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles, forests wetlands, grasslands, springs and waterfalls.
This is truly breaking news at a time when we can clearly see how humans have polluted, abused and degraded Earth – those decisions are a ray of light and consciousness in the environmental mess we find ourselves in.
Of course this is merely the beginning of what will be much needed work and funds for rejuvenation, cleaning and maintenance of the rivers. Such work has been reportedly begun in South America’s countries Bolivia and Ecuador who are making similar efforts to preserve their natural environment.
Osho speaks again and again about the importance, beauty and uniqueness of nature on our planet:
Really, God is life, God is love. God is this very world. Don’t create a division, don’t create a dualism. Only then can you revere life. Whenever you see life anywhere – a seed sprouting, a tree flowering, stars moving, a river flowing, a child laughing – remember God is near you. When a child laughs, look at the laughter. Enter into it. You have entered the very temple. When the river flows, watch lovingly. Be one with its flow; be in a deep reverence.
Hindus have called all rivers goddesses; they have called all hills deities. They have made the earth holy. It is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened in human consciousness. Hindus call the Ganges: Mother. This is reverence for life. Hills they call gods. This is reverence for life. They worship trees. Those who have become intellectually sophisticated think they are stupid, superstitious people, but they are not. The tree is not the thing. When they are worshipping a tree or a river, they are worshipping life.
A tree is more alive than any temple, than any church; a river is more alive than any mosque. The stone idols in your temples are dead; a tree is more alive. You may be superstitious, but the person who is worshipping a tree is not. He may not be aware of what he is doing, but a deep reverence for life in all its forms is there, a deep respect.
And, celebrate. Wherever you feel that life is growing, celebrate it, love it, welcome it, and a great transformation will happen to you. If life is revered in all its forms, you become more alive. You become more receptive to life, and life begins to flow abundantly in you; it overflows in you. That is what bliss is: life overflowing.
Osho, The New Alchemy To Turn You On, Ch 13
Bhagawati is a regular contributor
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