Ganga dances down her earthly course, gurgling and swiveling, racing down the hills and dales. Yet, she is no earthly river, not just a flow of water. She is the symbol of the 'incessant flow' of life; flow that gives life, energy, bestows wealth and gifts on earth and happiness. She makes the land hallowed and blessed. This apart, the mere mention of Ganga evokes heavenly thoughts, which fill and thrill the heart with divine vibrations. The feelings, the beliefs, the faith then get embedded in the mind, the psyche. Ganga gradually seeps into the heart and becomes an integral part of daily life among the people. The essence of her flow influences the physical, emotional or spiritual flow inside the person and cleanses the internal soul (antahkarana). Ganga's 'incessant flow' thus bestows divine grace, gives light and takes one to the final goal of liberation. This deep faith in the heart has spread over the entire Ganga belt, nay the whole country. Its manifestation can be seen in many customs and traditions continuing since ages. Finer and mellowed aspects of traditions form the culture of the people and over a long period they mark the civilization. Thus, Indian tradition, culture and civilization, have been born in Ganga's womb, grown on her laps, nurtured around Ganga's surroundings.
How does Ganga get this divinity? Tripathagamini Ganga is the only river to have the triune of many aspects. These include her association with the Trinity of Gods; her three worshipful forms as Devi, Maa and a Holy River; her three vital roles as an inspiration for mythology/ literature, as a fountain head of a vibrant civilisation, and as a river nourishing the country; her three different phases in time, namely-mysterious past (origin), the much abused present and the grim future. Her long journey, full of buoyant exhilaration, excitement and colour, creates and paints the story of our civilisation. Every bit of this vast canvas reveals the colourful and varied pictures that sing of our legends, eulogise our faith and religion, point out the geography and environment, speak of our history, and dramatise our culture.
Our own expediton is as exciting as that in a raft or boat from Source to Sagar, covering the three frames-the past (mythology and literature), the present (geography and geology), and the future (the present problems deciding the future of Tripathage Ganga). The first part describes the grandeur of Ganga in "Scriptures, Mythology and Literature". It covers only a judicious selection of interesting mythological stories, excellent descriptions in Sanskrit/Hindi literature, the 'respectful' hymns by saints, lovelorn poems by Muslim poets and 'wonder stuck impressions' of foreign visitors. The second part "Dwipathge Ganga in Past and Present," traces the path taken by Ganga in her physical form on earth. Brief pen sketches of many places highlight the civilisation nurtured by Ganga. The third part deals with the "Present Problems and Prospects". Facts, figures and photos expose the nature of use, misuse and gross abuse of Ganga.
A sincere attempt has been made to present Ganga's colourful aspects in three dimensions—romantic, adventurous and pathetic; and also to present an analysis of the multifarious problems in three dimensions-scientific, environmental and sociological. It is hoped that readers will appreciate the greatness and importance of Ganga and also understand the grim future she faces as a 'Drying-Decaying' river! Once the problem is understood, the thought of what we can do to Save Ganga may creep into the reader's mind. We only hope that many get the urge to serve Ganga, because she is only a symbol of river. What happens to Ganga today may happen to any other river in the country. If the reader gets into the mood of Serving and Saving Ganga, he may look into the small booklets "Save Ganga" (English), "Ganga Bachavo" (Hindi) and "Seven Steps to Save Ganga". These may give him some basic guidelines. The author sincerely thanks Dr. S K Mainiji, (founder Reva Industries Bengalaru) and all others who helped and made this Ganga tour possible as well as for publishing the 'Save Ganga' booklets.
We are thankful to the many persons who helped us in bringing our this book - Shri Ramachandra Shastri and Smt Shailaja Prakash, who helped in cross checking the Sanskrit Shlokas; Shriyuts M.G. Savadatti, K.V Srinivasamurthy (both of Bengaluru) , Shri Awl Shukla (Lucknow), B K Sinha and Shri Vashishtrnuni Ojha for corrections and editing the Hindi translation and Shri Christopher N Burchett for over all get up of the works. We are thankful to Shriyurs Bolanath (Bengaluru) for the DTP work and Shri Suresh Jaiswal (Pilgrims Publishing, Varanasi) for the layout. We are very grateful to Mr. Aaron McFarlin and Ms Ambra Schumacher. Dr. Bharat Jhunjhunwala, Dr. Vinod Verma, Shriyurs Hemant Dhyani, Vimal Bhai - all from Uttarakhand, Shri P.c. Upadhyaya of Varanasi and Jnana Pravaha, Varanasi for the photographs used in this book. We are greatful to Dr. K N Prudhvi Raju and Ms. Shruti Keshar (BHU) for the superb maps provided at short notice. We are indeed very grateful to Shri Ramanand Tiwari of Pilgrims Publishing for the inspiration and encouragement he gave us as well as taking up this work and publishing both the English and Hindi versions simultaneously.
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