The Ganga has a long history of being abused by the Indian state to make way for 'development'.
Debtanu grew up in a Bengali Brahman household listening to stories of the French Revolution and Europe from his maternal grandfather. One of the very first novels he read was Gorky's 'Mother' which romanticized the Russian Revolution. An avid Marxist in school, he became a free market radical in college because of disenchantment. He became interested in Indian thought having read the Classics after passing out. He not only believes that Indian Civilization should be preserved but that it can hold a mirror to the current Western Civilization where it has never been hit; its philosophy of materialism. His interest lies in Biology, Evolution, Economics, and Politics. You can follow him at @parshu_rama.
The fight for Ganga is a civilisational war that must be won. Ancient economic thought in India wasn’t very different from today’s economic philosophy but lay a strong emphasis on preserving nature. Nature was not stationary but perpetually moving, man had to move along with it, life was wandering samsara. The flux of Prakriti was embodied by the eternal Ganga who created life by bringing fertility, sustained life by providing and then absorbed mortal ashes when people left this realm for the next. How are we then treating her?
The government would have Hindus believe that it is throwing ₹2037cr down the Ganga trying to save her. Nothing could be further from the truth. The money fills the pockets of ICS turned IAS officers and our mother is treated worse than cattle, brutally defiled by the centralised state and its minion private contractors for even a little profit.
On the other hand, people who have fought against the mishandling of Ganga's flow have found themselves missing or dead. This includes Hutatma Swami Gyan Swarup-Sanand (Prof. G. D. Agarwal of IIT Kanpur in his purvashram) who died fasting for his mother on 2010, Swami Nigamananda who was murdered by the mining mafia for opposing mining along the Ganga a year later, Baba Nagnath died fighting for the restoration of Ganga in 2014. The latest of Ganga’s brave sons is Sant Gopal Das who has gone missing from a hospital since December 2018. This is while he was fasting for the restoration of the Ganga.
1. Mother Ganga as Mother India; How humiliation of Ganga rejuvenated Hindu spirit
Indians do not have rivers. A river is etymologically derived from the bank, riperia, which means wet shores (sea or any water body). A nadi is not at all a river. A nadi has atman, pran and shakti. It is a very difficult concept to get across to Christians who think only humans have souls. Followers of Descartes tortured animals to show how their barks and cries are mechanical like the cause and effect of machines.
If they can do this to cows and animals, imagine what they will do to Ma Ganga? The very source of Indic prosperity.
Our ancestors had the same question. There were violent protests when the British tried to divert the flow of Ganga through sluice gates. The first of this was in 1854 when the Upper Ganga Canal was constructed. The man behind the project, Col. Proby Cautley assured the priests of Haridwar that the stream will be diverted without obstructing the flow. Consequently, the water diverted at Har Ki Pauri ghat was a channel of Ganga that was captured by building the canal.
Yet, in 1914, the proposal to build a dam uphill from the course of the Ganga by the irrigation department saw mass mobilisation of Hindus. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya took the lead and founded Shri Ganga Sabha.
The Britishers agreed to not stop the flow but there was some miscommunication as they thought that building obstacles on the river bed was ok as long as the flow was maintained. They thus began building a weir that would control the water flow. Construction activities further re-ignited the Hindus and the government had to come back on the drawing table on 18 December 1916. This time, Hindus were furious and angry as they thought that the British were untrustworthy and had betrayed their religious sentiments intentionally.
Such was the heat that the British had to negotiate with Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya, the native princes and sanyasis he had summoned on a large scale to provide assurances to Hindus. In a gathering of Hindus and Britishers, the former vehemently objected to anything being put that directly obstructed the flow of the mighty Ganga. The representation was such;
- His Highness the Maharaja of Gwalior.
- His Highness the Maharajadhiraja of Jaipur.
- His Highness the Maharaja of Bikaner.
- His Highness the Maharajadhiraja of Patiala.
- His Highness the Maharaja of Alwar.
- His Highness the Maharaja of Benaras.
- The Hon'ble Maharaja Bahadur of Darbhanga, Member of Council, Behar.
- The Hon'ble MR. ROSE, Secretary of the Government of India, Public Works Department.
