Fifth Year of Ganga Mukti Tapas of Baba Naganath in Kashi

Fasting Tapasvi

Fifth Year of Ganga Mukti Tapas of  Baba Naganath
Kaushal Kishore

Tapasvi Naganath fasts for more than four years to ensure the free-flow of the Ganga. He says with firm conviction that the spirit of Ganga Putra Nigamananda is alive in his efforts to save the holy river.

Partnership for Water and Save Ganga Campaign was the most important issues that needed immediate focus during the last couple of weeks. As thus I traveled to Kanpur and Kasi to explore the grass-root facts in the countryside. Many of the organizations, individuals and devotees of the mother Ganga collectively initiated the said programs. I have interacted with common people, activists and well-known dignitaries. It was a surprise to know that many of the top brass were largely unknown and unclear on the basics of the issue, at the same time I came to know many things from certain common and unknown activists. In the Kasi, I saw Baba Naganath on the Manikarnika and Swami Sananda (Dr. G.D. Agarwal) in Sri Vidya Mutt. I’ve also shared my views with certain experts of the ancient Kasi Vidwat Parishad. We have finally decided pinpoints of background for Ganga Adhiveshan scheduled to take place at Kasi in the first week of October 2012.
After the death of Ganga Putra Nigamananda, the Ganga Mukti Movement reached in its second phase. I have heard many times, from different dias, about the great sacrifice of Nigamananda. He is being quoted like a modern hero. After his controversial death, there are many dubious characters and some of them calims himself the next Gangaputra. At the same time certain heads of groups began to organise an informal army dedicated to the Gangaputra, one of such army is known as Nigamananda Sena. Most of the so-called leaders are there to misguide the common people for one reason or the other. There is a thin-line demarcation between the two phases of the Ganga Mukti Movement. The line draws with the fact that all life the martyr was denied from any recognition for his contribution, as if the goddess exacted from him the very last part of his individual surrender. In the second phase of the movement the entire world know that there is a Gangaputra somewhere in a corner doing austerity like the king Bhagiratha.
The disciples of Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati gathered on 18 June 2012 at Jantar Mantar to demand the natural free-flow of the Ganga from the Himalayan origin to the Indian Ocean. Here I saw three possible faces of the next phase of the movement. Swami Sananda (Dr. G.D. Agarwal), Brahamchari Dayananda (Santosh Thakur) and Baba Naganath (Naganath Tiwari).
Again the experts and activists gathered to discuss the issue of Agony of Ganga in Delhi between 14th and 15th July 2012. The press release of the conference clearly states that the participants unianimously agreed for the Aviral and Nirmal Ganga. In addition to that one more baba emerges out of this program. I am talking about Shri Arun Kumar ‘Panibaba’.  He suddenly became active after the conference with a new initative called Ganga Avahanam. He has fasted with Dr. G.D. Agarwal at Uttarkashi in 2008. He has declared that the avahanam is a campaign of penance for the sins committed in order to pollute the Ganga. Presently, Panibaba campaigns with Swami Anand Swaroop (Anand Pandey) in different places on the banks of the Ganga.
Presently, Swami Sananda is operating under the banner of Ganga Seva Abhiyanam and his guru is the head of this mission. Swamiji comes from western part of Uttar Pradesh with a scientific background. Dr. Agarwal successfully stopped some of the hydroprojects of Uttarakhand when he has initiated his struggle. However, it was expected that he would emerge as a more powerful hero with renewed ecstasy after the experiances of Sri Vidya Mutt. Contrary to the ethics, after sanyas he seems to be weaker and dependent. The group will disclose its next step on 18th November 2012 in Delhi.
One of the brother disciples of Ganga Putra Nigamananda, Brahamchari Dayananda is a drop-out of Satyavati College, New Delhi. But still he is the younest among them. So more energetic and efficient. He is a representative of Hardwar based Matri Sadan and his guru heads the socio-spiritual organisation and its programs. The old saying is more suitable in case of their initiatives, “If the Chinese gets hold of you, they’ll flog you to death, and if the Buddhists get hold of you, they’ll starve you to death.” I think you can explore them, if you think there is a hope.
The third face was Baba Naganath, who hails from the ancient streets of Kasi and lives amidsts the burning pyres of the Manikarnika Ghat. He has started his tapas on 19th July 2008 and stopped taking foodstuff with a sankalp to see the natural free-flow of the Ganga. I was told that Naganath does not eat for last four years, and police forced him to hospital many times during this period. He was on glucon drips and medication. After four years of fast his body became stiff, he can hardly bend his hands. I spent many hours together during a couple of days with Baba Naganath, and saw many common people of Benares with him. In order to support the protest or tapas of Naganath the doms of Manikarnika stopped buring the dead bodies for a couple days on several occasions in last four years. Babaji was taken to Janatar Mantar in an airplane by the activists of Ganga Seva Abhiyanam as a symbol of tapas.
Swami Sananda was centre of the movement in Benares, recently. At last, the movement  stopped till 18 November 2012, as the govt. of India requested them for 90 days to look into this issue. I’ve heard many things from the experts of Vidwat Parishad of Kasi about the Abhiyanam and its activists and politics. I came to interact with certain participants of this anshan and most of them were unhapppy. Mostly beacause of the vested interest, attitude and misbehaviour of the leaders. Above all, the politics of this movement is an open secret.
The two so-called disciples of an apocryphal Sankaracharya are running a huge business on the name of Ganga. They have also offered me a couple of millions of blood money. The Kasi Vidwat Parishad is aware of most of the crooked and deceitful activities, as they have also created fake vidwat parishad. In this condition, there is a need to organise  sessions of a couple of days with the experts, activists and devotees of the Ganga and short out the shape of future movement without losing any other Gangaputra.
The status of politics and character of national leadership is known to all. The policy of the government on hydroprojects is another disputed question. The central government ensured Swami Sananda to take action within 90 days, and still proposed a few more hydroprojects in the Himalayas. So we’ll have to chose the devotees of the mother and followers of the demons.
In this condition, our first responsibility is to do something to save the precious life of Baba Naganath. In fact, I’ve requested him to stop the fast for the sake of our generation so that we can peacefully decide the next course of action in October Adhiveshan at Benares in presence of all experts, activists and devotees. Initially Babaji accepted my request and he is ready to stop his fast within a short time, and he left that on us. Now there are several questions before me. The primary thing is associated with his health and medication. He is dependant on medicines, everyday he injects a few drugs for survival. I think the experts of health and medicine can contact or dignose him. The other question is more spiritual since it is associated with his sankalp.
Please contact following persons for Ganga Adhiveshan and Baba Naganath:
Shri Kapindra Tiwari:+919305498331
Shri Trilochan Shastri:+919473839433  & +918127685448

