Rivers in Ancient India (study)

by Archana Sarma | 2019 | 49,356 words

This page relates ‘Derivation of the term Nadi’ of the study on the rivers in ancient India as reflected in the Vedic and Puranic texts. These pages dicsusses the elements of nature and the importance of rivers (Nadi) in Vedic and Puranic society. Distinctive traits of rivers are investigated from descriptions found in the Vedas (Samhitas), Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads and Puranas. The research is concluded by showing changing trends of rivers from ancient to modern times.

6. Derivation of the term Nadī

The Sanskrit word nadī (river) is derived from the root nad. They are so called because they produce a sound, i.e. they are roaring—nadanā imā bhavanti.[1]

In the Nirukta, There are thirty-seven words which are synonyms of Nadī, are found.[2] These are—Avanayaḥ [are—Avanaya], Yavyāḥ [Yavyā], Khāḥ [Khā] Sīrāḥ [Sīrā], Srotyaḥ [Srotya], Anvaḥ [Anva], Dhunayaḥ [Dhunaya], Rujānāḥ [Rujānā], Vakṣaṇāḥ [Vakṣaṇā], Khādo Arnāḥ [Arnā], Rodhackraḥ [Rodhackra], Haritaḥ [Harita], Saritaḥ [Sarita], Agruvaḥ [Agruva], Navanvaḥ [Navanva], Vadhvaḥ [Vadhva], Hiraṇyavarnāḥ [Hiraṇyavarnā], Rohitaḥ [Rohita], Sasrutaḥ [Sasruta], Arṇaḥ [Arṇa], Sindhavaḥ [Sindhava], Kulyāḥ [Kulyā], Varyaḥ [Varya], Urvyaḥ [Urvya], Irāvatyaḥ [Irāvatya], Pārvatyaḥ [Pārvatya], Sravantyaḥ [Sravantya], Ūrjasvatyaḥ [Ūrjasvatya], Payasvatyaḥ [Payasvatya], Tarasvatyaḥ [Tarasvatya], Sarasvatyaḥ [Sarasvatya], Harasvatyaḥ [Harasvatya], Rodhasvatyaḥ [Rodhasvatya], Vāsvatyaḥ [Vāsvatya], Ajirāḥ [Ajirā], Mātaraḥ [Mātara], Nadyaḥ.

In this context Durgācārya comments that—

nadīnāṃ nāmāni, uttarāṇi prakṛtebhya udakanāmabhyaḥ |
avanatena nimnena pradeśena yāntītyavanaḥ |
hvayantyo yāntīti yahvayaḥ | khyātavyā bhavantīti khā |
sarantīti sirāḥ | ityevamādi yojyam ||[3]

The word nadī is derived from the root nad by adding the suffix ṇīp. In another sense, the eternal feminine gender words ending with long ī and long ū are technically termed as nadī in grammar not in the sense of river. For this purpose Pāṇini has given the sūtra as—yū stryākhayau nadī|[4] For example gourī, vadhū etc.

Bhaṭṭojī Dikṣīta also commented on this sūtra thus—

īdūdantau nityastrīliṅgau nadīsaṅjñā staḥ /
pūrvaṃ stryākhyasyopasarjanatve’pi nadītvaṃ vaktavyamityartaḥ|[5]

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

Nirukta, 1.2.24

[2]:

nadīnāmānyuttarāṇi saptatriṃśat || Ibid., 1.2.24

[3]:

Durgācārya’s com. on Ibid

[4]:

Pāṇini, Aṣṭādhyāyī, 1.4.3

[5]:

Bhaṭṭojī Dikṣīta, Vaiyākaraṇasiddhāntakaumudī, 1.4.3

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