Guiding Light by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: A true seeker needs to first respect nature

Rivers have been the lifeline of all civilisations; no wonder they are considered sacred across cultures. In India, the Ganga symbolises knowledge, Yamuna was known for love stories, Narmada stood for bhakti, knowledge and logic, Saraswati for brilliance and architecture, and India got its name from the Sindhu.

Sanskrit has a beautiful word for water, apa and the word aptha means ‘that which is born out of water’. Aptha also means ‘the dearest one’. So it’s the same word for both ‘the dear one’ and ‘water.’ Sixty to 70 per cent of our body is made up of the water element. You need water vapour in the atmosphere; you need certain amount of humidity in the atmosphere. And you need water to drink as a fluid. Whether you dig deep into the Earth or you look above the Earth, there is groundwater and water contained in rain clouds. Just imagine a world bereft of clouds. There needs to be no reiteration of the fact that life will not survive.

In a land where water was recognised as the basis of life force and rivers were considered sacred, we've come a long way from worshipping, venerating and nurturing our rivers, to polluting them with all kinds of toxic substances.

Waters of the Ganga are not potable after it crosses Haridwar and many other rivers are facing similar pollution or are drying up.

In recent times, we are moving away from Nature and greed has made us insensitive to our own environment. It's only when we move away from nature that we start polluting. Mass industrialisation has led to large-scale deforestation, exploitation of natural resources and pollution of air and water. We need to go back respecting Nature and being sensitive to our environment.

An intimate relationship with Nature is built into the human psyche. Historically, nature, mountains, rivers, trees, the sun, the moon — have always been honoured. It's only when we start moving away from our connection to Nature and our own selves, that we begin polluting and destroying the environment.

According to ancient scriptures, we have five sheaths, physical environment, physical body, mind, intuitive sheath, and the Self. Our connection with the environment is the most important. A clean and positive environment can affect all the other layers of existence. When there's harmony in these layers, there's a greater sense of peace and connectedness.

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