- The Hon'ble MR. BARLOW, CLE. Chief Engineer, United Provinces.
- MR. STANDLEY. Superintending Engineer, Irrigation Branch. U.P.
- MR. COOPER, Executive Engineer, Irrigation Branch. United Provinces.
- The Hon'ble MR. R. BURN, Chief Secretary to Government. U.P.
C. Private Gentlemen:
- The Hon'ble Maharaja of Kasimbazar, President of Sabha
- The Hon'ble LALA SUKHBIR SINGH, General Secretary Hindu Sabha.
- The Hon'ble PANDIT MADAN MOHAN MALVIYA.
- The Hon'ble RAJA SIR RAMPAL SINGH, K.C.I.E., of Kurri, Sudauli, U.P
- RAJ GIRRAJ SINGH of Kuchesar, United Provinces.
- LALA RAM PRASAD. Hardwar, United Provinces.
- SARDAR INDRAJ SINGH, Hardwar, United Provinces.
- SURJI BABA, Hardwar, United Provinces.
- RAI SALIG RAM THAKUR SAHIB, Hardwar and Lucknow, United Provinces.
- MAHANT LACHHMAN DAS, DehraDun, United Provinces.
- THAKUR MOHAN CHAND, Amritsar. Punjab.
- RAI KANHAIYA LAL BAHADUR, Executive Engineer (Retired), Punjab.
- The Hon'ble RAJ RAM SARAN DAS BAHADUR, Lahore.
- BABU GOBARDHAN DAS, Deputy Magistrate, Karnal, Punjab.
- MR. E. PURVES, Chief Engineer (Retired), Punjab, on behalf of the Ruling Chiefs.
- PANDIT DINDAYAL SHARMA of Jhajjar, who had accepted the invitation to attend, was prevented from coming by sickness.
- CHAUDHRI RAGHUBIR NARAYAN SINGH of Asora was unable to come.
- MR. ANTHONY, late Chief Engineer, Irrigation Branch United Provinces attended and gave valuable assistance.
Mahamana Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya articulated the position of the Hindu society as follows:
1. Hindus have a deep reverence for Ganga's free and pure flow.
2. Hindus from all over India come to Ganga believing that She will remove their sins.
3. No Hindu would place his material prosperity above the dictates of his conscience and his religion.
4. Even if some extra cost is incurred, the feeling of the people should be soothed.
5. Thus a sufficient natural free flow should be maintained without any artificial structures.
The 1917 treaty marked a red-letter day with the British interest in India who agreed that any construction on the Ganga will require prior permission from the Hindu community. So long as they remained, they steadfastly remained committed not to annoy Hindus.
Yet, come 1947, a section of Indians, who were already westernised, thought that they could literally play around with Hindu interests. They could simultaneously proclaim to belong to India and yet keep the British State as if colonial mechanical exploitation would stop once the skin changed to brown. The Government of India Act, 1935 became the new constitution. The Hindu community neither elected the constituent assembly nor ratified it later.
If elections are a sign that we have gained independence, then it should be noted that there were elections to provincial assemblies and the central legislature even in colonial India.
Yet, since 1947, India’s natural resources have been looted and commoners fooled;
1) By parroting that India is a democracy where the incentive structure set by the constitution has always been skewed so that only a chosen few have access to power.
2) By zealously controlling information and manipulating them to suit state interests.
3) The social problems of India were now masqueraded as social problems of Hindus.
The constitution makes sure Hindus, their tax money and their sword arm are all separated like wheat from chaff. It is no surprise that champions of Hindu interest begin to sing a different tune once in government. People do not behave differently if the incentive structure is not changed.
The flow of Ganga has been restricted and people haven't even gotten a chance to know what is being perpetrated on their mother. The Indian state has done to Hindus what the British never did, stop the flow of Bhagirathi itself. Its flow of 1000 cusecs has been reduced to 200 which occasionally now goes dry thanks to the construction of the Tehri Dam.
3. Ganga is the mother of our civilization
Isha Upanishad starts by saying;
ईशा वास्यमिदꣳ सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत् ।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम् ॥ १॥
Isha could be translated to either knowledge or wealth here.
