Can impure water purify one’s soul?

I am a Hindu by birth, though not a practicing one in the real sense of the word, but still okay with it despite observing its many idiosyncracies in day to day life.

I visited Rishikesh in 1981 along with some German friends. Rishikesh is where the Ganges enters the plains of India after criss-crossing the Himalayas. The water was so pure that I could not drink enough of it. There were literally tens of thousands of carps swimming in it and it was great fun feeding them. There were no motorized boats to cross the river and only row boats were available.

Contrast this with picture now. Only four years ago, I visited the same place again and yes, again with another German friend, who had expected a lot after hearing stories from me. We both were in for a bitter disappointment! Not a single carp in the river and motorized boats had replaced the row boats. The water looked so polluted that I did not want to have even a sip of it.

Nearby, quite a few devout were taking a dip in the holy river to wash a way their sins as is the belief in the Hindu religion. I was aghast to see them filling up their water bottles from this same place to carry home. According to Hindu tradition a few drops of “Gangajal” or holy water are always put in the mouth of a dying person. As far as my knowledge goes, what is known as “Gangajal”  is only the water taken from the river at its source at Gaumukh and up to Rishikesh. And any water taken  from the river downstream after cannot be called “Gangajal” – it is simply the water taken from Ganga (Ganges).

Anyway, I just abhor the very thought of putting this impure water full with the washed out sins of others in a dying person’s mouth. It is quite a different story with pure “Gangajal.”

What do you call this? Blind faith or sheer hypocrisy? No offence meant to my millions of practicing Hindu brothers and sisters, but would they please just sit back and give this a thought?


4 thoughts on “Can impure water purify one’s soul?

  1. The river is unclean, even now – inspite of all efforts – at Rishikesh. I have not been further upstream. But there are enough people taking a dip, having a sip, bottling it to take home. Questions can be asked, but eventually it’s to each his own.

    Liked by 1 person

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