Jal Shakti – Resurrect Indian Reverence For Water Sources

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Giving water to the thirsty earns you instantaneous Punya or benefit – so informed our grandmothers. Journey throughout India and also you see this as a residing custom, the place clay pots stuffed with water are saved on the street for anybody who could also be thirsty. With time, clay pots have made approach for the water coolers, however the thought stays the identical. In Rajasthan and MP, you continue to see girls sitting within the sizzling solar to supply Jal Shakti or the water to the thirsty on the street. Why simply fellow people, we preserve water even for birds and animals.

Chand Baori - Abhaneri, Rajasthan
Chand Baori – Abhaneri, Rajasthan

Water is among the Panch Tattva or the 5 prime components of which all the pieces is made. 4 others being Earth, Air, Hearth, and Sky. Of those, Jal Shakti ie. water is the important thing nurturer, with out which most life, together with human life, can not maintain. No surprise, when man determined to settle, he selected to settle close to the rivers flowing from hills to the oceans. These lands have been fertile, making certain a relentless meals provide. However, extra importantly, there was ample water for every kind of wants. Later, when the person did settle away from the rivers, the very first thing they constructed was the massive lakes that allowed them to gather water and fill the earth beneath. Cities like Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Bangalore are good examples of cities stuffed with lakes.

Jal Shakti – Time to Resurrect Indian Reverence for Water

In India, anybody who nurtures you is a Devta, a deity worthy of worship. So, each supply of water is revered and prayed to and known as Jal Shakti – be it pure sources like oceans, rivers, ponds, wells, lakes, or man-made step-wells and temple tanks. Worship of water goes again to Vedic occasions a minimum of. Rig Veda comprises Nadi Stuti Sukta that talks about all of the rivers that nurtured the land of Bharata. Like Ganga, Yamuna, Sataduri (now Sutlej), Sarsuti (Saraswati), Asikni (Chenab), Parusani (Ravi), Vitasta (Jhelum), and a whole lot of rivers which can be misplaced to us. Most main rivers have their very own Stutis or songs praising them, which can be duly sung whereas worshipping them.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls with a passing train
Dudhsagar Waterfalls with a passing prepare

Sadly, the water-rich tradition that handled Jal Shakti with a lot reverence is dropping its water at a fast pace. The rivers are getting polluted with unchecked poisonous industrial waste being dumped into them. Cherrapunji and Mawsynram within the hill state of Meghalaya are referred to as the wettest place on earth as a result of highest rainfall they obtain. Come summer season months and even these areas endure water scarcity. Underground water tables are happening throughout the nation. However they’re dangerously low in high-density city areas. Many huge cities like Bangaluru are predicted to go dry very quickly. P Sainath – the founder editor of PARI (Individuals’s Archive of Rural India) talks concerning the per capita availability of water per citizen happening from 5177 Cubic meters in 1951 to about 3300 in 2011. He attributes this to channelizing the water from small landowning farmers to industries and concrete areas.

Water – Handled as a commodity

Dependence on piped water that the shoppers don’t know the place it comes from has damaged the connection between the person and sources of water. Individuals whose ancestors used to begin their day by worshiping the water our bodies close to and much, by invoking all of the holy rivers with mantras like – ‘Gange Ch Yamune Chaiv Godavari Saraswati Narmade Sindhu Kaveri Jale Asmin Sannidhim kuru’ as they poured water on their our bodies, now deal with it as a commodity that they purchase. Paradoxically, in their very own land that believed within the highest benefit in providing water to the thirsty, now promote ingesting water. Their very own water is sucked out from the womb of the earth, packaged, transported, and bought again in polluting non-biodegradable plastic bottles.

It’s excessive time India realizes its sacred relationship with water. Rebuilds and re-establishes it, values & cherishes it, and lives with plentiful water round similar to its ancestors did.

Abhay Mishra – Writer & Riverine Tradition Scholar at IGNCA, New Delhi endorses this view that the introduction of faucet water disconnected us from our sources of water, which was collectively managed by society. He recollects their important position within the household and social rituals. And emphasizes that we have now forgotten to supply gratitude to sources of water. He talks concerning the efforts of Saurabh Singh who’s reviving wells for potable water in Ghazipur. It’s serving to them cope with the grave challenge of Arsenic in groundwater. Which is a matter that has its roots in digging up too many tube wells within the fields. He provides an instance of Halma, a neighborhood effort for widespread points, organized by the Shivganga group within the tribal area of Jhabua in central India.

