Saturday July 21, 2018
Home India Jal Hi Jeevan...

Jal Hi Jeevan Hai: Find out why Water is so Holy in Hinduism!

In Hinduism, water is believed to wash away impurities and purifies whatever comes to its contact, not only externally but spiritually as well

1
//
570
A ritual in Hinduism. Image source: jacobbmurphy.wordpress.com
Republish
Reprint

Water undoubtedly has the paramount spot in the practices of virtually all religions, for three prime reasons. Firstly, because water is the essence of life. It’s the basic element of everything and it’s possible to imagine life without water. Secondly, because water cleanses. 

Water washes away impurities and purifies whatever comes to its contact not only externally but spiritually as well. The magnitude of water reveals itself differently in various religions and cultures but it is these prime qualities of water that makes it the basis of every culture and religion.

Holy Rivers

Water is the very essence of Hinduism, not only for its life preserving characteristics but also because of its extensive use in rituals and practices. River Ganga (the Ganges) is considered sacred and often personified as a goddess in Hinduism.

There are seven principle holy rivers in India namely the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu, and Kaveri. Most rivers are feminine and are personified as goddesses. Despite the fact that Hinduism surrounds many different beliefs and customs, but still share the significance of achieving purity and cleanliness. This relates to both physical as well as spiritual prosperity.

Ganga Dashara,Haridwar via Wikimedia Commons
Ganga Dashara at Haridwar via Wikimedia Commons

Pilgrimage holds another importance spot in Hinduism. Holy places are normally on the banks of rivers or seashores. Sacred rivers are thought to be a great equalizer,in which a swim can make all sins fall away. Kumbhamela is the main pilgrimage of Hindu devotees and is held every three years. Funeral spots are always located near a river. After the cremation, the ashes are cast into the holy rivers.Certain spots on the seashore are also holy. Puri is considered sanctified to Vaishnavas, and Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) is sacred to followers of Shiva and devotees of Rama.

Certain lakes and ponds are also seen as sacred. Particularly in the Southern part of India,where tanks (man-made ponds) are built so that worshipers can clean themselves before entering the temple.

Sacred water

Water plays a crucial role in all rituals in Hinduism.From cleaning the vessels before poojas (rituals) to bathing the Deities. Water is offered to the Deity and the water collected from bathing the Deities are often considered sacred. This water is offered as “Theertha” meaning a blessed oblation.

Poorna Kumba literally means a full pitcher, is a pitcher full of holy water with fresh leaves preferably from mango trees and a banana placed on the top.This symbolizes God and is often used during Hindu religious rites. The water in the jar is said to be sacred and a divine essence.

  • Many rituals in Hinduism begin with keeping a kalasa, which is a brass, silver or gold pot filled with water decorated with mango leaves and a banana.
  • Kalasa symbolizes the totality or the universe and becomes a crucial part of the Hindu rituals and poojas. The pot is believed to be the first vessel into which the Deities descend.
  • One of the religious rituals is Tarpana, which means to please the god in Hinduism. Tarpana is the practice of pouring water through fingers with the use of sacred grass as a symbolic gesture of showing, gratitude, and pleasing Gods.
  • During every purification rite, water is sprinkled on the object which is to be cleansed.
  • Before eating the meal,it is a tradition in Hindus to sprinkle water around the plate in which the food is served to thank and please the god.
  • In ancient period, Kings were sprinkled with water in order to purify them during their coronation to ensure an auspicious beginning to their reign.

Water is one of the sacred element in Hinduism, especially rivers. Hindus believe that bathing in the river helps in the forgiveness of sins. They immerse the ashes of the dead in the sacred waters of Ganges as a means to send the soul to heaven. In many cultures, water is also the fountainhead of inspiration and has been for many ages. People have adopted spiritual and traditional values that bind and support them in living a peaceful and a prosperous life. And of course ,this play a crucial role in water management as well.

– by Yajush Gupta of NewsGram. Twitter: yajush_gupta

READ ALSO:

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

  • AJ Krish

    The purification properties of water are mentioned in many of our scriptures. This belief is even carried on to this day.

Next Story

Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

0
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)