Kumbh Mela in a New Light: The Message for Today
by HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Co-Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Founder of the Ganga Action Parivar
Every nation has its own personality, unique unto itself. India is inherently spiritual by Her nature, and the entire world has long since turned to India for spiritual guidance. However, India has even more to offer the world. Our culture is not only spiritually advanced, but our scriptures have long since taught the messages that are urgent for today’s world. For example, India is the only land where rivers, mountains, trees and animals are not only respected, but are also worshiped.
In today’s age of environmental awareness and ecological conservation, everyone knows that mountains, rivers and trees are great natural resources which must be preserved, conserved and used wisely. We have seen the devastating consequences of deforestation, over-industrialization and the pollution of our water sources right here in India. Yet, Hinduism has preached reverence for nature since its inception so many thousands of years ago.
Rivers, especially Ganga, are truly our “Mothers.” Farming is a primary occupation in India; thus, irrigation is of utmost importance. Ganga and other rivers irrigate not only our farms but also our hearts, minds and souls. It is our sacred rivers that pilgrims flock for the Kumbh Mela. We must remember that these rivers are sacred and treat them as such. The message of the Kumbh Mela in present times must include a renewed care for the land we call “Mother.”
The nectar that Kumbh Mela must disseminate today is a renewed respect for our Earth and her animals, a re-dedication to the laws of our scriptures, and a re-kindled fire of spiritual yearning in our souls. This year, as we celebrate Kumbh Mela just as our ancestors did, we should remember the way in which they lived and the values to which they held. If Kumbh Mela can re-unite us with those sacred roots and with the messages of the scriptures, then it will veritably be giving us the “nectar of immortality.” Then, and only then, will we attain true peace and liberation.