Like Our Rivers, Have We Lost Our Way?

We have caused our rivers to go dry and lose their way. Are we losing our own way too? Will we find our ultimate source, Sadhguru asks, or will we get lost along the way?


Sadhguru: The word “Veerashaiva” literally means a very brave or valiant Shiva bhakta. In the philosophy of the Veerashaivas, they always use the analogy of rivers and oceans. Shiva is referred to as the ocean, and individual people as rivers. What they are trying to say is that inevitably, every river naturally runs to the ocean. The only question is how much it will meander.

But we as a generation of people are trying to prove that rivers don’t need to go to the ocean. They can dry up on the way. We are that kind of a generation. The drying of our rivers is a consequence of the way human beings are living. This is happening only because a large percentage of humanity has forgotten the nature of their existence.

There used to be only one river in the entire country which did not reach the ocean, the Lavanavati in Rajasthan. It dries up in the desert. But today we have produced many rivers which don’t go to the ocean at least part of the time, and many which don’t reach the ocean the entire twelve months in the year. The Ganga and Indus are now among the most endangered rivers on the planet. Kaveri is maybe forty percent of what it used to be fifty years ago. For the last Kumbha Mela in Ujjain, they had to pump water from the Narmada to create an artificial river, because there was no water in the Kshipra. The small ones don’t even reach the main rivers. They dry up somewhere along the way. Rivers like Amaravati are supposed to be “eternal”. When it is all rock, of course it can be eternal!

This is not just about our rivers. It is about the way we are. Will we naturally find our ultimate source, or will we get lost on the way? How long have we decided to be lost? The further we move away from nature, in many ways, the further we move away from our own nature. The other way is also true – the further we move away from our own nature, the more insensitive we become to every other life around us.

Water is not a commodity. It is life-making material. The human body is 72% water. You are a water body. And on this planet, rivers are the water bodies with which we have the closest relationship. For thousands of years, these rivers have embraced and nourished us. A time has come when we have to embrace and nourish our rivers.

We have to make everyone in the country aware that there is an express need for action to save our rivers. We urgently need to shift from thinking of how to exploit our rivers to how to revitalize them.

The simplest solution for this is to ensure tree cover for a minimum of one kilometer on either side of the river, and half kilometer for tributaries. People think because of water there are trees; no, because of trees there is water. If there are no trees, there will be no river after some time. Wherever it is government land, we plant forest trees. Wherever it is private land, we shift from soil-depleting crops to tree-based horticulture. This will also result in a significant economic benefit for the farmer, and their incomes will more than double in five years. If we can implement this as an enforceable policy, in ten to fifteen years’ time, we will see our rivers flowing with at least fifteen to twenty percent more water.

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Now more than ever, we need to #RallyForRivers