The Sweetest Water I Ever Drank by Vanisha Uppal
Does the water in your house belong to you? Let me put the question this way- Does a rental house belongs to you?
We are here in the world for a short time. No one is here forever. If the owner of this world is not complaining about the misuse of His nature, it does not mean that He would not get back to us. He surely will in his own way.
The water is not my property and not yours either. We only value the water when we pay for it. Whereas nature is not charging anything and we take it for granted. It projects our limited understanding and the level of consciousness.
In India the river is consider a living entity and often referred to as a mother. Especially the river Ganges, called Ganga in local dialects, is revered as a diety and called Mother Ganga. After two years of intense practise of Kriya Yoga. One night, I dreamt, Mother Ganga is eagerly waiting for me and I am also eager to meet her. I approached her, she is extremely happy to see me. She hugged me and welcomed me and said “why you took so long to come to me”.
I woke up next morning with intense desire to go to Rishikesh to see Ganga. Next day it was the Diwali (India’s biggest celebration). Without wasting any time in thinking and organising, I took night bus to Rishikesh. This time I wanted to stay close to Ganga and not at Kriya Yoga Ashram from where the Ganga was at some distance. I got down from bus, at 3.30 am. I could not see any person on the road, a pitch dark early morning. Where to go? I looked around and saw one Ashram. I knocked the door. From the glass door I saw two people were sleeping inside. One came hurriedly and opened the door. I asked “Can I have one room here, please?” He said “No”. I waited for a while. The person who was sleeping suddenly got up and said; “Wait! we have rooms”.
Luckily, I got the small room next to Ganga Ghat. A Ghat is a flight of steps leading down to a river. I was extremely happy. Happiness is very small word to what I felt that time. I was overwhelmed to see Ganga, I don’t know what to say! I needed no one to share my happiness at that point of time. I was complete with me and Ganga. I quickly kept my bag in my room and went to Ganga to take bath at 4am. It was still quite dark. There was no one around. In uncontrollable joy I entered Ganga. It was very cold water but it did not affect me rather I enjoyed it. After each dip in Ganga, I found a new being in myself. It is unexplainable feeling when I get in touch with Ganga. Her touch is not only limited to my body, it goes deep into my soul. I am into her and she is into me. I am lost in her. My breath becomes so subtle that I don’t feel its presence.
After the bath, I silently sat on the steps of the Ghat. I did not want to leave her and go in my room. I was in so much joy that I could nearly hug her from one end to another. Suddenly I saw something was floating towards me.
I stood up to see clearly what kind of object it was? It was a Banana. I could not see anyone around nor far away. I grabbed the banana. I thought it might be a coincidence. Any way I was happy to receive a gift from Ganga.
I kept sitting at the Ghat for hours in bliss and joy. I realised it was 2pm and I was hungry. I wanted simple bland food. I went straight up to the dining hall of the Ashram. Few devotee scholars were sitting around the table. They were reading Srimad Bhagavatham. I asked for food from them. They said lunch time is over. I was quiet and hungry, nothing to say? One of them stood up, very strict looking face and said “I get you some food”. He went into the kitchen and put dal, vegetables, rice in one polybag and gave it to me. I sat under the tree just outside the dining hall and had it. It was a perfect and fully satisfying meal. I went back to those scholars again, and said; “Thank you for giving me the food now can I sit with you to hear Bhagavat Katha”
They Said “Mother, no females are allowed to sit with male scholars” I said “but you called me mother” they said “That is the rule”. I was thinking what kind of rules are there in the Indian system, why a mother is not allowed to sit with her children. However I gave my greeting to them and quietly returned to the bank of Ganga.
I watched people travelling from different parts of the country to take a bath in the holly river. Carrying their faith and beliefs in Ganga, God and Heaven. They worshipped and performed the ritual in their own ways. Afterwards they threw rotten flowers, old books and ashes along with polybags in the Ganga. What kind of worshipis this?
Some people took the bath with the soap. Although it was written clearly on the notice board “People should not use Soap while bathing in Ganga” but who cares? Most of the people did not use the dust bin which was so close to them. Some found it fun to watch plastic cups floating in the water.
