by Archana Sarma | 2019 | 49,356 words
This page relates ‘Other Rivers in the Samhitas’ 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.
The river Vipāṭ and Śutudri in the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā:
There are so many important subject-matters which are placed in the whole range of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā. There are about twenty such dialogue hymns out of which a few are very famous for their popularities. The dialogue of Viśvāmitra and the rivers (Ṛgveda Saṃhitā, 3.33) are famous for their theme. In it, Viśvāmitra, the poet, implores the rivers Vipāṭ and Śutudrī, which are in cluster, to be shallowed and thus facilitated him and his personnel to cross the rivers.
The rivers initially argued that they were flowing along the path inducted by the Lords.Ultimately, however, the rivers surrenderd to Viśvāmitra and favoured him with a fordable passage.
Sāyaṇācārya, in his commentary, explains the term Vipāṭ and Śutudrī thus respectively. —
kulavipātanāt vipāśanādvā vimocanādvā vipāṭ/
śukṣipraṃ tu tunnā tunneva dravati gaccatīti śutudrī
The Vipāṭ and Śutudrī rivers impelled by Indra flow together to the ocean like charioteers to their goal. Again, river Śatudrī is addressed as the most maternal river by the poet Viśvāmitra. The poet Viśvāmitra went to the river Vipāṭ which flows towards the ocean like parent cows hastening to caress the calf.
Again, the poet Viśvāmitra invokes the rivers (Vipāṭ and Śutudrī) to take rest for a moment who are going together to the soma (plant). Viśvāmitra, the son of Kauśika, earnestly addresses the river Śutudrī to help him who is very near to him. Viśvāmitra speaks that since rivers have permitted him to cross so he is very grateful to them (Vipāṭ and Śutudrī) who are actually worthy of adoration.
The river Gaṅgā:
The Gaṅgā was the bordering river of the Saptasindhavaḥ Pradeśa. The river Gaṅgā is also known as Jāhnabi. Though, Gaṅgā is considered a helping river of the Sindhu river, this river has not been given so importance like the other seven rivers of the Saptasindhavaḥ Pradeśa. Thus, it is proved that the Ṛgvedic Gaṅgā was a minor river. The present Gaṅgā is not different to that of the Ṛgvedic times but its size have been changed and enlarged.
The river Chenāb or Asiknī:
The river Puruṣṇī or Ravi:
Again, in another mantra of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, it is called as a ‘great stream’ (mahānadī), the name is certainly that of the river later called Ravi (Irāvatī), as recognized by Yāskācārya as—
irāvatīṃ puruṣṅītyāhuḥ/parvavatī kutilagāminī ||
The river Gomatī:
In some mantra of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, there is a mention of the river Gomatī. Besides these, in the Nadīstuti of the tenth maṇḍala of the Ṛgvedaṃhitā, Gomatī, ‘possessing cows’, is mentioned as a river. Again, in another mantra of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, the accentuation of Gomatī shows that a river meant.
In the other Saṃhitās, there is no mention of Gomatī as a river.
The river Dṛṣadvatī:
The name of this river is mentioned in the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā along with the Sarasvatī and the Āpaya.
The river Kubha:
This river is mentioned twice in the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā. According to R.T.H. Griffith, this river is indentical with the modern Kabul river.
The river Sarayu:
In some other mantras of the Ṛgvedasaṃhitā, there is also a mention of the river Sarayu.
Thus, it is found that in the Saṃhitā literature, different rivers serve the different activities. Some of them perform the important role and some other act as subordinate river.
Footnotes and references:
pra parvatānāmuśatī upasthādaśvaeiba viṣite hāsamāne | gāveva śubhre mātarā rihāṇe vipāṭccutudrī payasā jabete || Ṛgveda Saṃhitā, 3.33.1
Sāyaṇācārya’s com. on Ṛgveda Saṃhitā, Ibid.
Ibid., 6.20.25; 10.75.5
yattvā pṛcccādījānaḥ kuhayā kuhayākṛte | eṣo apaśrito valo gomatīmava tiṣṭhati || Ṛgveda Saṃhitā, 8.24.30;5.62.19; 8.25.30
yattvā pṛcccādījānaḥ kuhayā kuhayākṛte | eṣo apasrito valo gomatīmava tiṣṭhatī || Ibid., 8.24.30
rasānitabhā kubhā krumumibaḥ sindhuni | susartvā rasayā tyātvaṃ sindho kubhayā || Ibid., 5.53.9; 10.75.6