Harvesting the Jal Shakti

Hundreds of villagers work for sooner or later every week to create 30,000 trenches on the Hathipawa hill to gather rainwater that was in any other case being misplaced. Every trench of two meters lengthy, one meter extensive, and half a meter deep is dug up. A collection of those trenches retailer and channelize water whereas additionally bettering the bio-diversity of the area. All that is achieved by way of neighborhood effort with minimal price. There are related initiatives at a smaller scale occurring in some components of the nation. Hopefully, these water physique revival actions will scale up in all areas of India. That can convey again the much-required steadiness between water administration and consumption. These efforts ask us to return and have a look at the water heritage of India.

Jal Pradhan India

India is a ‘Jal Pradhan’ or water-abundant land. It’s not simply blessed with an extended shoreline working for 7517 km touching the three oceans, however its entire panorama may be seen as a community of rivers originating from varied hills and mountains and working in direction of the ocean. They’re just like the nerve system of the nation, facilitating the movement of nourishing water. Hundreds of waterfalls flip into mini streams flowing by way of completely different terrains to hitch these rivers. India is famously known as the land of seven rivers, rivers which can be invoked earlier than each main ritual. Nonetheless, each area has so many rivers and river valley settlements that it could not be inappropriate to name it a ‘land of tons of of rivers’.

Indian Rivers are our Jal Shakti

Every river has well-known cities and pilgrimage websites positioned on its banks. Ganga has Haridwar the place it enters the plains on the foothills of the Himalayas. Then in Kashi the place Ganga flows northwards for some time trying again at its origin. Cauvery originates from the Kodagu hills in South India and flows eastwards in direction of the Bay of Bengal nurturing the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Every river has its personal tales within the Puranas. King Bhagirath introduced Ganga down from the heavens by way of the hair of Shiva. Tapti is the daughter of the solar. The Godavari is named Gautami as a result of her affiliation with Rishi Gautam. Cauvery got here down within the Kamandal or metallic pot of Rishi Agastya.

Morning boat ride at Ganga Ghat Varanasi
Morning boat experience at Ganga Ghat Varanasi

The Brahmaputra comes from a pond that got here up at a spot the place Brahma’s son was positioned. Making it a uncommon male river. In keeping with Puranas, most rivers are goddesses who dwell on earth of their Dravya or liquid kind. In actual fact, probably the most stunning girls within the Indraloka originate from water and are therefore known as Apsaras – Apa being water.

Varsha – Monsoon, the Jal Shakti Season

India’s reverence for water extends to each drop of water that’s bestowed upon its land by way of rains. In peak summer season months, folks preserve trying on the skies, ready for the clouds to point out up and guarantee them that rains are across the nook. Why not? In spite of everything, the rains preserve the wheels of the agrarian financial system shifting. Nothing brings extra happiness than the plentiful rains for 4 months referred to as Chaturmas. That is the time when travels are deserted, fields are left on their very own and other people keep at house. Even the wandering saints select one place to remain for these 4 months. In Ramayana, Sri Ram and his brother Lakshman keep placed on the outskirts of Kishkindha throughout these 4 months earlier than shifting to Lanka.

Frozen Ice patterns on Zanskar. Ladakh in winters
Frozen Ice patterns on Zanskar. Ladakh in winters

The Sanskrit phrase for monsoons is ‘Varsha’. Which can be the phrase used for a ‘12 months’, giving the wet season the significance it deserves. Monsoon is among the 6 seasons in India. It often begins in early June from the southern coast and strikes upward and lasts until September. Each hot and cold deserts in Ladakh and Rajasthan get hardly any rainfall. Whereas the coastal areas get about 3000 mm of rainfall. The wettest components get as a lot as 14,000 mm of rainfall. People songs like ‘Kajri’ sung throughout monsoons are stuffed with feelings that rains invoke. Kalidasa in his poem Ritusamhara evocatively describes the monsoon as a season of longing.

