The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes Epithets of Narmada Explained which is chapter 6 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the sixth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 6 - Epithets of Narmadā Explained

Note: The following are the epithets of Narmadā:
(i) Trikūṭī: The river descended from Mount Trikūṭa (vv 16-17).
(ii) Mahatī: (i) The river lifted up to Mount Ṛkṣa (vv 26-27):
(ii) Of speedily flowing current (vv 30-31).
(iii) Śoṇa: That in which drops from Śiva’s trident fell (v 28).
(iv) Surasā: A river of excellent Rasa or water (v 32).
(v) Kṛpā: A bestover of freedom from Saṃsāra (vv 32-34).
(vi) Mandākinī: A slow-flowing river (v 34).
(vii) Revā: Reverberating all the quarters with sound (Rava) while flowing (vv 37-38).
(viii) Mahārṇavā: Who broke away from the Ocean (v 39).
(ix) Vipāpā: Remover of sins (v 39).
(x) Vipāśā: Remover of the bond of Saṃsāra (v 40).
(xi) Vimalā: With clean, splendid waters (vv 41-42).
(xii) Karabhā; Of lustrous hands (waves) (vv 42-43).
(xiii) Rañjanā: Delìghter of the world (vv 43-44).
(xiv) Vāyuvāhinī: Carrier of every resident on her bank to heaven (v. 44).

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-7. Again, O excellent king, when the end of the third Yuga approached, Lord Nīlalohita assumed the forms of the twelve Suns and burnt the entire ocean-girt earth along with the mountains and forests. Maheśvara then was in the form of Kāla, the destroyer. Thereafter he became an enormously big cloud and flooded the entire earth with water. His body assumed a dark physical form and the earth was marked with lightning and Moon as though hit with a weapon and flooded with water. The entire universe was turned into a vast expanse of water. By means of his Māyā, he withdrew the universe into himself and slept in the translucent water. In the ocean enveloped in darkness, when the element of Vāyu (Wind) assumed the activity of Maheśvara, I wandered about for a period of a thousand divine years. O great king, I meditated upon the Lord in the form of Oṃkāra, the Lord by whom everything was rendered impenetrable. I was meditating in the pure water when the mobile and immobile beings got merged in that terrible ocean. I suddenly espied a Mayūra (peacock) embellished with golden feathers with wonderful eye-like marks of various colours. The peacock was blue-throated and had excellent eyes.

8-20. Then the Mayūra (peacock) of great prowess moved about within the ocean-like expanse of water which it agitated much through its great shrill cry. The three-crowned peacock was Śiva, the protector of the three worlds. He agitated the waters in the form of a peacock. He saw the river of great flow of current, whirling within the great ocean. On seeing her whirling rapidly with waves after waves, Mahādeva in the form of Mayūra asked her: “Who are you, O splendid lady with a permanent physical form? In the course of the great annihilation you have not become destroyed, even when the multitudes of Devas and Asuras have perished in the great ocean-like expanse of rivers and lakes. Who are you, O lotus-eyed one, who continue to move about? How is it that you did not get destroyed?”

Narmadā said:

With your favour, O Lord of Devas, I have no death. Do create the universe once again, O Lord. The night has come to an end.

On being told thus, Mahādeva shook the cage-like plumage of feathers. Then from the middle of the cage, from the plumage issued forth all these: The great Daityas and Devas were born of his wings. The river Narmadā began to flow in between those two groups. Thereupon another great mountain was seen, O eminent scion of the family of Bharata. It had three huge peaks and it appeared like a horned bull. It was well-known by the name Trikūṭa. It was embellished with all jewels. The river descended from Trikūṭa and flooded the earth. Hence she became well known as Trikūṭī. She is the greatest saviour of the Pitṛs.

From the second peak Gaṅgā spread over the surface of the earth. The third peak split into seven pieces. They became the seven Kulaparvatas in Jaṃbūdvīpa.

All the things of the world were born, such as planets, constellations, moon, villages, rivers, four types of living beings, viz. the oviparous, the viviparous, the sweat-born and the germinating ones (i.e. trees and plants that pierce through the ground and grow). Thus the entire universe issued forth from the Mayūra formerly. Everything, O tiger among men, was born of Mahādeva.

21-27. Then the Lord of Devas separated the rivers and oceans and said to Narmadā: “You go to the southern quarter. Just as in the northern country Jāhnavī is the meritorious sacred river, destroyer of great sins, you shall be the splendid river in the South. Just as Gaṅgā originating from my head is highly meritorious, so also indeed better than Gaṅgā, you shall be meritorious undoubtedly. With a part of mine I shall be by your side. You shall be a panacea for those who are defiled by great sins.”

On being told thus by the Lord, she became the Southern Gaṅgā and destroyer of great sins. She hurriedly went to the southern region of the country. With the blessings of the Moon-crested Lord, she went to the Ṛkṣa mountain whence she, being urged by Mahādeva, proceeded with the full complement of the currents of water. She was called Mahatī by Mahādeva, O Lord of the earth, because she was lifted up with great speed.

28-34. While the Lord was performing the penance, drops fell down from the tip of the trident. Hence she became known by the name Śoṇa.

Those rivers are seventeen in number. Of all the rivers, Narmadā is the most meritorious, since it had issued forth from the body of Rudra and also through the grant of the boon by the noble soul.

Due to the blessings of Śaṅkara, the divine river is the destroyer of great sins. She is called Mahatī also, because she was seen in the terrible, great ocean. Her limbs were prominent and she is huge in size. Hence also she is called Mahatī.

On being stirred and agitated by the elephants of the quarters comparable to clouds (in size), the waters became turbid, but she has excellent Rasa (water). Hence she is (called) Surasā

Bestowing freedom from fear, she is sympathetic to all the worlds immersed in the ocean of worldly existence. Hence she is remembered as Kṛpā.

Formerly in the meritorious Kṛtayuga she was embellished with the divine Mandāra flowers strewn from the Kalpa trees. The river is full of Rohītaka fish. So she flows slowly. Hence she is remembered as Mandākinī.

35-45. She came to this world quickly piercing through the great ocean. She is worthy of being adored by Suras and Siddhas. Hence she is Mahārṇavā

She has clusters of lilies of various colours. She is agitated by Ṛkṣas (bears) and Dvipas (elephants). She breaks through the large mountain and proceeds to the great ocean. With great Rava (sound) she makes all the quarters reverberate, flooding all places and shining everywhere. Hence she is remembered as Revā.

She makes those miserable (ones) on account of the sufferings of wives and children due to the curses, wherewith they are overwhelmed, free from sins. Hence she is remembered as Vipāpā.

She redeems and liberates from harassment due to bondage and the great misery caused by faeces, urine etc., as well as dust and mire and blood. Hence she is called Vipāśā.

She is the redeemer from the ocean of worldly existence. Narmadā has waters free from impurities. Her face is as splendid as the clear moon. In the great, awful envelopment of darkness, she is highly lustrous. For all these reasons, she is called Vimalā by learned men, O excellent king.

Her hands (waves) are as lustrous as the rays of the sun and moon. As she flows the whole universe rejoices. For all these reasons, she is called Karabhā.

Merely by her sight, she delights the worlds, O descendant of Bharata. The meaning of the root ^Rañj is to delight, O excellent king. Hence she is called Rañjanā.

She takes even grass, creepers, hedges, creatures and birds to heaven (once they grow nearby). Hence she is called Vāyuvāhinī.

He who knows the (meaning of) names in this manner and particularly the way she flows, goes undoubtedly to Rudraloka after being liberated from sins.

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