Monthly Archive for: ‘February, 2015’
Kunyan Singh, age 80, has lived in nearly all his life, and has worked as a since he was a young boy. A small but village, Devprayag marks the spot where the and join, forming the mighty. Making clothes, Singh says, is not easy work, and his swollen, twisted fingers are testament to that. But, it’s all he’s ever known. And, as my 12 year old student translator tells me, he’s living – and may soon be dying – at the sacred confluence, at the start of Ma, so that makes all the challenges of life ok. He bathes each day in the river, and one day he’ll die on her shores, attaining, or release, from, the cycle of death and rebirth. With a big smile and the ubiquitous head bob, he whirrs his sewing machine back to life and continues work.
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Jake will be speaking at his alma mater, Colorado College, on Monday, February 23, at 5:00PM in the Edith Kinney Gaylord …Read More
In Fall 2013, @pedromcbride, @davidcmorton, and I traveled high up the, pictured here, 20km above, the spiritual beginning of the River, and the. Seen in this photo from above, the Gangotri winds BY and past the towering – and still IV.
Up by the Chaukhambas, where scant few ever travel, the terrain is wild and untouched, seemingly pristine. But, even here, our samples revealed high levels of nitrates, most likely from heavy fertilizer use in, and elsewhere that is cast into the atmosphere, and falls as tainted snow upon the Gangotri. This rough beginning for the Ganges is only the start of the at-times startling pollution we saw downstream.
It’s been an amazing journey documenting this sacred, revered, and reviled river and with @pedromcbride and @madhav108a, and now the toughest part begins – wading through terrabytes of footage and carving out the river’s story in images and words. The edit begins… Huge thanks to @eddiebauer, @microsoftusa, @natgeo, and more for the support to make this project a reality
Years ago, India’s first Prime Minister, wrote Ganga to me is the symbol of India’s memorable past which has been flowing into the present and continues to flow towards the ocean of the future.” What does that future hold?
As I begin the long trip home from two weeks on the, my mind is still whirring with questions, ruminations, possible outcomes for and possible solutions to the monumental challenges facing this river. It is the spiritual lifeblood for some 1 billion, and the physical lifeblood for 400 million Hindus, and others – not to mention amazing flora and fauna, much of them threatened) – who live within its watershed. It is deeply revered, and it is being loved to death.
Perhaps that love, that deep, age-old reverence for Ma – the very same reverence and love which has helped bestow such horror on the river – will, in the end, be her salvation. Can that love of Ganga the goddess be transitioned into equal love for Ganga the physical? Only time will tell, but time is growing short. As famed environmentalist Sunita Narain told @pedromcbride and me: “If we don’t act soon, our generation in India will be one of dead rivers.” Ganga is not the only river in India, but it’s fate is similar to that of others throughout the subcontinent, and if Ganga is not respected, cleaned, cared for, and loved in her physical form as much as she is in her spiritual one, there is little hope. As Dr. Vandana Shivaji said: “If Ganga dies, India dies.” One thing is for sure: Ganga is in trouble. Ganga needs help, and needs it desperately. It is a beautiful river with a rich past and a hopeful future. I, like Baba Tintang pictured here on the banks in, have my hands clasped in prayer for a positive turn @eddiebauer
As I work again in with @pedromcbride, I find one of the most confounding aspects of the River is the dichotomy of it’s revered stature and defiled reality. Ma, the goddess, is seen as simply having her essence, her spirit, manifested in the physical “clothes” of the Ganges River. By, Ganga is no more the Ganges River than I am the jeans and shirt I am wearing: they are simply my clothes. Therein lies the challenge: The Ganges is polluted, but the divine is not, just as my jeans are dirty but I am not. So, how to spark change in such a situation, how to provoke a largely-uneducated populace of some 400 million along the River to protect the and revere the goddess’ clothing as they revere and protect her spirit?
Perhaps, if we dig deeper into Hindu thought, we find the answer.
