Project on Narmada Parikrama


Narmada Parikrama

The ancient Hindu knew that walking around sources of positive energy would charge 
one with the same positive energy. This is a reason behind the tradition of doing a  Parikrama of Narmada. Narmada is worshiped as a river deity by Indians throughout the country but it has a very special place in the hearts of people inhabiting Central India. Narmada is perhaps the only river in the world which is circumambulated in her entire length of 1312 Km. This circumambulation is called Narmada Parikrama. It is a special kind of river pilgrimage popular in Central India.

The age old tradition of Narmada Parikrama involves walking alongside the river Narmada from her origin at Amarkantak to the sea, crossing to the other side, and then walking back to its origin. The total journey in a properly done Parikrama involves a riverside walking of at least 2624 K.m. in a period of 3 years, 3 months and 13 days. Narmada is the perpetual flow of religious traditions and spiritual consciousness in the heart of India. This great river, historically much older than even the great Ganges, is also the hub of Indian culture and rituals. More often than not, small groups of Parkammavasi can be seen carrying their belongings with them while traveling along Narmada.Narmada Parikrama is also a cultural and traditional manifestation of devotion to Narmada.

The Parikrama is an adventurous spiritual journey around the sacred river through hills, dense forests, gorges, ravines, rocky patches, caves, plateaus and plains. It is a religious trekking involving visit to temples, ghats, shrines and villages. It is a form of Tapasya to please the Maa Narmada who takes cares and looks after the hardships and needs of all those who undertake the Parikrama. Narmada is not just a river to Parkammawasis. She is a living deity to them with whom they interact and communicate at mental and spiritual level. Many people claim that the energy levels on the banks of Narmada are very high.

People doing Narmada Parikrama also claim that their lives have seen dramatic changes during and after the Parikrama. It is believed that wishes of a Parikramawasi on the banks of Narmada are fulfilled and all their hopes come true. A person having completed Parikrma has a special respect and honor in the eyes of Narmada devotees.
The Narmada happens to be one of the most sacred of the five holy rivers of India; the other four being Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and Kaveri. It is believed that a dip in any of these five rivers washes ones sins away. According to a legend, the river Ganges is polluted by millions of people bathing in it. To cleanse herself, Ganges acquires the form of a black cow and comes to the Narmada to bathe in its holy waters. Legends also mention that the Narmada River is older than the river Ganges.
The river has been mentioned by Ptolemy in the Second century AD as Namade[9] and the author of the Periplus.[10][11] The Ramayana,[12] the Mahabharat and Puranas refer to it frequently. The Rewa Khand of Vayu Purana and the Rewa Khand of Skanda Purana are entirely devoted to the story of the birth and the importance of the river and hence Narmada is also called Rewa.
There are many fables about the origin of the Narmada. According to one of them, once Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of the Universe, meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva’s sweat accumulated in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river – the Narmada. Another legend has it that two teardrops that fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, the Creator (*of the Universe, yielded two rivers – the Narmada and the Son.
Legends also say that for Lord Shiva, the Hindu God, the river is especially sacred on account of its origin, and it is often called Shankari, i.e., daughter of Shankar (Lord Shiva). All the pebbles rolling on its bed are said to take the shape of his emblem with the saying, "Narmada Ke Kanker utte Sankar" (a popular saying in the Hindi belt of India), which means that ‘pebble stones of Narmada gets a personified form of Shiva’. These lingam shaped stones (cryptocrytalline quartz), called Banalinga also called (Banashivalingas) are much sought after for daily worship by the Hindus. The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, constructed by Rajaraja Chola, has one of the biggest Banalingas. Adi Shankara met his guru Govinda Bhagavatpada on the banks of river Narmada.
Narmada is also said to have been in love with the Sonbhadra, another river flowing on the Chota Nagpur Plateau. According to the Puranas, the Narmada is also called the Rewa, from its leaping motion (from the root 'rev') through its rocky bed.
Important religious places and Ghats along the course of the river, starting with its origin at Narmadakhund at Amarkantak hill, are a) the Amarkantak (in Sanskrit: Neck of Shiva) or Teerathraj (the King of Pilgrimages), b) Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, and Mahadeo temples, Nemawar Siddeshwar Mandir in the middle reach of the river – all named after Shiva, c) Chausath Yogini (sixty four yoginis) temple, d) Chaubis Avatar temple, e) Bhojpur Shiva temple and Bhrigu Rishi temple in Bharuch. The Narmada River is also worshipped as mother goddess by Narmadeeya Brahmins.
The importance of the Narmada River as sacred is testified by the fact that the pilgrims perform a holy pilgrimage of a Parikrama orCircumambulation of the river. The Narmada Parikrama, as it is called, is considered to be a meritorious act that a pilgrim can undertake. Many sadhus (saints) and pilgrims walk on foot from the Arabian Sea at Bharuch in Gujarat, along the river, to the source in Maikal Mountains (Amarkantak hills) in Madhya Pradesh and back along the opposite bank of the river. It is a 2,600-kilometre (1,600 mi) walk.[14]Important towns of interest in the valley are Jabalpur, Barwani, Hoshangabad, Harda, Narmada Nagar, Omkareshwar, Dewas (Nemavar, Kity, Pipri), Mandla and Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh, and Rajpipla and Bharuch in Gujarat. Some places of historical interest are Joga Ka Quilla, Chhatri of Baji Rao Peshwa and Bhimbetka, and among the falls are – Dugdhdhara, Dhardi falls, Bheraghat, Dhuandhara, Kapiladhara and Sahastradhara.[15]

