Monday, September 17, 2012

River Devika

A Cultural symbol of Duggar

The river Devika is considered to be one of the most sacred rivers in our scriptures. In other words this river is called as Ganga of Duggar. Inspite of the fact that this river flows down in Jammu region of J&K state some scholars express their divergent and controversial opinions regarding its identity and actual location.

According to Dr. Vasudeva Sharan Agrawal, this is a sacred river of Madra Desha (an old name of the land of Dogras) which starts its course from the hills of Jammu region which is called as "Sahasra- dhara" near Suddha Mahadev temple and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the river Ravi in Pakistan.

It is said that during rainy season it irrigates a major part of its vicinity in Pakistan before it merges with Ravi due to which that part of the land has become much fertile for the paddy crop of the best quality called "Vasamati".

This is the peculiarity of this river that except in rainy season it mostly flows underground only.
Dr. P. V. Kane (Bharat Ratna award winner) differing with Dr. Agrawal opines that this river can be identified with Wullar lake in Kashmir valley. But this is not a correct statement of Dr. Kane, as in Wullar lake only the river Jhelum falls which gets out of it from its westernside.

Nandu Lal Day identifies this river in his treatise- 'The geographical dictionary of ancient and medieval India', with river Saryu. But Vana and Anushasana parava of the Mahabharata confirm that Devika and Saryu are two different rivers flowing at different places.

The Vamana Purana refers to it at two places. Confirming it as Devika Tirtha. In Varah Purana this river has been referred to some what more expressively - "Devika nam devanam Prabhate tapasyat niyamartham samudbhava Gandakya militashubha." The river known as Devika has emerged for the sake of Gods who perform their penance earlier in the morning and ultimately merges with river Gandaki. This reference creates a complicated problem as far as its actual identity is concerned. According to the majority of opinions, it is clear that Devika merges with Ravi and not with so called Gandaki.

In his translation of the Martanda Purana. Mr. Pargiter identifies Devika with one small river Degh. Mr Jagannath also supports this view which subsequently has also been supported by Dr. Kane even. 'Prabhasa mahatmya' also has given an information of one Devika river which flows near Mulasthan (modern Multan in Pakistan) which definitely refers to a different river.

The Nilamata purana however, gives a detailed description of this river which according to the same is one of the sacred rivers in Madradesha. This purana says that Uma (the consort of God Shiva) herself had adopted the shape of a river which had become popular as 'Devika' and made its course between the river Chandrabhaga (modem chi nab) and the riverIravati (modem Ravi).

Visnu - Dharmottara purana though gives only passing reference, the vamana purana gives a clear-a statement “Umadeviti Madreshu Devika ya Saridvara.” Uma/paravati had converted herself into a river called Devika in Madradesha. (Now Duggar)
Both Panini and Patanjali (the great sanskrit grammarians of ancient times) refer to this river in Ashtadhyayi and Mahabhasya respectively. (Devika Kulodbhavah shalayah). The paddis growing at the bank of Devika are ofthe good quality.
Visnu Dharma Sutra says that the vratya people will rule over the areas situated at the banks of the rivers namely sindhu, Devika, Chandrabhaga and Vitasta (Jhelum)

In addition to the above, this river has also been referred to in Brahmanda purana, Vayu purana, Narada purana, Visnu purana, Skanda purana, Padma purana, Brihadaranyakopanisad’ and Kathopanised.
In view of the above, it is clear that the river Devika is one of the most pious rivers in our country and only that is the real Devika river which flows down in Jammu region of J & K state known as Duggar (madra desha in ancient time). Therefore, Panini, Patanjali, Visnu Dharmottara purana and Nilamata purana correctly record their references regarding this river. Therefore, the conjectures of other scholars are automatically nullified.
This sacred river starts from the hilly area in the vicinity of Suddha Mahadeva (called Sahasra-dhara) and flows down towards Pakistan covering a distance of about fifty miles. God Shiva himself explains as how Devika emerges from Sahasra dhara.
yatra devi mahagouri Pradurbhuta sahasradha.
yasmat girivarat jata, devika jyoti rupini.
Where Devi Mahagauri (Parvati) emerges in the shape of thousand flor. My consort Devi Parvati who is my energy takes a shape of river Devika for the well being of people. She is energy always flowing in my body. That is why she is called as my Ardhangini (half partner)
ya shaktirmama sharirastha dehardhmashrita..
madagaya madra prithivim sapta sagar mekhalam.

She being my half partner and also as my energy always staying in my body, therefore following my advice she adopted the shape river 'Devika' for the welfare of great Madra country.

The significance of this river is that right from its origin up to Purmandal a pilgrimage at its banks about 27 k.m. north-east of Jammu city, it is visible only at a few places. At Purmandala, however, it takes the shape of a small river but except rainy season there too its water mostly flows under-ground. Whenever people want to take bath they have to dig pits by which water comes out. Probably of this very reason the great commentator of Paninian grammar (Ashtadhyayi) vamana and Javaditya define “Devi-kayam Bhavamudakam Devikamudakam” water which comes out in Devika is called Devika water. In case of other rivers we seldome find such peculiar statement or interpretation as in rivers water only flows and not comes out from their bottom. Thus only Devika possesses this peculiar characteristic. Whenever any body goes to this river, he apparantly sees only the wet sand bed everywhere and to his astonishment water comes when he digs a pit there.

On account of Devika's sacredness, it is respected like sacred Ganga. The people therefore, do not collect ashes of the cremated dead bodies at its banks. Since this river turns its course facing northward at a particular place, it has been named as Uttara vahini by which that village also has become popular as Uttar Vahini. Right from Udhampur to Vijaypur, we find several old temples or pilgrimages at its bank which establish its sacredness and popularity as a pious river. Really, it is a symbol of our culture, especially that of Duggara's culture. We, the Dogra people are proud of this Ganga of our land.

Late Maharaja Ranbir Singh, a protagonist of Indian culture had planned to make a second Kashi in the area stretched from Purmandal to Uttar Vahini by erecting several temples and running a Sanskrit Pathashala at the bank of Devika. But his untimely death deprived the people of Jammu region of his so sacred plan. Had late Maharaja Ranbir Singh's that missionary programme been continued further by his successors even till completion, the entire area from Purmandal to Utter Vahini would really have become a second kashi as dreamt of by that great king of this state.

By Dr. S.P. Shrivatsa

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