Sadhguru explains why in India, rivers were not seen as geographical entities but as life-giving gods and goddesses, and how this was an important part of human wellbeing.
Sadhguru: If you look at the people we worship in this culture, whether Shiva, Rama or Krishna, they were people who walked this geography at some time. They went through many more trials and tribulations that most human beings do. The reason we worship them is because no matter what situations happened around them, no matter what challenges life threw at them, they did not deviate from their inner nature. We worship them because they remained untouched. In many ways, a river represents that: it doesn’t matter what kind of people touch it, it remains pure because its nature is to flow.
“In this culture, we did not see rivers as just water bodies. We see them as life-giving gods or goddesses.”
In this culture, we did not see rivers as just water bodies. We see them as life-giving gods or goddesses. To a thinking mind, which is confined to the limitations of its logic, this may sound foolish or very rudimentary. “A river is a river, how is it a goddess?” If you lock up such a person in a room without giving him water for three days, and then show him a glass of water, he will bow down to it – not to a river, just a glass of water! What we call water, air, food and the earth that we walk upon are not commodities. We never saw rivers as just geographical happenings. We always saw them as life-making material because over 70% of our body itself is water. Whenever we look for life, we look for a drop of water first!
Today, in the world, we are building medical infrastructure in such a way that we seem to expect that everyone will be seriously ill some day. There was a time when there used to be one doctor for the whole town and it was enough. Today, every street has five doctors and it’s not enough. This shows how we are living. When we forget how to live, when we do not respect what makes our life – the earth that we walk upon, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the very sky that holds us in place – when we have no respect and reverence for that, how they behave within us is very different.
If we want to live well, water plays the most important role because 72% of the body is water. Today, there is substantial scientific evidence to show that water has tremendous memory. If you just so much as generate a thought looking at the water, the structure of the water will change. We have always known this in this culture but today, modern science has done an enormous amount of experimentation on this. Scientists are saying that water is a fluid computer! The memory of how you treat water remains for a long period. So, how we treat water before it touches our body changes the quality of everything in our system. If we keep the waters in our body pure, health and wellbeing are very easily taken care of.
The fundamental science of transcending or transforming human life is called bhuta shuddhi – the cleansing of the five elements. This is a miraculous process in the sense that everything – this body, this planet, the solar system and the universe – is a play of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space.
“It is time we brought back the culture of treating the elements with reverence.”
If one wants to transcend his own physical nature, the most fundamental and effective way of doing this is the process of bhuta shuddhi. The yogic science is an evolution out of bhuta shuddhi process, the science of working with your elements. If you take charge of your elements, everything is in your control. One who masters the five elements is considered master of the universe.
Today’s so-called modern life has absolutely no reverence for the substances that make our life. If you want to be healthy, well and successful, it is important that the elements within you cooperate. If they don’t cooperate, nothing will work. It is time we brought back the culture of treating the elements with reverence.