Rivers – The major source of Water
Rivers are a major source of water for any civilization. Many rivers flow through India, most of them flowing through India alone – rising in its hills and joining the seas around it. This land thus, consists of a large network of rivers and water bodies.
One of the yardsticks of measuring prosperity is how a country or a civilization is able to harness and use its waters.
India – A Prosperous civilization
India had been a prosperous and continuous civilization for over 5000 years, primarily because it knew how to harness its waters.
The records of the British and pre-British days, show India’s play in the world market, in the fields of food grains, mainly rice, sugar and spices, in the field of steel and other metals such as zinc and copper, in the field of textiles and dyes, especially indigo, in silk, in gems, in particular diamonds, in tobacco, in tea, in opium, among others.
A basic need for all these industries to survive and flourish, is water.
Rivers – Nerves of the Country
Until as recent as 150 years ago, our rivers, along with small water bodies, catered to the water requirements of the whole country. These rivers were verily the nerves of the country feeding life sustaining water to all parts of the land.
Water shortage was unknown. Every village in this land got water irrespective of whether it had rained there or not. India used to consistently have three harvests every year. Rivers brought fertility to the land.
The major hills and rivers of India through times
Rivers – A Punya Tirtha
As the river waters flowed across different lands, connecting the people, they also brought in a sense of harmony among the people. Hence, they became worthy of being venerated. The local people considered every river, every stream as a Punya Tirtha, water that is benevolent and took the effort to keep every river clean.
Bharat – A Punya Bhumi
Further more, the existence of many such Punya Tirtha was facilitated by the land, a Punya Bhumi. For,
- the Himalayan range in the north of India,
- Aravali, the hard rock, oldest hills of India, that delineate northwestern parts of India from much of Central India
- the range of mountains which run north – south, along the sides of India, namely the Western and the Eastern Ghats, as well as
- the Vindhyas, the range of mountains that runs right across the land,
together give rise to a labyrinth of rivers that course across the length and breadth of the land.
This land has thus evolved into an intricate mesh of rivers, tributaries and distributaries that carry waters, all across the land. While many of these are monsoon fed rivers, many also are perennial in nature.
With all these waters to irrigate it, this land Bharat, was regarded as a Punya Bhumi too, a land where one can reap the fruits of a bountiful Nature.
The last 100 years
In the last 100 years, somehow we have ceased to relate to such a notion of Punya Tirtha and Punya Bhumi, because of which, we ourselves have dirtied our rivers, our streams and our ponds.
Pollution is an issue that has been affecting our major rivers like Yamuna and Ganga, leave alone the smaller rivers.
Polluted Ganga River
The Rise of Concrete Jungles
The rise of concrete jungles in place of natural vegetation cover and the exploitation of natural resources have killed many of these small rivers which have been a primary source of water for many millennia. This has diminished the flow of waters in bigger rivers too.
The state of our rivers
Need to clean up Rivers – The Benefits
Today, we need to take it upon ourselves to clean and maintain our rivers. The restoring of our rivers will increase fertility, boost industry and production, propel tourism and can even bring us an important medium for internal navigation.
An Inland Navigation Boat
World Rivers Day
The last Sunday of September is observed as World Rivers Day across the globe. As a civilized society, our focus on this day should be on cleaning our rivers and rejuvenating them. If we can rejuvenate our rivers that Nature has created for us, we can again be prosperous and harmonious for centuries to come.