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Pot-Pourri: Son of Lord Brahma

Pot-Pourri: Son of Lord Brahma

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  8 Oct 2019 9:27 AM GMT

Parag Phukan

Chanakya opined, “One should not choose to live in a place which does not have prosperous citizens, leaned and wise individuals, a good king, a river and physicians.” Profound thought. But to my mind, when a geographical landmass has a mighty river like Brahmaputra flowing majestically, the fertile valley surely attracted flourishing kingdoms, wise and prosperous citizens and all other support eco-systems. River Brahmaputra was and continues to be the lifeline of the valley, making Assam what it is today. Existence of Assam and its people cannot simply be imagined without the blessings of the son of Lord Brahma.

The ninth century scripture “Kalika Puran” has an interesting story about the birth of Brahmaputra. Santanu Muni lived in his ashram with his beautiful wife Amogha. Once Lord Brahma happened to pass by the ashram when Santanu was not home. Brahma got enamored by the beauty of Amogha and in excitement impregnated her by a ‘divine’ process. Subsequently, Amogha delivered a water body. Recognizing the divinity of the ‘new-born’, Santanu took it to a serene location surrounded by beautiful hills and placed it there. The “water-baby” started growing fast and turned into a beautiful divine lake, known as “Brahma-kund”, where devas and fairies bathed and enjoyed water sports.

In somewhere else, suspecting the character of his wife Renuka, the ever-angry rhishi Jamadagni ordered his five sons to kill her. After refusal by his elder brothers, Parashurama, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, beheaded his mother with his axe, obeying his father’s order. Once his anger subsided, Jamadagni with his prowess revived his wife, but because of the grave sin of killing his mother, the axe got stuck to Parashurama’s hand. Jamadagni advised Parashurama to visit Brahma-kund to wash his sin. After a holy dip in the divine lake, the axe got dethatched and he decided to cut an opening for the overflowing restless lake with his axe and a huge river was created, later to be known as Brahmaputra, the son of Lord Brahma (“putra” in Sanskrit is son). Situated amidst the serene environs of Mishimi Hills of Arunachal Pradesh, the lake is now popularly known as “Parashuram-Kunda”, a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site.

Brahmaputra is the only major ‘male’ river in India, most others are referred to as “she”. With a total length of little less than three thousand KM, Brahmaputra is a trans-boundary international river, flowing through the Tibet Hills, India and Bangladesh. Although internationally referred to as Brahmaputra or Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, the mighty river has many local names. It originates in the Angsi Glacier near Mount Kailash and flows almost west to east for about 1100 KM through the Tibet Hills as Yarlung-Tsangpo or Yarlung Zangbo (in Chinese). Then it flows slightly northward and north-eastward, taking a sharp turn towards south and south-western direction as it enters Arunachal Pradesh as Siang. The downstream changes name to Dihang and meets Dibang river and finally joins with river Lohit and flows into the plains of Assam valley as Brahmaputra for over 700 KM. In India, Brahmaputra is actually a huge conglomerate of three major rivers, Siang or Dihang, Dibang and Lohit.

Brahmaputra is also known in Assam as Lohitya (for iron-red color), Lohit, Luit, Siri-Luit (Shree-Luit), Bornadi and fondly, Burha-Luit (old Luit). In Bodo language it is called Burlung-Buthur. After piercing through the entire length of the valley from east to west, it takes almost a ninety degree turn southward to enter Bangladesh. At Bangladesh it splits into two flows: western part as Jamuna, meets the lower Ganges and eastern part as Brahmaputro. Both parts again join as Padma (Padda), runs into Meghna and finally emptying into the Bay of Bengal. During the course of its flow through Assam valley at least fifty southward and northward big tributaries and many small rivulets merge into it making it one of the largest water carrying rivers of the world.

Albeit, the old Hindu epics mention about the flourishing kingdom of Pragjyotishpura (now Assam), nowhere existence of such a majestic river is referred to. Written in the first century CE, “Periplus”, the Greek authoritative account of all the major sea and river routes, including those in India, strangely a large river like Brahmaputra is missed out. However, in “Ptolemy’s Geographica”, written by Roman scholar Ptolemy in mid second century CE, a large river in the area has been mentioned. All these create a nagging doubt that although we fondly call Brahmaputra as “Burha-Luit”, it is possibly a relatively younger river, not as old as the Indus or the Ganges. Its youthful ways, like changing and adjusting course frequently, continuously eroding the banks, creating many temporary small river isles periodically, devastating floods etc. may justify the idea that it is not yet a fully settled river. The major earthquake in 1950, also took its toll by raising its bed abnormally and making it as wide as 20 KM in some locations.

Brahmaputra was, is and will continue to be the lifeline of the State. The son of Brahma is actually a boon for us. But unfortunately, on account of our myopic visions and actions we have failed to utilize and harness such a God-gifted water body effectively, turning it into a bane. We squarely defeated the mighty Mughals in the naval war at Saraighat in Brahmaputra’s lap. The British colonist probably would not have annexed Assam had they not observed the perfect waterways through the river and used it extensively. But, even after seven decades of independence, we still continue making big plans and selling illusory dreams. Holistic water transport schemes rotting in the drawing boards, of the huge hydroelectric potential we have hardly harnessed 3 percent of it, river water tourism and civic water supply virtually nonexistent, scientific fishing missing, so on and so forth. Can we not consider it as the last and final wakeup call for all concerned?

(The author of the column is a former Vice President of Reliance Defence & Engineering Ltd., Gujarat. Presently, he is a freelance writer, management consultant and professional trainer. He can be reached at

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