Sunday, April 30, 2017

Water Diviners

“There is water here,” the old man from Kasaragod said simply, after reading the landscape and its botany, and placing his hands on the earth.

I was struck by this line from recent article by Lalitha Sridhar in the Hindu. She was describing C. Kunjambu Attan, a highly regarded 76-year-old water diviner from Kerala and his visit to Bidar, a drought-prone city in Karnataka, India.

It is not uncommon in India to come across stories of great mystics who had special powers to commune with nature. The book, "Autobiography of a Yogi" contains numerous instances of sages who developed a capacity to communicate their thoughts to their people sitting thousands of kilometers away, and of yogis who could "create" fruits out of thin air. In a more recent book, "Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master", tells the story of a Muslim boy who was impelled to find his life's calling a Nath-panthi yogi.

A water diviner may not be categorized as a Yogi, but unlike the seekers of the ultimate spiritual Truth, they seem to be putting their talents to good use -  not in some distant afterlife but in the immediate here and now. What could be more useful that helping thirsty people in parched lands quench their thirst?

This also makes me wonder if there are mystics and diviners who try to prevent the colossal wastage of water we see all around us -- especially in urban areas.Take Noida for instance. Potable drinking water for the city is sourced from the distant Ganga river (80%), and from groundwater aquifers (20%).

Despite the huge expense involved in transporting, cleaning and distributing water to the cities, the UP Jal Nigam seems to care little about wastage. Users are charged a paltry one-time annual fee that creates no incentives to prevent overflowing water from literally going down the drains.

Are there any Kunjambu Attan's who can help prevent the mindless wastage of water in our cities -- especially in the scorching summer season?


* Sridhar, Lalitha - How Bidar Beat Back the Heat --

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