“Varanasi, The City of Dead”: CNN! Do these foreign media know the feelings of Maa Ganga??

“Ooh … it is so cold. The breeze flowing through is making the waves in the water even naughtier than usual. I, Ganga, am so happy. My clean, sweet waters are entering a very beautiful place of pilgrimage, Kashi. Did you know that Kashi is the combination of the letters, ‘Ka’ for Keshava & ‘Shi’ for Shiva. Keshava or Mahavishnu is my Father and Shiva is the One who holds me in His Jata (matted locks). So in a way Kashi, or Benaras or Varanasi, as many people know it, is my Father’s house. So many temples dot my banks and so many people perennially want to get into my mighty waters and have a bath.”

As she was flowing, Ganga kept thinking about her final destination. She knew that she had to meet Sagara (the vast sea) after flowing through a many, many miles. She had no problem with that. What a wonderful meeting it would be! A mighty river flowing into a mighty sea … It would be a beautiful unison of souls, in a way.

Ganga glanced at her banks and saw many people praying to her. They were bathing in her waters, hoping to dissolve their accumulated dirt away – from their bodies and their souls. See, it was believed that taking a bath in her waters would wash away their sins. She smiled, “If only someone could tell them that it was not enough to get rid of their sins alone – one had to stop sinning in future too. Only then could they get Moksha.” But she could and would help them with their past … after all, her soothing waters could drive away the tiredness of ages. As a Mother, Ganga accepted all, blessed all and did not complain. Many even performed the final rites of their loved ones in her waters, hoping to give them Mukti. She accepted their prayers too. After all, the physical body was also made up of the five elements itself, water being the main one. So in a way, what came from her went back to her. Ganga retained her purity; she was so pure that despite all her travails, her waters remained pure even after many, many years. This was because she was a true mother who saw to it that every child of hers would get a few drops of her holy water even on his/her deathbed and thus hope to attain Mukti.

She strained to see the faces and feet of those for whom she had a special place in her heart. “Where could they be?”, she thought. Soon Ganga saw a few calm people walking towards her. “Oh quick, come fast, I’m waiting for your Sparsh(touch)”, she appealed silently. Soon, they were in her waters. Have you guessed who they were? They were the holy saints, who spent all their time meditating for the welfare of the worlds. They had no use of their powers, save to give solace to others. When they stepped into her waters, they were not washing away their sins; they were purifying her waters with their Tapas (penance), such that her healing touch washed away the pains of others. While for the onlooker it seemed that the holy saints were stepping into her waters, to Ganga it was her touching their feet for their blessings.

Ganga had in her the prayers of millions; she had in her the blessings of Sages and the blessings of Gods on her river banks; she had in her the memories of long gone histories; she had in her the hopes and aspirations of millions; she had in her the love of parents for their children and the respect of children for their parents; she had experienced the vows of fulfillment of millions; she had in her not just her waters, but also the dust of the Himalayas – the abode of Shiva & Parvati, the abode of Badri Vishaal …. She was Divine and Ganga knew she had to keep flowing perennially to meet the mighty Sagara.

Before she became one with Sagara, Ganga looked up at her Creator and asked, “Is there any way that all these blessings & memories could come back again and again and bless this Bharat Varsha, the land of Sanatan Dharma?” Her Creator smiled and said, “Tathasthu” … Scorching summers and heavenly Maruts (breezes) lifted her upwards all through the year, lifted her to the Himalayas once more, from where she descended to her plains again and again, to bless her children.

Is it any wonder then, that people believe that it is the same waters which flowed in the times of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna which flows now too … don’t you believe the same?

**** This is an attempt to make people understand how wrong Reza Aslan’s series on the History channel, depicting Varanasi as the Land of the Dead is …

Hopefully Mr. Aslan and the Channel both will understand that wrong depiction of Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) is not going to gain them any kind of Victory. Sanatan always believed in Vasudaiva Kutumbakam and spread of knowledge for the good of the whole Universe, not for just earning money by insulting the faith of others.

Watch how we Indian treat Ganga as our mother!

Rati Hegde