Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 31


Mahismati-pura on River Narmada

Dec 06, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

The Narmada River

Although our introduction of the holy Naramada River quickly transformed into a discussion on semantics and book changes, and the fine points of how rivers are described in sastra, we should now return to a specific account of Lord Caitanya's pastimes in association with this river. One of them was briefly mentioned in the previous segment -- the Lord's visit to Mahismati-pura on the Naramda.

In the state of Madhya Pradesh, about 170 kilometers east of Gujarat's eastern border and about 80 km south of Indore, resides the ancient village of Mashismati, commonly known today as Maheswar.

Maheswar on the Narmada

In Madhya lila 9.310 we find the details of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's visit to Mahismati and surrounding theerthams:

    TEXT 310

    tapi snana kari' aila mahismati-pure
    nana tirtha dekhi tahan narmadara tire

    "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at the banks of the river Tapi. After bathing there, He went to Mahismati-pura. While there, He saw many holy places on the banks of the river Narmada.

    PURPORT The river Tapi is presently known as Tapti. The river's source is a mountain called Multai, and the river flows westward through the state of Saurastra and into the Arabian Sea. Mahismati-pura is mentioned in Mahabharata in connection with Sahadeva's victory. Sahadeva, the youngest brother of the Pandavas, conquered that part of the country. As stated in the Mahabharata:

      tato ratnany upadaya
      purim mahismatim yayau
      tatra nilena rajna sa
      cakre yuddham nararsabhah

      "After acquiring jewels, Sahadeva went to the city of Mahismati, where he fought with a king called Nila."

    Laksmi Temple, Mahismati-pura

    Mahismati is an ancient city in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, sitting on the banks of the sacred Narmada River. The name Mahismati-pura 'on the banks' (pura) of the Narmada. Similarly, the name Narmada-tira means 'tira', or 'the banks' of the river. The Tapti is another nearby river flowing to the Arabian Sea.

    In ancient times, the Kalachuris of Tripuri were the ruling house in the region, with their seat of power located at Mahismati on the Narmada. The great kings of this dynasty included Karna, Kokalla, and Gangeyadeva.

    Mahismati-pura was once the domain of King Indrasena, as described in this narration of Indira Ekadasi from Bhavishya Purana:

      "In the Satya-yuga there lived a king named Indrasena, who was so powerful that he destroyed all his enemies. His kingdom was called Mahismati-puri. The glorious and highly religious King Indrasena took good care of his subjects, and therefore he was rich in gold, grains, sons, and grandsons. He was greatly devoted to Sri Visnu as well. He especially enjoyed chanting My name, calling out 'Govinda! Govinda!' In this way King Indrasena systematically dedicated himself to pure spiritual life and spent much time meditating on the Absolute Truth."

    Baneswar Shiva Temple

    Mahismati-pura is also mentioned in the Bhavishya Purana's narration of Putrada Ekadasi. During the Dvarpara-yuga, the king of Mahismati-pura, Mahijita, had no son and so his entire kingdom seemed utterly cheerless to him. By following the sage advice of Lomasa Rishi, however, he and all the citizens of Mahismati-puri fasted on Putrada Ekadasi. On the strength of their piety, the queen became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a most beautiful son.

    During another age, Mahismati-pura was the capital of the princely state of Indore (originally named 'Indrapur' after Lord Indreshwar, not King Indrasena). It was rebuilt in the 18th century by Queen Ahilyabai of the Indore Holkar dynasty. A great many ancient temples, ghats and palaces are still found here, and pilgrims come in large numbers to the holy sites.

    Sahasra Dhara ('a thousand streams') on the Narmada

    As is often the case, the place names of local villages and shrines have changed somewhat over the years. About 8 km from Mahismati (Maheswar) is a village called Mandleshwar, which is also said to have been called Mahismati in ancient times.

    Situated on the North bank of the river Narmada, Mandleshwar was the site of the great debate of Adi Shankarsacharya at the Gupteshwar Mahadev Temple, in which he firmly established his Mayavada philosophy. There is also a Dattatreya temple there, where strangely enough, each year abhishekha is performed in the name of Albert Einstein, and at another time in the name of Lenin.

    Photos courtesy of A.Chatt@Flikr. © All rights reserved.


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