Saints, Seers chip in for ‘Swachh Kumbh ‘ at Kumbh Mela in Nashik

India’s foremost seers and saints from varous faiths (dharm gurus) came together at the Kumbha Mela for a two day Swachh Kumbha event, which concluded today with a large function at the Shri Jagannath Camp, Nasik. Yesterday’s event took place at the Shri Guru Karshni Camp, Trimbakeshwar.

The highest mahamandaleshwars of the akharas, Ramanandacharyas, Ramanujacharyas and other revered saints spoke on the crucial importance of clean and healthy water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at historic events organised by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh and WASH United. The saints emphasized the importance of toilet usage, noting that open defecation has been especially linked to the poor health of India’s children. An estimated 1,200 children under the age of five die every day in India due to the lack of healthy sanitation and hygiene practices. Many more face serious health problems, including stunted growth, largely because of India’s rampant lack of toilets.

This event was graced by the presence of:

Pujya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Gurusharananandji Maharaj, Raman Reti, Mathura
Pujya Swami Avdheshanand Giriji, Acharya Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara
Jagadguru Ramandacharya Pujya Swami Hansdevacharyaji, Haridwar
Jagadguru Ramanujacharya Pujya Swami Vasudevacharyaji
Jagadguru Shrishridharacharyaji Maharaj
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh), Co-Chair Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Founder of Ganga Action Parivar and Divine Shakti Foundation
Pujya Sant Shri Rameshbhai Ozaji (Pujya Bhaishri), Renowned Kathakar
Pujya Mahant Gyan Das Maharaj, President of Akhara Parishad, Ayodhya
Pujya Mahant Narendra Giriji, President of Akhara Parishad, Allahabad
Pujya Swami Gyananandji, Gita Manishi
Pujya Rajendra Dasji Maharaj,Maluk Peethadheeshwar, Vrindavan
Pujya Swami Kailashanand Giriji, Mahamandeleshwar Agni Akhara
Pujya Ravinder Puriji, Mahant (President) Nirvani Akhara, Haridwar
Pujya Ramanand Puriji, Mahant (President) Panchayati Akhara, Haridwar
Pujya Acharya Lokesh Muniji, Founder President of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti (Jain Faith Leader)
Pujya Rakeshbhaiji, Founder President of Shreemad Rajchandra Mission (Jain Faith Leader)
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, President of Divine Shakti Foundation, Secretary General of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
Nasik Commissioner and Mayor
Ms. Ina Jurga, Head of Behaviour Change Communication, WASH United
And many others saints from other akharas…

During the two-day event, a new Swachh Kumbha Diwas campaign was launched, which deeply inspired devotees from across India and around the world to personally commit for a clean Kumbh Mela (Swachh Kumbh Mela) and a clean India (Swachh Bharat), using the slogan, “Every Body is a Temple. Respect it. Keep it Clean, and Use Toilets.”

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said, “The human body is a temple and should be revered as a gift from God. It is our essential duty to keep it clean and healthy, and that begins with using a toilet and ensuring everyone around you does as well. Swachhta bhi dharma hai because open defecation is total devastation, polluting not only our external but also our internal environment.Time has come that sanitation and meditation must go hand and hand, because without sanitation there is no meditation.”

Acharya Lokesh Muniji shared, “There is no dharma, no spirituality without sanitation. Therefore, the paramount service to our society is addressing these vital social challenges, of which adequate WASH is one of the most crucial.”

Jagadguru Ramandacharya Pujya Swami Hansdevacharyaji said, “Time has come to join together as saints and stakeholders for Swachh Kumbh and Swachh Bharat. This is a great beginning but we have a long way to walk and serve together. “

Pujya Swami Avdheshanand Giriji expressed, “Today is not only Swachh Divas but also a special Sankalp Divas. Before every ritual in our tradition there is a great importance of purity. Therefore purity in our action, words, thoughts is vital and important. Let us pledge for swachhta (cleaniness) and for hariyali (greenery). I personally pledge to inspire all sadhus to not only maintain swachhta (cleaniness) but also to encourage every sadhu to plant a tree during every festival and every mela.”

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Gurusharananandji Maharaj shared,

“When we speak about sanitation for all it is crucial to ensure that the toilets we build utilize the least amount of water. We must also pledge today to collectively put an end to the social evil of manual scavenging. If every body is a temple then every human being is also part of that Divine and to let our brothers and sisters carry our waste and excreta is a grave sin that we must put work immediately and actively to end.”

Pujya Baba Ramdevji video message and interview was played on the occasion in which he said, “One of the foremost niyamas (rules) of the Patanjali Yog Sutras is swaucha, therefore one has to practice swachhta in all aspects our life to be a Yogi and to be on the path of Yoga.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance said:

“Today our faith leaders have come together to say that our definition of peace has to expand. It is no longer enough just to refrain from killing each other with guns, knives and bombs. Today, more people perish each year due simply to lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) than from all forms of violence combined. Today our definition of peace is being expanded to include ensuring improved WASH for all our brothers and sisters. If you imagine 200 school buses full of children on their way to kindergarten being killed, this is how many little boys and girls under the age of five are dying every day just in India because of bad water, sanitation and hygiene.”

The saints all applied sacred tilak (kumkum) onto a large map of India, signifying their pledge to work for improved WASH in India through raising awareness and working to change the behaviour of their followers, and to eradicate open defecation. The tilak also signified their blessing that India should become open defecation free. They took part in a beautiful water blessing ceremony in which they poured holy water from the Godavari River over a globe, symbolizing a prayer for action so that people all around the world have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji concluded by saying: “I have had a hand in building temples on five continents, but now, I am saying, first, we must build toilets. No longer should a single child die for lack of proper sanitation. No longer should the modesty of a single woman be put at risk, and no longer should a single girl be forced to drop out of school because there are no toilets. Every home in India should have a toilet, and everyone, everywhere should use a toilet. It is that simple.”