Imagine standing in the midst of a wide, flowing river, looking up toward its source: the soaring mountain ranges of the mighty Himalayas. Far above you glistens the snow-capped summit of Nanda Dev, a golden point so high, it seems to pierce the sky.
This is the source of the river in which you stand, surrounded by shimmering waters that look like they pour from Heaven and flow to the ocean where all heavenly waters reunite.
It is a beautiful, powerful river. You let go. You float and allow this river to carry you to the ocean. As it moves, and flows, you feel that eventually all things do merge into one, and a river runs through. You feel yourself at peace, and a part of that great truth.
Ganga, also known as the Ganges River, (referred to as “she”–an embodiment of the divine feminine), is sacred to nearly one billion people who live, drink, bathe, and worship in her water daily. Sadly, though, this river is dying. Approximately three billion liters of waste and chemicals are dumped into her waters every day.1 This puts the 450 million people who depend on her waters at great risk; millions who use Ganga’s waters fall sick to illnesses such as typhoid, cholera, and dysentery.2
In addition to the threat of pollution, this holy river is drying up. Thanks to climate change, the Tibetan glaciers that feed the headwaters of Ganga are melting four times faster than in Asia, and faster than anywhere in the world.3 The World Wildlife Fund listed the Ganges among the world’s five most endangered rivers.4
In response to this crisis, my teacher and spiritual guide, H.H. Puyja Swami Chidanand Saraswati Maharaj of Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, has launched a campaign to preserve this great river: Ganga Action Parivar.
It’s a global family of all types of people. Young, old, rich, poor, unknown, famous, all castes, all creeds, all bound by a common heart that respects and loves Ma Ganga. And we’re committed to helping her become cleaner and healthier.
For Yogis in America, Ganga symbolizes the mythic rivers of the Vedas flowing abundantly from the Himalayas to the Pacific. We can honor Ma Ganga by enlivening and passing forward the grace of the teachings, seeking to cultivate within ourselves the cosmic waters of enlightening wisdom, and directing all our thoughts, words and actions towards the ocean, that pure potentiality that is peace.
We can thank Ma Ganga by revering our mother waters everywhere. We can value her gifts — life in all its forms — wherever She flows. We can cultivate a deeper relationship with the Sacred Feminine, restoring spiritual authority to women who provide balance and wholeness to a world safe and just for our children, healthy and fair for all.
We can “let go and let Ganga,” as Swamiji says, and allow Ganga to be a river of love, healing and compassion that flows through us, bringing our Yoga off the mat and offering the world our devotion, selflessness and service.
Ultimately, Swamiji told us, “Ganga gives without hesitation, without reservation, without limitation, without vacation. Can you create a Yoga that teaches this?” I invite you to join us in your own unique way, hold Ma Ganga in your heart, and be the flow of love, connection, compassion we all seek, and the world needs.
Puyja Swamiji will be in LA for a series of programs and in San Diego on Tuesday, July 16th at the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living. For the full schedule, visit: http://www.parmarth.com/ps_itinerary.php. For the San Diego program, contact Laura at [email protected], or visit DeepYogaGangaFlow.org for more information.
All references to data are from Ganga Action Parivar ~ http://www.gangaaction.org ~ unless numbered, in which case:
Hindustan Time – April 17, 2012. “Ganga receives 2,900 million ltrs of sewage daily”
- Abraham, Wolf-Rainer. “Review Article. Megacities as Sources for Pathogenic Bacteria in Rivers and Their Fate Downstream”.
- Agence France Presse -17 August 2009. “Global warming benefits to Tibet: Chinese official. Reported 18/Aug/2009”.
- World Wildlife Fund – March 2007. http://www.unwater.org/downloads/worldstop10riversatriskfinalmarch13_1.pdf
Join Laura Plumb and Bhava Ram, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Dave Stringer, Govind Das and Radha, Cooper Madison, and other special guests for a private benefit for Ganga Action Parivar on Sunday, July 14 at a private residence in Malibu. All donations from this day will support the Ganga Action Parivar Campaign. For more info, visit: Bhaktifest.com/ganga-action-parivar-benefit or email [email protected]