River Ganga now a living entity!
Water is of special significance in Hinduism, not only for its life-sustaining properties, but also because of its use in rituals and because of the importance given to cleanliness. Bathing also has religious significance, especially in Rivers considered sacred. The most sacred Rivers are: Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri. Bathing in these Rivers is believed to purify the bather of sins. There are other sacred Rivers too and the Temple tanks are also considered to be holy.
Even before bathing at home or anywhere else the names of these holy Rivers are invoked through a Shloka. This is an important purification ritual in Hinuduism for purifying the water meant for pooja and bathing. Reciting the following Shloka sincerely brings one the benefit of taking bath in these holy Rivers:
“Gange Cha Yamune Chaiva Godavari Saraswati Narmade Sindhu Kaveri Jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru”
Sanskrit to English; word by word meaning is - Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri - names of holy rivers; cha - of; jalesmin - in this water; sannidhim - presence; kuru- invoke. This means, in this water, I invoke the presence of holy waters from the Rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri.
But unfortunately these sacred Rivers are highly polluted today due to industrial pollutants and untreated sewage. River Ganga is considered to be the cradle of the Indian civilization and the holiest of all Rivers in India but today despite many programs to clean River Ganga it still remains highly polluted. This matter has gone to Uttarakhand High Court following a petition on a matter related to mining and stone crushing along the banks of the Ganga,
And yesterday the High Court in a landmark judgment gave the status of “First living entity of India” to River Ganga! This judgment gives River Ganga rights similar to a living person and is expected to have a positive bearing on efforts to clean up the polluted and much abused River. Similar status has been given to Yamuna, the tributary of Ganga, which has practically become a sewer.
The division bench of Justices Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh cited the example of River Whanganui in New Zealand which has been given such a status and also named the “Legal Parents” of the two Rivers, Ganga and Yamuna - The Director, Namami Gange Project for cleaning and rejuvenating the River, and the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand to protect, conserve and preserve the Rivers and their tributaries.
I am happy with this verdict and wish that the common public will once again start respecting the holy Rivers and stop polluting them and help the administration in keeping our Rivers clean.