Seven Working Groups as Proposed after the Conference on the Ganga

I am thankful to be included in the round-table conference on “Agony of the Ganga: Loss of Culture & Natural Heritage” held during 14th & 15th July 2012. This was one of the best congregations of experts, activists and devotees of the holy mother that discussed agony of the Ganga, and realised the importance and necessity of natural free-flow in the river. The mainstream of national media also emerged against hydropower dams with a firm viewpoint, and ready to discuss alternative recyclable energy options, in addition to that the news agencies covered almost all resolutions of the seminar. In the light of media reports, this conference emerges as an initial effort dedicated to the save Ganga campaign. As thus, certain simple and necessary steps are required to prove the spirit of the program. These are as follows:

1)       The participants unanimously agreed that the water and rivers are to be treated for public good, not for business and moneymaking. We have categorically stated that the draft water policy should make formal declaration to that effect. I think a team of certain dedicated persons must be appointed so that it can be ensured within the timeframe of the proposed draft. The great expertise and long time experience of Shri M.C. Gupta could be an amicable help if he heads this team.

2)       The next unanimously accepted step was to ensure the adequate flow of the Ganga, even in the lean seasons. This is the first essential need that can ensure the achievement of the objective, an aviral and nirmal Ganga largely depends on it. There are various judgments of the hon’ble courts, in addition to certain constitutional provisions and agreements with the government, which can prove to be helpful in order to ensure this provision of the resolution. The well-known jurist Shri Soli Sorabjee offered his active participation for such legal affairs connected with the Ganga. I think an enthusiastic team of suitable persons—experts and activists—headed by Shri Sorabjee can bring desired results in some cases within a short time.

