Sarpanch, Mandla PDF Print E-mail

Student: How old did you say is the River Narmada?

Sarpanch: The River Narmada is approximately 6 lakh years old. The Ganges is just six thousand years old only. The River Narmada originates from the Amarkantak Mountain itself. Along with the birth of the Narmada River,      the River Son was also born. It is one of the only rivers that originates in the center of India and provides water to the whole country. It is the only river which flows from the East to the West like the movement of the Sun. Now in this region, there are other rivers like the Mahanadi, the Banganga, the Son River provides water to the eastern part of the country where as the River Narmada provides water to the western part of the country. The Mahanadi provides water to the Southwestern part of India, where as the Banganga meets the River Godavari ultimately to supply water to the southern part of the India. Thus we see that all the rivers which originate around Amarkantak, supply water to a major part of India. There is an important incident which is written down in the Narmada Puran that Bhagirath had brought the River Ganges down to the plains. Before that River Narmada was already born. There is a story that in ancient times, there was a lightning storm and bolts of lightning together hit the ground at Amarkantak. This resulted in the river bubbling up to the surface which started flowing to form the River Narmada.

The River Narmada was born from the lap of Mother Nature itself. The River Ganges is fed by the snow which is collected in the Himalayas which melts during the summers whereas the River Narmada originates from Mother Earth itself. If in India is considered as a living person, then the River Narmada and the River Son, have originated from the heart. The way a child respects his mother, the same way we respect the River Narmada. The River Narmada flows from the hilly terrains and from the forests as well. This is the reason why the water of the Narmada is full of minerals and essential substances. There are a lot of medicinal plants in the forests around Amarkantak. During rainfall, all the essential and beneficial substances run off with the water into the river. This is the reason why the water of the River Narmada is beneficial. The water of the Ganges is soft water but the water of the Narmada is hard. This is because of all the dissolved minerals. This is the reason why the tribal community is healthy and hard working.

Student: Mandla is surrounded by the river on all sides. So what is the effect of the river on the lives of the people here?

Sarpanch: We have a saying, that when the whole world sets out on the parikrama of River Narmada, the river itself is on a parikrama around our town. She has us in her lap. She is our God. The people here have a greater faith in the River Narmada than the River Ganges. The belief is that if you take a dip in the waters of The Ganga at Kashi or Allahabad, all your sins are cleansed. This affects the river as well. The saying goes that one day the Ganga comes to meet Narmada to cleans all the sins she has collected. She purifies herself and returns home. This is the belief of the people. This is a scientific fact as well. When the water of the Ganges meets the Narmada, the water level of the Narmada used to go up by one foot.

Student: Where do the 2 rivers meet?

Sarpanch: They meet at Nandakeshwar Tirth. It is around 40 kilometers ahead of Mandla. During the summer season when the heat is at its worst, the water level of the river rises by a foot. This is well documented. The main reason was that on the course of the River Narmada, there are 2 big faults. One is at the Bargi Dam and the other is at Son River. During the summers, due to the melting snow. The waters of the Ganges rises and due to that it used to flow into the Narmada. This caused the water levels to rise. When the first proposal to build a dam on the Bargi was presented to the Government of India, the proposal was shot down. The main reason was the fault line. But the then Chief Minister Dwarkadas Prasad said that the dam will be built and it will be built from the coffers of Madhya Pradesh itself. Around eight years ago a major earthquake has occurred which lead to a lot of damage. These earthquakes are caused by the fault lines that run through this region. The Bargi Dam is built right on the fault line.

Student: So you are saying that the religious view is that the Ganges comes to wash her sins in the River Narmada and the scientific reason are the faults?

Sarpanch: See, the Purans have a scientific base. They are written in a language which the layman will understand. That is why there are stories which describe the Purans. If you see the hidden meaning you will understand that there is truth in each and every story. For example in the Math Puran it is written that if any tree on the banks of the River Narmada falls under a special circumstance then he attains freedom from the circle of life. There is a shlokain the Puran. The way in which we get fossils; and when it was discussed with others we know that when we take a piece of wood and bury it in the ground, it will rot. Then why the fossils found at the river side? There are two reasons for that. One reason is that the water of the River Narmada is full of minerals which convert the wood into a fossil. In the Purans it is mentioned that the ashes which are immersed in the River Narmada, take on the form of Lord Shiva I.e. Shiv Lings. If you do the same in the River Ganga, the ashes will remain ashes. This is the unique quality of the water of the Narmada River. There is a scientific reason behind this as well.

Sarpanch: Dr. Suhas Limaye completed the parikrama in 138 days covering over 3000 kilometers. I have his book. He has requested me to translate it in Hindi as the book is originally in Marathi.

Student: We will definitely try to meet him in Pune.


“When a person ignores the base instinct of hunger and offers you his last morsel of food; you are in the presence of the Narmada.”