Lifeline of Indian Subcontinent ‘Ganges’

Kaushal Kishore | 30 Jan. 2013

The civilisation and culture developed on the banks of the Ganga and Yamuna are riparian since ancient times. The immortal knowledge of the Vedas began to spread in these river basins. The civilisations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro developed on the banks of Indus River. In modern times of development the natural features of Indian culture are still preserved by this tradition.

Mahakumbh organized in Prayag at Triveni Sangam is the living proof of it. In fact, river plays pivotal role in the riparian society. She has been worshipped. Megasthenes made the best efforts to describe the Ganga in Indika. He was the first western scholar, who mentioned about Ganga in his book two thousand years ago.

On every page of Indian history there is one or other river. The sacred texts of Sanatan Dharma enumerate a holy place and a holy river for every era. The Saraswati was the holy river and Pushkar was the holy place in the Satyuga. In the Treta, the Sarayu was believed to be the holy river and Naimisharanya was the shrine. The Yamuna and Kurukshetra were holy in the Dwapar. In the times of Kali (modern times), religious experts believe that all such places are sacred wherever the Ganga flows. On the name of holy place and river of modern times various details pertaining to the Ganga alone is in records.

In India, there is a tradition of worshipping Ganga with devotion and reverence since prehistoric times. The significance of the Ganga is not merely confined to the stories of the scriptures. In fact, the Ganga gives life and livelihood to the people living in the Indian Subcontinent. Drinking water is regularly being supplied by the Ganges and her tributaries. The social, economic and spiritual live of people are always influenced by the perennial rivers. The river is the life-support system for the subcontinent. So Indian society treated her as the mother and worshipped her as well.

The mighty river Ganga emerges as the confluences of thousands of rivers and streams. Again there are several natural and artificial distributaries. The Ganga is 2,525 kilometres long. The Ganga Basin spreads across 10,88,704 square kilometres area.

This is the live support system of the largest biodiversity of the world by giving them drinking water. There are 900 million people in Indo-Gangetic Plains that spread across seven South Asian countries. Ganga Basin is a huge part of it. It spread across four countries of South Asia. Here, the regional density of population is largest throughout the world. Today, one third of the country’s urban population lives in the towns of Ganga Basin. Out of total 2,300 towns, 692 are located in this basin, and of these 100 are located along the river bank itself.

The largest delta of the world takes shapes as the Ganga merges into the ocean. Sundar Van is also called the green delta. Here the density of population is 520 people per square mile. There is a big world of various plants and animal species in the thickly populated Ganga Delta. Millions of people gather here on Makar Sankranti during Baul Mela and Gangasagar Mela. Due to Prayag Mahabumbh many great saints are residing in the Kumbh Nagar. Consequently the big gathering of pilgrims is in Prayagraj. This tradition of the worship of water and river is age old.

Still today seers are engaged in preaching the path of liberation with the flow of the nectar of immortality. In fact the Ganga is also heavily polluted. Several hydropower dams are built on it to disrupt the flow of the river. Industrial wastes and sewage further pollute the remaining water. In this condition the river is about to die in her worst shape. In addition to all that the river is the means of salvation to devoted pilgrims. The proof of it also emerges during ongoing Mahakumbh of 2013.

The Kalpvasi pilgrims perform ablutions on the sand of the river bank in freezing cold only to make the devotion further strong. This devotion of pilgrims nourishes in the company of saints and seers of different sects. They have to pave the ways to ensure the pure Ganga. The Kumbh is an occasion of churning, and all eyes are fixed on the activities of the Kumbh Nagar. The success of the Prayag Mahakumbh 2013 depends on the actual efforts dedicated to ensure the pure Ganga.

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