latest discovery of upper narmada valley by sidra archaeological environment research & tribal welfare society & Narmada college botany department have been discovered the large number of dinosaur fossils near narmada bank UDYAPURA TEHSIL of RAISEN dist,MADHAYA PRADESH. team members who have discovered this new dinosaur's fossil are Professor K.WAJAHAT. SHAH Dr.Ravi Upadhyay(Botanist),Mrs.Sharad Trivedi Upadhyay(Pre historic Archaeologist), Wasim Khan (Archaeologist) identification work is going on.??
Shree Dadaji dhuniwale is one of the great saint who worshiped maa rewa. It is said that he was son of maa rewa(narmada). Dadaji with his miracle and blessings of maa rewa convert water of maa rewa into haluwa and puri(Indian food). The community of saints called jamat always follows the narmada parikrama dadaji was the head of jamat in his time. the samadhi of shree dadaji is located in Khandwa (mp). In 1930 dadaji take samadhi he was avatar of lord shiv and used to light dhuni which is burning from 1930 without any disturbance.''??



RULES OF NARMADA PARIKRAMA

A parikramavasi turns into an ascetic who conducts himself in a very dignified manner. The Parikramavasi follows certain rules which I have listed below:
1.       To a Parikramawasi Narmada becomes the presiding deity. The Parikamawasi salutes and worships her twice a day. Sometimes the parikrama route takes one away from the shore of Narmada because of geographical conditions. In that case carry a bottle of Narmada water and offer prayers to it.
2.       A Parikrama can be started from any point along the banks of Narmada. The whole idea is to return to that point and complete the Parikrama.
3.       A Parikravasi walks alongside the Narmada, cannot cross the Narmada, cannot enter more than knee-deep water for a bath, should not dance or swim in its waters.
4.       A Parikramawasi shaves the head and beard before undertaking the Parikrama and does not shave till the Parikrama is complete, does not use soap in the waters of Narmada for a bath or for washing clothes, does not spit in Narmada or do an act of disrespect towards Narmada.
5.       A Parikramawasi follows bramhacharya (celibacy) during the Parikrama, abstains from lies and wrong deeds, stays quiet, does not criticize others, and behaves with humility and gently with all.
6.       For all his needs, including food and shelter, the Parikravasi depends on temples, ashrams, sadhus and people who live on the banks of Narmada. A Parikramavasi walks barefoot, eats whatever food is offered to him, drinks Narmada water, sleeps wherever he can find shelter, carries little money, accepts whatever food or money or clothes are offered to him without a sense of greed or hoarding.
7.       A Parikrawasi collects Narmada water in a suitable container (I used a plastic 500 ml bottle) from wherever he begins the parikrama. This water is offered at Mai Ki Bagiya in Amarkantak and fresh water is collected from there, which is then offered at Reva Sangam, from where fresh water is again collected which, after completing the Parikrama is offered at the Temple of Omkareshwar.
8.       Offer special prayers at the following places: a. Place of beginning e.g. Omkareshwar. b. RevaSangam, where Narmada meets the Arabian Sea. c. Mai Ki Bagia in Amarkantak, the original birth spot of Ma Narmada. d. Omkareshwar again.
Traditionally accepted rules can be summarized as follows:
9.       The Parikrama can be started from any point along the banks of Narmada to return to the same point after complete circumambulation. Traditionally Omkareshwar and Amarkantak have become two more popular places to commence the Parikrama. One should keep Narmada to his right side while moving along the river.
10.     Before commencing, one should worship Narmada and take a resolution for completing the
Parikrama by arranging a special prayer known as 'Mai ki Kadahi' (meaning mother's cooking pan) involving cooking of Halwa, a traditional sweet dish, offering it to the deity Maa Narmada and distribute it as Prasad among young girls, saints, priests and guests.
