According to this article, an Australian woman became very ill after she took a dip in the sacred Ganges river at Varanasi.

My love affair with Varanasi continued and I studied yoga at an ashram by the river, which set me on a whole new life path. I became the cliche – India really did change my life.

As for my foray into the river - well, I would like to say that my faith in the spirit of Mother Ganga conquered the microorganisms, but the truth is I became violently ill. Tests revealed giardiasis, amoebas and a liver infection.

Perhaps the Indian devotees have stronger faith, or at least stronger stomachs? Maybe they get sick too? The manager of my hotel sagely suggested I had been blessed by Sitala, the Goddess of disease and would emerge from my illness stronger than ever.


Have any gurus or acharyas commented on the practice of taking plunge in sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, etc. when the waters are known to be infected?

Do they recommend taking a dip in the waters despite the risk devotees may contract various diseases?

Does the puṇya devotees gain by taking bath in such a river outweigh the side-effects?

  • Isn't this a repeated question? Jun 15, 2018 at 16:04
  • Yes, it is...the Community bot deleted it. Following advice from MSE here, re-asked. Mods have been very unhelpful undeleting the question. @Sarvabhouma Jun 15, 2018 at 16:08
  • Why was it deleted? Jun 15, 2018 at 16:12
  • 2
    "Does the puṇya devotees gain by taking bath in such a river outweigh the side-effects?" - You mean according to the Acharyas or according to the scriptures? @sv.
    – Rickross
    Jun 15, 2018 at 17:02
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    there was a big demonstration by many sadhus several years ago on the continuing pollution occurring in the Ganga. I became ill one time after a bath in Haridwar a few years ago. It is occurring both upstream and downstream. It is an affront to Mother Ganga. India will not rise until Mother Ganga is shown the proper respect. Jun 16, 2018 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


I could find a reference from Rupa Goswami's Nectar of Instruction

According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.

The principle remains same. Though materially speaking, water is extremely polluted now a days, the spiritual potency doesn't get reduced.

Now whether to take a bath or not, one may decide based on one's immunity levels. One may adopt other ways to take bath like putting 3 drops on the head etc..

  • Yes that's the main point - spiritual potency doesn't get reduced. There was a story told by Sri Ramakrishna about a man who was blind and was supposed to remain blind in further 7 births due to his past karmas, he took bath in Ganga but his blindness in the current life wasn't cured but he was freed from blindness in future births.
    – Pinakin
    Nov 10, 2018 at 16:00
  • "Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding“ - they'll probably do a mental bath sitting at home, than a physical bath in a certain river. Your last paragraph is contradicting what the guru is saying? "putting 3 drops on the head" - this is your personal opinion? Nov 11, 2018 at 15:27
  • @sv. Yes my personal opinion. Should I delete that
    – user16618
    Nov 11, 2018 at 15:57
  • @sv Mental bath is not the point, the point is that advanced devotees don't feel it becomes contaminated spiritually. If they are present there, they won't hesitate to take a dip.
    – user16618
    Nov 11, 2018 at 16:07

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