Prabhasa Tirtha

In Bharatiya tradition, when a large river in the course of its flow forks out clearly enough into two streams, either one or both of which being named differently from the mother river, the forking spot is considered a holy place and the waters there are called a sangama or triveni. If one or more small rivers join a bigger one and flow along with it thereafter, losing their individual identity, then too we have the same sanctity and nomenclature. Where a river joins the sea you have a sangama too with slightly less holiness attributed to it.
There are two special Trivenis in India both involving two minor rivers joining a major river, of considerable sanctity, where Sanatanists would dearly love to carry out ancestral worship tarpanas on Soma Amavasya days (When a new moon day happens to be also a Monday). In both of them, the river Sarasvati is involved as a participant in the confluence.
Most Indians have visited or definitely heard of the city of Prayag/ Allahabad, where the Yamuna joins the Ganga and where Sanatanists believe that a third river with sub-terranian flow up to the point, the Sarasvati also joins the two. People of Gujarat and others who have read the Bhagavatapurana have heard of the other Triveni in Prabhasapattana, a part of the famous city of Somnath, where the rivers Hiranya and Kapila are believed to join the Sarasvati before the latter flows on to meet the ocean. We have only one river named Hiranya in the place these days. But pilgrims know exactly where the triveni confluence takes place. The Bhagavata Purana had told them that their beloved Lord Krishna had chosen that place for ending his mortal avatara.
The mighty river that was Sarasvati is no longer a myth thanks to the large volume of recent excavations that have been made close to where it had flowed a few millennia ago and any number of artifacts indicating the river to have been large enough to accommodate large vessels transporting the products of busy metalworking artisans and traders who flourished in the area. Scholars curious about these developments will benefit immensely by perusing the prolific writings of Dr S. Kalyanaraman, Director, Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai. They should definitely begin their studies by going through the proceedings of the Conference held in October 2008 at India International Centre, New Delhi on ‘The Vedic River Sarasvati and Hindu Civilization’, which had been edited ably and presented with an illuminating Foreword by Dr Kalyanaraman.

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4 Replies to “Prabhasa Tirtha”

  1. Dear Sri Partha
    Greetings after a very long time!
    You have posted this article just today and I am glad to be the first one to comment here.
    Just this morning, I heard a famous upanyasaka remind us once again that, we can, just by thinking with devotion of the holy rivers, “bring them” over to wherever we may be having a bath.
    Sarasvathi indeed inspired great thoughts and their outpourings in the form of verses.
    As you suggest, it would be wonderful if proper studies can be taken up to establish what our ancient literature talks about .
    Just imagining great, big vessels cruising a mighty river, all untouched by modern water wars is inspiring.
    Thank you.
    Warm regards

    1. Dear Narensomu,
      Your Upanyasaka is right . A similar belief is what prompts mutual greetings exchanged in Tamil communities on Deepavali mornings whether one was able to have Ganga Snana. The power of faith gets compounded several-fold because of a very large number of people believing at around the same time that the Ganga is visiting their houses.
      The Saraswati is held in great veneration in India since Rgvedic times. During the period covered in Valmiki’s Ramayana, it was, of course in full flow. Towards the end of the epoch covered in Mahabharata, there is evidence of some portions of the river drying up, as noticed by Parasurama. In an arc spanning the Bangla, UP,Rajasthan , Gujarat, Maharashtra and Konkan, we have people who call themselves Saraswats. They must have migrated away from where the Saraswati started drying up.
      Warm regards. Partha

  2. Dr. Kalyanaraman makes solid recommendations for further archaelogical work to establish the preeminent position that Rakhigarhi was occupying as a port town in the Sidhu Saraswati region and its connection to the Yamuna Ganga river system too for goods transport. This article should be read by all policy makers interested in learning of our glorious metalworking traditions millennia ago.

  3. Dear Shri Partha
    I think the reference to Saraswati river mentioned in Ramayana warrants an entire article!
    Would like to hear more on that.
    As they say in Tamil , denying the Saraswathi ever existed is like trying to hide a full pumpkin within a small mound of rice.
    She was there and she is there now as antar vahini,
    Warm regards

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