Ganga is at the root of our civilisation, & we must preserve it: Neera Mishra
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Neera Misra, an Independent Research Scholar focused on Vedic and Mahabharata period history and culture and its socio-cultural impact, has come out with an interesting book, Ganga – The River of Sanatan Civiisation. The book was released late last week by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval at The Ashok, Chankyapuri in New Delhi.
Ganga is an anthology of 20 papers presented by eminent archaeologists, geologists and independent scholars on ancient Indian culture and history. It covers Ganga as known to us through our ancient times.
A passionate lover of all things Indian be it art, culture, literature or history, Mishra brought out a book on Saraswati in 2015. She is now planning a book on the third most important Indian river, Yamuna. “I plan to bring it out by December 2023, after which I would hold an exhibition on the three rivers – Ganga-Yamuna-Saraswati,” smiles Mishra, who is also the Chairperson-Trustee of the Draupadi Dream Trust, an organisation involved in research, documentation and promotion of ancient Indian civilisation and history. Excerpts:
What prompted you to bring out a book on Ganga?
I have been working for 20 years to research, understand and better disseminate correct knowledge about Bharatiya Sanskriti and Sabhyata. Indian culture and civilisation has developed on river banks. We all know about the Saraswati civilisation, but how many of us know about Ganga’s civilisation? Then I realised that from birth till death, we use Gangajal in all our religious and other ceremonies. Ganga has been an integral part of our rituals; our solah sanskara are incomplete without Ganga. Thinking all this and to know more about Ganga we did a seminar on the History of Ganga and called scholars from all over the world working on Ganga. As a civilizational scientist, I needed to study about history, chronology, textual and other evidential proofs of the river Ganga.
But then the seminar was a select gathering, we wanted to spread this information among the people, so I went into research. It took me almost two years to understand how Ganga is represented in Arts. What the foreigners saw in Ganga? How they wrote about Ganga? I found so many books on Ganga that I was astounded. Then I thought I must compile this knowledge. I felt it important as today we are talking about protecting the river bodies, and at the same time we so disconnected with our rivers?
I feel we have got disconnected as we have lost touch with the culture of Ganga. This assimilation of Culture and Nature is pretty intertwined in our Sanatan Civilisation, but people are losing touch with it. When people are aware of this connect, they will not pollute the rivers.
The book Ganga is to rejuvenate the interest of people in the cultural and spiritual aspect of Ganga so that they work towards its preservation. Otherwise, I fear just like Saraswati, Ganga will also vanish.
Human body is a product of culture and Nature, Ganga has a cultural and spiritual aspect to it. It is time we stop taking it only at the material level, and use it as a consumer good.
We need to reconnect to our real identity, and once we do that we can fight climate change as well. We need to understand the laws of Nature, so that we can prevent water and air pollution, deforestation and global warming.
I wanted to make people understand that at the roots of our civilisation is river Ganga, it is the cradle of our civilisation and we must protect it.
How much time did you take to do this book?
The book was started in 2017, but I started learning about Ganga much before that. In 2018, we did the conference and exhibition on Ganga.
I am a daughter of Ganga river banks. Kampilya – the birth place of Draupadi, which is also on the banks of river Ganga, is my ancestral home. There too the state of river is bad, I have since long been wanting to do something for Ganga.
How challenging it was to bring out this book?
For five years I immersed myself in this river. I used to sit down with the scanner and read. I went through scores of books, and enjoyed the whole process. More than challenging, it was interesting. The more I read, the more I was inspired. More so, as my passion is to know about the origin and development of our culture. I also realised that I knew so little about Ganga. Knowing more was fascinating.
You want to spread this knowledge among masses, but the book costs more and Rs 6000…
So, I will bring out an abridged version of this work, which will include summaries of the talks by scholars and highlights of the exhibition that we did on Ganga. That book will costs not more than Rs 300. Also, the book will be translated into Hindi for the benefit of masses.