11.     A Parikramawasi should shave the head and beard before starting the Parikram and should not shave or cut nails till the Parikrama is complete.
12.     The Parikramawasi should salute and worship Narmada twice a day. Sometimes the Parikrama route takes one away from the shore of Narmada because of geographical conditions. In that case one should carry Narmada water in a pot or a bottle and offer prayers to it.
13.     One should not use soap oils or perfumes for a bath or for washing clothes in the waters of Narmada. One should use the clean soil on the banks of Narmada for cleaning and washing purposes during the Parikrama. Spitting or any other act of disrespect towards Narmada is also not expected.
14.     A Parikramawasi should follow bramhacharya (celibacy) and remain like a Vanprasthi
(Forest dwelling asectic phase of life as per old Ashram system in Hindu philosophy) during the Parikrama. One should abstain from lies and wrong deeds, stay quiet, should not criticize others, and behave with an attitude of humility towards all during the Parikrama.
15.     A Parikramawasi should walk on the banks of Narmada, should never cross her, and should not even go to islands in Narmada. However the tributaries can be crossed once as it becomes inevitable.
16.     During the Parikrama, one should remain within 5 miles from the river on the southern banks and within a distance of 7.5 miles from the river on the northern banks.
17.     A Parikramavasi should walk barefoot, eat whatever food is offered to him by temples, shrines and charitable social institutions, drink Narmada water and sleep wherever he can find shelter. During the Parikrama one should carry little money and few utensils, accept whatever food, money or clothes are offered to him without a sense of greed. During the Parikrama one should not accept any donation or charity for hoarding.
18.     Narmada Parikrama is prohibited during Chaturmasa (Four months of rainy season).
19.     It is suggested that a Parikrawasi should collect Narmada water in a suitable container from wherever he begins the Parikrama. This water should be offered at Mai Ki Bagiya in Amarkantak and fresh water collected from there, should be then offered at Rewa Sangam, The same process is repeated at Rewa Sangam where fresh water is again collected which, after completing the Parikrama should be offered at the Temple of Omkareshwar.
20.     After completing the Parikrama, one should visit Omkareshwar, worship and offer Abhishek to God Shiva and again arrange for 'Mai ki Kadahi' as done in the beginning of the Parikrama 
Types of Narmada Parikrama : The total journey in a properly done Parikrama involves a riverside walking of at least 2624 Km. in a period of 3 years, 3 months and 13 days. Narmada is the perpetual flow of religious traditions and spiritual consciousness in the heart of India. This great river, historically much older than even the great Ganges, is also the hub of Indian culture and rituals. More often than not, small groups of Parkammavasi can be seen carrying their belongings with them while traveling along Narmada.

Narmada Parikrama is also a cultural and traditional manifestation of devotion to Narmada. The Parikrama is an adventurous spiritual journey around the sacred river through hills, dense forests, gorges, ravines, rocky patches, caves, plateaus and plains. It is a religious trekking involving visit to temples, ghats, shrines and villages. It is a form of Tapasya to please the Maa Narmada who takes cares and looks after the hardships and needs of all those who undertake the Parikrama.

Narmada is not just a river to Parkammawasis. She is a living deity to them with whom they interact and communicate at mental and spiritual level. Many people claim that the energy levels on the banks of Narmada are very high. People doing Narmada Parikrama also claim that their lives have seen dramatic changes during and after the Parikrama. It is believed that wishes of a Parikramawasi on the banks of Narmada are fulfilled and all their hopes come true.