3)       The hydro projects on different streams of the Ganga in Uttarakhand are yet another issue of prime importance. It needs immediate attention and sufficient action. The initiatives based on the decision of National Ganga River Basin Authority in the light of reports submitted by Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee can ensure it. There are certain other issues closely connected with this resolution. The cost analysis and social audit of the ecological damage to the Himalayas and displacement caused by the dam building orgy has to be addressed properly in this process. I think Shri L.K. Joshi is the best help to head the team appointed for this purpose, moreover Dr. Hishmi Husain is an authoritative expert to provide technical help.

4)       The joint review by civil society and sant samaj can pave ways for certain economic gains and increase of revenue for Uttarakhand. This is necessary for the achievement of basic amenities and infrastructure along with the aspirations of local people. Shri Arun Kumar ‘Panibaba’ and Shri Srinivas Prasad Kidambi are best persons, and any of them can head the team dedicated to ensure this provision of the resolution. They can coordinate with the reasonable saints and bonafide members of civil society of the Himalayan region.

5)       Agencies of the state governments and the municipalities were found to be guilty for the failures of previous projects and plans. Therefore National Ganga River Basin Authority must ensure the rigorous monitoring and implementation of all programs funded by the state. At the same time, save Ganga campaign must appoint a team of experts to monitor every next move of the NGBRA to ensure proper implementation of the said principle. I believe that Dr. Ramesh Jalan and Shri Atal Bihari Sharma are experts on these issues and any one of them can lead this team.

6)       The participants of the conference seriously discussed the failures of previous initiatives like GAP-1, GAP-2, JNNURM and NGRBA. Investigation of serious issues such as corruption charges against state governments and urban local bodies by Central Bureau of Investigation or other appropriate agency is also widely discussed and resolved. The action plan must be introduced to ensure this clause of the resolution. I think Dr. Onkar Mittal is the best person to head the team appointed for this purpose.

7)       The tertiary treatment of sewers and proposed PPP models are needed to be debated. Here, diversion of water bodies, channels, nala, etc. must be reviewed along with the decentralized sewage treatment system in the city sanitation plans. It needs sufficient time and appropriate forum for discussion with the concerned authorities and experts. Therefore we must authorize a team of experts for this purpose. As suggested by the members of the organizing committee Commander Sinha is the suitable person to head this working group.

The brainstorming sessions were able to ignite the human consciousness. As thus the organizer of the conference declared that the wisdom of the program must be shared with common people dwelling in the Himalayan region and the Ganga basin. The presentation of materials and thoughts of wisdom in different formats of mass media can generate awareness among people. I think the organizing committee already started working in this regard. I’d like to be updated about the progress in this direction and stay in touch with the working groups so that success of this imitative could be ensured.

I believe that we have started the series of events with a single purpose to ensure the natural free-flow of the Ganga. In 1916, during the British rule, it was easy to launch the Ganga movement, as Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya launched against the British. But the same Mahamana died expressing the same dream and fears of free India. 

Therefore we all have to work collectively. I would like to suggest that we form seven small working groups, one for each of the above recommendation, to develop the rational for the above recommendations in some detail. This will be a good way to present the deliberations and conclusions of the seminar. This will also facilitate the education campaigns focused dialogue with government agencies. At the moment such a comprehensive position paper and module is completely lacking. I am happy to work on this as a member of the drafting team and as part of any of the working group.

The Outcome of Round Table Conference on Agony of Ganga

The conference was jointly organized by Ganga Sewa Mission, HSCF and IIC. Nearly 100 persons participated in the two days conference. These included the political leaders, senior retired civil servant, Ganga activists, experts and Ganga devotees. The conference discussed the issues related to comprehensive planning for the Ganga River Basin, the urban governance for prevention of pollution in Ganga and need for water conservation in agriculture and other usage to reduce the diversion of water from Ganga for canals and water supply schemes.

