Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 31
BY: SUN STAFF
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:
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.
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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