Calm reigns supreme
The waters at the Narmadakund rise
Life giving waters for the living
She originates here
Goddess Narmada gushes forth
From the very being of Lord Shiva
She rises to bless the land
Life giving waters flow
The Mother rises to shine
Protects us from venomous snake bite
Purifies our souls divine
Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh: Narmada is serene beauty that descends from heaven, from Lord Shiva's being and she descends onto the earth here at the holy town on Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh. This is the sacred place from here the great river Narmada originates and flows towards the Arabian Sea. The Narmada is one among three rivers that originate here, the Sone river originates at Sonemuda near Narmadakund in the Maikal mountains. The third river is Juhila River that originates further away.
Tripurantaka Shiva destroyed the 3 demon cities of Tripura, while they burnt down to ashes, one of the cities fell at Kailash, the ashes of the second fell at Amarkantak and Lord Shiva saved the ashes of the third city from falling anywhere. When the ashes fell here, they turned into crore of Shiva lingas, of which only one remains in the temple of Sri Jwaleshwar Mahadev, 8 kms from Amarkantak. This is called Maha Rudra Meru, one of only 2 such places with Maha Rudra Meru, the other being Varanasi.
Kalidasa is known to have visited Amarkantak and names the place Amrakoot after the beautiful mango groves that dotted this sacred land. Adi Shankaracharya is known to have come and resided by the river side and consecrated its banks, he also founded the Pataleshwar temple at Amarkantak from a clump of bamboo trees. This place is called Surajkund today.
Amarkantak has found its place in the Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vasishtasamhita and Shatapatha Brahmana. Situated near the ancient city of Kalinga, Amarkantak is a place where Gods, Gandharvas, Asuras and Rishis have achieved divine spiritual powers. This river has its own story to tell, one that is unique and particularly different from that of the Ganges.
जरत्कार्वोर्जरत्कर्वां समुत्पन्न महायशाः
अस्तीक सत्यसन्धो मां पन्नगेभ्यो अभिरक्षतु
नर्मदायै = To Goddess (river) Narmada; नमो = I bow; my salutations; निशि = during the night;
नमोऽस्तु = I bow and give you my salutations; नर्मदे = Oh! Narmada river;
तुभ्यं = to you; त्राहि = Save me; protect; मां = me; विषसर्पदः = from the poisonous snakes;
जरत्कार्वोर्जरत्कर्वां = the wife of Jaratkaru; समुत्पन्न महायशाः = people of great renown;
अस्तीक = To the sage Astika; सत्यसन्धो = One bound to speak or defend the truth; मां = me; पन्नगेभ्यो = to or from serpents or snakes; अभिरक्षतु = Let one protect me.
This is a prayer to Goddess Narmada to purify the soul as well as protect oneself from the deadly venum of Snake bite.
"Salutations to the Goddess Narmada, the river Goddess in the morning and in the evening. Oh Goddess I bow to you, I salute you, please protect me from the venomous serpents and purify my soul."
The mythology of associated snake bite goes as follows:
The Mahabharata tells the story of an ascetic named Jaratkaru, who saw some of his ancestors suspended over a deep pit, with their heads downwards on a rope of fiber which was being gradually gnawed at by a rat. On inquiring why they hung down that way, they replied saying that they were his ancestors and were brought to this state because he had not yet got a son to perform certain rites if he continued to remain childless. The rope would break and they would fall through into the pit. Jaratkaru agreed to give up his life as an ascetic and decided to marry a woman who had a name same as his. Once when he visited Nagaloka, Vasuki, the king of serpents, offered his sister Jaratkaru in marriage to the ascetic. They had a son named Astika who came to be the protector of Serpents.
Meanwhile King Parikshit(a descendant of the Pandavas) had died of a serpent bite and his son king Janamejaya ascended the throne of Hastinapura. King Janamejaya bore a deep grudge against serpents and performed the great Sarpa satra yagna that would destroy all living serpents. With the commencement of the yagna, with every spell recited within a mantra, a sarpa would fall into the flames for each "Swaha" oblation. Many serpents perished in the yagna flames, seeing the plight of the remaining nagas, the Naga king approached Jaratkaru for help. Astika was asked to go and stop King Janamejaya from continuing his sarpa satra yagna. Astika promised King Janamejaya that no serpent would venture into a place that is inhabited by people. The serpents are obliged to keep their promise by hitting their heads thrice on the ground. By the recitation of this mantra the serpent's promise comes alive that they will never attack a human being until provoked. The Goddess Narmada is invoked in this prayer to save oneself from serpents.