Water Conservation

Anupam Mishra – a pioneer in rainwater harvesting and water conservation is credited with reviving many conventional water conservation strategies. In his copyright-free e-book ‘Ponds are nonetheless related’ he takes us by way of the ecosystem of water our bodies in numerous components of India. He talks about how folks selected the appropriate spot and time to construct the pond. How they maintained it over years involving every section of the society that benefited from it. Each rooftop was related to a water assortment mechanism resulting in particular person wells within the desert cities like Jaisalmer even when it is filled with 52 stunning ponds.


Lovely step-wells are unfold throughout India. Extra so within the dry northwestern states like Rajasthan and Gujarat. They’re like a man-made oasis. Which not simply saved water however have been additionally social locations to sit down close to water, constructed like temples devoted to Vishnu who likes to sleep within the waters of Ksheersagar.

Top View of Rani ki Vav
High View of Rani ki Vav

eleventh CE Rani Ki Vav was constructed by Queen Udaymati of the Solanki dynasty. It goes seven ranges beneath the bottom, with ornate partitions and platforms throughout. As you begin taking the steps down from what first seems as the opening within the floor, one wonders how the partitions are nonetheless holding on to the deep lower within the earth for all these years, with mere 292 sculpted pillars supporting its pavilions. As you retain strolling down the large dimension of the stepwell reveals itself. Resulting in a properly 10 meters in diameter and about 30 meters in deep, related to the Saraswati river shut by. It’s possible you’ll surprise what impressed the queen to construct such a memorial for her departed husband? The reply is ‘Punya’ – the most important benefit which you can accumulate is by making certain water to your folks.

At Abhaneri close to Jaipur, the sheer symmetry of Chand Baori – one of the vital photogenic step-wells with greater than 3500 rhythmic geometric steps going sideways ensures which you can attain the water degree always.

Flood Water Administration

At Shringaverpur close to Prayagraj, there’s an historical elaborate association of related tanks to gather the floodwaters of Ganga throughout the wet season and let the surplus water return into the Ganga. The tanks didn’t simply accumulate water. Additionally they cleaned water by way of the sedimentation course of, so the water within the final tank was the cleanest. You discover intensive water administration methods in place in archaeological websites like Dholavira. That belongs to the Sindhu Saraswati River Valley civilization courting again to a minimum of the eighth BCE. 2000-year-old Buddhist caves known as Kanheri Caves within the coronary heart of Mumbai; water channels may be seen throughout the excavated caves. There are interconnected water tanks at common intervals. Leveraging the pure gradient of the rock, gathering water from the roofs of the caves. The water collected in 4 months lasted for the entire 12 months for the monks.

Village Ponds

Within the japanese state of Odisha whenever you drive previous the agricultural panorama, you understand you’re near a village whenever you see a collection of enormous ponds, invariably with a small temple within the center or on one among its banks. Within the northeastern states, most ponds are stuffed with lotus flowers that cowl the water with their broad leaves, minimizing the evaporation of water.

Temple Tanks

Banganga Tank Walkeshwar Mumbai
Banganga Tank Walkeshwar Mumbai

Every temple in historical India had a minimum of one temple tank if no more. Skand Puran in its Ayodhya Mahatmay creates a map of Ayodhya that’s nothing however a collection of interconnected ponds. Regardless of the town being positioned on the banks of a Sarayu – a perennial river. Within the south, the traditional temple city of Kanchipuram is filled with tanks inside and outdoors the temples. Within the coronary heart of the town is Sarv Teertham Kulam – an enormous tank surrounded by small temples on 3 sides. One can solely think about it as a spot the place the locals and pilgrims mingled and exchanged tales.

A ray of hope comes within the type of temple tanks being revived in Tamil Nadu. That showcases an instantaneous affect on the improved degree of groundwater. If the inlets and shops of those tanks are maintained, they may robotically do the job of channelizing the rainwater again to the earth.

Water Preservation – Reverence for Jal Shakti

Kapoor Lake - Jahan Mahal Mandu
Kapoor Lake – Jahan Mahal Mandu

The most effective instance of water preservation is seen at Mandu, an historical metropolis positioned on the highest of a tabletop hill with no provide of water besides the annual rain. Narmada, the closest river although faintly seen from its peak, is a minimum of 40 miles away. The town was among the many most densely populated on this planet in its time. It appears it was by no means in need of water. Stroll round and also you see a collection of lakes to gather water. Inside its royal quarters, the buildings are designed round deep wells that accumulate each drop of water. You additionally see luxurious rooftop swimming swimming pools. A lot in order that its palace is named Jahah Mahal. Because it seems like a ship crusing on the water with two big lakes surrounding it on both aspect. The entire metropolis is designed round water assortment and conservation.

