Kumbh largest saint-expo on Earth: Sri Sri Ravishankar

Updated: Mar 29, 2010, 19:47 PM IST

His smile has captivated millions and he is known for his simple message laced with humor amongst his followers. Sri Sri Ravishankar, founder of the Art of Living and a great humanitarian, is not your everyday Godman. Known as Guruji, Sri Sri is active in various social works all over the world and inspires lakhs to take to ancient yoga exercises and wisdom.

In an exclusive conversation with Shashank Chouhan of Zeenews.com, he shares his views on how the Mahakumbh is being affected by our apathy.

What is the history of Mahakumbh?

It is an ancient festival- dates back to thousand of years. The story goes that the angels were carrying their pot of nectar in the heavens and some drops fell in a few rivers down here. People were given a chance to partake in that nectar through Mahakumbh.

What is the spiritual significance of the Mahakumbh?

Where there are good people, holy people, saints, there purity resides- so declare our scriptures. At the Kumbh, sages come from their ashrams and mountains to the fields. The common man, who goes to the Kumbh, gains a lot from the wisdom that these holy men distribute during Kumbh. All are blessed in their presence.

Mahakumbh is truly a wonderful festival that is most sacred. Some go there out of faith, some for tourism, some out of curiosity- to each their own.

But are you concerned that it is getting too chaotic and polluted there?

Yes, that has reduced, if not marred, the significance of the Kumbh. The government’s apathy, the pollution, the crumbling infrastructure, the behaviour of the pilgrims etc are derogatory to the Kumbh.

What can be done about it?

The government needs to take initiative. I was talking to the local MLA of the area before the Kumbh began about the sewerage that flows into the river. He passed the buck to the Centre. I suggested that huge pits be dug up where the sewerage can be diverted at least during the festival to which he agreed. From Swargashram to Rishikesh, there are 17 nullahs which were diverted to that pit…

And what about the people’s responsibility?

We should not pollute the holy Ganges when we are at the Kumbh or at any place indeed. One must take care about not washing one’s clothes, utensils etc in the river and not pollute it. They should remember that others are also taking bath in the same water. We all take a dip in the Ganges thinking it is holy, but if it looks dirty, our faith is shaken. We all can contribute towards saving our faith in that way.

Is the Mahakumbh a preserver of Indian faith- if at all it is?

Well it is the largest expo of saints on Earth! It is faith that pulls crores to this festival even in today’s age.

How does bathing in the Ganges absolve us from sins?

You see the Ganges is a symbol of gyaan, knowledge. Taking dip in it means taking dip into knowledge given by our holy men. Kumbh is supposed to be a place of great knowledge. That knowledge frees the seeker. But sadly, today people just come to taka a dip and go back home.