On April 4th, 2010, His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the “Sparsh Ganga” event at Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh, which launched Ganga Action Parivar. He moved the participants with a powerful speech about the effects of global warming that he has witnessed within his own lifetime and the need to rectify and become conscious of our actions in order to live in harmony with our environment.
“We have always used the water of holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna to purify ourselves, but today we have reached a point where we have to purify this water…It’s not only the government that can do it. We will have to come together.” – Pujya Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
On the banks of Mother Ganga, at the time of the Hindu New Year, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar re-emphasised that the time has arrived when we must clean Ganga.
On November 5th, 2011, Janab Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Vice President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, gathered with interfaith leaders at a function in Varanasi entitled “Ek Sham Ma Ganga Ke Naam” (“A Night Dedicated to Mother Ganga”). At this event, he gave a compelling and inspiring speech highlighting the importance Ganga holds for people of all faiths and how everyone must come together to see that She remains clean and free-flowing. He emphasised that Ganga belongs to all.
When Pujya Swamiji shared the Ganga Action Parivar project with Dr. Pranav Pandya, Head of All World Gayatri Pariwar, Dr. Pandya emphasised his support for this noble and crucial project. He said that Shantikunj would absolutely be a strong and staunch part of Ganga Action Parivar and that he personally as well as on behalf of Shantikunj would help the effort in every way possible.
“The Ganga not only merges with the Yamuna and the Saraswati, but also represents the confluence of the economic well-being of the Indian people and their abiding reverence for the country’s natural resources. If we pollute the Ganga, we are polluting the very basis of all forms of life in India.” – Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Nobel Laureate, Director General of TERI and renowned environmentalist
Dr. R.K. Pachauri has truly been a pillar of support for Ganga Action Parivar and has been involved greatly in developing sustainable solutions to all the issues Ganga and Her tributaries face.
At the end of 2011, His Holiness Pujya Shankaracharya Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swami came and stayed at Parmarth. During his stay, he and Pujya Swamiji had many detailed discussions regarding projects GAP is undertaking. From these meetings, Pujya Swamiji and Pujya Shankaracharyaji made concrete plans for joint programs in animal care, tree plantations and biodiversity, sanitation and solid waste management and detailed rural development. They also worked together to help unify all saints and religious leaders at the Kumbh Mela in 2013 in Allahabad, bringing all together with the message of unity and the need to restore and protect Ganga and the environment.
“The movement to save the Ganga and its ‘nirmal’ (‘clean’) and ‘aviral’ (‘uninterrupted’) flow is not just a movement to save a river…If the Ganga lives, India lives. If the Ganga dies, India dies.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva, Director of Navdanya and renowned environmental activist and scientist
Pujya Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati of the national campaign Ganga Seva Abhiyan is working together with GAP to help restore Ganga to Her free-flowing and pristine state, where no sewage enters Ganga and no dams or other obstructions are allowed to hamper the flow or continuity of Ganga. Pujya Swamiji and he have also come together to help restore Yamuna and other tributaries of Ganga, bringing together spiritual leaders, scientists and government officials to find solutions to the issues facing these rivers.
“Mother Ganga, along with all its surroundings, is an open temple. It’s not enough for us to worship the Ganga merely through pujas and prayers: we need to also demonstrate our respect and devotion through practicing cleanliness. We should clean up what’s outside with the same intention with which we clean our altars, the ashram, as well as our hearts.” – Pujya Prem Baba
“Gangaji is the essence of Indian sanskriti (tradition), connecting all from diverse backgrounds…She is not an ordinary river, and protection of Her is of prime importance.” – Pujya Swami Gyanswaroopanand
Ganga Action Parivar has come together in order to work alongside all these efforts to restore and protect Ganga and Her tributaries. GAP is working “from Grand Plan to Ground Plan,” undertaking numerous projects from tree plantations to building toilets to solar power projects to getting the Upper Ganga region declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and so much more.