Who Would Bathe in the Filthy Ganges?
What would compel an otherwise rational person to dive head-first into a cesspool filled with shit, piss, garbage, and bacteria?
Why — religion, of course!
On PBS tonight, there was a documentary program about the Ganges, a.k.a. the Ganga River, located in India. This is a vast tributary of life (and potentially death) for hundreds of millions of people, living in both Bangladesh and India. It’s also one of the most polluted rivers in the world, a breeding ground for sickness and disease — not just to humans, but animals, as well. And it’s that way almost entirely because of indifference from religion, and specifically Hinduism, which continues to promote the loony notion that bathing in feces-encrusted waters somehow makes gullible believers “spiritually” whole again.
[Palm slapping forehead]
Which brings us to the question: Why do we revere such absurd, not to mention dangerous, religious practices?
Fact is, this kind of delusional thinking does not deserve any respect. None whatsoever. It’s doesn’t merit a place in rational discussion. It’s a tradition which demands ridicule, and our uncompromising repudiation. It followers should be exposed, and then insulted. They require nothing less from us.
Supposedly, the river is sacred, at least according to Hundus, which just so happens to be 900 million people — kinda’ a big deal because that’s about 17 percent of the entire world’s population. Science has quite a different description, that being, the river is more like a bubbling brook of bullshit, a floating museum of stool samples. That’s because thousands of gallons of untreated raw sewage are poured into the toxic goulash every day. But the Hindus still insist bathing in the sacred waters is believed to convey purity, when the only real consequence of such a poisonous baptism would probably be a severe case of diarrhea.
Perhaps the biggest farce of all is the belief system that dousing in the Ganges brings prosperity and happiness to the river pilgrim. By god, have you taken a look at the people who actually jump in that filthy water? No wonder the estuary looks like a chocolate milkshake. Those people don’t need a river baptism. They need a fucking bar of soap!
As far as the river bringing prosperity, well then, there’s India, still one of the poorest countries in the world. Unless “prosperity” means a lucky few speaking just enough broken English to make the equivalent of a buck-fifty an hour slaving away inside a boiler room in Calcutta for your hard drive that crashed at midnight, that sadistic Hindu “god” everyone is praising is actually shoveling a smelly chunk of bullshit to the devotees. Prosperity, my ass! What prosperity? The fictional kid in “Slumdog Millionaire?”
Once again, here’s religion sanctifying and then upholding mass madness. Here’s religion making people do what would seem unthinkable, unimaginable even. We gaze upon the faithful as pious somehow, when the fact is — they’re deranged.
Let’s face it. Many religious practices do not warrant any reverence whatsoever. Come to think of it, none of them do. And nothing about this kind of sick ritual is noble. It’s like inviting your entire city’s population into your bathtub, and then diving into the frothy broth afterward. Would you do such a thing? Would you subject your child to such craziness? Well, many millions of people do exactly this, regularly. Under any other circumstances, such an act would be judged as evidence of a mental illness.
Only religion makes such a thing acceptable. Only religion somehow gives license for otherwise rational people to do what’s completely irrational. Worst of all, religion causes humans to do some very stupid things, at their own peril.
READ MORE HERE (Smithsonian): “A Prayer for the Ganges”