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Are we Humans?

Rivers, trees and mountains are assets of our planet Earth. Rivers are the life-sustaining sources of water that aid in agricultural farming and in turn support our existence. Trees supply us with oxygen and save us. The sight of beautiful scenery brings joy to us. Trees produce fruits and flowers. Besides providing shelter and shade, they also attract rains. Mountains protect the environment. They block the clouds and give us rain. Collectively, all of them help in the survival of humans.

But what are we doing? We are cutting down trees and turning rivers into public toilets. We are leasing mountains for mining. We are even going to the extent of selling sand and waging wars for that. With overwhelming greed for money and lack of gratitude for Nature, we are behaving like monsters towards our mother Earth.

We, the Telugu people, would get first prize in the art of contaminating rivers. If we look at River Krishna near Vijayawada early in the morning, public toilets would seem better. Compared to this, Godavari is a lot better. People on the banks of River Godavari behave a little more sensibly.

We will surely throw up if we watch River Pampa in Sabarimala during Ayyappa season. The so called Ayyappa devotees turn the place into a disgusting scene. They travel from all over the world eating all sorts of junk food like tamarind rice, poori, chapathi, bajji, curd rice etc. and reach the clean and green banks of River Pampa, flowing somewhere amidst the mountains. They urinate and defecate right on the banks of the river and contaminate it by washing used clothes in the river. It takes Nature almost a year to clear that filth and come back to its normal self.

Unclean habits do not leave us even in holy places. Kapila Teertha in Tirupati is a sacred place, right? But I’ve seen people wash soiled undergarments and clothes using soap in that water and not knowing what to say, I just kept quiet. They lack even the minimum common sense that other people are also bathing in the same river. I wonder what kind of a devotion that is?

The holy river in Mahanandi flows with quartz like purity. The same foolishness of devotees contaminates the river. When I went to Triveni Sangam, fellow Telugu people in my boat who were chewing paan and conversing in filthy language, spat right into the Sangama Sthana. I was enraged to the core and wanted to throw them into the river. The boat man also felt very disgusted with this behavior of my co-passengers.

I think people from other states are far better than us in this regard. All along the banks of River Bharath Pula in Kerala, never can we find such ugly scenes of defecating on the banks or washing clothes in the river. In North India, people consider River Ganga as their mother. If we say Ganga, they correct us and ask us to say Ganga Ma (Mother Ganga). Their respect for River Ganga is such.

Sage Manu in his Manusmriti considered spitting in water as a sin. It is unimaginable to think of the amount of sin we are committing by defecating/urinating in the life sustaining rivers. As Indians, it is our duty to think of the seven rivers while taking a bath everyday, gangecha yamunechaiva godavari saraswati narmade sindhu kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru.

Vedas taught us to worship the rivers that nourish us as a form of God and as our mothers and protect them. Vedas considered Varuna, the God of water, as Brahman (Supreme power) imam me varuna sruddhi. In the name of respecting Vedas we are further contaminating our rivers. We are behaving shamelessly by releasing all forms of wastes (human waste, factory waste and filth) into the rivers. Elsewhere we perform namesake worship to the Gods. We don’t follow cleanliness even in holy shrines. How can we call ourselves Hindus? I think India urgently needs a better waste management policy.

Vedas preached us to consider natural forces as forms of God and treat them with respect and gratitude. By doing so, man who is a part of nature will be able to lead a happy life. Otherwise our very existence will be in danger.

Most of us cut the leaves of plants playfully and hurt trees in different ways like carving names, drilling nails into trees etc. People next to them, even their parents, don’t warn them against this. God alone knows the reason for their sadistic behavior. We are like the great Kalidasa, who cut the branch on which he was sitting. He was blessed with the Great Mother’s grace. But She will be enraged by our behavior.

Deadly diseases like Asthma, lung disorders are in full rage in cities due to thoughtless cutting of trees, air pollution etc. The reason behind most of the breathing disorders or diseases in cities is lack of sufficient trees. We don’t even spare mountains. We turn them into gravel and make money out of it, but we are unmindful of the loss that environment is bearing for our stupidity.

If we continue to exploit trees, rivers and mountains shamelessly, we must face harsh consequences from Nature. As of now, we are in a state of buying drinking water. Who knows the future? When will we wake up?

All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Sowjanya D, which was originally posted in on November 27, 2010. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.


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