The Ganges – More Than Just a River

“Ganga is really something. You have contact with her and it’s unforgettable for the rest of your life. It’s not like any river that you’ve ever seen.”

Thom Knoles

Few rivers have a name as iconic as the Ganges River in India

At over 1550 miles (2,500 kms) long, it winds its way from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, passing a population of over 650 million along the way, making it the most populated river basin in the world.

But there is more to the Ganges than just a body of water meandering through the landscape.

In this episode, Thom brings his beloved Ganges to life. He explains why she plays such a significant role in the spiritual life of Indian citizens and visitors who come from around the world just to bathe in her icy waters. 

Thom leaves us in no doubt that the Ganges will justifiably play a pivotal role in our upcoming 2023 retreat in Rishikesh.

If you’d like to attend the retreat with Thom in Rishikesh India from January 8th to 18th, 2023, please visit Thom’s website for more details,

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Episode Highlights


Mother Ganga



The Goddess Whom Everyone Can See



Taking a Dip in Ganga



An Invitation from Swami Kailashanand Giri



Removing Karma from the Physiology


Jai Guru Deva


The Ganges – More Than Just a River

[00:45] Mother Ganga

Jai Guru Deva. This is The Vedic Worldview. I’m Thom Knoles. Thank you for listening. Today I would like to talk to you about one of my favorite subjects, my Mother.

What do I mean by my Mother? I don’t mean my dear human mother, who gave me birth and raised me into the shape and form that we all enjoy, and I enjoy specifically. Thank you mother.

I mean, Mother with a capital M, which is Ganga. Ganga, G-A-N-G-A, is the Sanskrit way of saying Ganges, the Ganges River of North India.

Mother Ganga, the Ganges River, winds its way right past a canyon, out of which she issues, in Rishikesh itself, there on a clifftop is an amazing hotel called Divine, very appropriately named, where I’ll be holding our 10-day retreat in January of 2023 in Rishikesh, India.

The Ganges River is the largest watercourse of India. It starts its journey coming out of a glacier known as The Cow’s Mouth. And The Cow’s Mouth is a blue glacier way up in the Himalayas. We say Himalayas in the west, in India, they pronounce it their way, Himar-Lia (layas) .

Hima, in Sanskrit, means snow. Laya means an abode. It is also where we get our English word layer. Layer comes from Laya in Sanskrit.

So the abode of snow, and then a glacier, The Cow’s Mouth,  Gomukh, as it’s called. And then out from The Cow’s Mouth comes gushing, bluish glacier water, which begins its trip thousands and thousands of miles down through the Himalayas first, emerging first in the township of Rishikesh where we’ll be staying.

[03:17] The Goddess Whom Everyone Can See

There are certainly other sites further upstream where people live and you can get to Ganga, but they’re very wild, and far from the comforts of Rishikesh where we’ll be staying.

In Rishikesh, the river issues forth from a canyon, right where our accommodation is and is filled with rapids, then it broadens out instantly into about 250 yards wide, broad, silent river, just moving along in its beautiful silent grace.

Ganga is thought of in India as a goddess whom everyone can see. It’s considered that in order to see a celestial being, one has to develop, through years of meditation, the deep perceptual acuity, that is the acuteness, perceptual capability, that gives one the ability to recognize, on the surface of every object, the celestial world and the worlds of beings, and primary amongst those would be one great being, a feminine being by the name of Ganga.

But it is also said that Ganga is so compassionate that she doesn’t require the eyes of an individual to have the acuity of God Consciousness in order for her to be seen. She takes the form of a river, and according to the Vedic mythos, in order to come from the celestial layer where she is, and without destroying the earth by hammering the earth by landing on it, she first softens her blow by landing in the dreadlocks of Lord Shiva.

[05:25] Taking a Dip in Ganga

Shiva who is the disintegrator of anything that is irrelevant. Shiva who presides over that process of the removal of stress. Shiva the renewer. She lands in the hair of Shiva, trickles down to the Himalayas, and then makes her way out through the  Gomukh, through The Cow’s Mouth.

From there, she wends and winds her way through the Himalayan Ranges until she comes through the canyon, right at where our accommodation will be, a hotel, very aptly named Divine.

And there we’ll be able to go and have a look at her, touch her, and for those of you who are not faint of heart, even take a dip right there in Ganga. Taking a dip in Ganga is one of the things that every Indian dreams about. The 1.4 billion people in India rise every day with the hope in their heart that they’ll have an opportunity to take a dip in Ganga.

You may have heard many terrible things about what’s happened to Ganga further downstream, hundreds of miles past Rishikesh, where, winding her way through civilization and through farmlands, she’s become quite polluted.

And it really is a sad thing to see. And there are many efforts being made to correct that crime of the pollution of Ganga. But where we’ll be, we are far upstream from the pollution and we’ll be able to enjoy her in her pristine beauty.

[07:19] An Invitation from Swami Kailashanand Giri

Ganga is one of the main reasons why I go to India. If I could go to India and stay in some other place that was not right on the River Ganges, not right on Mother Ganga, I probably would go to Sedona, Arizona instead. Or go to some other venue because to me, the draw card to India is Ganga herself.

A little bit downstream from where we will be is the home of Swami Kailashanand Giri. Swamiji, also known as Maharaji, is the undisputed and preeminent Master of all the Masters of India. He stands at the gateway between our Master’s Guru Deva, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and his student, his illustrious student, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was my Master and the successor of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, whom we refer to as Guru Deva, is Swami Kailashanand Giri.

He also lives right on the Ganga, right on the river, where he has his ashram, his commune of, and his academy of learning of, people who are training under him, and he has extended to us his warm invitation to come and spend a day with him as part of our retreat and to go and put our feet into Ganga and receive her blessing while he’s there with us.

[09:06] Removing Karma from the Physiology

Ganga is really something. You have contact with her and it’s unforgettable for the rest of your life. It’s not like any river that you’ve ever seen.

For one thing, Ganga is known, from a scientific perspective, to contain microbial features that are antibacterial and antiviral. She has the capacity for self purification.

Where she comes out of the Himalayas, right there in Rishikesh, she possesses a greenish color that is almost indescribable, a very, very light green sparkling with silica. The silica coming from her carving her way through all the canyons of the Himalayas, making her way down through the post-glacial topography of India.

It’s said that one dip in Ganga and all of one’s karma, we would think of that as stress, is removed from the physiology. And so we would really like to have that blessing from Ganga and I’m very happy to say that we’re going to be spending a good 10 days with Ganga when we go together to my retreat in January, 2023 in Rishikesh.

Jai Guru Deva.

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