[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.
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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