Pilgrimage Centres round Jal Shakti

Boat Ride on the Narmada
Boat Experience on the Narmada

All of the pilgrimages in India contain taking a dip within the holy waters of the place being visited. Can the pilgrimage to Kashi ever be full with no dip within the Ganga? Well-known Panch Kroshi Yatra that goes across the bigger mandala of Kashi, begins and ends with a ship experience on the Ganga from Manikarnika Ghat. The best tribute to the Narmada, the oldest river in India, is Narmada Parikrama. The place the pilgrim walks across the river on foot, taking a shower in its water each morning. They stroll greater than 2600 km for months and generally years collectively. Stopping primarily for the night time on the temples and ashrams en route and consuming no matter they’re provided.

Kumbh Mela

That brings me to the most important celebration of water or Jal Shakti on this planet – the Kumbh Mela that occurs each 12 years at 4 completely different locations. It’s primarily a Kumbh Snan or bathing within the waters of the rivers there. Just like the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati at Prayag, Ganga at Haridwar, Kshipra at Ujjain, and the Godavari at Nashik. That is the most important ritual involving water. The place hundreds of thousands of individuals simply journey from throughout the nation to only take a dip within the water at pre-defined conjunction of planets. You are able to do 1,000,000 issues on the Kumbh. However it’s primarily a go to to the holy river, to wish to it and to take a dip in it.

Holy Dip at the confluence of Ganga Yamuna during Kumbh Mela
Holy Dip on the confluence of Ganga Yamuna throughout Kumbh Mela

The Kumbha Mela occurs each 12 years. Nonetheless, there are particular dates all year long just like the lunar month of Magha that falls in January which is taken into account good to take tub in holy rivers. The complete moon night time of Karthik month, which falls 15 days after the competition Diwali, is well known in some ways. However an important is bathing in a holy river near you. There are particular Snans or bathing schedules for particular occasions like photo voltaic eclipse when pilgrims go to locations like Kurukshetra for a ritual tub.

Char Dhams

Among the many 4 Dhams positioned in 4 cardinal instructions of the Bharatvarsha, every one serves a selected goal. Devtas meditate on the Badrikahram positioned within the Himalayas within the north. They eat at Anna Kshetra of Puri within the East. They sleep in Dwarka on the western coast. Whereas they take tub in Rameswaram within the South. You possibly can see the 22 wells contained in the premises of the Rameswaram temple. Right here the pilgrims take tub after they’ve accomplished the Abhisheka of the Shivalinga with the water they introduced from Ganga in Kashi.

The idea goes that taking tub in these perennial wells takes off all of your sins. Every of those wells has a reputation and story from historical past. That tells concerning the kings and sages who took baths in these wells and the various kinds of sin they removed. For instance, at Kodi Teertham Sri Krishna removed the sin of killing Kamsa. After a dip at Chakra Tirtha, Solar obtained its golden glow.

Spirit of Giving

Free Drinking Water being served from Earthen Pots at Bhangarh Fort
Free Ingesting Water being served from Earthen Pots at Bhangarh Fort

Total, within the spirit of giving water to those that want it, India stays a web exporter of water. No, it doesn’t promote its water. However its main exports are the merchandise that want a whole lot of water for manufacturing. A few of the major crops exported are rice, cotton, and sugarcane and all of those are water-thirsty crops. Add to this the large meat exports. So, primarily India is taking the water burden of nations it’s exporting to upon itself. Can it or ought to it do it whereas it faces the water scarcity itself is one other debate?

Indian Authorities has arrange Jal Shakti Ministry in 2019. That can primarily have a look at water as the important thing useful resource. It’s anticipated to work on river rejuvenation. Together with the cleansing of Ganga and offering protected clear ingesting water to everybody. Hopefully, this can convey the main focus required to make India water-rich once more. Together with bringing again the tradition that treats water as sacred in on a regular basis life as a lot because it does in its rituals.

This text authored by Anuradha Goyal was first printed in Hinduism At this time.

This on-line model has been edited.


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