Dear LWP Readers,
We’re in the middle of one of the most auspicious periods according to the Hindu calendar – the period of Navratri, the 9 divines nights dedicated to the Mother Goddess. One of the very first representations of the Mother Goddess, worshipped by Indians since many millennia, has been our rivers. From the Saraswati of Vedic times to the river Ganga that we still worship today, India has been a land that strongly acknowledged the role of rivers in its civilisation. Our rivers have been our mothers, our source of life.
On this World Rivers Day, it’s time to have an open and frank conversation about our rivers.
Why, you ask? In an age when we like to count everything – from money to reasons – here’s 5 reasons you should be concerned about India’s rivers.
#1 By 2030, more than 60% of our rivers will be seasonal and only 50% of the water we need for our survival will be available.
#2 Kaveri has depleted over 40%, Narmada and Krishna over 60%; many rivers are not touching the ocean for 3-4 months.
#3 We have 75% less water in India today than in 1975.
#4 Indian freshwater bodies are unique in the world for having over a thousand species of fish including freshwater dolphins. Many species are becoming extinct as the rivers are depleting; there have been no formal studies, but according to some estimates, at least 15% of the species have becomes extinct in last 25 years.
#5 According to the WWF, Ganga is one of the most endangered rivers.
Not only are our rivers in a bad condition, the condition of our soil is also alarming – the organic content has reduced drastically. According to the UN, the definition of ‘soil’ requires a minimum of 2% of organic content in the earth. In states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and some parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the organic content is 0.05%! This means that this soil will turn into sand in the next 3-5 years.
At this rate, in the next 40 years, 60% of the land in India will not be cultivable because of soil turning into sand. There are only two ways to restore the organic content of the soil: 1) leaves and 2) animal waste. Both trees and animals are disappearing from the land. Animals are being exported which means we are actually exporting our top soil.
It’s not because of water that there are trees. Because of tress, there is water.
– Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
If somehow the Rally for Rivers campaign has passed you by (if you’ve been living under a rock, for example) then do your bit now by sending a missed call to (+91) 80009 80009 (it counts as a signature on a petition). If you’ve been supporting this campaign already, then please see how you can share this information further (the campaign is looking for 30 crore missed calls) and continue your support. If you’re in Delhi, then do attend the campaign’s grand finale event on 2 October at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium (register here).
The Isha Foundation which has been running the campaign this past month with founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev personally driving through 16 states, will be presenting a policy recommendation to the government on 2 October. According to Sadhguru, even if we begin aggressively working towards river rejuvenation now, it will take 20-25 years to see tangible results. Such a long-term project requires the commitment of the citizens; governments may change but this commitment must not.
This is our chance to act consciously and as responsible citizens of a democratic country. It is our chance to show that we care not only about harnessing the resources of Mother Nature for our use, but about respecting and preserving them. But do we care enough to make this a truly historic moment in the life of our nation? We decide the answer.
Take a look at this amazing video of Kaveri waters finally reaching the dry river-bed in Mayavaram in Tamil Nadu. The grateful villagers bow down in Namaskaram. Must we become this desperate? Or can we not bow down to our rivers before they run dry?
Read also: Rally for Rivers – What You Need to Know
Here’s the highlights from the past week on LWP:
– Shruti Bakshi explained the significance of Navratri for a spiritual seeker and how one should spend these nine nights of the Divine Mother in: Making the Most of the Navratri.
– The Navratri is also associated with nine forms of the Goddess Durga, Navdurga. Read about these 9 forms here along with their spiritual significance.
– Ganesh Varadharajan explored what makes a work an ‘epic’. Using as examples, Tolkien’s ‘Legendarium’ and Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’, Ganesh brings out the different textures of the fantasy worlds created by the novelists. Referencing back to the great epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Savitri’ as well as the Greek epics and the works of Shakespeare, gives us an insight into the world of legend, myth and fantasy. Read the article.
– Supriya Tandon shared her experience of a trip to the Yosemite National Park in California. The park is a treasure trove of the wonders of Mother Nature and Supriya even spots a rare ‘rainbow in water’! Amidst the awesome natural beauty, one finds a deep contentment.
– Last Sunday, LWP shared an exclusive interview of Amish Tripathi by Shruti Bakshi where he spoke candidly and at length about topics and issues relevant to India today. In case you missed it, do read: From the Immortals of Meluha to Immortal India – in conversation with Amish
From the Archives: “Many scholars hold the view that the earliest form of worship in most cultures across the world was worship of the Mother Goddess, although over time, this culture was lost or eradicated by other influences. In Indian culture, the male and female energies are worshipped together: there is Gauri-Shankar, Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Vishnu (notice that most times we say the female diety’s name first). The underlying principle is one of Shiva, the male and Shakti, the female energies. Shiva is unmanifest energy that needs Shakti, the creative force, to become manifest.” Read more in the Divine Mother.
In support of the Rally for Rivers campaign here’s a tribute to Ma Narmada – a personal and nostalgic reflection by Ranjan Bakshi: Winding Through the Streets of Sanskardhani, Jabalpur.
As always, I look forward to your comments, feedback, suggestions and article contributions. Do share this with those you think may be interested so that they can also and join the wiser-living movement!
Wishing you a lovely day wherever in the world you may be!
Editor, the LivingWise Project