Hindu Of Universe
Indian sub continent has a vast network of perennial rivers which
are considered sacred in Hinduism. The various rivers have different
legends about their origins. The different sacred rivers of India are
Ganga is one of the longest rivers of the world and an integral part of Hinduism. River Bhagirathi originates in the Gangotri Glacier of Himalayas and joins with River Alaknanda to form the River Ganga. It flows through the Northern Plains of India forming a rich network of tributaries and streams and ultimately ends in the Bay of Bengal.
Ganga has an exalted status in the Hindu religion. The holy waters of River Ganga are utilised for baptisms of children and the last remains of an individual are also released in to the river. It is said that the River Ganga takes the soul to the doors of Heaven. Ganga water is an essential ingredient of every religious offering like "Prasadam" and "Panchamrit".
Legends about River Ganga are interwoven into the fabric of Hindu culture. It is said that Ganga was the second daughter of Meru (Himalayas) and resided in Heaven. On Earth, there was a king called Sagara who had sixty thousand and one sons. The sixty thousand sons were cursed by Sage Kapila and their souls would never be released unless their remains were washed by holy waters of Ganga. The great grandson of Sagara - Bhagirath did severe penance to propitiate Goddess Ganga to come to Earth. However, the impact of Ganga arriving on Earth would be very huge and could not be borne by Mother Earth. So Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva to help him. Finally, the river came down and fell into Shiva's hair and then Earth. The place is presumed to be the Gangotri Glacier. Bhagirath led the way to the place where the ashes of sixty thousand of his ancestors lay. Thus, they were liberated and Ganga formed an ocean here called the Gangasagar of modern day. This is the place where Ganga meets the bay of Bengal.
Yamuna or Jamuna originates in the Champasar Glacier in Uttaranchal, India. It flows through the northern plains and joins River Ganga at Prayag/Allahbad/Sangam. It is a major tributary of River Ganga.
The River Yamuna is considered holy in conjunction with Rivers Ganga and Saraswati whom the river meets at Prayag. It is said that a dip in the holy waters of Prayag/Allahbad helps in attainment of salvation. River Yamuna criss crosses the entire northen plains and its waters are extensively used for irrigation.
Legends say that River Jamuna/Yamuna and Yama (God of Death) are the offspring of Surya(Sun) and therefore, anyone taking a dip in the River Yamuna should not fear death. Yamuna is also said to be the consort of Shri Krishna. She went around him and then descended to Eath to free people from the fear of death. Jamuna is also said to have emerged from the left side of Lord Krishna and after flowing through the plains, the river ascends again as stream to flow towards "Baikuntha" (Abode of Lord Krishna).
Saraswati is no longer in existence and is said to have originated from Saraswati-Rupin Glacier confluence at Naitwar in Uttaranchal. There are numerous references to the River Saraswati in the ancient and Vedic texts. Saraswati is also said to join the Ganga and Yamuna rivers at Prayag/Allahabad making it the holiest of all confluences that leads to salvation of human soul.
It is believed that Saraswati had three tributaries Sutlej, Drishadvati and Yamuna. They flowed together along a channel, presently known as the Ghaggar River. The river finally ended in the Arabian Sea through the Rann of Kutch. Saraswati was considered the seventh river of the Vedic Sapta Sindhu river system.
Legends state that Aryans fought with the non-Aryan tribes on the banks of River Saraswati. Lord Vishnu requested Saraswati to disappear underground. Thus, the tribals were deprived of water and were forced to abandon the area. So Saraswati is also known as Prithudhar (subjugator of Aryans).
The legendary River Sindhu/Indus formed an integral part of the Sapt Sindhu River system. The basin of this river gave birth to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Indus rises in Tibet near the Mansarovar Lake, flows west through Kashmir and Pakistan and then empties itself in Arabian Sea through the Rann of Kutch.
River Indus provides the key water source for the economy of India and Pakistan. It is considered auspicious because of the Hindu belief that Aryans settled on the banks of Sindhu and thus, Hinduism started. River Sindhu is one of the foremost rivers to be treated as a male.
