Hava Nagila!

Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Probably they said cleanliness is next to Godliness, because cleanliness is like God. Everyone talks about it, it is supposed to be there everywhere, but you really can’t see it anywhere.

Yesterday, there was a man amidst us, alive in flesh and blood, providing happiness to his family with his mere presence – as a husband, father, grandfather…. Today, his ash is inside a small vessel, the size of two palms cupped together. My neighbour died last week, few days after a trip to Puri. This is the nth such case that I am hearing, in the past few years, of people dying of disease suddenly after a pilgrimage. Today, I read this – http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/deadly-superbugs-spreading-fast-at-indian-holy-sites-study-484918?pfrom=home-topstories and I feel very bad. There were close to 600 people in his group and the bug has passed on to him from one of the many other pilgrims.

Excerpts from this article:

In May and June when millions of pilgrims throng Rishikesh and Haridwar in Uttarakhand to take holy dip, levels of antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ have been found 60 times greater than other times of the year, shows research.

Monitoring levels of other contaminants in the water, the team showed that overloading of waste treatment facilities was likely to blame and that in many cases, untreated sewage was going straight into the river where the pilgrims bathe.

“The bugs and their genes are carried in people’s guts. If untreated wastes get into the water supply, resistance potential in the wastes can pass to the next person and spiralling increases in resistance can occur,” the researchers warned.

The article goes on to call on the Governments to take proper steps to keep holy places cleaner. However, I feel that cleanliness is a collective responsibility. So is lack of it. This man died because of all of us. His family is in intolerable grief because of our selfish nature. Will we ever become more responsible, will we ever be cleaner ourselves and help to keep our environment clean? If we choose to, we are doing our bit to save lives around us. If not, how many more people do we want dead before we decide to be cleaner?

Bugs are sensitive to certain chemicals and drugs are designed to use the sensitivity to kill the bug. Doctors prescribe a certain dosage, intended to kill the bug in its entirety. How many of us actually take the full prescribed dose of medicine? Some of us think that the doctor is giving 10 days of medicine because he wants more commission from the medical shop. Some of us think that the doc doesn’t know anything! Do people become senile as they grow older, I don’t know!

Say, the doctor gives us medicine for 5 days and we start feeling better in 2 days, we don’t take the medicine for the remaining 3 days. If we stop taking the drug before the prescribed period, the bug develops resistance to the drug. Generations of manner-less behavior, mindless logic, plain ignorance and sheer arrogance, even from the most educated people, has led to the development of resistant varieties of bugs. These bugs are called super bugs and India is home to some of the worst of them. Where do they throng? The most crowded places, which incidentally happen to be the sacred of our shrines. It is not possible to find a new drug every other day. Tireless efforts from the medical diaspora is saving us from the brink of epidemics and mass destruction every so often these days. And how easily we blame them!

If you are planning a visit to a crowded place or a holy site, please take the necessary precautions before you go, especially if you are over 50, as your resistance drastically comes down past that age. Vaccinate yourself, if need be. If you are not well, don’t go on a pilgrimage. I am sure God won’t mind. It is not safe – for you or for others. Cover your nose and mouth with a clean kerchief if you have a cough or cold. There is nothing disgraceful in that. Drink bottled water. It is a shame to have come to this, but we must do what we must. There is no necessity to take new born babies to crowded places, no matter how holy the place may be. It is unsafe for the child. If your parents took you when you were a child, it is different. That was a time when going on a pilgrimage was not a matter of money, but was a thing of the soul. Now, many people go to the Khumbh Mela just to take photographs! Collecting crowds isn’t a thing that is advocated in Hinduism. The gurus of today want to do exactly this, for a plethora of unworthy reasons. Oh holy men, please stop doing such things. I wonder if they will listen, they are used to just talking! Even if they want to collect crowds, let them insist on everyone being properly vaccinated and knowing safety precautions before they embark on their journey.

People talk of purification of the soul. They go on pilgrimages to purify themselves from bad things. Before you work on cleansing your soul, please work on keeping your body clean. Your soul may be the best thing there is, but it is useless without a body to be in. If you keep your body unhealthy, your soul will refuse to be in it. Some say that God will take care of those who go on a pilgrimage. Yes, God will take care of us alright. But first, we need to take care of ourselves. God has given man brains, to put to proper use only; not to misuse, not to let it rot or make it a devil’s workshop by thinking stupid stuff. If you don’t use it, won’t God get angry? I sometimes wonder if the 2013 cloud burst in Kedarnath was an act of God, responding angrily to man inconsiderately polluting the cleanliness of so pristine a place. Please use your brains and help keep the world cleaner. At least then, a visit to our holy shrines won’t have a killer effect.

Don’t spit or urinate in public places, don’t throw wasted food and litter in places other than those designated for it. I don’t want to conduct a moral science class here. I will just stop with quoting Brian Aldiss – “Civilization is the distance that man has placed between himself and his excreta”. How civilized are we going to be? It is high time we decided.


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This entry was posted on February 18, 2014 by in Thoughts and tagged , , .


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