For me, life is sacred. I’m thankful that I am able to see and walk, that my consciousness to perceive what’s sacred is growing. Hearing Aida Shibli, a peace activist from Palestine made me think about sacred activism. As Andrew Harvey put it, “Sacred Activism is a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world“. Its vision is dedicated to honouring and continuing the tremendous work of social leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and the likes.
Who Are Sacred Activists?
They are movement leaders, elders and youth from around 50 countries, all with experience in sacred activism, inspired by the movement of “Water Protectors” sparked by Standing Rock. They build autonomous communities, generate livelihoods for whole regions, fight against the destruction of forests and construction of dams. These activists also work for the restoration of natural cycles, green deserts and make soil fertile again. Additionally, they turn slums into ecological neighbourhoods, build new education systems, refuse to believe in the concept of hostility, develop global peace strategies and build social systems for healing with love.
I’m talking about this because recently, we, at Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) hosted sacred activists from different countries who came here to see how rejuvenation of rivers and other water bodies impacted immediate communities and transformed their lives. Dr. Rajendra Singh, the waterman of India and the founder of TBS is one among all sacred activists from across the globe.
A Glimpse Into Transformation
All the guests arrived at Karauli-Dholpur railway station. The executives and community mobilisers of TBS welcomed them. From the railway station, they went to the villages of a region known as Dang Kshetra. It was once infamous for dacoity and illegal activities. The main reason behind it, was severe unemployment. Rocky land combined with unavailability of water worsened the situation. In desperation, people turned to robbery. It was easier for them to hide behind the rocks and in the jungle.
In this visit, the activists interacted with local people, facilitated by a translator. They were mesmerised by their stories and how seemingly simple thing like water completely changed their lives. I joined them at Masalpur, a small tehsil in Karauli. We then went to water structures built by the organisation over the years. TBS team explained how they are made, who benefits from them, and how the decisions in this process are taken.
Everyone was amazed on hearing that these structures were built using the indigenous knowledge of residents about land and soil, passed over to them through generations. We also showed them the rejuvenated water body, Sherni river which had vanished but is now flowing throughout the year. It benefits people living around it.
Water As A Non-Violent Solution
Led by Dr. Rajendra Singh, we discussed how a water can be a non-violent way to deal with problems the world is facing. If there will be another world war, then it will be for water. This is because safe drinking water is getting consumed at a much higher rate than it is being generated. That’s a serious matter of concern. Even for industrial purposes, we didn’t maintain harmony with nature and are now facing consequences in the form of global climate change as well as pollution.
In the evening, we returned to Mahaveer temple in Karauli where the guests were staying. Everyone gathered in the meeting hall and sat in a circle to share their experience from the visits. Based on the sharing, all sacred activists came up with a declaration for water and took a pledge. Some points of it are as follows:
- Water is life and love; we pledge to defend it
- Water is an experience, we aim to uncover the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of this divine medium
- The new world will be born when the water is clean and free.
- God is a keeper of water, and it should not be privatised
- Water is the most essential source of nourishment for keeping the rainbow of our dreams and hopes alive
In a world threatened by violence, this movement keeps the positivity alive, to steer us towards a future where water is clean, and all beings thrive peacefully.