The river cuts through All
The shit floating in its water surface.
But mostly bullshit
All discharged without treatment,
By untamed minds.
Silently and with a gentle smile,
The river takes it All.
Not holding grudges,
Not breaking down.
It continues its dance of Infinite Joy.
One might ask,
“How can one take so much shit without returning some shit?”
Confused folks start hypothesizing:
A) The river is stupid (so they try to take advantage of the river).
B) The river is weak (so they try to manipulate and dam the river).
C) The river has hidden intentions (so they stay cautious and avoid the river).
Nonetheless even after much brainstorming,
They still can’t arrive at a satisfactory answer.
“What a weird river!” folks say.
Perhaps it’s because the river has realized its divine duty in life.
Its purpose being to serve All.
Hence even though the river is surrounded by all types of shit,
It will not become like it.
Only the surrounding shit disintegrates and becomes part of the deep river.
Oh! The deep river flows with such a mystical divine Beauty.
Even after being dumped with so much shit and pollution…
What a Beauty!
Artists have tried to paint
The contrasting harmony of the orange sun setting in the dark blue Ganga waters,
The heavy colored ghats1 filled with people performing pujas2.
Poets have tried to recount
The galloping water charging in like Alexander’s mighty cavalry,
The sunlight reflected on the water like an eternal waltz between Mr. Sun and Lady Ganga.
Composers have tried to capture
The undulating sound of waves caressing the ghat,
That crispy tune of fisherman boats gliding through the water.
Dancers have to tried to express
The inner flow of the river in their body movements,
The melting of their solid bodies into rhythmic flowing water.
Singers have tried to convey in their songs
The mood of a meditative boat journey down the river,
The explosive energy of pushing a fishing boat up the river,
And the overflowing Love that pilgrims and worshippers have for this River.
Devoted pilgrims have travelled to the shrines up in the Himalayas to worship the Mother Ganga,
Who descended upon the Earth through Shiva’s hair.
Dividing itself into seven streams,
Three to the east,
Three to the west,
And one following sage Bhagiratha,
Who dedicated his life to worship and austerities,
The one who was destined to liberate the souls of his ancestors,
The sixty thousand sons of King Sagara.
All of them torched to ashes by sage Kapila’s yogic fire
After wrongly accusing him of stealing King Sagara’s horse and attacking him.
After a long journey following sage Bhagiratha,
The Ganga finally flowed through their leap of ashes,
Cleansing and freeing their lost souls.
After listening to the story of Ganga’s descent to Earth,
An upper caste man claims with pride,
“Ganga-jal (water) is never dirty.”
Yet right in front of his face
A big piece of shit floats by the water.
“It’s Ok,” he says.
But then he walks to the farther and ‘cleaner’ side of the ghat and takes a ‘holy’ dip into the water.
One might ask,
Is it from the so called ‘unclean’ things?
How ‘clean’ are you?
Is it from those ‘unclean’, low caste things?
Those ‘unclean’, low caste, poor, jealous, darker-skinned, violent, uneducated things?
These things that you ignore and try to clean out from your conscience
Are your fellow brothers and sisters
Who work as your maidservants, rickshaw drivers and garbage collectors.
Who you have talked down on and thrown money at,
Who you have denied their right to exist as respected human beings.
Using manipulative schemes and distorted economic rationality,
A hidden system of oppression has been cast upon the common people,
That confines the poor into slums,
Denies their right to education,
Limits access to clean water and sanitation,
While pumping in messages that people from these slums are
Worthless, stupid and lazy.
Sadly, young people start to believe in these messages.
Slowly they embody these negative expectations.
Soon a cycle of mutual destruction starts,
Rape, murder, robbery, drug dealing.
By the riverside.
The flowing river sees it All,
And cuts through all the (bull)shit.
Just like Goddess Durga equipped with the divine Sword,
Chopping through the armies of the King Buffalo Demon Mahisha.
For nine nights this bloody battle lasted,
Until she finally meets the charging Buffalo Demon,`
And she chops off his head.
While Mahisha was in mid transformation back to his human form,
Durga slays him with Shiva’s trident,
Earning her the title of Mahishasura Mardini,
Also known as The Slayer of Buffalo Demon Mahisha.
On the tenth day,
Durga stood victorious,
Restoring the cosmic order of the Universe.
This victorious battle is now celebrated during Durga puja,
Also called Navratri – The Festival of Nine Nights.
This is one of Hindus biggest and most important festivals.
This is a time for setting up pandals3 to be immersed into the Ganga
Accompanied by music, mantras, dance and social gatherings.
Perhaps a time for releasing the wild side within.
Hopefully one day,
Following Goddess Durga’s example,
People will delve within and slay their own inner bull demons,
Tame their minds,
And open their Lotus Hearts.
Only then can they realize the bit of Truth in the saying that
The Ganga is never dirty,
Not in the physical sense,
Remember this teaching my friend,
No shit can make you dirty if your Heart is pure.
1 Series of steps that lead into the river.
2 An act of worship.
3 Large temporary structures erected during Hindu acts of worship, in this case the worship of Durga’s victory over Mahisha.