Chakra Discussions

Two Mayapur Problems for GBC Attention

by Payonidhi das

Posted August 28, 2006

Swimming safety

Almost every time I go to the Mayapura festival someone drowns in the Ganges or suffers a broken neck diving and sporting there. I just hope the GBC will recommend something to prevent such accidents from happening. This problem has been going on for too long a time, and it is not necessary. Common sense can prevent death or serious injury.

For example, in 1986 some devotees from South America tried to cross the Ganges, and two of them drowned on their way back. In 2005 one devotee broke his neck jumping in the Ganges. Swimming and diving safety is an ongoing problem.

Food distribution

Secondly, Srila Prabhupada once cried that some dhama-basis were fighting with dogs to get prasadam remnants in Mayapura. He ordered there should be a daily pradasam distribution and that no one should go hungry within 10 miles around thetemples. This program does not exist anymore. Although some kitri is daily being distributed in small cups, the program Srila Prabhupada introduced was a full-plate program where everyone could eat to their heart's content. Many Bengalis are very poor and come from faraway villages to see Navadvipa and Mayapura. I am sure Srila Prabhupada would be very pleased if this program were reinstated as he originally wanted it.

Editors' note: Payonidhi prabhu's message is important. It is easy to misjudge the speed of a river, and some people may be unaware that their swimming abilities are less developed than they believe them to be. Assuming that it is safe to swim across the river, even strong swimmers may become tired after a long swim and not have the strength to swim the same distance twice. After having crossed a river once, the current may well have carried one a considerable distance downstream. Attempting to return to the spot from which you set out will require far more physical exertion than the first trip across the river, because the current will be pushing you downstream. You could reduce the swimming effort required on the return trip by walking upstream a distance equal to twice the distance that the river carried you downstream on the first crossing.

To dive safely, one must always have at least 25 feet (8 metres) of unobstructed water in front. Diving into shallow water is extremely dangerous. Safe diving also requires that one be familiar with the place one is diving and know the depth of the water. It is not safe to dive if the water at the point of entry is not at least 15 feet (4.5 metres) deep. It may not be possible to judge the depth if the water carries a lot of suspended particles. According to the Children's Safety Association of Canada, three out of four diving accidents happen at natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. If one is determined to swim, the safest practice is always to walk into the water rather than to dive into it.

Prior to attempting swimming and diving in the Ganges or other rivers, we strongly recommend that a person undergo a progressive program of swimming instruction such as is taught by the Red Cross, a city parks and recreation department, a YMCA/YWCA or other athletic club, or by a university. Many of these groups offer instruction for children, youths or adults. These training programs gradually build up swimming ability as well as strength and confidence, and culminate in very useful advanced lifesaving and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) programs.

We are also concerned if it is the case that food distribution at Mayapura has decreased. Perhaps some of the Mayapura devotees could comment on their perception of the situation and propose some solutions if required.