Place of Rivers in Humanity

A River not only create conditions for settlement of the people on its banks, it sustains the people living near it. It provides them with all the things of human requirements. Water for washing, irrigation, fish. It had been held in great esteem by many civilizations. Rivers are revered because they nourished the life. Many saints and great men loved to live on its banks.

Rivers are held in great esteem in Sikh religion. The region where the religion flourished is aptly called the land of five Rivers.

First Guru Nanak is said to have experienced enlightenment after a dip in holy river. Legend is that when he emerged out of river Kali Bein which merges into the confluence of Beas and Satluj rivers at a place called Harike in Punjab after three days, he was glowing and a completely transformed. He recited the “mool mantra” .

It seems that Guru Gobind ji, the tenth and last Guru had a great affinity for rivers. His Life revolved along the different riverbanks of India.
He was born in Patna and spent his early days on Ganga river.
Then he came to Anandpur sahib which has Satluj river close by. And during wars with hill royalties he stayed in Paonta sahib on the Yamuna river and wrote prolifically.
And then finally he moved to Maharashtra where he stayed on the banks of godavari river.

Alas , due to the unlimited greed of some people, these rivers are being contaminated by discharging the effluents from factories, city sewage and sand mining.

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Searching the elusive Saraswati !!!!!

We have been taught in our school about Indus Valley civilization and how it was replaced by arrival of the people from west which have been called Aryans. That the Indus Valley civilisation was spread between Indus  and Yamuna rivers. Exacavation at many locations established many huge settlements like Harrapa in Pakistan side punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sind district. But it is not the end. So many sites have been established belonging to this civilisation throughout North India beginning from plains of Punjab and Haryana to as far south as Dholavira in the Kutcch coastal area of gujarat.

This civilisation thus was spread into the fertile flat plains served by many rivers like five rivers of Punjab, Indus River, Yamuna river and so many of their tributaries. These are perennial rivers with the origin in the glaciers of Himalayas. They bring about huge supply of water as well as rich alluvial soil. Thus the area is suitable for agriculture.

The civilisation is said to highly advanced as is evident from the town and unban planning, sanitary system, baths, water harvesting and trade with many countries in the west. But even then it is said that these people did not develop any language or whatever symbols are there still have not being interpreted.

Then it is also said that one fine day this civilisation disappeared. There are many theories like inundations due to changing course of the rivers which cannot happen short time. Another very strong reason is the invasion of these areas by fair colored people from the west. These are said to be pastoral people rearing cattles and riding chariots driven by horses. These were the people who are called Aryans and since they vanquished the native dark colored people who were pushed south wards or those remained were obliged to be inferior to their conquerors.

It is also said that the Vedas are their creation. How the pastoral people can create such profound literature? In these Vedas, another river figures prominently or rather dominates. It is river Saraswati. This river is said to have been responsible for the developments of the civilisation along its banks. It is said to be flowing between Satluj and Yamuna and going all the way down towards Sind after merging with Ghaggar river and then Hakra river combinedly called Ghaggar Hakra river.

Ghaggar which is sometimes synonym with Saraswati still exists but even the Vedas mention that at the Saraswati has dried down at many places is elusive today. It is definitely not the elusive third river of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati trio which does not fit the route mentioned in the Vedas. Since so many of remains of Indus Valley civilisation have been discovered in Haryana like Rakhigarhi-which is said to be spread over the largest area than earlier sites like Harappa fall near the path said to had been followed by the Saraswati . This means that Vedas existed at the time of Indus Valley civilisation people and invasion theory is not plausible. Many scholars like Michel Danino agree with this theory in his book “The lost river: on the trail of the Saraswati“. The following map is proposed by him.

But many like Doctor R.C.Thakran, professor of history at university of Delhi  who has done research on the geological and soil aspects of areas along the Ghaggar river contest the existence of river as being responsible for giving rise to such a big civilisation. It is too small a river with its catchment area in the lower Shivaliks. Thus at the most , this must have been a season river. The variation in the moisture content of the soil in the dry beds decline sharply with the distance travelled indicating that flow was not large enough so as to saturate the subsoil equally all along. Sediments are identical to those of Shivalik hills in composition indicating the source in the Shivaliks. Anyway the present reality is that river is not visible anywhere.

