Saving the Ganges to Save Your Soul

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Called the Holy Ganges, Mother Ganges, Sacred Ganges, this river is the spiritual lifeline of eternal India.

A dip in this river cleans away all your sins, so it is believed. Meditating on its banks, thousands have become enlightened and so can you. Praying in temples on its banks brings solace and peace.

The 2,525 kilometres long river remains the pivot of life from just after birth to the last ritual after death for those who follow the Hindu way of life. In-between, bathing in this river at certain times of the year brings many blessings and solace.

Ganges at Poolchatti, north of Rishikesh

Osho says, “Up to now, scientists have not been able to understand why there are certain qualities in its waters which can’t be found in the water of any other river of the world. Even the rivers that flow from the same mountain from which the Ganges flows, do not have the same qualities as the Ganges.”
Hidden Mysteries, Ch 2

This pristine and pure water starts it journey from Gangotri in the Himalayas and has remained so until Haridwar for centuries. However, modern man has polluted it as it enters the plains. This pollution gets worse for hundreds of kilometres right up to Ganga Sagar where it meets the Bay of Bengal.

From Haridwar onwards, its water is drained into various canals. Downstream, it gets putrid and smelly. Overloaded with human waste and dead bodies, chemical pollutants from industries and toxic pesticide residues from fertilizers, its water is severely contaminated with bacterial and viral bacteria, particularly around towns and cities on its banks.

Why? Because nearly 2,000 million litres of sewage per day from millions of homes on its banks is dumped into it. In Allahabad, 78% of the houses do not have drains. In Kanpur, 71% of the houses do not have drains. In Varanasi, 84% of the houses do not have drains. Where does their sewage go? Straight into Ganges! About 138 drains empty into Ganges between Kanpur and Varanasi. At Patna, more pollutants are added. At Kanpur, more than 600 factories, including tanneries, dump untreated toxic waste. These factories are doing business worth billions and they do not install waste treatment plants. They need to be forced to shift from Kanpur to other locations where their affluent will not flow into Ganges.

The government has spent Rs. 2.2 lakh crore (approx. US$ 37 billion) to clean Ganges until 2012 to build sewage systems. But hardly half of the sewage can be treated by these systems while more sewage flows with rising population. The ‘Clean Ganges’ campaign by the new government is a forbidding challenge. It involves adding more water to the river to reduce pollution with sewage and industrial poisons, building more sewage systems in towns on its banks, constructing water treatment plants, re-locating polluting factories away from the riverbanks, among other major other initiatives. The project will require pragmatic planning, huge amounts of money, and efficient execution before it shows any results.

Don’t leave this earth unless
you have made it a little better
than you found it when you were born.
This is the only religion that I know of.
All other religions are just fake!

Osho, The Messiah Vol. 1, Ch 13

This is sorely needed for Ganges, the holy river. Or else, Ganges will remain a dirty holy river.

Kul Bhushan

Illustration by Osho News

Previously published in Osho World Newsletter July 2014

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