Sunday 21st April 2024,
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Satyagraha-Truth Force : Fight to Save Ganga Movie

Satyagraha-Truth Force : Fight to Save Ganga Movie

Australian filmmaker Lisa Sabina Harney (now based in California) recently won the best documentary award at the Delhi International Film Festival for her work, “Satyagraha-Truth Force.”

For the first time in her two-decade-long career, American film-maker Lisa Sabina Harney has made a documentary in India, highlighting the ecological degradation of the Ganga caused by rampant unauthorised mining.

 Satyagraha documents the painful price of standing up for a cause. The San Francisco-based film-maker says she was motivated to make the bilingual film because “mining in the country is vast and illegal and land mafia is exploiting the situation as policymakers turn a blind eye to the neglect of the environment”.

While holidaying in Haridwar in 2010, Lisa discovered that the sacred Ganga occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of numerous Indians. She was inspired by the nearly four-month-long fast undertaken by Swami Nigamananda at Haridwar in 2011 to save the Ganga from pollution caused by illegal mining along the riverbed.

She explains: “After 68 days without food, Swami Nigamananda was admitted to a hospital. He died 43 days later. Swami Shivananda discontinued his 12-day fast after the Uttarakhand Government announced they were putting a stop to illegal mining.” After Swami Nigamananda passed away, Lisa went to his ashram in Haridwar and it was there that she came up with the idea of making the documentary. It required a lot of persuasion on her part to convince an American production house to invest money in this non-commercial venture.

But more than that, making the film was a challenging task because the land mafia tried to prevent her from undertaking the project.

She says the film is sort of a tribute to the sadhus fighting to save the river. “Hats off to the Indian sadhus who are fighting against the sand mining mafia in the country.”


This film deals with the hot topic of corruption in India at a pivotal phase in their history, as the nation emerges on the world stage as a vital economic power.

For over 15 years, Gurudev Swami Shivanand has gambled with his life to save what he believes to be the holiest river in the world – the Ganges – from environmental catastrophe. Where environmentalists have struggled with few discernable results and where Government agencies have proved completely ineffective, Swami Shivanand has behind him a string of successes that have literally saved the river. His fight is a massive undertaking, he and his band of saints are taking on the powerful forces of corporate greed and inherent judicial and governmental corruption.

But Swami Shivanand has a powerful ally; in the year 1998, he says he had a message from God to fight for the river.  Hindu’s believe the Ganges is the physical incarnation of the Divine Mother.

This film documents Swami Shivanand as he embarked on Satyagraha, a spiritual penance known as a fast-unto-death, in late 2011 to stop illegal mining in the most ecologically sensitive area of the Ganges. He was also fasting in protest against the recent death of his diciple, Swami Nigmanand, who he believes was murdered after a mind boggling 73 day Satyagraha. This film also records what is secretly happening to one of the largest river systems in the world and the disastrous consequences should it fail.

On a personal note, while filming, the powerful organizations against this small band of holy people also came after us and tried to destroy our film. You know you are onto something when that happens.

Aside from the undeniable charisma of Gurudev, and the riveting circumstances of his Satyagraha, their story is a reflection of a battle we are all fighting on so many levels. Largely, on how to protect the sacred from the forces of progress who deny that anything has value aside from a fiscal value. This film explores the real cost and real value of devastating our environment, seen through the eyes of India’s saints. According to the saints, the Ganges and its environment is the keeper of special forces that nurture us both physically and spiritually.

Australian filmmaker Lisa Sabina Harney (now based in California) recently won the best documentary award at the Delhi International Film Festival for her work, “Satyagraha-Truth Force.”



Film Info
94 mins
In English & Hindi
HDCam & BluRay & DVD
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Sound: 5.1 Dolby SRD
Rating: Not rated

Satyagraha – Truth Force has just been completed and is being entered into film festivals, while we investigate the best way to get the film out. Our premiere release date has not been set yet, we will let you know on our (blog), facebook page and twitter feed what kind of release we will have. Because of the recent disaster on the river, we will be doing a preview press screening in Delhi to help raise awareness in the place it most counts.

If you live in India and want to see the film, (go here).

DVD Release Information & VOD

SATYAGRAHA – TRUTH FORCE will be released on DVD some time after our premiere release. Please join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook to receive an announcement closer to the release date.

To order for educational or institutional use, please visit Educational Purchase or Rental.

Educational Purchase or Rental

 institutional DVD Sale: Call for availability +510 473 6933 or email

Open Showing Rental: Prices Vary

Film societies, organizations, educational institutions, public libraries, and art galleries can rent or buy our film.

Public Performance Rights are also included when you purchase videos or DVDs from Goddess Films at the institutional price. These permit screenings to group of fewer than 50 people when no admission is charged.

Digital Rights Licenses (DRL) are available for both a 3-year term from the date of the invoice or for the life of the originally encoded digital file. File format may not be upgraded. License is limited to a single secure server with a password protected connection. Rights must be properly limited to users affiliated with your organization. Licenses can be renegotiated with Goddess Films once lapsed.

Goddess Films requires organizations to encode their own files and only from a purchased educational DVD or Blu Ray. A detailed copy of the license is included with the purchase.

If admission is charged, or if the group is more than 50 people, you need to request a quote for an open showing license.

For more purchasing information call (510) 473 6933.


This film was made for the love of the river. The film makers reached deep into their own pockets to produce it, and now we need funds to release the film, specifically we need financial resources to market the film, hire publicists, and pay all the film festival fee’s. If you would like to donate, go here: San Francisco Film Society – US donations are 100% tax deductible.

Aside from financial assistance, we also need help getting the word out. Please email us at if you would like to get involved.



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