Why are there trees on banks of Ganga River

One man reached Ramakrishna. He was going to Varanasi to take a holy dip — but he was interested in Ramakrishna, so before going, he went to touch his feet. And Ramakrishna said, “But what is the need to go to Varanasi, because the Ganges is coming here” — just behind his temple where they were sitting, the Ganges was flowing. “The Ganges is coming to Calcutta itself. Where are you going?”  But the man said, “In the scriptures the Ganges in Varanasi has a specialty. It is the same Ganges, but in Varanasi if you take a bath then all your sins are washed away.” 

Ramakrishna was a very simple man. He said, “With my blessings you can go, but remember one thing. Have you seen? On the bank of the Ganges there are big trees.”  The man said, “Yes. I have been there once when I was very young with my father. But why are you mentioning those trees?”  He said, “I am mentioning those trees because people don’t know their purpose. The Ganges is great — you take a dip and all your sins leave you immediately. But these “sins” sit on the trees and they wait for you!

How long can you remain in the Ganges? You can manage as long as you want — one hour, two hours, one day, two days — but finally you will have to come out. 

That man said, “I will just take the bath and come out. It will take five minutes at the most, in such cold weather…. But this is strange. Nobody told me that all those sins are sitting on the trees.”  Ramakrishna said, “And the moment you put on your clothes… you are putting on clothes and the sins are coming back down on you, settling. And sometimes it happens that somebody else’s sins — if they like you…

This man looks beautiful. That man is already dead, finished; this man is good, young, has some possibilities of committing more sins’ — they may drop on you; that is the greatest difficulty. Yours will certainly come back upon you, and others’…. All those trees are full of sins, so try to save yourself somehow.”  He said, “How can I save myself? You can’t see sins. Neither do I see them when I take the bath nor will I be able to see them when they descend upon me again!”  

Ramakrishna said, “That is up to you. That is why I don’t go there, because it is absolutely useless. Those trees are not just uselessly standing there, for centuries they have been doing their job.”  The man said, “You have created such a doubt in me… I will go home and think again, whether to go or not. It is an unnecessary wastage if this is going to happen. And you have made me afraid also — others’ sins, which I have not committed at all!” 

The priests are giving you shortcuts because you are lazy. You really don’t want to do anything for your inner search.  The heaven is not somewhere far above in the clouds. It is within you, and for that you don’t need to go to the Ganges or to go to Kaaba. You need to go to yourself.

Source: from book “Osho upanishad” by Osho

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