Comments on The Holy Ganga
By Deepak Malaviya Executive Secretary, The Samaja
President, Servants of the People Society
The Ganges that was once holy, pristine, pure and natural is no longer the same. These are the extremes of pollution. The Save Ganga Movement reflects prevailing changes in the life and order of the riparian culture. The sad demise of modern Satyagrahis like Gangaputra Nigamananda in Uttarakhand and Baba Naga Nath in Uttar Pradesh can lucidly express these changes. The experts may compare the fate of non-violent protest in the sixth decade of independence with the Gandhi‗s Satyagraha during the British regime and there-after.
A century ago, it was the period of World War I. The war erupted in the Europe. The colonial rulers were occupied in that. Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya was another prominent leader of the freedom struggle. He found an appropriate opportunity to bargain with the British for ensuring the Aviral Ganga at Hardwar. He had addressed almost every king of the princely states. The mass awareness campaigns were performed in the cloak of certain ancient rituals—arti and puja—on the banks of the holy river in shrines like Hardwar and Kashi. Later, he launched the Satyagraha at Har-ki-Pauri only after satisfactory campaign for preparations. Malviya Dweep, an island in the name of Mahamana, is a mark of that successful endeavour. At last the then viceroy accepted his demands to cut open a new orifice to restore the free-flow at the Bhagiratha Point.
The Ganges that represents the soul of our beloved motherland is still treated as the symbol of purity. Varanasi sheds tears in 2014 on eve of the Guru Purnima for Baba Naga Nath, who had started Satyagraha for Aviral Ganga on 19 July 2008. This was the second crusade for the Ganges in the twenty-first century.
The death of Gangaputra Nigamananda was making big news in June 2011. Scientist turned saint Swami Sananda (Dr. G.D. Agarwal) is yet another symbol of that spirit of the crusader. He is known for a series of Satyagraha that was launched at various places—from Uttarkashi to Kashi. Once the government heard him and cancelled certain hydropower projects in Himalayan province of Uttarakhand. Although that is a landmark of success in the Save Ganga Campaign, the process of decommissioning of dams in India is still far away.
The Holy Ganga is an outcome of a long and time consuming research. The author initiated that on 2 June 1997, when he met the Gangaputra first time in the garden of Matri Sadan situated on the right bank of the holy stream at the outskirt of Hardwar. Together they raised certain issues like ever increasing pollution, deforestation and ruinous mining in the river basin for more than six years. In fact, this book is a call for a dynamic movement for the holy Ganga and the great Himalayas. This cause was represented by many patriots like Mahamana Malviya and Gandhian leader Padma-Vibhushan Sundarlal Bahuguna, the protagonist of the Chipko Movement, in the past. Gangaputra Nigamananda, Baba Naga Nath and Swami Sananda emerged as the eminent leaders of this movement in more recent times. The author closely observed and noticed the developments in the struggles of these Satyagrahi saints of modern India.
I was astonished to know the particulars of the cases that they were fighting at various platforms including the court of law. The author speaks for the mute creations of the Mother Nature i.e. forest, wild-life, rivers, etc. This volume gives details of the situations of past, present, and further predicts how the future will be like in absence of that flow of nectar of immortality. He offers simple solution of various environmental problems with passionate and impartial approach. At one place he treats all rivers like the Ganges, and says that the Thames denoted a river goddess known as Themesis or Themesia. She was also worshipped like the Ganges before the Christianity denounced this practice by calling it pagan in the council of Arles in 452 AD.
I further hope that the further details of the predicament will appear in an upcoming volume, Agony of Ganga, by the author of this work.