An Ode to Rivers

Our beloved historian and my guru Salman Rashid writes poetry as he writes history. In one of his articles on Maha Sapta Sindhu, the great Indus River, he wrote:

“They called me Sindhu, in their language, Sanskrit. In a frenzy of joyous wonder, they sang hymns to me, to be preserved two thousand years later in writing in their Rigveda”

In Mandala 10 of Rigveda we meet Hymn 75, Nadi Stuti
9 couplets sing to the glory of our rivers, all of these
Tiny piddling streams ejaculating out of northern mountains, swollen to tiny oceans by monsoon floods embracing the southern water-stretch of Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean

couplet # 3

दिवि सवनो यतते भूम्योपर्यनन्तं शुष्ममुदियर्तिभानुना |
अभ्रादिव पर सतनयन्ति वर्ष्टयः सिन्धुर्यदेति वर्षभो न रोरुवत ||

divi svano yatate bhūmyoparyanantaṃ śuṣmamudiyartibhānunā |
abhrādiva pra stanayanti vṛṣṭayaḥ sindhuryadeti vṛṣabho na roruvat ||

His roar is lifted up to heaven above the earth: he puts forth endless vigour with a flash of light.
Like floods of rain that fall- in thunder from the cloud, so Sindhu rushes on bellowing like a bull.

couplet # 5

इमं मे गङगे यमुने सरस्वति शुतुद्रि सतेमं सचता परुष्ण्या |
असिक्न्या मरुद्व्र्धे वितस्तयार्जीकीये शर्णुह्यासुषोमया ||

imaṃ me ghaṅghe yamune sarasvati śutudri stemaṃ sacatā paruṣṇyā |
asiknyā marudvṛdhe vitastayārjīkīye śṛṇuhyāsuṣomayā ||

Through this verse I praise you, O Ganga, Yamuna, O Sutudri, Parusni and Sarasvati:
With Asikni, Vitasta, O Marudvrdha, O Arjikiya with Susoma hear my call.

Sutudri: Sutlej | Parusni: Ravi | Asikni: Chenab | Vitasta: Jhelum

couplet # 6

तर्ष्टामया परथमं यातवे सजूः ससर्त्वा रसयाश्वेत्या तया |
तवं सिन्धो कुभया गोमतीं करुमुम्मेहत्न्वा सरथं याभिरीयसे ||

tṛṣṭāmayā prathamaṃ yātave sajūḥ sasartvā rasayāśvetyā tyā |
tvaṃ sindho kubhayā ghomatīṃ krumummehatnvā sarathaṃ yābhirīyase ||

First with Trstama thou art eager to flow forth, with Rasa, and Susartu, and with Svetya here, With Kubha; and with these, Sindhu and Mehatnu, thou seekest in thy course Krumu and Gomati.

Sindhu: Indus | Kubha: Kabul | Gomati: Gomal | Krumu: Kurram

couplet # 7

रजीत्येनी रुशती महित्वा परि जरयांसि भरते रजांसि |
अदब्धा सिन्धुरपसामपस्तमाश्वा न चित्रावपुषीव दर्शता ||

ṛjītyenī ruśatī mahitvā pari jrayāṃsi bharate rajāṃsi |
adabdhā sindhurapasāmapastamāśvā na citrāvapuṣīva darśatā ||

Flashing and whitely-gleaming in her mightiness, she moves along her ample volumes through the realms,
Most active of the active, Sindhu unrestrained, like to a dappled mare, beautiful, fair to see.

in the end, remembering mythical yet once very real, #Sarasvati river, 
I shall present “coffee ka akhri ghoont” type of thing
‘Rally for Rivers Chant’ is recent version of Nadi Stuti, not in original shalokas yet it’s the next best thing
Goosebumps ! 

Through these lines I recall my visits to these mighty rivers of ours.
Through these lines I pay my tribute.

* Translation of couplets by Ralph T.H. Griffith, late 19th century

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author bio

Imran Saeed

I am a teller of old tales. History, folklore, military, and more. Mostly covering Pakistan, my homeland, but also the Great White North, where I am currently settled.

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