- Water is the foundation of our existence. Every advanced and ancient civilization developed along waterways. Besides human survival and developing a healthy ecosystem, it provided both economic and political strength to the societies. Above all, being at the core of sustainable development, water lay at the heart of adaptation to climate change in the ancient days, serving as an important connection between climate system, environment and society. The Hindus were ahead of their time in making proper plans for water conservation and were well aware of how to keep water bodies stay clean. The following section of the grand Shiva Purana specifically prescribes and promotes water management, keeping in mind the serving of water to the needy, agricultural management, digging tanks, overall land use planning and forest resource utilization.
Sanatkumara said, “Of all the charities, the gift of water is the best, because all the living being are satisfied with water alone. The water is conceived as the life. Therefore, one should lovingly build the water sheds or water tanks, which provide the bliss. In the present worlds as well as the one which has to come, these indeed provide delight. Therefore, the people should build, the step-wells, wells, tanks, etc. Half of the sins committed by a sinner are removed by digging a well filled with the water. The one, who construct the water tanks and its water is drunk by the cows, Brahmanas, the ascetics and the humans his entire race is redeemed. The one in whose tank enough of water remains in the summer season, he never has to face grave calamities. I am going to speak out the gratitude of tanks dug for water. A person who digs the tank is adored the world over. In case a tank is dug in the house of a friend, it enhances friendship. It removes his sufferings and increases his glory. A person who digs the tank, he achieving the reward of dharma, artha and Kama, gets entitled to huge merits. The tank for all the four types of the living beings is a great support. The building of a tank bestows the best of riches. The gods, humans, Gandharvas, goblins, manes, Nagas, Raksasas, the trees and plants have all to depend upon the water or tanks. The one in whose tank the water is contained till the start of the rainy season, he earns the merit of performing homa. This has been ordained by Brahma. The one in whose tank, the water remains up to the winter season, he undoubtedly earns the merit of giving away a hundred cows in charity. In case the water in plenty remains in the early and late winter, the person who digs it, drives the benefit in which plenty of gold is given as the daksina of the sacrifice. In case enough of water remains in a tank dug during the seasons of spring and summer, the people with wisdom say; that he drives the benefit of the holy rites of Atiratra and Asvamedha sacrifices. O Sage Vyasa, the merits occurring from the digging of the tanks etc. which are excellent and pleasing to all the living beings have been narrated to you. Now you listen to the merits of planting of the trees.
A person who plants a tree in the forest, he redeems the past as well as the future manes. The trees so planted are undoubtedly born to him as sons in the next birth and after his death he achieves the indestructible lokas. The trees adorn the gods with their flowers, the manes with their fruits, and the travelers with their shade. The Kinnaras, serpents, Raksasas, the gods, Gandharvas, humans and the ascetics, all take shelter under the trees. The flowering trees, satisfy the people in this as well as in the future world. This is the reason that they are called as Dharmaputras. Those who dig up wells, plant trees, perform the Yajnas, and adorn the truthful Brahmanas, never fall from the heaven. Truth is the Supreme Brahman, truth is the supreme tapas, satya is the supreme yajna, and truth is the best of scriptures. It is the truth alone which wakes up the sleeping people, truth is the supreme place, truth is holding on to the earth. Therefore, everything is established in truth. The penance, Yajna, the gods, Rsis, adoration of manes, water and the knowledge is enshrined in the truth. Truth is Yajna, Tapas, charities, mantras, Sarasvati – the goddess and Brahmacarya besides being Omkara.
The water flows with the truth, the sun shines with truth, the fire has the burning capacity because of the truth, while the heaven remains established because of the truth. The protection of the Vedas, and the bath in all the holy places is taken because of the truth. One achieves all the Padarthas in the world by truth alone. When weighed against the truth in the balance, a thousand horse sacrifices, and a hundred other sacrifices cannot be equal to it. Truth is all supreme. It is only with the truth that the gods, manes, humans, serpents, Raksasas mobiles and immobiles and other Lokas get pleased. Truthfulness has been conceived to be the supreme dharma. Truth is the supreme position, truth is the Supreme Brahman, therefore one shown always speak the truth. The truthful sages, after performing of the hard tapas, after being successful in the truthful ways, proceeded on to the heaven. The people surrounded by the Apsards or seated in the planes, should always speak the truth, because there is nothing beyond the truth. With a devoted mind one should take a bath in the deep and vast water of auspicious stream of the place of pilgrimage. It is called to be the best place”…
Shiva Purana, Uma Samhita, edited by Professor J.L. Shastri, Chapter 12
Center for Indic Studies is now on Telegram. For regular updates on Indic Varta, Indic Talks and Indic Courses at CIS, please subscribe to our telegram channel !