Tag Archives: Prayag

Prayag Raj – Its Significance

[This post is in continuation with last week’s post on Panch Prayag : https://atomic-temporary-25401030.wpcomstaging.com/2020/06/19/panch-prayag-its-significance/ ]

PRAYAG RAJ is considered as the most important (Raj) of all Prayags. YA means ‘moving’. GA means ‘knowledge’. YAG or YAGA means to ‘move ahead with knowledge’. The very word PRAYAG means “moving ahead in the light of spiritual knowledge”. PRAYAG RAJ is also known as THEERTHA RAJ. Theertha means “fulfilment of one’s inner spiritual journey” or “a place where one seeks fulfilment”. In all the five prayags (Pancha Prayag) in the Himalayan region, the confluence is between two rivers. Prayag Raj is unique because apart from the rivers GANGA and YAMUNA meeting, there is a third invisible river SARASWATI which joins them at their meeting point. 

Ganga carries with her the goodness and benefits of all her tributaries. Similarly with Yamuna. Therefore, a dip in the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati is extremely beneficial. The two rivers come from different directions and are different in their speed, depth, colour and we can even feel the difference in the buoyancy while in water!

GANGA means flow of KNOWLEDGE. Her white colour represents purity. Ganga is associated with Lord RAMA who is an embodiment of Dharma or Knowledge. Crocodiles which are her vahana are present in her waters. Crocodile represents IGNORANCE. Ganga riding on a crocodile therefore represents the destruction of ignorance with the help of spiritual knowledge. 

Prayag Raj

YAMUNA means SELF-RESTRAINT or VAIRAGYA. She also represents BHAKTI. Her blue colour represents depth and peace. Renunciation should not be merely external. Internal renunciation alone is real renunciation which bestows peace on the renunciate. Yamuna’s vahana is tortoise which we find in her waters. Tortoise has a hard shell, and therefore it represents unshakeable FAITH. It is faith alone that reinforces renunciation and devotion. Tortoise also represents self-control or self-restraint. Yamuna is associated with Lord KRISHNA who is an embodiment of Dispassion and Love. 

In a spiritual seeker, when Knowledge (GANGA) meets Vairagya and Bhakti (YAMUNA), there arises the Divine Experience of one’s own True Nature – the State of Enlightenment (Mukti) which is represented by River SARASWATI. The word ‘Sara’ means ESSENCE and ‘Swa’ means ONE’S OWN. Therefore, Saraswati means ‘Realisation of one’s own True Nature’. Saraswati is associated with Sri GOVINDA. ‘Go’ means Knowledge and ‘Vid’ means to know. GOVINDA means the ‘the One who is to be known through knowledge’ – the very Self or Consciousness in each one of us. Saraswati’s vahana is hamsa (swan). Hamsa: (A)ham-Sa or Sa-(A)ham means “I am that Sachidananda”.

Hence the importance of YATRA to Prayag Raj. YATRA (Yana + Trayate) means ‘that movement or journey which helps us to cross over the ocean of samsara’. It represents our own inner spiritual journey through Jnana and Vairagya and Bhakti to the State of Absolute Perfection.

“Rama Nama is Ganga! Krishna Nama is Yamuna! Govinda Nama is Saraswati! When an individual gets initiated into the divine mantra “RAMA KRISHNA GOVINDA” by associating himself with the All-compassionate Guru, his life becomes completely fulfilled. Chanting these three divine names will bestow the benefits of bathing in the holy Prayag, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati” ~ Sri Narayana Tirtha (Musician-Saint).

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Pancha Prayag – Its Significance

[This post features the significance of Pancha Prayag. The significance of Prayag Raj will be posted next in the blog!]

PRAYAG : Ya means moving; Ga means knowledge. Yag or Yaga (or Yagna) means to move ahead with knowledge. Pra means special or total or complete. Therefore, PRAYAG means to move forward in life with the right knowledge or spiritual knowledge.

PRAYAG also means confluence of two or more factors. In our inner world of thoughts or in the outer world of things and beings, it is not easy for any two factors to come together and move ahead. If it is possible, then it is a whole-hearted cooperative endeavour, because the two factors coming together can have different distinctive features and characteristics. Hence, Prayag also denotes diminution of ego.

In the Himalayan region, wherever two river streams come together, merge and then proceed, it is called as PRAYAG. It is indeed a cooperative endeavour and a mahayagna because the two river streams come from two different directions, move through different terrains and have different characteristics (depth, velocity, mineral content and even colour). Inspite of their different identities, they reconcile so beautifully and merge together and proceed further as a larger river. There is a silent, profound and constant message to us: “Inspite of all differences, it is possible to realize the oneness in all diversity, multiplicity and plurality. It can be in any field like, knowledge, culture, tradition etc. Wherever two or more factors harmoniously meet and proceed further, a greater purpose in life is fulfilled”. And the message of transcending individual identity becomes more pronounced and intense and reaches our inner depths easily because of the very pure and conducive, natural and divine Himalayan environment. Hence every Prayag is considered as a pilgrim centre – a strong reminder of what one has to accomplish within oneself.

This is beautifully demonstrated in “Pancha Prayag” – the five sacred places in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. At each Prayag, two river streams from different directions meet, merge and proceed further. From the higher region downwards, they are: VISHNU Prayag where Alaknanda meets Dhauliganga. NANDA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Nandakini. KARNA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Pindar. RUDRA Prayag where Alaknanda meets Mandakini. DEV Prayag where Alaknanda meets Bhageerathi. From Dev Prayag onwards, the confluence of these five rivers is called as GANGA. She carries with her the characteristics – the speciality and uniqueness of all the rivers!

The route through the Pancha Prayag is supposed to have been taken by the Pandavas and Draupadi during their Swargaarohana (ascent to heaven). The Pandavas represent an individual with his five sense-organs under restrain. Draupadi represents the mind under perfect control. The uphill path through Pancha Prayag denotes the spiritual path to the State of Enlightenment. Prayag or Yagna (moving ahead with spiritual knowledge) alone can take the seeker to the State of Absolute Perfection.

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