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?