Water in Hindu Scriptures
Aapo vee Bheshajam -- A Vaidik saying - "Water (Aapo) is a great
cure (bheshajam) – In Ved we find several verses praising the value of water. We
have even a Devtaa of water - Varun Dev.
Water, the Dwelling Place of Rishi
Rishi of yore had their Aashram or dwelling places, only near riversides.
Everyday they used to have river baths three times in waist deep waters
and offered obeisance to Soorya Dev, the rising Sun at dawn and setting
Sun in the evenings. Thus river waters and the ascetic living were almost
entwined in our scriptures. After bathing in rivers, seas, or even swimming
pools, we recognize how exhilarating the effect such bath provides. No other
effect gives such a feeling or rejuvenation as bath in a wide water body
Water as Teerth -
Teerth means a water body. All pilgrim's places have a water body nearby
them. Who ever goes to that Teerth, must take a bath in those waters. For
example Raameshwaram temple has 24 wells where one takes bath before going
to main temple to worship Shiv Jee. Wherever Gangaa flows there is Teerth.
Main Teerth on her banks are Rishikesh, Haridwaar, Prayaag, Kaashee. etc.
Narmadaa has thousands of Teerth on her banks.
Water in Worship
Water in Daily Worship -
Water is an important and essential item while doing any worship. Panchopachaar
Poojaa (worship with five things) includes - any five things from Rolee,
rice, water, Gandh, lamp, Naivedya (sweets) and flowers. Many Devtaa are pleased
only with water, or flower, or lamp offering. Shiv Jee and Soorya Bhagvaan are
such Devtaa. They are happy with water offering.
Water In Reading Sankalp -
In the same reference, when something is donated or when any Sankalp is taken,
it is done with taking some water in hand. When Daitya Raaj Bali was taking
Sankalp to donate three feet land to Vaaman Bhagvaan and was about to take
water in his hand to do it, Shukraachaarya Jee, the Daitya Guru, recognized
the Vaaman child. He said to Bali - "Do not take Sankalp, He is not a
Braahman child, he is the master of Tri-Lok. He has come here to take your
kingdom." Shukraachaarya explained him in many ways not to read Sankalp
but Bali pleaded - "First thing, He has come to my door to ask something,
I cannot send Him empty hand. Second thing, if He is Bhagavaan, He has all the
rights to give me everything and take away everything at His will, I am nobody
to stop Him. The third thing is, if He is Bhagvaan, then I will be famous in
Tri-Lok that I have given to whom, who give to everybody; or if he is a Braahman
child, no harm in giving him just three feet land. So in all cases I am the winner."
And he again started to take water in his hand to read the Sankalp. When Shukraachaarya
found that the king was listening to him, he sat in the spout of the water jug to stop
the water flow. The water stopped coming out. Bali could not know it, he said - "This
water is not coming out, why?" But Vaaman Bhagavaan knew it, so He said - "I
think the spout has something stuck inside, let me take it out." And He took a Kush
grass blade and inserted it in the spout. The grass blade pierced Shukraachaarya's eye
and blood started oozing out. He moved from there because of pain and the water started
flowing. Bali read the Sankalp and donated three feet land to Vaaman Bhagavaan.
Water to Curse
Rishi and other people who had the power to curse, used water to curse the other person.
One such story comes in Bhaagavat
Puraan 9/5. Once King King Saudaas went to forest for hunting. There he killed a certain
Raakshas also, but left his brother. His brother went to the King's palace to take revenge
of his brother's killing. There he started working as a cook. One day when Vashishth Jee came
to the King's palace, and the King wanted to offer him food, he cooked human flesh and offered
it to him. When Vashishth Jee found the food completely uneatable, he cursed the king to become
a Raakshas. later he came to know that it was not the King's mistake, he shortened the time
of his curse to 12 years.
But the King got very angry and got ready to curse him taking water in his hand. But his
wife stopped him to do so, so now he got worried as where should he pour that Mantra-Siddh
water. Later he poured that water on his feet. Because of this water his feet became black
and he came to be known as Kalmaashpaad. Thus water is used to curse also.
Water in Formal Worship -
Most formal worship, Yagya, Nava Durgaa Poojaa etc start with Kalash Sthaapanaa
(establishing a pitcher) for the Poojaa. In many cases one or Mantra are read over
it to make it holy. There is a funny incident mentioned in Puraan. There was a king
named Yuvanaashwa who had no son, so once he performed a Yagya to get a son. The
Yagya was to continue for several days. In one night he got very thirsty, so he
looked for some water. Everybody was sleeping in the Yagya Shaalaa and he did not
find any other water than the water kept for the Yagya, so he drank that. When Rishi
got up in the morning and did not find the Yagya water, they asked where did it go?
