Narmada, Sacred land Of Austerity-14
(A true detailed account of Narmada Parikrama in mid 20th Century by Shri Sailendra Narayan Ghosal Shastri in the context of his Bengali book ‘TAPOBHUMI NARMADA’)
…..Sumeru Das-ji knew it very well that he won’t be able to give me company for the next three to four days owing to his busy schedule of worship in the temple. He was quite concerned of my safety and provided a devotee-cum-disciple from the very locality named Harkiran of my age to accompany me to several nearby places of spiritual importance namely Satpura, Bhrgukamandalu, Dhunipani, Kapildhara etc.
It was my fourth day at Amarkantak and accompanied by my new young companion Harkiran we proceeded to nearby Satpura region, a mile away from the temple on foot. The local residents named it as SONEMARA, the origin of river SONE. We had to cross pastures in the south-east direction of the temple and then our route took a new turn as we had to take the curved route of the mountain path overshadowed by dense forest trees.
On our both sides there were huge tall sky-touching trees with thick foliage and we were very careful of the sudden turns on the path which was too narrow. We reached the mountain peak of Amarkantak situated in the east shore of Narmada. A narrow stream was following us on both sides of our route disappearing completely at times in the crevices and again appearing after a certain distance which was known to be the source of river Sone. The river Sone was a major tributary of the river Ganga having length extending over five hundred miles. The direction of flow of river Narmada was west-ward whereas the river Sone was flowing towards north-east. The river flows through the district of Shahdole before entering Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh and then takes a turn into north east direction to be finally unitd with the river Ganga in Patna of Bihar state. There were references of Sone in the context of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Kalidasa’s Raghuvansha which was also named as Hiranyabaha. The river gathered tremendous speed at this point and began to flow very fast overcoming all obstacles of rocks and mountain crevices. We had to be very cautious while walking over the slippery footpath which was too narrow got wet by the water of the river. We had now to walk down the slope of the mountains with the stream flowing enormously fast by our side making us high alert all the time as if warning us not to keep our feet by mistake in the fast flowing water of it. Then finally we reached the top of the mountain cliff from where the stream after gathering tremendous speed fell to unfathomable depth of thousands of feet deep down into the valley. Such was the amazing waterfall created by the fast-moving water of the river Sonewhich was situated in the eastern hills of Amarkantak. The mountains around resembled huge walls of an invincible fort by one side of which the river Sone jumped down into the unfathomable depth with tumultuous roar. There existed an iron railing at the entrance of the waterfall of Sone. Just then my companion Harkiran-ji attracted my attention to a nearby pond replete with water of Sone.Harkiran: Babuji, look at the huge pond by your side to the right filled by the water of Sone. In ancient days of yore the place belonged to the King of Maikal and was known as Kingdom of Maikal and a few tips of temples could be seen through the water of the vast lake. The King of Maikal had an extremely beautiful daughter named Narmada fond of flowers; she was also fond of roaming and she requested her father to build a garden for her daily errands which the King agreed to grant his only daughter’s will. So Narmada was very happy to roam in the garden made by her dearest father along with her two female companions i.e. SAKHIS (female attendants of princess) named as Himla and Jhimla and do the POOJA of SHIVA enshrined in the temple of the garden. As Narmada was very pretty her beauty attracted many young princes from other Kingdoms to ask her hand in bonds of marriage. It so happened once that a handsome Prince named SONABHADRA fell in love with her and entered the garden in the guise of a SANNYASI i.e. mendicant to approach her. There developed a strong bond of attachment between the two and finally the Prince had disclosed his identity to his beloved Narmada and both took the vow to marry each other before the Deity of Lord Shiva of the garden temple. Sonabhadra gave his words to Narmada to return to her kingdom with his father and people of the court of the kingdom and ask her hand in marriage as per the customary rules of the kings of the time. After going back to his father’s kingdom Sonabhadra was engaged in wars with enemy countries along with his father and he could not send any message to Narmada. Two years had elapsed and the King of Maikal, father to Narmada was worried to give his daughter in marriage to a suitable groom and finally Narmada got married to a handsome Prince of some other Kingdom.
The next day of her marriage Sonabhadra arrived in their Kingdom of Maikal along with his father and people of the King’s court and was shocked to hear the news regarding Narmada. He immediately gave the curse to her : As you have insulted me by not keeping your vow taken in front of Lord Shiva you will soon be turned into a river and your two girl-companions also will be transformed into two different rivers as they did not prevent you from taking the wrong decision.
Narmada too was very much upset and she also gave a curse to Sonabhadra : You have not done proper query into the matter and have given me the curse for no fault of mine. Therefore you will be transformed into the form of a river too.
After Harkiran had completed his narration of the story regarding the creation of the river Sone I said: The legendary tales of ancient PURANAS give a different view that the river was being created out of tears of BRAHMA, the Supreme Creator.
Harkiran did not at all agree to my version and instead said: What type of sorrow befell upon BRAHMA, the supreme Creator to weep in this manner to create a river? It is quite absurd. The fact is that Sonabhadra was truly in love with Narmada and he could not tolerate the separation from her by the tragic happening of marriage to some other Prince and his tears thus rolled gave rise to creation of river Sone. The river of grief and sorrow ever flows between the states of separation and union. The highest kind of love has also the highest type of sorrow.
I had no alternative than to listen to his words without further argument into the meaningless topic…..(To continue)
(Source: Tapobhumi Narmada)