Nadi

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By Swami Harshananda

Nadi literally means ‘water that flows by making sound,’ ‘river’.

Rivers have always been looked upon, in the scriptures, with awe and reverence. All the major rivers have also been deified and accepted as goddesses. This may be because they are sources of life-giving water not only for drinking but also for raising crops. Again, their banks provided the ṛṣis and munis[1] with a congenial place for practicing austerities. This might have led to the belief that bathing in them purifies not only the body but also the mind.

Significance of River as per Rgveda

The Rgveda itself mentions 20 rivers by name[2][3][4] and refers to another 99 flowing rivers later.[5] If a flowing water has to be called a ‘nadi’ or river it had to be at least of a length of 8000 dhanus.[6] Only the nadis that flowed directly into the sea were considered holy or pure enough for taking a bath.

In the Ṛgveda[7] there is a Nadīstuti, a eulogy of seven important rivers. They are:

  1. Gañgā
  2. Yamunā
  3. Sarasvatī
  4. Śutudrī
  5. Paruṣṇī
  6. Marudvṛdhā
  7. Arjikīyā

In this verse itself, three more rivers are also mentioned:

  1. Asikni
  2. Vitastā
  3. Suṣomā

The rivers Gaṅgā and Yamunā are very much there even now and command great reverence from the people. Sarasvati, once a mighty river, is believed to have disappeared underground, probably around 2000 B. C. The other rivers have been identified by the scholars of Indology as follows:

Sr. no. Ancient Present
1 Arjikīyā Vipāśā
2. Asiknī Chenab
3. Marudvṛdhā Maruvārdvān
4. Paruṣṇī Rāvī
5. Suṣomā Sohān
6. Śutudrī Sutlej
7. Vitastā Jhelum

The Ṛgveda also mentions the Sapta-sindhus[8][9][10][11][12] which are the same as the Sindhu,[13] Sarasvatī and the five rivers of Punjab.

Religiously Reverential River

Even in the modern days, seven rivers are highly venerated and their presence invoked into the water used for pujā or ritualistic worship. They are:

  1. Gaṅgā
  2. Yamunā
  3. Godāvarī
  4. Sarasvatī
  5. Narmadā
  6. Sindhu
  7. Kāverī

Mythology Behind the Creation of Water

Water is the greatest gift of God to living beings. Rivers and lakes are the lifeline of a nation. According to the purāṇas, a sage named Tundila, worshipped Śiva, the great God, and became one of his aspects, viz., water. He came to be called Puṣkara or Water-god. When Brahmā created this world he took the help of Puṣkara, and Bṛhaspati, the sage-preceptor of the gods. According to the arrangement arrived at among them, whenever Bṛhaspati[14] enters a particular zodiacal sign, a particular river becomes a ‘Puṣkara,’ charged with the divine power of all the gods. This happens once in 12 years for each of the twelve rivers mentioned in the purāṇas. That power will last for 12 days. So, whosoever takes a dip in that river at its puṣkara-period, is benefited immensely in the spiritual sense.

Puṣkara-period

The following table serves as a guide for the puṣkaras of important rivers:

Sr. No. Brhaspati Puskara in the zodiac Puṣkara-period for the River
1. Mesa - Aries Gaṅgā
2. Vrsabha - Taurus Narmadā
3. Mithuna - Gemini Sarasvatī
4. Karkātaka - Cancer Yamunā
5. Siñha - Leo Godāvari
6. Kanyā - Virgo Kṛṣṇā
7. Tulā - Libra Kāverī
8. Vṛścika - Scorpio Tāmrapamī
9. Dhanus - Sagittarius Sindhu
10. Makara - Capricorn Tuñgabhadrā
11. Kumbha - Aquarine Bhīmarathī
12. Mina - Pisces Praṇahitā or Tapatī

During these periods of Puṣkara of a particular river, thousands of devout people gather there, to have a ceremonial dip in that river and earn religious merit.

References

  1. Munis are called sages.
  2. Ṛgveda 5.53.9
  3. Ṛgveda 10.64.9
  4. Ṛgveda 10.75.5,6
  5. Ṛgveda 10.104.8
  6. It is approximately 14.4 kms.
  7. Ṛgveda 10.75.5-6
  8. Sapta-sindhus means seven great rivers.
  9. Ṛgveda 1.32.12
  10. Ṛgveda 1.34.8
  11. Ṛgveda 4.28.1
  12. Ṛgveda 10.43.3
  13. Sindhu is present Indus river.
  14. Bṛhaspati is represented by the planet Guru or Jupiter.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore


By Swami Harshananda

Nāḍī literally means ‘duct’.

The word nāḍī has been used in various senses. Generally it means either a duct or a nerve. Some of the Upaniṣads[1][2] speak of 101 nāḍīs proceeding from the heart out of which the suryanāḍī passes through the brahmarandhra.[3] If the jīva[4] leaves the body through this, he passes through the arcirādimārga or devayāna[5] and reaches Brahmaloka, the world of Brahmā, from which there is no return. The number of nāḍīs as per different sources varies from 72,000 to 3,50,000, out of which only fourteen are considered as principal. Some of them are:

  1. Iḍā
  2. Piṅgalā
  3. Suṣumnā
  4. Gāndhārī
  5. Kuhu
  6. Śaṅkhinī
  7. Alambuṣā

Among these, again, iḍā, piñgalā and suṣumnā are the most important ones as per the works on tantras and Haṭhayoga. In Ayurveda, the word nāḍī is used in the sense of pulse. The diagnosis of a disease is done by examining the pulse. A whole science called Nāḍivijñāna has been evolved in course of time. There is a well-known work named Nādīparīksā attributed to Rāvaṇa.


References

  1. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.6.6
  2. Kathā Upaniṣad 6.16
  3. Brahmarandhra means an aperture in the crown of the head.
  4. Jīva means the soul.
  5. Devayāna is the bright path, the path of gods.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore