Q: Gurudev, In India, there is a very well known river that is contaminated with germs, and the masters there say that if you’re interested in Hinduism or Buddhism then as a part of the rituals you have to go and have a bath in that dirty river. Can you tell us what really lies behind this?
Click on the button to share Sri Sri's divine knowledge topics. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Once upon a time the river Ganga had very pure water, and today our Prime Minister has taken up the job of cleaning the whole river which is considered very sacred. In India we honor the rivers, the trees, and the animals. Honoring the whole creation is a part of nature. Nowhere in any scripture it is said that one needs to take a dip in the water; or that it is a prerequisite for someone to do yoga and meditation. These are all rituals. As I said, rituals and practices are different. People cultivate rituals over a period of time but the main thing is to appreciate the values. Values is the knowledge.
In poems it has always been said, ‘Knowledge is like a river. If you assimilate knowledge, you will be happy, you will be liberated’, this is the real message. The river Ganga, which you mentioned to be polluted also means knowledge. In a simile it is said, 'If you are bathed in knowledge then you are free (here meaning liberated)'. But people literally take it as only if they bathe in the river will they be free. This is incidental or accidental, but the essence is living the values.