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Lessons from Mother Ganges
July 15, 2010  |  radhanath-swami

Meditations on The Journey Home – Lesson from Chapter 2

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Richard, now dressed as a sadhu, resolved to sit in silent prayer and meditation from sunrise to sunset, for one month. A rock in the Ganges, about twenty-five feet from the bank was to be his seat of prayer. And an old man’s generosity of a carrot a day and the Ganges water was his food for the next thirty days. He learnt invaluable lessons during this intense month of long prayer sessions:

“Spread out around me on all sides was Mother Ganges in her winter dress of sparkling, undulating aqua. Her waves rippled and swirled as if intoxicated by her own beauty. No human artist could capture even a moment of this unending display. And, just as her art was created, it simultaneously disappeared. I took from this a lesson. All beautiful forms of this world are in the process of transformation. Nothing is stable. With every moment, our reality is changing. Mother Ganges, like nature, is constant, but no manifestation of hers remains. Likewise, all that we hold dear in this world is imperceptibly vanishing. We cannot cling to anything. But if we can appreciate the beauty of the underlying current of truth, we can enjoy a reality deeper than the fickle waves of joy and sorrow. I sat, a submissive student, trying to learn from my teacher. She begins her course from high in the Himalayas and flows without cease to the sea. Innumerable obstacles—huge rocks, fallen trees, or even mountains—block her way, but nothing will stop her journey to the sea. Gracefully she flows over, under, or around all obstructions. Mother Ganges teaches us that if we want to attain the sea of our aspiration, we must persevere in our goal and never be discouraged by the inevitable obstacles that come on our path. All impediments are like rocks in the river of life. We should flow around them and never give up. With the Lord’s help, there is always a way. “

Richard observed that although being in the swift current of the river, one is greatly affected but sitting on the bank, we can observe the flow with detachment. Similarly if we detach ourselves from the mind and the world, we too can observe life soberly and thus gain wisdom. One day he meditated on the millions of years of history that had been enacted on the banks of Ganges. From the age of Aryans to the medieval age of Mughals and to the Gandhi and Independence movement, and to the present times, Ganges had seen it all. She was patiently flowing towards the sea, unchanged by the vicissitudes caused by time. Truth too, Richard observed was unchanging, and flowed irrespective of what happens to this world.

On another morning, he learnt yet another lesson:

“Early one morning, just before sunrise, as I looked downstream into the current that never slept, I considered her thousand-mile journey. The sea was calling and each drop of water patiently flowed in the current to her ultimate destination, so far away. Mother Ganges is teaching me that patience and steadfastness are required to follow my calling.

I never really stopped to think why I had left behind the promises of the world to sit alone on a rock in the Ganges and endure a rigorous, self-imposed fast. Why did I act in such extreme ways, like a person obsessed? At the time, I did not feel that these were my choices. I felt the mysterious hand of destiny leading me forward.”

While Richard learnt spiritual lessons, I studied ‘Science frontiers’ in college and was amazed to discover the glory of Mother Ganges in ways the non-seekers could also relate to. The Ganges is 2525 kilometers long. Along its course, 27 major towns dump 902 million liters of sewage into it each day. Added to this are all those human bodies consigned to this holy river. Despite this heavy burden of pollutants, the Ganges has for millennia been regarded as incorruptible. How can this be?

Several scientists have recorded the effects of this river’s “magical” cleansing properties:

Ganges water does not putrefy, even after long periods of storage. River water begins to putrefy when lack of oxygen promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which produce the tell-tale smell of stale water. British physician, C.E. Nelson, observed that Ganga water taken from the Hooghly — one of its dirtiest mouths — by ships returning to England- remained fresh throughout the voyage.
A British physician E. Hanbury Hankin reported in the French journal Annales de l’Institut Pasteur that cholera microbes died within three hours in Ganga water, but continued to thrive in distilled water even after 48 hours. A French scientist, Monsieur Herelle, was amazed to find “that only a few feet below the bodies of persons floating in the Ganga who had died of dysentery and cholera, where one would expect millions of germs, there were no germs at all.”

More recently, D.S. Bhargava, an Indian environmental engineer measured the Ganges’ remarkable self-cleansing properties: “Bhargava’s calculations, taken from an exhaustive three-year study of the Ganga, show that it is able to reduce BOD [biochemical oxygen demand] levels much faster than in other rivers.” Quantitatively, the Ganges seems to clean up suspended wastes 15 to 20 times faster than other rivers.

