Why Rivers Are Worshiped in Indian Culture
During a talk with the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and other government officials, on the banks of the Narmada river, Sadhguru looks at why rivers are worshiped in Indian culture. He explains how rivers were never seen as just water bodies or geographical happenings, but as life-making fundamentals.
Sadhguru: I’m… (Talks aside) I’m extremely sorry that I cannot address in the local language, which is what I would like to do, but if I speak Hindi you may lose your Hindi (Laughter), so I’ll just avoid that (Laughs). In this culture, the rivers – we have not seen them as just water bodies, we have seen them as life-giving gods or goddesses. To a thinking mind which can thi… think only within the limitations of its logic, this may sound foolish or very rudimentary. “Well, a river is a river, how is it a goddess?” Such a person, if you lock him up in the room without giving water for three days, then if you show him a glass of water, he will bow down to that glass of water (Laughs) – not to the river, just a glass of water (Laughs). Because what we call as water, what we call as air, what we call as food, what’s call… what we call as the earth that we walk upon – these are not commodities, these are life-making material.
We never (Audio disturbance)… In this culture, we never worshipped unknown gods somewhere. There’s never been a God up there (Gestures) in India. All the gods that we worship are people who walked this geography at some time. Not somebody who lived in heaven, somebody who walked this land. Whether you take Shiva or Rama or Krishna or whatever, they all walked this land, went through trials and tribulations that every human being goes through and much more. Only thing about them is no matter what kind of situations happen abov… about them or around them, no matter what kind of challenges life threw at them, they did not deviate from their inner nature. They did not succeed many times, they did not miraculously achieve some great result, they failed actually in their lives. But they did not deviate from the nature of how a human being should be within himself.
What was happening outside, whatever turmoils happened… What you call as Mahabharat is one great turmoil from beginning to end, all kinds of things ending in a terrible disastrous war but still one man remained untouched, actively involved but untouched. So it is for that, that we worship them, not because of their success, not because of some miraculous powers, not because they landed from heaven, they all had… they all were normal births for their mothers, nobody landed from the sky and they walked this land like all of us, went through everything that all of us go through and much more. But still we worship them because they remained untouched.
In many ways, a river represents that, that it doesn’t matter what kind of people touch it. Because of its nature of flowing, it remains pure and always there. So we never saw rivers as water bodies, we never saw rivers as just geographical happenings, we always saw them as life-making fundamentals for our life because over seventy-two percent of our body itself is water. Over seventy percent of the planet itself is water. If we are looking for life, we look for a drop of water first. So having said this, the fundamental science about transcending or transforming human life is called bhuta shuddhi – that is, cleansing of the five elements. This is a miraculous process in the sense, this whole universe, this body, this planet, this solar system, the whole universe, the variety of lives and forms everywhere, all this has been created just with five elements. Not with five million, just five. And how magically these five have come together in billions of ways and one is absolutely unique compared to the other and all of them have been made only with five elements.
So, if one wants to transcend their own physical nature, the most fundamental and the most effective way of doing this is going through the process of bhuta shuddhi. The whole yogic science is an evolution out of bhuta shuddhi process – that is doing things with your elements. If you take charge of your elements, everything is in your realm, everything is in your control. Water is seventy-two percent, twelve percent is earth, six percent is air, four percent is fire, the remaining is akash. If we take charge of this (these?) four elements – or five elements for that matter – everything is in our control. One who masters five elements is considered master of the universe. Water is predominant because seventy-two percent is water. If we keep the waters in this body, pure and good, health, well-being is simply taken care of.