The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Sarasvati


Goddess Saraswati
Chore Bagan Lithograph, Calcutta, c. 1893
British Museum Collection

Jul 07, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 140.

Next on the list of sacred places presented by Srila Bhaktivinoda in his 'Glossary of Places', appended at the end of Jaiva Dharma is the Sarasvati River.

    "Sarasvati - a sacred river which flows in several different branches. It is said to mix with the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayaga. The Sarasvati formerly flowed through the area known as Saptagrama to the south of the present town of Navadvipa, but it has now dried up (Gaudiya-Vaisnava-Abhidhana)."

The only mention of the Sarasvati in Jaiva Dharma is in chapter seven: a passage just mentioned in our segment on Saptagrama:

    "On the bank of the Sarasvati was an ancient merchant town named Saptagrama. For a long time a thousand merchants and bankers have lived there. By the mercy of Lord Nityananda, since the time of Sri Uddharana Datta these merchants have enthusiastically chanted the holy names of Lord Hari."

There is some questions as to whether or not Sarasvati is listed as a separate holy place in the Jaiva Dharma's Glossary, or whether the listing is simply a second paragraph in the listing for Saptagrama. Alphabetically it would be next on the list, although in the manuscript we're using, it is not shown in bold, as a new list item. Either way, there is no question of the great Sarasvati River's glorious place among bodies of sacred water, both as it courses through Saptagrama, and for its entire length, both visible and non-visible.

In 2012, the Sun ran a six-part Feature series entitled "The Lost Vedic River Sarasvati" (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), which focused primarily on the Sarasvati's presence in central and northwestern India.

Regarding the Sarasvati's presence in other areas, the following information was provided by Jaya Vijaya dasa, who wrote the Ganga book:

"There is a common understanding that whenever and wherever Ganga and Yamuna join, then Sarasvati is also there, and visa-versa at times!

The Brahma-vaivarta Purana explains why Sarasvati no longer exists in her full glory: When Ganga-devi cursed Sarasvati-devi to become a river here on Mrtyuloka, one of the conditions was that she would only remain on earth as long as rishis and other great sages performed tapasya on her banks. Since we are now in Kali-yuga, there are no longer these great souls performing austerities, so she vanished.

There are many dried-up river banks of the Sarasvati that flow a little during the monsoon. I recall only a few: one near Panipat (Haryana); near Northern Gujarat; and of course in Prahbasa-tirtha/ksetra or Sind, where Krsna and Balarama left this mortal world.

The Sarasvati in the Mana-Badarinath area, that so beautifully flows and originates somewhere from Tibetan/China (according the locals), is the only actual flowing Sarasvati to be physically seen today. Personally, where she joins the Alakananda at Kesava-prayaga is my favorite Himalayan bathing area. Words can't describe her beauty when the sun is shining fully. We know that the Vyasadeva's original asrama is situated in Uttara-Badari, which is in another realm and inaccessible to humans. It's mentioned in the SB (1.4.15) that Vyasa's asrama is on the western banks of the Sarasvati. The current Vyasa-gufa/asrama in Mana, where most pilgrims/tourists visit, is an expansion of the original asrama and is located on the eastern bank of the Sarasvati. So it may possible that the present day Sarasvati River that we see in Mana at Kesava-prayaga is an expansion of the one mentioned in the SB [Srimad Bhagavatam]?

"They" always say Sarasvati is mystical at Prayaga, but just go to the Himalayas and see for your self! Scientists claim that there is an underground source of the Sarasvati. If that is true, then she has a double appearance at the Triveni. The more the better! Just as some demigods take various human forms during the Kumbha-melas, it may be possible she also personally appears during the Kumbha-melas in a different form, as with Ganga-devi and Yamuna-devi.

As mentioned in the Puranas, when Kali-yuga progresses in sinful life, Ganga will finally disappear from this planet (in 5,000 years or so), and then all other scared rivers and tirthas will also vanish and hide until next Satya-yuga."


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