But government in Haryana is bent on its revival. Based on the scriptures, it will excavate the river said path to revive the past Aryan glory with which we North Indian identify ourselves. There are plans to pump the water from underground through tube wells into the excavated river.

According to the report the work is already begun. As reported in the times of India newspaper reproduced below.

As part of its attempt to revive Saraswati river, Haryana government on Tuesday initiated excavation work at Rolaheri village in Yamunanagar district.

Inaugurating the work, Haryana assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal said the project would once again take the culture and heritage of India to the golden period. Officials say that south Indian scholar Dr Ratnakar has shown interest in initiating the work on the project.”

Let us hope to be positive. But the conclusions based on the facts not the sentiments.

 

Poplar cultivation

We traveled by Shatabadi Express from Delhi to Dehradun. First it was in winters and second only in June of this year. As soon as the train crosses the industries out side Delhi, the dead river called Yamuna, the green fields begin to span both sides of the train line. Yamuna river, one of the three rivers-Ganges, Yamuna & Saraswati- forming the holiest trinity of Indian rivers is a cesspool of industrial waste, floating dead animals. Its color is almost black and it seems like a corpse. Its chemical oxygen demand (COD), a parameter to indicate the industrial waste pollution must be very high.

 

So with Saraswati which existed once upon a time in the North India and went underground and is which is said to be flowing underneath, becoming imaginary, Yamuna has joined it. First of these was catapulted underground by Nature and Yamuna has been killed by the humans.

Anyway let us continue with journey. So we see amidst this greenery crops like wheat in winter, sugarcane, mustard, green fodder, maize and rice according to the season. The soil of region is enriched by Ganges and Yamuna rivers. But in addition to these crops, there is a tree which is straight in shape cultivated on the peripheries of fields. There sheer number is mind boggling and some of them have become full fledged while others are in various stages of growth.

poplar3 poplar1(1) poplar1 poplar5 poplar4

This is called agro-forestry. The trees along with crops. These trees are very fast growing and are used to make timber and cardboards. The trees are cash crops making many farmers rich.

At the time of journey, I relished and admired the results of hard work put in by the farmers and landowners. This vista continues unabated up to Haridwar. I was becoming curious where all the wood from these trees goes for processing.

We learned this in a hard way. We were returning from Chandigarh to Dehradun after a weekend by our car. We always follow the route which runs from Panchkula to Naraingarh to Kalaamb to Nahan bypass to Paonta to Dehradun. It has been raining last two days in the region. We have some inkling of land slides after Nahan and as we reached about 10 kilometers from Nahan bypass, there was mud all over the road and road was blocked ahead due to blockage.

We returned back and from Kalaamb took the road to Yamuna Nagar to follow the old traditional route to Dehradun from Yamuna Nagar to Saharanpur and Dehradun. As soon as we crossed the timber processing units in Yamuna Nagar, we thought we taken a wrong road. But no. There was almost no road. It was shreds of road in the craters and pools of water. There was worst kind of jam. And the car, it would completely left to God’s mercy. Its underbelly grinded against the edges of craters. The reason for all this was before us. Coming from the opposite side were countless tractor trolleys over loaded with the poplar logs. These were so heavy that tractor’s front wheels went skywards whenever it lunged forward from the rest. What was more threatening was the precarious way these trolleys dipped to one side or the other whenever one of its tyres fell into the craters. It seemed that they will fall on us and crush us alongwith car to death. All these were coming to Yamuna Nagar where a number of processing mills have been established. Many trolleys have turned turtle and blocked the road. Situation was such that we crossed ten kilometer hell of the road in more than 2 hours. It was not until we crossed the bridge over Yamuna that road become worthy of travel.

Incidentally, the agro-forestry was started during 1980’s by an enterprising person called Surinder Singh Hara. He owns about 180 hectares land called Hara Farms near Yamuna Nagar which he made suitable for agriculture by clearing the jungle. He produces crops which belong to this region along with turmeric, many fruits and poplar and specially cloned variety of Eucalyptus.