A person having completed Parikrama has a special respect and honor in the eyes of Narmada devotees. Narmada Parikrama is believed to grant boons to Grihastahs, Siddhis to Sanyasis, peace to troubled souls, worldly possessions to common people and happiness to all
'Narm-da' - means one that provides happiness and joy.


Several variants of Narmada Parikrama have developed over the years. A brief description is as follows:
1. Mundmal Parikrama : This is the most popular form of Narmada Parikrama. It derives its name from ''a garland" as it involves a garlanding journey around Narmada. Generally commences either at Amarkantak (the source of Narmada) or at Omkareshwar and after a complete circumambulation, keeping Narmada to one's right hand side (Pradakshina) comes to finish at the point of start. This Parikrama is an on-foot march involving a riverside walking of at least 2624 K.m. in a period of 3 years, 3 months and 13 days. Usually people do this Parikrama in small groups.
2. Jalahari Parikrama :This form of Parikrama derives its name from Jalahari, the yoni shaped seat of Shiva Linga which makes a double channel around the Linga .It is a journey along both the banks of Narmada never crossing her. It involves to and fro journey on both the sides of the river. A parikramawasi traverses same bank of Narmada twice which amounts to double the journey compared to Mundmal Parikrama. It does not involve crossing of Narmada at the gulf of Cambey or Amarkantak.
3. Hanumat Parikrama :This form of Parikrama derives its name from God Hanuman. It is a kind of jumping parikrama in which one can cross Narmada as and when desired. This kind of Parikrama is popular among tourists.
4. Dandwat Parikrama: This is one of the difficult forms of parikrama invoving at least 1000 Bhumi Namaskaar (Saluting the mother earth in Dandwat -lying face down prostrate on ground - in reverence and humility) every day. This is quite testing one and not very common. Very few people dare this form of Parikrama.
5. Markandeya Parikrama: It is the most extensive and time-taking form of Narmada Parikrama involving a circumambulation not only around Narmada but also around her tributaries. It owes its name to Markandeya- the ancient hermit who spent his life near Narmada. Narmada basin, one should note, is an elongated strip of land in central India. There are 41 major tributaries of Narmada of which 19 join her on right or northern bank whereas 22 join her on the left or southern bank. Walking and worshiping around Narmada covering these tributaries can be termed as Markandeya Parikrama.

 

Smaller Panchkoshi Parikrama:
Apart from the complete circumambulation of Narmada, several smaller Parikramas known as
'Panchkoshi Parikrama' are also regularly organised in certain segments of Narmada between Bandrabhan in Hoshangabad district and Hiranfall in Barwani district. These Panchkoshi Parikramas are in smaller circuits and culminate at the point of commencement after a journey of 5 days. These Parikramas being simpler and less time taking are more suitable for families and old people. These Panchkoshi Parikramas  are organized as annual features according to Hindu Calander and Panchang. 

How can we do Parikrama?

The river Narmada is one of the seven holiest rivers of Hinduism. Thus the Narmada mini-parikrama is suppose to be one of the most pious things a Hindu can do. As with all parikramas, one walks clock-wise around the river, walking from source to sea on the south bank and sea to source on the north side, so that the holy site is always on the right. Ideally the pilgrim carries no belongings and accepts gratefully whatever hospitality the universe shows along the way.

The journey is roughly 2,600 km and takes two to three years to complete. On your visit to the river, you may come across sadhus performing this sacred act. Remember that you neither have to follow their faith, nor go to their extremes, to show your appreciation for the river. Treat every moment of your time with her, Narmada, as a pilgrimage in itself. As you visit the small temples, ashrams, and holy bathing sites along the river, let in to your body the energy that is created in hers.
          The Narmada river runs through Narmada district, along the border of Vadodara district, and through Bharuch district,  emptying near the city of Bharuch into the sea. There are various sites along the way, and therefore various ways to visit the river.

By road: Bharuch, Rajpipla, Chanod, and Dabhoi are accessible by buses. The Sardar Sarovar dam site can be reached by private vehicle.

By rail: Bharuch is the nearest railway station.

By air: The closest airport is at Vadodara.


Suggestion:
It is advisable to a Parikramawasi to obtain a Certificate for Narmada Parikrama from the Nagar Panchayat, Omkareshwar before starting the journey as it is helpful to prove identity as a genuine Parikramawasi on several occasions.

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