Dr. Gewali surmises this as;
Within the universe, every living and non-living thing is managed by nature (the power of the Lord is hidden in all things of the universe). One should consume things, which are set aside as his quota, because things are assigned to all (Economise the resource. who is the owner of natural resources?). Tena Tyaktena bhunjitha may be translated as- he, who sacrifices, really consumes. Whatever the translations may be, the main points of this mantra are as follows.
All kinds of resources are natural wealth
Economise wealth for the sake of others
Don‟t be greedy for other's wealth
Whose wealth? What wealth?
India had always thought that Nature was the feminine divine and the impersonal aspect of Brahman.
De Santis writes on this as late as 1995[i],
Ancient Indian theistic systems share a substantial commonality of conceptions concerning nature, seen as a phenomenal reflection of God’s essence. The forms of nature are regarded as rooted in God, the transcendental Creator, and the various types of existence, phenomenally produced by nature, are seen as multifarious reflections of divine qualities. The beings of the world are considered as emanations from the transcendental unity of God, from where they come, and whence they are due to return.
The early Europeans who came to trade with the East wanted to know how did we get rich. Obviously, Easterners pointed out the flux in nature as the cause of material happiness (ever-changing Purusha and his reflection in Prakriti). This was ‘Shakti’ that Nature gave to humanity. This was ‘Sri’ in Vaishnavism and ‘Qi’ in the Tao traditions.
Europeans fell in love with the concept of nature and there was a full-fledged intellectual movement in France that put agriculture and land as the primary source of material wealth, that joins humans with Nature. These “Physiocrats” translated the term Sri/Qi the as Laissez-Faire; let it be free.
However, this was now translated by Christian apologists including Adam Smith as the Holy Ghost who would deliver society into the most awaited event; Day of Judgement. Faithfuls get everlasting life and the rest (including Hindus) burn in eternal hell. Adam Smith’s hidden hand is the secularised version of the Holy Ghost who is invisible and rewards the faithful by putting coins in their purses in the night.
As the exploitation of India and China gained full steam, such primitive superstitions were cloaked in a veneer of sophistication; the Protestant Ethic of Max Weber. That way, first subduing the entire world to grinding colonial poverty, looting their capital and then championing capitalism as something free and liberating is the greatest heist Christians have pulled till date.
Buzzwords, like development and globalisation, thus should not only be taken with a pinch of salt, there should be an elaborate exorcism of its primitive Christian influence. That being said, if anything resembles the flux of Nature in Hindu life, it is our Mother Ganga.
4. Why Hindus should wake up
The official statement for desecration is that India needs electricity and India is overpopulated. Yet, we all know that India will never bring a concrete law to rein in overpopulation. It is politically far more suitable to desecrate a Hindu mother than ask men of a specific community to not see their better halves as perpetual child bearers.
India’s electricity woes are far more about the loss in transmission. India is making rapid strides in solar power and the capacity from solar is now 29,550 MW. Where does the paltry 1000 MW of Tehri stand in that respect?
These dam-building activities are taking place in major earthquake-prone zones. When such major disasters happen, it will not be the perfumed Lutyens elite (whether Right or Left) but clueless Hindus who would face the wrath of Mahadev. These waters will wipe out major settlements along the Ganga. The only power the supposed saviours of the Hindu community have is by writing obituaries and columns about how big dams are bad for India.
It is high time Hindus wake up. This time, not to decide who should be the priests of these temples of modern India but to take back power to build such ugliness that only benefits a handful of bureaucrats and government contractors, who are more often than not found in bed with each other. A dam is no temple and the only thing it comes close in resemblance to is a slaughterhouse for stolen cows. Only a few people profit, that too illegally with the Hindu community at the receiving end.
Hindus have never believed that a government is anointed by a Judeo-Christian God and hence it was perfectly normal for governments to fall if they did not follow Dharma. Dharma can be only maintained and rigourously defended and observed when there is decentralisation of power and authority. “Skin in the game” should be the prime criteria for deciding on such mega-projects which threaten livelihood and play around with the beliefs of a community. Hence it is long overdue that Hindus now wake up to reclaim their mother.
[i] De Santis, S. (1995). Nature and man: The Hindu perspectives (1st English ed). Varanasi: Sociecos & Dilip Kumar Publishers : Sole distributors, D.K. Book Agencies.