Significance of rivers in India


Do you know that the ancient civilisations such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, etc. originated near the banks of great rivers such as Euphrates, Nile, and Indus respectively?
That’s also the reason why they are considered sacred in many civilisations and religions. With numerous rivers and tributaries running through the country, we can rightly call India the “Land of Rivers.” In India, rivers are considered holy and are worshipped by people. The three main holy rivers are Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. There are various festivals which are dedicated to rivers or which usually start or end in a river.


River in literature
River has been a consistent source of inspiration for artists for ages. Many writers from classical time onwards have been influenced by the beauty and enriching aspects of river. They have highlighted the symbolic and metaphorical importance of water in their writings. The epics such as Mahabharat and Ramayan refer to various rivers, many Sanskrit texts mention the origin of rivers, and our folk tales and songs are filled with tribute to various rivers.

The river Padma was a major influence on Rabindranath’s writings. Many times, he would take long boat rides on this river along with the artist Nandalal Bose.

At the end of the famous novel Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, the protagonist sits beside the river and talks to it.

In The Serpent and The Rope by Raja Rao, the spiritual journey of the main characters culminates on the banks of River Ganga.


River in art
Visual artists have also carved out sculptures and painted rivers and stories associated with them, this shows the influence of rivers on the creative mind. There are terracotta sculptures from Gupta period which depict Ganga and Yamuna.

A huge stone relief panel from Gupta period in the Udayagiri caves depicts the three sacred rivers. In Mahabalipuram, a huge stone relief is dedicated to the myth of the descent of Ganga to earth.
In traditional paintings, rivers or water bodies were represented through semi circular patterns or different colours. We get to see the use of such patterns and different colours in the miniature paintings.

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