As a religion, at its highest is considered polymorphic monotheism – many manifestations of one ultimate deity. And, that deity, Brahman, is not separate from us, but IS us. Brahman, the divine, is as much in me as in you and in the monkey on my veranda and the flowing Ganges outside my door. Brahman is me, is you, is everything. So, with that in mind, with belief in that concept, to pollute the Ganges is to pollute the ultimate divine…and to defile the self, for we are all one. Perhaps.
As wrote in “The Secrets of the Heart”: “In one atom are found all the elements of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found the motions of all the laws of existence; in one drop of water are found the secrets of all the endless oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of existence.” In this image, a solitary figure meditates amongst the chaos of evening along the banks of Ganga near Ram Jhula in.
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Jumila walks with the grace, poise, and confidence rarely seen in a 10 year old. She has twinkling eyes and an infectious smile that is quick to arrive and slow to depart. I was immediately impressed by her, and know she would go far in this world (and still she may) if circumstances were different, if the whimsy of fate and geography had dealt her a better hand. In my limited and her limited English, we talked a bit with hand gestures and I showed her pictures of my daughter and son. So similar, and yet worlds, universes apart…in the realm of opportunity. As Jumila gazed at my photos, her eyes reflected this reality, a flicker of comprehension of just how unequal this world, this life, can be and is. But, then, she inspired and impressed yet again: with a genuine smile few in easier circumstances could muster, Jumila bowed a gracious Namaste, hoisted her tattered, burlap sack, and continued picking, barehanded, through mountains of trash at the dump. This is her life, and the life of her family, friends, and neighbors, all, living in makeshift huts on the fringe of the dump: trash, piles of it, as far as the eye can see. If they could meet, I’m sure my daughter, Lila, and Jumila would have a lot in common despite the deep divide. They’d laugh and play and run and jump, just as Jumila did in as she worked the trash piles, sifting our recyclables. If only there was more equity, more true and real and meaningful opportunity in this world for all @eddiebauer @pedromcbrideRead More
One makes interesting friends on the streets of. @pedromcbride and I spent some quality time with this and his keeper – a young charmer of about 15 years old. While I got uncomfortably close with my camera, I didn’t feel the snake and I made much of a bond @eddiebauerRead More
Mr. V. Tangapandem always wanted to visit the sacred city of) along the banks of Ma, but it wasn’t until this year – at age 78 – that he finally made it. Most impressively, he got here by walking all 1,464 miles from his home near, Tamil Nadu. Quite impressive, and just more evidence of the reverence for and devotion to the mighty. Asked if he’s concerned for the health of the River: “Of course. She’s our Mother, she’s our god, but she needs help.” Does he want to die here in Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganga? “Of course! But, not now,” he says with a wide grin before giving me a deep Namaskar and shuffling on his way @eddiebauer @pedromcbride @microsoftusaRead More
Originally from, she now lives at along the in. This is the place where the dead are cremated, where the dying come to breath their final breaths along the banks of Ma Ganga. For most, it would not be the choice for a home, but for her it was the best alternative to a life of strife and poverty in Bihar. It’s not much, but here she has a roof over her head and the generosity of many to keep her fed and clothed. As always, our journey down the Ganges makes me think deeply, and acknowledge just how fortunate I am, and how tough life is for so many @eddiebauer @pedromcbrideRead More
Along the banks of the River in – just a stone’s throw from the – is an equally stunning if less-refined place ghat is the place of the washers (Dhobis), and here, day in and day out, they ply their trade, hand washing masses of for visiting tourists and locals alike. The clothing is “washed” in the fetid waters of the Yamuna which, by the time they move through Agra, are but a tar-like sludge. As one Dhobi told me with a smile: “The is dirty, but we use caustic soap – it burns – but it gets clothes clean @indiaphotosociety @dailylifeindia @eddiebauer @pedromcbrideRead More