I was angry and was about to say something to them but suddenly I felt Ganga is telling me to look at her. “Despite how everyone treats her, she provides life to everyone and yet she is not angry.”
My anger turned into empathy and love. And I was glad that I did not react in anger. One is acting according to one’s state of consciousness. The Mother Ganga and whole nature is being so patient.
I saw one old man was quietly sweeping the Ghat, no one bothered to notice his work. I got inspired from him and quietly picked up as much garbage as possible and threw it in the dustbin. I also offered my help to sweep the Ghat. He was happy to receive a little help from me.
Next day, I woke up and did my kriya yoga practise and went to Ganga at 5am. I sat quietly at the same place as day before. Yes! I was expecting a gift. How foolish I was. Coincidences are not repeated. Guess what? I again saw a banana floating towards me again. From where it was coming I had no idea. But it coming for me – that I was sure. It was no more a coincidence. The waves were really directing the banana towards me. Not carried away by the wind. It was a magical view to my eyes. In a big river, a dark morning and a banana out of the blue. I was happy and surprised. I received it with much love.
In the afternoon, some kind of fear was overtaking me. The river looked very strong, big and huge. I realised my smallness and feebleness. I hesitated to enter in Ganga. I was surprised how I could managed it earlier. Along with this feeling I could feel the pain of separation too.
When the pain became intense then fear could not hold it longer. No matter what the time was, I took a bath.
At lunch time, I again went to the same Ashram for Lunch, but at the correct time. Same scholars were there, they told me you need to get a token from outside for every meal. I was about to turn back and they called me inside to have meal. I had a little food but it was fulfilling.
After food, I went back to the Ghat. I saw few children were selling flowers at the Ghat. They requested me to buy flowers, which were to be floated in Ganga. I told them “I don’t want to dirty Ganga in name of devotion, but, I can buy you biscuits on a condition, which was, to throw the wrapper in the dustbin”. They happily agreed.
They settled down on steps of the Ghat and enjoyed the biscuits. Suddenly they got up, removed their cloth and jumped into the Ganga, they were swimming and having fun. No fear – not a sign of fear. They were enjoying in the lap of my mother and I am standing there out of water in the zone of my fear. Without wasting any more time, I also jumped in Ganga. Swimming freely in company of fearless beings, oh it was so wonderful! All my pain and fear was gone. We all came out of Ganga after one hour and we all had food together.
In the evening, I again went to have food at the Ashram, without collecting a coupon, which was actually free of cost. So I thought if it is free, then why get into the formality. I straightaway went to the dining hall. Same scholar asked me loudly “Where is your coupon?” I said, “I did not get it”. He said, rudely and loudly “you step aside, this time you will not get food”. I did not feel bad and angry with them. I was just quietly observing. How the rigidness is settled in heart of reader of Vedas and scriptures. Although it was a charitable organisation. Why they do not understand simplicity. After some time, they told me to join the meal. I quietly took my seat and had a meal very calmly and then left the place. They looked very disturbed with my relaxed behaviour. Rather irritated and angry for some reason.
Next day morning at 5.30am, I went to my banana place. I had no doubt in my mind. I was absolutelysure that banana will come. I sat on the high stone and watched the Ganga carefully and said “mother please don’t take a long time. Send me the gift now”. I was sitting alert because I wanted to know from where the Banana was coming. I saw something popped up from the middle of Ganga. It was my banana. It floated towards me.
I grabbed the banana with full authority. As a child have full rights on her parents property.
Now when I work in kitchen, in bathroom and go outside anywhere. I feel each drop is Ganga. It belongs to God and God only.
On March 20, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court accorded the status of “living human entities” to rivers, Ganga and Yamuna. This was to enable the “preservation and conservation of the two rivers and to protect the recognition and faith of society”. In its verdict, the State High Court had cited New Zealand’s bill which made the Whanganui river, revered by the indigenous Maori people, the first in the world to be recognised as a living entity with full legal rights.
However, sadly, for whatever legitimate reasons, the Supreme Court of India in early july, 2017, stayed the landmark judgement that accorded the Ganga and Yamuna rivers the status of “living human entities”.