The Brahmaputra means the "Son of Brahma" and the river rises in Jima Yangzong glacier near Mount Kailash in the northern Himalayas. It enters India in the far eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh after traveling hundreds of miles across Tibet as the River Tsangpo. This is one of the largest rivers of the world and ends in Bay of Bengal. It acts as a good source of water for irrigation, fishing, rituals and for navigation.
According to Kalika Purana, there lived a sage
named Shantanu and his wife Amogha. They prayed to
Lord Brahma for a son and Lord Brahma impressed with their piety,
blessed them with his son whom he wanted to create for the benefit of
humanity. Shantanu placed the son - Brahmaputra amidst the holy
mountains of Kailash, Gandhamadana, Jarudhi, and Sambaka. Brahmaputra
assumed the form of a large mass of water where the Gods and heavenly
maidens would have their bath. Thus, Brahmaputra is also a male river.
The River Godavari rises at Triambak village(Triambakeshwar Jyotirlinga) in Nasik, in Maharashtra. Godavari flows southeast across south-central India into Andhra Pradesh and empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is considered a sacred river in South India. At Dhavaleswaram, Andhra pradesh, River Godavari splits into Gautami and Vasista, thus forming a very fertile delta. Godavari ends into Bay of Bengal. Godavari is believed to grant a new direction to every life and absolve people of their sins. It is used for irrigation purposes, for baptisms and for releasing the ashes of dead people.
Legends tell the story of Godavari as being brought to Earth at Triambak mountain in Maharashtra by Rishi Gowtama. The story behind the descent of Godavari to Earth is that Gowtama was married to the beautiful Ahalya and Lord Indra lusted after her. Once, Indra assumed the disguise of Gowtama and led Ahalya in his embrace. The enraged rishi cursed his wife who became a rock and was absolved by Lord Rama. Indra was cursed with a life of diseases and he did severe penance to overcome that curse. His penance ended with a dip in the holy Godavari which had been brought to Earth at Gowtama's insistence.
River Narmada is one of the most sacred rivers of Central India and it rises in the Amarkantak Hills of Madhya Pradesh. This river flows from east to west and empties in the Arabian Sea in the Bharauch district of Gujarat. Merely by seeing the Narmada, a man is freed from all his sins and becomes pure.
Once, Lord Shiva sat on the peak of Amarkantak Hills in a beautiful trance that gave birth to a female form. He named her "Narmada" since she had inspired "Narma" (tenderness) in his heart. He also blessed her with lifelong freedom. However, the Gods tried to capture her and she slipped through their fingers taking the form of the River Narmada. AdiShankaracharya met his guru Govinda Bhagavatpada on the banks of river Narmada.
Cauvery (Lopamudra devi, Brahma's daughter, wife of Agastya Muni) River Kaveri originates at Talakaveri in the Western Ghats, Karnataka. It flows south and across the southern Deccan plateau through the southeastern lowlands. Kaveri makes a huge delta and empties into the Bay of Bengal. The legend of the Cauvery tells the tale of a girl called Lopamudra, the daughter of Brahma. However, Brahma allowed Sage Kavera-muni to adopt her. She resolved to become a river to purify all sins and to obtain blessings for her adoptive father. It is said that even Ganga resorts to going underground once an year to the source of the Kaveri, to purge herself from the pollution contracted from the crowd of sinners who have bathed in her waters.
Krishna originates at Mahabaleswar in Maharashtra and meets the sea in the Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladevi in Andhra Pradesh. The traditional source of the river is a spout from the mouth of a statue of a cow in the ancient temple of Mahadev in Mahabaleshwar.
The waters of River Krishna are considered sacred for religious rituals and for releasing ashes of the dead people. The river irrigates a huge land area and makes a fertile delta.
Legends state that the River Krishna is Lord Vishnu himself who turned into a river due to a curse on the Trimurti by Devi Savitri (Goddess Parvati). It is said that its tributaries Venna and Koyana are said to be Siva and Brahma themselves.