Sadhguru, the celebrated Indian author, says about me, “River Narmada has been an integral part of the glorious spiritual tradition of Bharat. If we are oblivious to her plight today, then we are declaring that we don’t care about our rich heritage & future of our children.”
Every Indian is aware of the Ganges, the most popular and sacred river. I am also a river, one of the five most popular rivers in India. I am the Narmada. My name, ‘Narmada’, literally translates to ‘the giver of joy.’ So, I exist to give you joy. My route takes me across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. I am called the ‘Life Line of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh’, thanks to my lion’s share in contributing water to these states. The typical Indian teak trees on my basin are older than the Himalayas. According to Hindu mythology, I am also older than the Ganges. All in all, for tourists, I am an attraction; for photographers, a subject; for poets, a rhyme; for historians, a chronicle; for ghostbusters, a goalmouth; and, for India, a delight. Now, while I flow with all my glory and grace, let me open up my flow of emotions.
They say that I was created out of the sweat of Lord Shiva when He was meditating hard. Thus, I am believed to be His daughter. In another legend, two teardrops fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, and they formed two rivers – my friend, the Son and me, the Narmada. I was born at Amarkantak in the Maikala range in Madhya Pradesh forty million years ago. The Mother Nature whispered to me, “Dear, keep moving forward. Fight off your obstacles and be strong. You are to spread joy.” Since then, I have been radiating joy around me. The sound of my water flow is very pleasing to the ear at my origin. I flow very slowly and steadily. I rush through the city of Jabalpur, where people start using my water for their good. I often wave to the other rivers flowing along with me.
Afterwards, I head to Maharashtra, where my water becomes more heated. A few smaller rivers like the Hiran, the Barna, the Choral, the Karam and the Lohar also join me. I gather more water and flow faster. Farmers have built numerous irrigation canals. Children bathe in me. My water is used for drinking and other domestic purposes. It gives me so joyous a feeling to share the elixir of life. Besides, I also become home to countless small fish and river ecosystem.
Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat, the second largest dam in the world, is built on me. It is a part of the Narmada Valley Project. There’s also a canal, named the Narmada Canal that brings out the water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. This way, I become a part of larger water infrastructure.
However, I get sick till I reach the bigger cities downstream. As is with most rivers in India, I have become polluted. Most of the fish have met their deaths. Garbage, chemicals and industrial waste is being discharged in me. This makes me feel so miserable! People perform rituals on my banks. They fail to see that what is flowing is not just my water, but my tears, the tears of grief! Till the time I finally end at the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat and join the Arabian Sea, I become one of the most polluted rivers in India.
Since I am considered very holy and am in the spotlight of Madhya Pradesh, there are many superstitions about me. As is with the Ganges, my water is also thought to be equally sacred. India is a nation of vibrant festivals and cultures. So, it is no surprise that there is also a festival for ghosts called “Bhutadi Amavasya.” Only the people of Madhya Pradesh celebrate this festival. It is believed that I diminish all the negative powers with my holy waters. I feel of immense Godliness on this day.
I bless you with my holy waters. However, you have polluted it. Waste in my water leads to fish dying, my water becoming dirty and affecting the ecosystem. My friend, I am a river, an integral part of the glorious tradition of Mother India. If you don’t care about me today, you are declaring that you don’t care about India’s rich heritage and the future of your children. Before I bid you goodbye, listen to my last words – Don’t let my holy waters die! I am here to provide you joy!
River Narmada has been an integral part of the glorious spiritual tradition of Bharat. If we are oblivious to her plight today, then we are declaring that we don’t care about our rich heritage & future of our children.