The main recommendations of the Round Table Conference:

1. The draft water policy 2010 should make categorical declaration of “Water and Rivers to be treated as Public Good and all usage to be guided by this policy directive.

2. Ensuring the optimum flow in the Ganga river in all seasons including lean season is the first essential step to achieve the objective of aviral and nirmal Ganga. In this regard, besides other constitutional provisions and various judgments of the courts, he national government should keep as its reference the
commitment made in 1916 to Ganga movement by the British Government. The NGRBA and the IITs consortium should place before the nation a comprehensive plan to achieve this objective. It should clearly outline the quantum of flow to be ensured at the point of different barrages and dams on Ganga river from Tehri to varanasi to ensure this objective.

3. Immediate decision should be taken by the NGRBA on the steps to prevent the dam building orgy in the different streams of Ganga in Uttrakhand, based on the report submitted by WII and other similar reports. This should also include the cost benefit analysis and social audit of the ecological damage to the Himalayas and displacement caused due to current dam building orgy in Uttrakahnd since Tehri Dam. In case the conclusions of the Government appointed committee are not acceptable to save ganga movement, it will decide the steps required to press its case further.

4. At the same time, a review commission should be organized jointly by civil society and sant samaj to suggest steps for revenue increasing opportunities for Uttrakhand state and ways and means of ensuring appropriate development and basic infrastructure to achieve the aspirations of people of Uttrakhand.

5. The NGRBA should ensue the rigorous monitoring and implementation of all the programs funded by it for prevention of pollution to Ganga river. The buck should not be passed on to the State Governments and the municipalities. This is in accordance with the terms of reference of the NGRBA.

6. The GAP-1, GAP-2, JNNURM and NGRBA failures should be seriously reviewed. Wherever, serious corruption charges have been made against state governments and urban local bodies, these should be investigated by appropriate agencies including CBI, if required.

7. The present suggestions by the IITs for PPP models for tertiary treatment of sewers should be debated and appropriate place should be given to the decentralized treatment system in the city sanitation plans. The nallahs diversion schemes should also be reviewed and all water bodies including nallahas should
be protected.

Next Steps:

The Save Ganga movements on various platforms should put their act together to educate the nation of the various aspects of Ganga river, the caused of its present tragic state, the merits and demerits of various options being proposed and current and future potential options. The Ganga Sewa Mission, the Chisthi Foundation, and the other participants in the conference took a resolved to continue working for the mission of saving the Ganga river. In this context, Ganga Sewa Mission makes a declaration of ‘Ganga Awahanam’ to under take a program of national awakening for the Ganga river.

The outlines of the program are as follows:

1. A preparatory phase from 23rd July to 23rd August 2012: This will be organized in many centres- Hardwar, Delhi, Meerut-Garhmukteshwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Patna. Besides that, Chennai, Banglore and Bombay will also participate. In all these centres, educational and dissemination activities, will be undertaken in schools, colleges and Universities and with the media.

2. First step in this direction will be undertaken in Kanpur on 23rd July, the day of Nagpanchami, by Swami Gangaputra Anandswaroop, Arun Kumar PaniBaba, Pirzada Rais Miyan Chishti, Soli Sorabjee, MC Gupta , L.K. Joshi, Dr. Onkar Mittal, AtalBehari Sharma, Dr. Ashok Singh-Kashi Raj Parivar, Trilochan Shastri, Birendra Singh Pal, Devendra Kanthola, and Dr. Bhagwati Prasad Purohit

3. The Ganga Sewa Mission also calls upon the countrymen, especially the political, bureaucratic and academic intelligentsia to do deep introspection of how all of us have been instrumental in contributing to the present tragic state of Ganga river. An internal process of penance through giving up of some of the
modern amenities enjoyed by us, which are contributing factors to the destruction of Ganges, like use of bottled water, use of plastic bags , use of air-conditioners, will facilitate this process of deeper introspection and reflection.

4. To initiate the process of collective penance, yagya, anushthan and other ritualistic activities will be launched from 23rd August onwards.