Monday, 30 December 2013


River Narmada is one of the most sacred of the five holy rivers of India. This river forms an important connection between the Arabian Sea and the Ganges river. It flows through central India as the fifth largest river on the Indian subcontinent. It is the Life line of Madhya Pradesh, flowing westwards over a length of 1,312kms. The Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas refer to it often. The Rewa Khand of Vayu Puran and the Rewa Khand of Skand Puran are completely devoted to the story of the birth and the significance of the River and hence Narmada is also called Rewa. Narmada is also known as Narbada (Nerbudda).

The Narmada basin, hemmed between Vindya and Satpura ranges, extends over an area of 98,796 km2 (38,145.3 sq mi) and lies between east longitudes 72 degrees 32' to 81 degrees 45' and north latitudes 21 degrees 20' to 23 degrees 45' lying on the northern extremity of the Deccan Plateau. The basin covers large areas in the states of Madhya Pradesh (86%), Gujarat (14%) and a comparatively smaller area (2%) in Maharashtra. In the river course of 1,312 km (815.2 mi) explained above, there are 41 tributaries, out of which 22 are from the Satpuda range and the rest on the right bank are from the Vindhya range. Dhupgarh (1,350m), near Pachmarhi is the highest point of the Narmada basin.

The basin has five well defined physiographic regions. They are:(1) The upper hilly areas covering the districts of Shahdol, Mandla, Durg, Balaghat and Seoni, (2) The upper plains covering the districts of Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Sagar, Damoh, Chhindwara, Hosangabad, Betul, Raisen and Sehore, (3) The middle plains covering the districts of Khandwa, part of Khargone, Dewas, Indore and Dhar, (4) The lower hilly areas covering part of the west Nimar, Jhabua, Dhulia, Narmada and parts of Vadodara, and (5) the lower plains covering mainly the districts of Narmada, Bharuch, and parts of Vadodara.

The Narmada River is also known by a few other names such as: Daksinaganga mentioned in Skanda Purana, Indija, Purvaganga, Mekaladrija, Mekalasutra or Mekalakanyaka (Amarakosa) and Somabhava. There are many legends regarding the origin of the Narmada. According to a myth, once, Lord Shiva, meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva`s sweat gathered in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river - the Narmada. Another legend has it that two teardrops that fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, yielded two rivers - the Narmada and the Son.

Legends also say that for Lord Shiva, the Hindu God, the river is particularly sacred on account of its origin, and it is often called Shankari or the daughter of Shankar. All the pebbles rolling on its bed are said to take the shape of his emblem with the saying - Narmada Ke Kanker utte Sankar that is a popular saying in the Hindi belt of India. This saying means that `pebble stones of Narmada gets a personified form of Shiva`. These lingam shaped stones are called Banalinga or Banashivalingas. These pebbles are much sought after for daily worship by the Hindus. The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu is constructed by Rajaraja Chola and possesses one of the biggest Banalingas. Adi Shankara met his guru Govinda Bhagavatpada on the banks of river Narmada. Important places of pilgrimage along this river are Amarkantak, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Mahadeo temples, Nemawar Siddeshwar Mandir, Chausath Yogini, Chaubis Avatar Temple and others.

According to a Puranic story, the 60 million Gandharvas, defeated the Nagas and took over their kingdom and treasures. The Nagas went to Vishnu for help. He asked them to get Purukutsa’s help. They sent Narmada their sister, to ask for Purukutsa’s help. He agreed and she led him into the nether world of the Nagas. Empowered by Vishnu, Purukutsa fought against the Gandharvas, ultimately defeating them.
The Nagas then declared that whoever remembers this story of Narmada leading Purukutsa, would not be affected by the venom of snakes. Narmada went on to marry Purukutsa.


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