Earth, Fire, Water & Air are the four classic elements that any creation is made upon, sometimes including a quintessence or the fifth element called Aether or void that may mean space, heaven or spirit & upon death the corpse dissolves into these elements of nature. These five fundamental elements are called the pancha maha bhoota. The sacred Bible states “Life began in water” The first organisms to be born were the aquatic beings. In Hindu myth, the matsya— was the first incarnation from a list of ten primary avatars. It is scripted in the Holy Quran that “Living things are made of water” Anaerobic creatures can live on without oxygen but not without water. In The Bible the metaphor “Living water” has been used throughout its verses to represent life. “Life exists in water, but is water a living entity?” Often in Hindu mythology have rivers disguised as maidens like in The Mahabharata where river Ganges disguises as a damsel. “Like the wind blows where and how it pleases, never to return” water too moves in the same way, making music as it goes. It might also like to be neat & clean if humans allow it to but for years have rivers been worshipped as heavenly entities & humans keep polluting them, washing their sins, exploiting & hurting water resources like they will. Water works as a “creator, preserver & destroyer” of nature. Brining floods & receding later taking biotic creatures, abiotic substances, living organisms & non-living things along with it. How it submerges cities underwater giving rise to fascinating fantasy fictions, like tales of the lost empire, Atlantis. Devastating each hurdle but is it really so? If looked at closely, Humans design artificial dams & reservoirs, block out river waters, set up boundaries with the idea of establishing new cities & making plant projects. “Like an animal attacks any being if he enters into its territory, rivers want to be able to protect what is rightfully theirs too.”
I’ve always nurtured a fear of missing out that stemmed from not knowing what might have happened on a fine morning, in the winter of ’98 or on a particular afternoon in the year of ’99 but I knew when I stood on the stairs of the banks of the turbulent Narmada in Maheshwar, the water became a warp hole permitting me to live through her memory. I was foolishly enchanted by the special Tuesday aarti at Banaras that was endowed with a quaint old-world charm, that drew me to pester my father to take me back every fortnight. I recognized that I could appreciate looking at these free-flowing waters more than I took delight in basking in the sun, grooving in the wind atop the roopmati pavilion or sight-seeing the walls of the Kumbalgarh fort. I would cherish the memory from a day at the Ram Ghat beside the Shipra river more than I treasured the breathtaking sight from the Gwalior fort during a light and sound show, when the stars had descended from space to set themselves afloat over the city, the city glimmered and dazzled as the fickle humans living in those houses turned their lights on and off, I imagined. They gave the impression of burning earthen lamps buoyant on the surface of the dark water in Haridwar, along with the offered marigolds and the parijatas, a mirror for the sky above, that was saturated by fireflies and the aroma from incense sticks and jasmines that filled up the summer breeze. I loved the power she held to free everything of its past, histories had been written on her banks, battles had been fought, civilizations had turned to dust and rubble. Even though time was moving the significance of waters in India stood still, I knew the Sangam was where all my worlds collided. People would confide their deepest secrets in her and the goddess would imbibe everything and salvage everyone from their sins, without discernment.
The way she courses her way through, forgiving all, rolling up the banks, you can tell she loves the stimulus of nature, alive and responsive, engulfing tributaries, procreating distributaries. She has lived through all that I couldn’t. she was alive. She was living.
Image Source: Masaru Emoto’s experiment on water crystals