Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gangecha Yamunechaiva......

Gangecha Yamunechaiva..............

गन्गेच यमुनेचैव गोदवारि सरस्वती नर्मदे सिन्धु कावेरी जलेस्मिन् सन्निधिं कुरु ..................

Gangecha Yamunechaiva Godavari Saraswati Narmade Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru.......................

Water is life. Without water there is no life. For living beings water is next only to air. Air is available to us everywhere and hence taken for granted. We are not yer paying Rs.15 or One US Dollar per bottle or cylinder of air. Three dollars a bottle if you go to Flushing meadows stadium to see US Open tennis or Rs. 40 or 50 in Taj or Oberoi hotel. To that extent  water is foremost and hence Jala (Water) is also called Jeeva (Life). And rightly so. It is not just two atoms of Hydrogen and and one atom of Oxygen or the chemical formula H2O. A lot more for sure.

There can be "No Pooja". Or not performing pooja. But there is no performing pooja without water. It may be tap water or well water or even bottle water. But when it comes to pooja, irrespective of the source, it is taken in a vessel or pot or whatever. That becomes कलश (kalash) and the water becomes one procured from seven rivers when the above sloka is chanted.........Water from Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, (the now missing) Saraswati, Narmada, sindhu (even though in Pakistan now) and Kaveri come and give their holy waters in the kalash.........

On 31st August 2011  Gowri festival or Swarna Gowri Vrata was celebrated by us for the first time in USA. It is not Jamboo Dweepe, Bharata Varshe, Bharata Khande..... It is Koorma dweepe,  Amerika Khande! It is Nava yarka Nagare if it is New York. That is fine. What about water? Should it be again Gangecha Yamunechaiva? Should they travel across the Atlantic by changing flights in Frankfurt or London and come here? Or should it be Missouricha Missisippi.......?

Does it really matter? Any river is a holy river as rivers are the lifelines anywhere in the world. But for the river Kaaveri, parts of south India would have been Sahara desert. Hence Kaaveri Maata. In Tamilnadu, along the Erode, Tiruchi and Thanjavur belt, Kaveri river is also called Ponni, meaning the Golden River.  Hence the fine rice grown in the Kaveri Delta there is called Ponni rice. Anything good in the Ponni delta is attributed to Ponni water or Kaveri river. Like when the son gets a rank in an examination, it is because he has grown up by drinking Ponni water. If the daughter wins running race it is because of Ponni water. Same thing in Kodagu or Mercara. The soldier's heroic performance in the war is due to Kaveri Taayi. Height of reverence. So should be  Missisippi for America or Nile for Egypt. Or Volga for Russia.

Go to the banks of the mighty Ganges. Just say Ganga. You are most likely to be beaten up. She is not just Ganga. She is Ganga Mai or  Mother Ganga. No one says Ganga. It is either Ganga Mai or Ganga ji.   Ganga Mai ki Saugandh is the highest testification, like under oath in a court of law. Or even more than that. You do not lie in a court. May be some may perjure. But with Ganga mai? Never, never.

When I stood on the banks of the Missouri in Chamberlain, South Dakota or Mississippi's banks in St. Louis, the feeling was the same; as before Ganga ji in Rishikesh or Godavari in Nashik or Rajahmundry. Massive rivers supplying the water required for all animals and mankind. Though man is no longer kind and is showing all barbarata on these rivers. Gangaji in Varanasi is not the same as Gangaji in Rishikesh. Yamuna? Less said the better. One has to go to Yamunotri only to see the real Yamuna. Yamuna in Agra, behind the Taj Mahal, is a black filth. Puraanas say Yamuna is the sister of Yama or Yamadharma, the Lord of Death. During the Deepavali festival, next day after Bali padyami is called Yama Dwiteeya, the second day of the month of Kartika, Yama is supposed to come to Yamuna's house for Lunch. This is the day all sisters expect their brothers to come to their homes and eat the food cooked by them. The next day is called Soodari Tritiya, the day on which brothers give gifts to their sisters. For this year's Yama Dwiteeya, falling on 28th October 2011, when Yama comes for lunch, Yamuna has to bring water from the nearest shop as she cannot give her own river's water to drink. Ungiveable. Undrinkable. Uncookable.

Ganga's water was believed to be white and Yamuna's water believed to be black:

गन्गमंबु सितमम्बु यामुनं कज्जलाभमुभयत्र मज्जतः  raaजहंस तवचैव शुभ्रता चीयते न च नचापचीयते!

The poet tells the Raajahamsa or Swan (Obviously the White Swan and not the black one)  "Ganga's water is white, Yamuna's water is Black. O dear Swan, you bathe in both rivers. But your colour does not change and always remains White." This may not hold good today. A white Swan bathing in either Ganga or Yamuna may emerge as a Black Swan. Man is bent upon making Yamuna's water as well as Ganga's water deep dark. Missouri and Mississippi also have their share of pollution due to Agricultural and Industrial waste, but it is nowhere near what we have presented the Ganga and Yamuna.

I used to take the night trains to go to Chennai from Bangalore when I worked there for four years. Usually the Bangalore-Chennai Mail. Trains reach early morning between 4 AM and 5 AM. Not once I overslept. Nor any other passenger on the trains. As the Train entres the Basin Bridge Junction, one station before Chennai Central, everyone is up. The stench from the nearby river(?) will ensure it. A river called Cooum running alongside the railway track and entering the Bay of Bengal near Marina Beach, next to M A Chidambaram Cricket Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai. The word "Coovalan" in Tamil is said to mean one who is well versed in the science of ground water or well water! The documents available in the nearby temples say that a man gets salvation with one dip in the river Cooum. One hundred and fifty years ago a famous Tamil poet by name Bharatiyar (not Subrahmanya Bharati) travelled on this river by boat from its origin to the point at which the river merges with the Bay of Bengal on the Marina.  He has written a long and beautiful Lyrical Ballad in Tamil describing the beautiful river with the gardens, lands and flowers on its banks!

In March 2010, the then Deputy Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Mr Stalin signed an MOU, in the presence of his father the then chief Minister Sri M Karunanidhi,  with an Indo-Singapore company by name Singapore Co-operation Enterprises to clean the Cooum river at a project cost of 2200 crore ruppees. Chennai Corporation started a cleaning drive in September 2010. Within the next six months DMK lost power after state elections and Mrs. Jayalalitha came to power. She has announced in March 2011 that the project will be scrapped. Sri Karunanidhi is busy with his daughter Kanhimouzhli bail to get her released from Tihar Jail in 2G case and cannot even protest. Even if he protests, there is no value. 

Why should we go to Chennai? We have our own Vrushabhavati. Come to Mysore Road in Bangalore.

I have seen shraddalu visitors to Agra going behind the Taj Mahal and reluctantly taking the Yamuna  water in their hands and sprinking on their heads in reverence.  अपवित्रः पवित्रोवा ! Of course, once they come out of water they do not forget to wash their hands with Bisleri water.

There is more to our rivers than just water. Feelings. Belief. Faith and our Identity. Can we preserve them? Then only Gangecha Yamunechaiva.     Otherwise it is Only Bisleri,  Evion and Dasani.


  1. Particularly like this post.

  2. It is indeed the glorious reflections of 'PANGANGEIST' Philosophy. Moreover, water is a thing that has the quality of Nirguna and can be percieved in any form just beyond the human perception....