Rivers in Ancient India (study)

by Archana Sarma | 2019 | 49,356 words

This page relates ‘Descriptions of the rivers in the Jambudvipa’ 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.

11. Descriptions of the rivers in the Jambudvīpa

The entire earth is surrounded by the rivers and Mountains from all directions. There are Jambū, Palakṣa, Śālmalī, Kuśa, Krauñca, Śaka and Puṣkarathe seven continents on this earth. Jambudvīpa is as much as one lakh yojana long and Palakṣa etc., other continents are proportionately larger in an orderly manner. These dvīpas are surrounded by the oceans known as Lavaṇa, (alkaline water) Iṣurasa, (sugarcane juice) Surā(wine), Ghṛta (ghee), Dadhi(curd), Dugdha (milk) and Suddhodaka (sweet water) more than double as compared to the Dvīpas. Priyāvrata, the son of Manu, was the king of these seven dvīpas.[1] This Jambudvīpa consisting of nine segments is surrounded by holy Mountains and rivers. There are seven Kulaparvatas and seven rivers in India. The seven Kulaparvaras are–Māhendra, Malaya, Śuktimān, and Yamūka, Sahya, Vindhya and Pāriyātra. The seven rivers here are—Narmadā, Surasā, Ṛṣikulyā, Bhīmarathī, Kṛṣṇāveṇī, Candrabhāgā and Tāmraparṇī. The six rivers, i.e. Gaṅgā, Yamunā, Godāvarī, Tuṅgabhadrā, Kāverī and Sarayu are capable of sweeping the evils.[2] This beautiful Jambudvīpa is famous for Jambu (Jamunā fruit) and it is as lengthy as one lakh yojana. This Bhāratavarṣa is the best place in this continent.[3] The same description of Jambudvīpa is found in the Liṅgapurāṇa, Agnipurāṇa, Vāyupurāṇa, Matsyapurāṇa, Markaṇḍeyapurāṇa and Viṣṇupurāṇa also.232

Besides these rivers, there are some important rivers mentioned in the different Purāṇas. These are—Aruṇodā, Alakānandā, Ṛṣikūlyā, Kṛṣṇā, Kauśikī, Gaṇḍakī, Vitastā, Cakranadī, Carmanvati, Śona, saptavatī, suṣomā, Vedasmṛti, Mandākinī, Mahānadī, Payasinī, Bhīmarathī, Vaṭodakā, Vaihāyasī, Payoṣṇī, Tuṅgabhadrā, Tāmraparī, Candrarasā, Kauśikī, Kṛtamālā etc. Irāvatī, Devikā, Kuhū, Viśālā, Dhūtapāpā, Bāhudā, Vetravatī, Vṛtraghnī, Veṇī, Mahī, Sānīrā, Śiprā, Citrakūṭā, Karamodā, Kramu, Gaṇḍakī, Ikṣu, chandrabhāgādyā, etc. These names of rivers are found in the Garuḍapurāṇa also.[4] If someone takes bath in these rivers, one is immediately released from the bondage of karmas. Taking bath in these holy rivers is equaled to visiting many holy places.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

nābhiḥ kiṃpuruṣaścaiva harivarṣa ilavṛtaḥ | ramyo hiraṇyayaścaiva kurubhadraśca ketumān || Narasiṃha Purāṇa, 30.5

[2]:

narmadāsurasāṛṣikulyābhīmarathīkṛṣṇāveṇī …………………………………………….. ………………………………………………. sarayurityetā mahānadyaḥ pāpaghnyaḥ || Ibid.,30.13

[3]:

jambunāmnā ca vikhyātaṃ jambudvīpamidaṃ śubham | lakṣayojana vistīrṇamidaṃ śreṣṭhaṃ tu bhāratam || Ibid., 30.14

[4]:

saukaraṃ mathurā yatra nityaṃ sannihito hariḥ | puṣkaraṃ satyatīrthañca jvālātīrtaṃ dineśvaram || indratīrthaṃ kurukṣetraṃ yatra pācī sarasvatī | tapī payoṣṇī nirvindhyā malaḥ kṛṣṇavenikā || godāvarī daṇḍakañca tāmracūḍaṃ sadodakam | dyāvābhūmīśvaraṃ dṛṣṭvā śrīśailaḥ parvateśvaraḥ | asaṃkhyaliṅga…………………………………… …………………………………… svayaṃ hariḥ || veṅkaṭī……………………………………………| ………………………………kāverī kuṭilācalau || candrabhāgā vetravatī vīrabhadraṃ gaṇeśvaram | gokarṇaṃ vilvatīrthañca karmakuṇḍaṃ sātārakam || snānamātreṇa yatrāśu mucyāte karmabandhanāt |

anyānyapi ca tirthānī kṛtāni kṛpayā tava || Garuḍa Purāṇa, (preta khaṇḍa)ch., 6.64,65,74

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