The Ganges River Spiritual Purity

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  • Topic: India, Ganges, Hindu
  • Pages : 3 (796 words )
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  • Published : October 17, 2011
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“The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga,” (Jawaharlal Nehru). Spoken by the First Prime Minister of India, this quote summarizes the importance of the Ganges River. The Ganges, one of the holiest rivers in the country, functions not only as a source of agriculture, energy, and transportation, but also a spiritual entity for the country. Despite the recent increase of pollution, the Ganges is and will forever remain a spiritually pure place for India.

Because the Hindus believe the Ganges’ waters cleanse the soul and guide the dead to the path toward heaven, the Ganges plays the role of a baptism sanctuary and a burial ground (Wax 2007). Eck agrees with the power of the waters and believes it is the source of all sacred waters everywhere (Eck, 1996, 138). Hindus want these important ceremonies to occur in only the best, most divine places. Wax supports this point with, “To be cremated beside the Ganges, most here believe, brings salvation from the cycle of rebirth” (Wax 2007). The Ganges also symbolizes the idea of “tirtha,” meaning a crossing from one state to another. In Hindu thought, the story of how Ganga fell from heaven to save the songs of the king begins with a story of rebirth. These crossing points (literal and conceptual) depict the crossing of life into death. The winding path of the destructive god Shiva’s hair could represent the winding route of the Ganges River, marking the importance of spiritual residence of a pilgrimage. Hindus stress the fact that it is all about the journey, not the destination. Eck sums up this idea by noting that the bond between the Hindus and the River is like a piece of women fabric: the interconnected patterns of the ribbon (Hindu religion) is what is significant, not the length of...
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