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An elegy for the Narmada and the civilisation that grew along its banks

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The notion of a parikrama as a small journey that may encompass larger truths lies at the heart of Hartosh Singh Bal’s book Waters Close Over Us. Bal travels along the Narmada, tracing the river’s sacred geography through history, reflecting on the streams of thought that have grown along its banks. His musings dwell on Advaita philosophy (Sankara’s legendary debate with the Mimamsa school is believed to have taken place at Mahishmati in the Narmada valley 1200 years ago), 19th century Quaker missionary debates in Hoshangabad, as well as contemporary controversies over large dams and development. Bal is as much a time traveller as a man driving along the river in a car.
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