If the material properties of this unbelievable river are mind boggling, I now wonder what precious spiritual gifts are waiting for a seeker of divinity? Richard had just begun to explore and was on the verge of a life changing discovery…

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  1. A good expereince is shared by Radhanath Maharaj via his book “The journey Home”.I will consider myself the most fortunate if I get chance to visit mother Ganga along with Radhanath Maharaj and his devotees.Thank you very much.

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  2. Hrishikesh Mafatlal

    The lesson drawn by Radhanath Swami on seeing the swirling waters of Mother Ganga—-all things have to change, nothing is permanent—-is the essence of living with God in the center. The trouble is that illusion makes us forget this fact of life.

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  3. Mother Ganga is truley the spiritual mother of all living entities but we require mercy of pure and realised souls like Radhanath Swami Maharaj for understanding the spiritual teachings given by mother Ganga from the time immemorable to all of us.

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  4. What a realisation to tell us how illusion can draw us away from the goal of life…Beautiful

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  5. M. Pandurangayya Shetty

    Tha nature is created by God. It has two faces. One is to be enjoyed by anyone. Second is to get purified by seeing the hidden hand of God. It is not that much easy to see that hand. But Radhanath Swami can easily show that hand to anyone. Ganges is our Mother. One who pleases the mother can easily understand the Father.

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  6. Just by seeing the flowing river we can see how this saintly person has summarized the truth of life….. It is so true and easy to understand by this Ganga water analogy…..

    This is the power of saintly person, everything they see in connection with God.

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  7. Maharaj, thank you very much for giving us such a deep insight about Mother Ganges.

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  8. This is truly amazing lesson.Radhanath Swami’s determination is clearly visible in this chapter.

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  10. Superb article. All glories to Mother Ganges. Thank you very much Radhanath Swami Maharaj for providing this treasure about Mother Ganges.

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  11. By this H.H.Radhanath Swami Maharaj makes us to realize that everything is temporary, nothing is stable and even though obstacles come and go , we must persevere in our goal and never be discouraged by the inevitable obstacles that come on our path.

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  12. Kalpana Kulkarni

    Radhanath Swami has beautifully brought out the nature of Mother Ganga and how we can learn from her to deal with obstacles in our lives. Thank you Radhanath Swami for a very inspiring analogy.

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  13. suresh kanakraj

    iam finding myself very fortunate that through the voice of his holiness radhanath swami in the form of instructions, kirtans and discourses and through his autobiography iam relishing every drop of mother ganga, which otherwise being in mumbai, to have a sight of mother ganga is not that easy, thank you radhanath maharaj,

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  14. Maharaj’s deep feeling for mother Ganges and his realisation is truly amazing.

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  15. Radhanath Swami is right on target from his childhood to find God. Even before finding the path he would follow within his heart is already a saint who believes in values and culture and the one who is full of realizations.

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  16. Thanks for sharing the facts about Mother Ganga !

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  17. Just like Ganges water does not putrefy, even after long periods of storage, so also Radhanath Swami remains uncontaminated even as he preaches extensively in a culturally degraded society.

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  18. Radhanath Swami got so many spiritual realisations from Mother Ganges…..Ganga maiya ki JAI!!!!!

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  19. Amazing to see how Radhanath Swami learned such invaluable lessons from Mother Ganges. His realizations are awesome and wonder struck.

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  20. With this article it reminded me one very famous song ‘All Things Must Pass’ by George Harrison (one of the member of famous rock group ‘Beatles’).

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  21. Reading the lessons from mother Ganga by Radhanath Swami sobers me up.

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  22. Wonderful realisations about Mother Ganges

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  23. Thank you Mother Ganges for giving us HH Radhanath swami. The realizatiosn Maharaj had by the side of your bed, are now cleansing us through Maharaj. Jai Ganga, Jai Radhanath maharaj.

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  24. As amazing as Radhanath Swami’s capability to learn lessons from anything and everything are these facts about Mother Ganges submitted by you.

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  25. Mother Ganges revealed the Maha Mantra to Radhanath Swami Maharaj, when I first heard this I really amazed. Thank you prabhu for sharing this.

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  26. Very nice !!! Thanks a lot.

