"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Sunday, September 02, 2007

GANGA: A Journey Down the Ganges River

Om Jaya Ganga Mata: Theme music

PS. This review is not mine.
Jai Ganga Maatey, by Sardar Khushwant Singh
The Ganga is 1,516 miles long from its source at Gangotri to the Bay of Bengal. Many of the world�s rivers are much larger and broader, e.g. the Nile, Amazon, Yangtze and Mississippi are more than twice as long. Many are much larger than the Ganga as well and have steamers plying on them. A few are historic, e.g. the Indus from which India derives its name.

All are loved by people who live along their banks. To the English their biggest river is Father Thames. The Mississippi was immortalised by Paul Robeson singing Ole Man River. But no river in the world has commanded so much worship as the Ganga. She comes from the Milky way through the tresses of Lord Shiva down to the earth. Most Indians revere her as their mother. Even a Muslim like the poet Mohammed Iqbal referred it as the base of Aryan settlement in India:

Ai aab-e-rood-e-Ganga
Voh din hai yaad tujh ko
Utra teyrey kinarey ttha kaarwaan hamaara

(O ye limpid waters of the Ganga
Remember you the day
When our caravan reached your banks
And settled down to stay.)

Even a non-believer like me used to make it a point to go to Hardwar once a year to watch the aarti at sunset at Har-ki-Pauri and join the throng in shouting "Jai Ganga Maatey � Victory to thee Mother Ganga."

There is no logic behind worshiping the Ganga, nor any basis for believing that its waters have healing properties.

Nevertheless, from times immemorial our rulers, including Muslims, get their drinking water from Hardwar.

The same water channelised in canals or taps is not sacred; only that brought from Rishikesh in Hardwar passes the test of sanctity.

It is from that that Kanwarias in their thousands fill their water pots and trudge to distant towns and villages to sell it. People anxious to go to heaven come to die or at least be cremated by the Ganga�s banks. Around Varanasi there is a taxi and rikshaw service to bring corpses from adjacent towns and villages to the Ganga: it is known as the Swarg Mail. Though we worship the Ganga, we rob it by diverting its waters into canals, block its flow by erecting dams, and foul its stream by human excreta and factory effluents. At places you can�t bear the stench it emits. We are that kind of people.

You can read all about it in Ganga by Julvana Grandall Hollick (Random House). He is columnist and TV film producer. He & his wife did the entire length of the river Alpha to Omega. It makes delightfully informative reading. Source: Deccan Chronicle

About the book / author:
Combining travelogue, science, and history, Ganga is a fascinating portrait of a river and a culture. It will show you India as you have never imagined it.

Julian Crandall Hollick is an award-winning producer and writer of radio documentaries. His programs have aired on NPR, the BBC, and CBC in Canada, and his writing has appeared in publications including Smithsonian and The New Republic. Hollick was described by Peter Jennings as “the person who taught me about Islam,” and by countless Indians as “the man who knows more about India than we Indians” (Radio Midday, Mumbai). Island Press"

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