The word “Veerashaiva” literally means a brave or valiant Shiva bhakta. In the philosophy of the Veerashaivas, Shiva is referred to as the ocean, and individual people as rivers because every river inevitably 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. The drying of our rivers is a consequence of a large percentage of humanity forgetting 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. The Ganga and Indus are now among the most endangered rivers on the planet.
The Kaveri is maybe 40 percent of what it used to be 50 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. Rivers like the 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 percent 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 revitalise them.
The simplest solution for this is to ensure tree cover for a minimum of one kilometre on either side of the river. People think because of water there are trees; no, because of trees there is water.
In government land, we should plant forest trees and private lands should shift to tree-based horticulture. Apart from ecological benefits, with horticulture, farmer incomes will more than double in five years.
If we can implement this as an enforceable policy, in 10 to 15 years’ time, our rivers will have at least 15 to 20 percent more water flowing.
Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, a bestselling author and poet. He was conferred the Padma Vibhushan in 2017. Isha.sadhguru.org