The King said - "I drank it." They said - "It was Abhimantrit (Mantra
read over it) water and was meant for your wife so that she can bear a son, not for
you." Now what? Whatever was to happen, happened. After some time the King gave
birth to a son from his right side of stomach. As soon as he was born he started crying
for milk. Devtaa said - "Who is going to feed him?" Indra said - "Maa
Dhaataa"; means "he will drink mine" and he put his index finger in
his mouth. Indra named him Trasdasyu, but later he got famous as Maandhaataa. he is
the same Maandhaataa
who gave his 50 daughters to Saubhari Rishi. So this is the magic of drinking Abhimantrit
Many rivers are so holy that if their water touches the dead body's ash, it gives its
soul Moksh or Mukti (salvation). In this regard the story of Gangaa is well famous.
In fact the main purpose to bring Gangaa on the Earth was this only that some souls
had to attain Mukti. There was a king Sagar in olden times. Once he performed Ashwamedh
Yagya. To create obstacle in his Yagya, Indra stole his horse and tied him in the Aashram
of Kapil Jee. Sagar sent his 60,000 sons to recover that horse to complete his Yagya.
When they found him at last, they found him tying in Kapil Muni's Aashram. they thought
that the Muni had stolen their horse and had tied him in his Aashram, so they got angry
at him and started abusing him.
As Kapil Jee opened his eyes, they got burnt to ashes. When they did not come back,
Sagar sent his grandson (Anshumaan) to recover the horse. The grandson followed the
footsteps and came to Kapil Muni's Aashram. He politely spoke to him and Kapil Jee
permitted him to take his horse. On asking "how his uncles will get Mukti?"
Kapil Jee said - "When Gangaa will come on Prithvi, and her water will touch
their ash, only then they will get Mukti." Both he (Anshumaan) and his son Dileep
tried their best to bring Gangaa on Prithvi, but were unsuccessful. Then Dileep's son
Bhageerath pleased Gangaa to come on Prithvi and he brought her on Prithvi. He took
her at the spot where his forefathers' ash was lying. As the Gangaa water spread over
that area, his all forefathers got Mukti. This was Gangaa water's effect.
Even today, there is a specialty in Gangaa's water that it does not get spoilt even
after keeping it for years together.
That is another reason why her water is considered holy. It is believed that if Gangaa
water is poured in a dying man's mouth, he attains Mukti. Normally all households
have Gangaa water in their houses, as they keep Tulasee plant
in their houses - this is true for Tulasee leaf also, that if it is put in the mouth
of a dying man, he attains Mukti.
There are many Snaan (bath in Gangaa) days and month when people consider to take bath
in Gangaa water very auspicious, such as, Shraavan, Kaarttik and Maagh months; Kumbh
days; Gangaa Dashaharaa (Jyeshth Shukla 10th); Kaarttik Poornimaa; Somavatee Amaavasyaa
Water for the Dead
Water is offered to dead ancestors also. It is called Jalaanjali. Paandav, Dhritraashtra,
Gaandhaaree, Kuntee etc go to Gangaa River and offer the water (Jalaanjali) to all the
dead in the battlefield.
Other Uses of Water
Water as a Cleaner
Everybody knows that water cleans many things. People take bath to clean
their body, people use water to clean their house floors, vegetables,
fruits, clothes and many more things, but few people might be aware, that
water is one of the six official ways to clean things.
Some food items become pure if Kush grass is put in them.
Some items become clean after washing them with water - dusty utensils,
Some items get clean after just wiping it with wet or even dry cloth -
dusty utensils, dry things (nuts) if fallen on the ground they can be
cleaned by wiping them with dry cloth.
Some items are cleaned by burning in fire - gold, silver
Water for Washing Various Body Parts
--In our old tradition an Atithi (guest) and a Braahman is always offered water
to wash his feet. The most famous example for this is found in Mahaabhaarat.
Krishn, Yudhishthir etc always washed their guests' and Braahman's feet when
they came to see them. In fact this washing of feet relieves tiredness of
journey, cleans the feet before coming in the house and is a sign of respect.
--Even normal people in day to day life wash their feet at the entrance of their
house when they come home from outside.
--We have another tradition, that is to wash our hands and feet before taking
food, and wash our mouth after taking the food.
--In India people still use water when they use toilet.
Water as Medicine
Therein lies the hidden secret of medicinal powers of the water. "Aapo
vee bheshajam". Water has curative (medicinal) effect, is a saying not
to be taken lightly in this modern complex world. Nature cure developed by a
German Louise Kuhne into a systematic science is now known as Hydrotherapy.
Certain water springs, waterfalls are said to have curative value in their
waters. Attributing curative effect to water, calling water as medicine is
neither exaggeration nor unscientific.
Besides hot water bottle or hot water bandage; cold water bandages are used
to relieve pains.
Cold water bandages are used to keep on forehead of the patient of high fever
to relieve his fever.
Development of Civilizations
Almost all civilizations have developed by the riversides. Indus Valley civilization,
Nile Valley civilization, Tigris Civilization etc are the main example.
Water as a Peace Giver
Water itself gives lots of peace to the mind. Sitting nearby it, looking
at it, it gives a soothing effect. Many people, that is why, go to the
beach, or to riverside and sit there for some time and get fresh.