Nila Grieves with Narmada: A Memoir of Anil Dave Ji

The image of any individual is never static; it is subject to the vagaries of time, waxing and waning with the doings and decision he undertakes in his life time. ~Anil Dave Ji

People walk into our lives and destiny has defined reasons for it. Destiny played its role with the entry of Anil Dave ji as well. River ‘Nila’, Bharathapuzha ‘River of Bharatha’ became the reason for his connect to Kerala when he met Sri J Nanda Kumar Ji at ‘Nadi ka Ghar’ on the banks of Narmada.

Anil Dave Ji visited Kerala to see Nila. His visit created a history that relates back to the ancient tradition started by our ancestors called the ‘Narmada Parikrama’ – (circumambulation of the sacred river – Narmada). He set rolling a similar tradition here called the ‘Nila Parikrama’ during his visit.

Nila Parikrama defined that Narmada and Nila are one and the fact that the culture and spirituality represented by this tradition are the same. Then he invited us to visit the Narmada.

Nila grieves with Narmada

Anil Madhav Dave’s departure induced immense sadness not only in the Narmada but also in Nila. He participated in the International River Festival when he was the Member of Parliament in 2014. As a part of this festival, he visited all the rivers in India and Nila was an integral part of his visit. He stayed on the banks of Nila for two days and travelled along the length and breadth of this river flowing from Pallakad to Ponnani. He stood witness for the merger of Gayathri, Kalpathi, Kannadi and Thootha into Nila.

He visited the cultural centres on the banks of Nila that included the visit to the famous ritualistic village called Panjal know for the Athiratram yaga, (a special yagam capable of making rain) and interacted with the people living there. This great environmentalist concluded his Nila Parikrama with the visit to the Pambadi that evoked the history of Pancha Pandavas, the final resting place of great poet Vallathol, Kannanoor Kayam, Thrithala of Panthirukulam, the presence of great poet Akkitham, Thunjanparambu and Thirunava.

He mentioned that Nila does not only belong to Kerala but had emerged as a river that encompasses all the cultural heritage of India. He made sure to carry the traditional umbrella (olakuda) of Kerala that he bought from the banks of Nila. The pottery, weaving and the wealth of fishery have been highlighted in his Diary note. He found time to take a seat in silence at the great temples like Thiruvilluvamala, Thiruvanjikuzhi, Thirumattakode, Thrithala and Thirunavaya. For him, Nila has always been the Narmada. He tasted a drop Nila. He remembered that he has read of Nila being the Ganges of Kerala where the departed souls attain salvation on its bank. During the International River Festival held in Bhopal in 2015, he spoke about Nila, how it became the so-called Bharathapuzha and presented the efforts to conserve this river. He also mentioned that Nila is India’s river and it is our responsibility to save the river.

Later in 2016, when he became the member of Central Ministry, the members of Nila Vichara Vedi visited him to seek his guidance. He reminded us of conducting a situational analysis of Nila. In a meeting later, he took out time to discuss and come up with a project plan to analyze the different levels at which the situation of Nila is to be studied, the challenges that need to be mitigated. He promised that he will take part and inaugurate the National River Conference which was conducted on 2nd June 2017 at Cheruthuruthi and announce the team working for Nila study during this event.

Dave, the lover of nature was known as the son of Narmada. He always said Nila Prakrima will also become like Narmada Parikrama. His efforts in this area proved that Nila and Narmada stood equally important and dear to him.

When he visited Calicut for the BJP National Executive, he found time to enjoy the beauty of nature in Kerala and understand the problems attached to it. Nilambur Teak museum and Kanoli Plot where places he visited during this time. His voyage on a boat through the Chaliyar river to personally understand the issues at the mangrove forests of Calicut attracted a lot of attention and was intensely discussed. He always took immense care of environmental situations and problems. While humanity runs towards the advanced development compromising water, nature, climatic changes that are vital for our existence, he preferred taking thoughtful and wise decisions. His views and decision were for the people of Kerala with regards to the environmental issues, Aranmula Airport and Munnar encroachment. He was in regular interaction with the environmentalists of Kerala. He had a healthy relationship with great poet Padmashri Akittham Namboothiri, water scientist Shri TNN Bhattathiripad, honourable governor of Mizoram Sri Kummanam Rajashekharan and veteran Sangh Pracharak Sri J Nandakumar. The developmental seminar conducted by the daily newspaper of Kerala, the Janmabhumi, was inaugurated by him. His talk about Kerala backed attention and appreciation during this event. He mentioned that Kerala should move toward environmental friendly development immediately.

Narmada Samagra on the banks of Narmada is a superior example of an initiative he took. Narmada Mayya as it is called echoed the protection, conservation and cleaning efforts made on the bank of this river ranging from Amarakhand to Gujarat and it is commendable.

Several representatives across the country took part in the International River Festival held at Hoshangabad. Around 300 rivers were represented by several environmentalists and their committees. Beyond Cepenhagen, a book written by Dave Ji on environmental changes attracted global attention. He has presented several environmental issues and thesis at various international platforms including UN.

Nadi Ka Ghar at Bhopal will not see Anil Madhava Dave anymore. His journey has become stagnant like the end of a flowing river. He faced the challenges of life by starting new initiatives. The will he wrote a few days before his demise reminds us of his importance. He is a person who implemented the ethics and values of Nationalistic ideology inculcated in him by respected Doctor Ji, Guruji and Deenadayal Ji.

I personally lost hope and courage when Anil Ji departed from this world. He has mentioned about three types of people in his book about Shivaji.

He says – A third category is to be found in the timeless tradition of India. This is of those genuine seekers and seers. Who has transcended all worldly desire of aggrandizement of any kind, They carry on their task of enlightenment in a silent, selfless manner and quit the moral world when their task is done these categories of leaders belonged to the completely realized state of being.

Vipin Koodiyedath
Gen secretary
Nila Vicharavedi