I think it is the duty of the Government and those who are adding extra burden on the road to contribute and make the road good. This will ease the life of persons who are driving these vehicles and labors. It will also save the fuel and maintenance of the vehicles which will ultimately go for the good of people.

Devi Saraswati

Course of Sarasvati river through Thar desert
Course of Sarasvati river through Thar desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is the wife of Brahma and considered as the patron of arts, music and letters. As often in Indian mythology, She is also associated with the river of the same name which once flowed through modern Haryana of North India and is mentioned repeatedly in Vedic literature. The river is now non-existent of thought of as flowing invisibly. It meets the two other great rivers Ganges and Yamuna at Prayag or Allahabad.

According to PTI news of May 9, 2006, ONGC the largest of Petroleum Exploration and Production Company of India decided to launch the digging of wells for producing water from the underground source of river Saraswati in Rajasthan and help solve the water scarcity problems and also to discover the route of the river.

Under the project, ONGC in collaboration with government agency Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) would dig many wells in Jaisalmar, Barmer and Bikaner districts that will aid its search for water of the river, believed to have originated in the Thar desert and disappeared into present day Pakistan.

The Goddess is depicted as a beautiful fair young woman, often with a Veena or Indian lute and book in her hand and attended by a Swan.Traditionally considered as the inventor of Sanskrit language. She is much revered by students, musicians and writers.

Some facts about Dehradun

Bazaar buzz

Dehradun is the capital of Uttrakhand. Earlier, it was an important town in Uttar Pradesh state. Being in the hills it has milder weather than rest of Uttar Pradesh. So British moved to hill stations during summers like Dehradun, Mussorie and Shimla: all situated in the hills of North India and were cooler. It must have been a favorite city of the British as is evident from the fact that headquarters of a number of departments like Forest and Survey of India,  are located here. It is surrounded on the North by Himalayas and in the South by the Shiwaliks thus forming a valley. The valley itself is divided into two parts by a ridge.

It boasted of famous Litchi plantations. During the summer season, one could see the vendors selling this fruit. The weather was not hot even in the summers when I first came here in 1978. Now the things have changed due to deforestation and building activity on a large scale.

Hardwar Dehradun railway line was opened in 1900 thus completing 112 years. It was the continuation of Oudh & Rohilkhand Railway from Laskar to Hardwar. Total distance is 48 miles. During British time Dehradun had many tea plantations and produced 1.6 million pounds of tea in 1903. Timber was extracted and taken to Yamuna River with the help of wet wooden planks. The timber was then was formed into rafts and floated down to Delhi.

Sacred Rivers

In Hindu religion, anything can become pious. God pervades everything ranging from the mammoth stars to the tiniest atoms. All the innate things are the forms of the God. God is everywhere, omnipresent. Therefore even stones can become the objects of veneration. So are many kinds of trees, rivers, hills and mountains are revered in Hinduism. Many of them have some form of association with the Gods. For example, the rat is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha. Siva mounts the bull Nandi which can be seen in the stone casts squatting outside the temples of Siva. There is a mammoth statue of Nandi bull in the Chamundi Hills of Mysore. The pedestrian journey to the temple atop the hill begins from here.

Rivers are considered sacred. This is logical also because they provide us with the water which sustains the life by helping grow the crops, drinking, bathing and transporting. In fact many great cities and civilizations flourished on the banks of the great rivers. The most prominent example is the Indus valley civilization which existed on the rivers in Punjab. Thus many rivers are held in most esteem by the Hindus.

Ganga is one such river. It is thought to have sprang from the foot of Vishnu, flowed over the sky in the form of milky way(Mandakini) and descended to earth with great force. The terrific effect of its impact was smothered by Siva who absorbed its great strength in his matted locks. Like her tributary Yamuna it is revered as a Goddess. Other river like this is imaginary river Saraswati which was supposed to flow underground and meet the Ganga and Yamuna at the Prayag sangam which is a most holy place for Hindus. Mughal emperor Akbar was so impressed by the great Kumbh fair there that he named the city as Allahabad. Other rivers held in esteem are Krishna (also called Kistna), Godavari and Cauvery. Certain lakes, notably Manasa in the high Himalayas near mount Kailash and lake Puskara near Ajmer in Rajasthan are held divine.