The essay critically discusses the predominant role played by water in the lives of people from Vedic times to the present day, in the Hindu world. A number of ceremonies both happy or auspicious-making and secular have been associated with water. Several hymns of the Vedas, Brāhmanas, Mahābhārata, Āgamic and Purānic texts are drawn upon to bring out the legends and myths, and genuine beliefs, connected with water that underscore the sacred and profane, purificatory, healing and resuscitating dimensions of water. The essay treats readers to many ancient motifs concerning the pervasive value and utility of water. These comprise, variously, sacrifice, fertility rites, water-medium birth, divine metamorphosis, self-conceiving cosmic birth, totemism life-cycle rites, sanctifications, consecration and installation of icons and edifices, food rituals, monsoon rites, to pacifications, possession and exorcism, death, after-life and rebirth rituals. Reference is also made to the ecology of water resources, the economy of water scarcity, ‘war-wars’ or water imperialism, and water justice in the socio-political arenas of post independent India, in a rapidly liberalising and globalising world. In that regard practical applications of the knowledge-base are explored through the work of NGOs and Water Swamis in the subcontinent.
Field of Research
220315 Philosophy of Religion
Socio Economic Objective
950499 Religion and Ethics not elsewhere classified