The Four Dragons


“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”

Lao Tzu


In Chinese mythology, dragons are linked with water, rain, lakes and rivers. Wise, beautiful, elegant and gracious, they are the guardians of water, beloved and worshipped. Bold and decisive, they embody energy, optimism, intelligence and perseverance.

China’s four great rivers were named after Dragons who risked the wrath of the Jade Emperor, the ruler of Heaven, to bring rain to the people.  Their punishment was to be imprisoned within four mountains forever.  Even so, determined to bring water to humanity, they turned themselves into four rivers.

In the North, the Black Dragon, Heilongjiang, is the world’s 10th longest river, marking the border between the Russian Far East and North-Eastern China. The Yellow Dragon is connected to the Huanghe or Yellow River in central China, the 6th longest river in the world. Considered the cradle of Chinese civilization, the Yellow River basin was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. The Long Dragon refers to the Changjiang or Yangtze farther south. Third in terms of length, the Yangtze travels 6,418 kilometres from the glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Qinghai to the East China Sea at Shanghai.  Its river basin is home to one-third of the People’s Republic of China’s population. The Pearl Dragon is linked with the Pearl or Zhujiang River, an extensive river system in southern China.  It is named for all of the pearl coloured shells that lie in the bed of the river in the segment that flows through the city of Guangzhou.

In legends and mythologies, humanity recognized that the earth was a source of life, of hope, of renewal and of continuing.  Perhaps, it is time that we remembered these traditions…

“Time Flows away like the water in the river.”


The River Goddess


“The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India

the Light

According to the Bhagavata Purana, Gaṅgā was a goddess that came from the heavens to earth in the form of the Ganges River, to grant salvation to the ancestors of King Bhagirath who had been disrespectful to a meditating sage.  Since that time, she continues to offer a means of purification for all  humanity through her healing waters.   Today, pilgrims come from far and wide to bathe in the sacred river and receive her blessing.

The Ganges runs for 2,520 kilometres, from its source in Uttarakhand, India to its mouth, the Ganges Delta, Bay of Bengal.  It is home to over 140 diverse species of fish and 90 different types of amphibians.  The water from the Ganges is used to irrigate the fertile soil that produces fields of rice, sugarcane, oil seeds, lentils, wheat and potatoes.  Over 400 million people live in Ganges river basin, the highest population of any river basin in the world.

The WWF has included the Ganges River in the “10 Rivers most at Risk.”  It is heavily polluted with human and industrial waste.  As well, water over-extraction for agriculture has increased reliance on ground water.  This has led to deficiencies in the soil composition and reduced water quality.   Mahatma Gandhi once said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”  Even now, there are dedicated people working to reclaim the Ganges.  It will take a coordinated effort and input by all stakeholders to finance, plan, implement and monitor.

It is a noble undertaking.

“Let the mountains talk, let the rivers run. Once more and forever.”

 David Brower