THIS is the title of an article in the January-March 2009 issue of the quarterly magazine published by the Asian Agri-History Foundation, based in Secunderabad which is produced under the leadership of Dr YL Nene, the first agricultural scientist in the world to discover the importance of zinc as a micro-nutrient that nourishes crops.
The magazine, which specialises in unravelling the history of agricultural growth in the Asian region, is in its 13th year now, has been publishing articles from famed agricultural scientists and other experts in this field, which are basically scientific in character but do not ignore the cultural aspects of all aspects of agriculture known since ancient times in this region, particularly India and Pakistan .
The Asian Agri-History Foundation was honoured through an annual award Param Pujaniya Shree Guruji Puraskar, 2009 instituted by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Janakalyan Samiti, Jalna, Maharashtra, on February 22, 2009. The award was also given on this occasion to the Deendayal Research Institute, Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh and Miss Mary Kom, a champion boxer from Manipur. Past recipients of this award included Dr MS Swaminathan, the doyen of Indian agricultural science and Dr RA Mhaselkar, former chief of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The article mentioned here is written by Chandrasekhar Nautiyal, of the Division of Plan Microbe Interactions, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow. Since the Vishwa Hindu Parishad President Shri Ashok Singhal had gone on a fast when the Tehri Dam was being constructed on the ground that the dam would destroy the Gangatwa of the Ganga ,this article will provide scientific validation to the widespread belief that water of this river can remain unsullied for as long as 15 to 16 years or more, one felt that a large portion of the article should be quoted so that readers have a correct appraisal of the scientific aspects of this pristine quality of the Ganga water. So, here we go with quotations from this article.
Water is considered as a purifier in most religions. In Hinduism, the river Ganga is personified as a Goddess and has an exalted position in the Hindu ethos. It is repeatedly invoked in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the two Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Baptism in the Christian churches is done with water. A ritual bath in Ganga water is done for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam. And in Islam, the daily Salah can only be done after ablution (“Wodoo”) i.e. washing parts of the body in water.
The water of the river Ganga is frequently used for drinking, cooking and bathing purposes due to ancient knowledge that Ganga water does not putrefy, even after long period of storage. Ganga water has been used from time immemorial for remedial purposes. Most religious beliefs some ceremonial use of “holy” water and the Ganga is treated with such reverence. Under the continuous Saraswati-Indus civilisation going back to 7500 BC the Ganga river is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Hippocrates (-500 BC) wrote about the healing of disease with Ganga water. Bathing held a prominent place in the law that was prepared by Moses under divine instructions for the governance of the Hebrew nation. The relation of the bath in the treatment of leprosy would also lead one to believe that Ganga water was used for curative effects. Outbreak of acute diarrhea has been identified as causes of fatal disease dating back as far as the Sanskrit literature and during Hippocratic times. Ernest Hankin, a British bacteriologist, reported in 1896 on the presence of marked anti-bacterial activity against vibrio cholerae, which he observed in the water of the Ganga river in India, and he suggested that it might help to decrease the incidence of cholera in the people using water from the Ganges. Though invisible, it was possible to show that this principle was particulate and called by D’Herelle “bacteriophage”. Thus in a way the world owes the discovery of bateriphagees to the Ganges water.
Scientists studied that the water of the Ganga at is origin is in a pure state and even after being kept for several years ,does not get contaminated. These medical properties of the Ganga water is attributed to the medicinal secretions of herbs and mineral content which get mixed with the water. A study was conducted to validate our ancient knowledge about the anti-microbial effect of Ganga water and to evaluate the potential of Ganga water in our endeavour to explore the possibility of using Ganga water as a novel source of anti-microbial compounds. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli is a worldwide cause of infection in humans and animals. Escherichia coli 0157:H7 is a major enteropathogen responsible for causing outbreak pf hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uraemic syndrome. In human beings infection spreads very fast as only 10 cells are sufficient to cause illness. The objective of this study was to evaluate the incorruptible self-purificatory characteristic and microbial community structure of Ganga water when spiked with E. Coli 0157:H7.
To facilitate the fair assessment of the potential of its self-purificatory and incorruptible abilities, Ganga water having resident bacterial population was spiked with even 5-fold long units higher pathogenic load of E .Coli 0157:H7 Incorruptible ability of the water was studied in fresh, 8 years and 16 years old Ganga water samples spiked with E .coli 0157:H7. In general, the number of culturable E. Coil O157:H7 declined over time but tended to be greater in freshwater than in 8 and 16 years old water. Age of water seemed to influence survival of E. Coli O157: H7; thus its fate was further studied in boiled water and after passing through 0.2 um ( the “u” here is actually the “mu” in Greek script and has been written like m in English alphabet)pore-sized membrane filter. In order to elucidate the involvement of active principles of it, it is sensitive to high temperature, the water was boiled. Water sample thus prepared was spiked E .Coli O157:H7 to evaluate the anti-bacterial ability of the water. Boiling water at 100 degrees Celsius kills microbes, while filtration is becoming increasingly the method of choice for sterilization of biologicals, especially when the product is heat lubile, because the filtration process is inherently non-destructive.
To investigate well-known self-purificatory characteristic of Ganga water, impact of adding E. Coli O157; H 7 on microbial community structure in Milli Q water and Ganga water after incubation of 0, 3, 5 and 7 days was assessed using Biolog Eco Plates. The Eco Plates are intended for environmental samples; they have found application for the assessment of microbial metabolic diversity in water. This technique offer the potential to monitor changes in the microbial diversity caused by environmental fluctuations, management practices and pollution. There was distinct resolution of Milli Q water microbial communities from Ganga water microbial communities spiked with E.Coli O157:H7 Results indicated no impact of adding E. Coli O157:H7 on microbial community structure in Ganga water.
Adding E .Coli O157 : H7 in Milli Q water resulted in significant differences in the microbial community structure. The results attain further importance when one considers the fact that even 5-fold log units higher pathogenic load of E.Coli O157:H7 could not alter Ganga water’s native microbial community structure in the studied environment.
Or in other words, residential bacteria in the Ganga water was immune to the presence of manifold more highly pathogenic E. Coli. The studies clearly demonstrate that Ganga water indeed has certain novel anti-microbial attributes, besides its remarkable fluidity and adaptability in the presence of heavy load of E.Coli O 157: H7 thereby validating the river a “magical” remarkable self-cleansing properties.