India river Ganga embraces Lord Shiva: When a river fights back

Nature is attacking its own creator. One of the most striking images is of river Ganga embracing an idol of its beholder, Lord Shiva. Photo: Lord Shiva

INDIA, June 27, 2013 — Northern parts of India have witnessed the worst flash floods in history over the last few days.

Floods happen. Natural disasters and tragedies are a part of existence.

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Earthquakes, floods, tornados, tsunamis affect even those who are not directly impacted. That is because all such natural phenomena have this overpowering ability to instantly kill. A flood or a cloud burst never checks on the location before happening.

Nature doesn’t spare the rich, give another chance to the powerful, or side with the elite in its actions. And it is this equality of nature that scares us all equally.

This time, nature is attacking its own creator. The areas where these floods have occurred are the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. Those who have been killed, wounded or displaced are also mostly religious tourists who were using the summer break period to visit these holy shrines.

The rivers that are vehemently flooding parts of northern India are goddesses worshipped all across the country. Why will a river do that? We like to call it nature’s own way of creating a balance.

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It is believed that if humans try to change the course of a river, it still comes back to its original path eventually. And that is exactly what these rivers seem to be doing.

It is being said that several dams had been built or planned for this area, affecting the natural topography of this region. As the numbers of tourists was growing, illegal and unnatural construction was continuing in full momentum. Today, the rivers have reclaimed their land with a momentum impossible to be matched by humans and our sophisticated machines.

One of the most striking images is of the river Ganga embracing a several meters high idol of its beholder, Lord Shiva.

According to Hindu mythology, the story of how the river Ganga descended on earth has been told and retold across generations.

It is believed that a sage called Kapila had reduced to ashes sixty thousand sons of King Sagara. The only way to bring salvation, or moksha, to these sons was by bringing the holy river Ganga to earth from heaven.

Sagara’s descendent King Bhagiratha, after years of meditation and penance on behalf of those who had been brought to ashes, manages to bring Ganga to earth from heaven.

However, Ganga, who is the daughter of Himalaya (the Himalayan range in North India) has so much power, purity and force in her that despite agreeing to come to earth with Bhagiratha, she cannot do so as her forceful tides have the potential to cause catastrophe.

And then, Lord Shiva agrees to hold the force of Ganga in his tangled hair (jatas) so that Ganga can flow more calmly out of his locks. Ganga then comes to earth with a blessing that whoever will take a dip in her holy waters, will be rid of his bad karma and will be blessed forever by the energy and the purity of the holy Ganga.

But today, the same Ganga has been overflowing, symbolically touching the hair of Lord Shiva’s idols with immense force, almost rebelling against him and everything around her.

Ganga seems to be screaming for help. It is shouting at those that have dirtied it for years. It is taking revenge from those that have tried to alter its course, who have constructed rampantly on her shores. It is throwing back at us, what we have thrown into it for years- from dead bodies to plastic to almost everything for which we need a dumping yard.

Ganga is tired of being labeled ‘dirty’ and ‘filthy’ by the world. It wants to gain back the respect it deserves. And in this revenge, she is still managing to provide salvation to those who died fighting its torrential tides.

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Manu Arya

If I knew the answer to ‘who am I’ I would not have had the need to write this bio. But until I do, I can just say that for me, everything in life hangs by a thread of faith and destiny. Add a pinch of hard work to that, and you’ll have your choice of life served on a platter to you!

It’s magic to be born and brought up in India of today. A society that offers a blend of traditional with the modern, mystic with logic, religion with secularism, and science with faith; India is the place to be! For several years, people from across the world have knocked at India’s doors whenever they needed a bit of soul-searching. But today’s soul-searching comes with a twist! While India is no more just a land of snake-charmers and elephants, it continues to offer its vibrant culture, traditions and history to the world in a modernized, re-packaged manner.  I welcome you to join me in my journey of soul-searching in the current times. I can guarantee you that even if we get lost, we’ll get somewhere!


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