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  27. “Mother Ganges is teaching me that patience and steadfastness are required to follow my calling.”… The way mother Ganga is constantly flowing towards her final destnation with full enthusiasm, Maharaj also steadily made his way towards Real absolute goal. This is the result of his sincerity to learn lessons from every situations of life. If we learn from his teachings, how immensely we can benefit from that?
    Thanx for sharing your wonderful attitude, required to be successful in every aspect of life.

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  28. When you truly seek the lord he find you no matter where you are

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  29. Showing path to millions of people through his personel life practically what is real life is only possible by great personalities like Radhanath Swami

    Thank you very much

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  30. Radhanath Swami has put forth many realisations which he has imbibed at the banks of Ganges.It has really inspired me,inspite of many obstructions in our path of aspiration one should not deviate from our goal,God hand will guide us on our path.

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  31. Shoba Fernandes

    Only a true spiritual seeker can draw so many purports from the flow of mother Ganges

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  32. people consider Ganges to be just another river, but all through the ages there are various descriptions about Mother Ganga and She is not just a river but a person very close to the Lord. Here we can see clearly what the scientific world has to say about the qualities of Ganges water.

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  33. Smitha Krishna das

    The description of mother Ganga flowing towards the sea as if Ganga is being called is very appealing. Krishna is always calling us. We should follow mother Ganges taking her as an example. Ganges flow unhindered inspite of several rocks and mountains by flowing around them.

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  34. Its so amazing to see such sincere dedication and detachment and an inner crying due to which Richard/HH Radhanath swami, was ready to go to any extent of detachment, even at such a young age and even from a country full of opulances. Thats what make HH Radhanath swami a crest jewel. Its so amazing…

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  35. Every page of this book Journey Home by Radhanath Swami is showing the deep sincerity of Spiritual aspirant and reciprocation from God, hand holding him into great Spiritual teachings – as he mentions above – I felt the mysterious hand of destiny leading me forward.

    In such a short time he learns & shares with us 3 profound truths of this world:
    1> Temporary nature of this world and how we have to cling to the underlying truth
    2> We will always meet with obstacles while we move towards our aspirations and have to learn how to move around them and continue towards the goal
    3>Patience and steadfastness required to reach our goals (especially Spiritual)

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  36. Only a Self realised person can give such an insight and beautifully describe the glories of Mother Ganga

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  37. This is amazing..what a miraculeous realisation..mother ganga is always compassionate like our Guru Maharaj….Thanks you very much.

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  38. It requires a reflective nature of person to see techer everywhere around us. Rivers were great teacher in Radhanath Swami’s life. He really inspires me by his depth!

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  39. A heart of a true saint can see through illusion…not a ordinary person….Radhanath Swami is a genuine seeker of God…

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  40. simply wonderful

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  41. Uday Krishnamurti Koppikar

    Mother Ganges gave Radhanath Swami a mantra-Hare Krsna Mahamantra.This mantra is spiritual solution to all material problems.I got this mantra though Radhanath Swami.Thank you mother Ganges.

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  42. Swapnil Gaonkar

    Radhanath Swami is teaching us how we can learn from every living entity.

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  43. This meditation has inspired me to remember this poem …





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  44. “Mother Ganges teaches us that if we want to attain the sea of our aspiration, we must persevere in our goal and never be discouraged by the inevitable obstacles that come on our path. All impediments are like rocks in the river of life. We should flow around them and never give up. With the Lord’s help, there is always a way. “
    This teaching of Maharaj gives me the strength to face difficult situations.

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  45. I have read the book & Maharaj has described the importance of Mother Ganga so nicely that even our indian sadhus will not be able to do so.

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  46. Aekta Brahmbhatt

    Oh! Mother Ganga,May I also take these invaluable lessons from Radhanath Swami and purify my life and existence.

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  47. mother ganga — a divine connection to god.

    she relentlessly pursues her goal, to merge with the ocean–COME WHAT MAY.
    radhanath swami embodies this spirit of relentlessly seeking to perfect his life—-come what may.
    thank you for awakening me.

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  48. Very Very inspiring. Thank you.

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  49. Radhanath Swami Maharaj is a very deep person. What can an ordinary person realize sitting on the bank of the Ganges? Thanks for this wonderful meditation.

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  50. Every one enjoyes the beauty of flowing river but only great and pure souls like Maharaj can understand the pure devotional messages and implement in life.
    Thank you for this meditation.

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