The Legend of Sage Santanu and Amogha

Once in Harivarsha there lived a very wise sage named Santanu with his virtuous wife Amogha. Once when sage Sanatanu was away from his ashram in Gandhamadana, Pitamaha Brahma came looking for sage Santanu. Pitamaha Brahma was enchanted by the nymphal beauty of Amogha and desired to have a child by her. Amogha resisted Brahma’s moves and therefore Brahma left leaving his semen behind. Santanu on return to the ashram saw the semen lying on the ground and understood Brahma’s desire. Sage Santanu asked Amogha to drink the semen. Amogha refused and instead asked sage Santanu to drink the semen and sprinkle it over her. Santanu did as she said and soon Amogha gave birth to a watery body which resembled Brahma. Santanu named this watery body ‘Brahmakunda”and placed it amidst the four mountains of Kailash, Gandhamadana, Jarudhi and Sambwarttaka. Soon this watery mass grew into a vast lake looking like a sea. Brahma called it the Lauhitya Ganga and thus gained it sacredness and began to be seen as a place of pilgrimage. Much later it was Parasurama who on cleaving the Swarnaparbat lengthwise that the water started to flow through the land of Kamarupa and fell into the Bay of Bengal. The earliest known narration of this Santanu Amogha legend is said to be found in the Padmapurana, However the name Brahmaputra (Son of Brhama) was first coined in the Kalikapurana thus also confirming its masculine state. This is the reason why the Brahmaputra is a “nad” and not a “nadi”.

 

The Legend of Sage Parasurama:

Parasurama as stated in the Kalikapurana was the son of fiery tempered sage named Jamadagni. Jamadagni had five sons and Parasurama was the youngest among them. Once when Renuka, Jamadagnis wife went to fetch water from the Ganges was enamoured by the sight of a very good looking young King and was stricken by unbefitting passion. Sage Jamadagni through his insight understood the reason for her delay and became very angry. Overcome by his rage he asked his sons to behead his mother. All the four elder sons refused politely in committing the heinous crime. But Parasurama who was very obedient, committed the crime and the axe with which he beheaded his mother stuck to his hand. Nothing could remove the axe from Parasurma’s hand. Sage Jamadgni then asked Parasurama to go on pilgrimage to all the holy places in Bharatvarsha for emancification and purification of his sin of matricide. Parasurama visited all the holy places but could not get rid of his sins and the axe. He finally reached the Brahmakunda and took a dip. As soon as he took a dip in the Brahmakunda, the blood stained axe fell off his hand. Parasurama understood the sanctity of the Brahmakunda and desired to make it flow down to the plians for the benefit of the entire human race. Hence he first cut a channel from the Brahmakunda to the Lohit tank and then cut a channel lengthwise on the Swarnaparbat and brought it down to the plains of Kamrupa.

The Legend of Sage Vasistha:

As narrated in the Kalikapurana, once upon a time, Yama (Lord of the Hell) made a complaint to Brahma that nobody is coming to the Hell from Kamarupa because of the sacredness of the area, despite of doing sins. Brahma carried this complaint to Vishnu. Vishnu took them to Shiva. Lord Shiva ordered Goddess Ugratara to drive away all the people who are living in Kamakhya. She sent her army. In the course of this drive, they laid their hands on sage Vasishtha who was meditating on Shiva at Sandhyachala hills. Vasishtha became angry and cursed Ugratara and Shiva. Brahma inorder to bring the curse into effect that all Vedic (Shiva) sadhanas from then on would be given up in Kamarupa, caused the Brahmaputra to flow in such a manner that it washed away all individual places of pilgrimage and worship. While doing so the Brahmaputra also washed away Vasistha’s ashram thus washing away all his economic and financial means. This raged Vasistha and he in turn cursed the Brahmaputra that henceforth it will become a carrier of human effluents and become impure and it will no longer remain a sacred river. Brahmaputra pleaded for forgiveness to which sage Vasistha said that in the entire year the river would attain sanctity only on Suklastami of the month of Caitra (i.e. the 8th day of the full moon in the month of March-April.) and the festival is known as Ashokastami even today. The Brahmaputra is considered not merely in India but in Tibet and Bhutan too as Tsangpo means “the purifier”.

Animistic Ideologies:

In animistic rituals the river is worshipped and sacrifices are offered to obtain redemption. For instance, primitive tribes of the Brahmaputra valley adorned beautiful virgins every year like brides and laid them on  the river and was thought that they have been married to the river. Similarly, it is known that the Ahom King Pratap Singha sacrificed four pairs of buffaloes, goats, ducks and pigeons in the Brahmaputra during his conflict with the Mughal invaders. Even today there are many tribes who believe in this ideology and has been offering sacrifices to the river.

Beliefs related to Tributaries of the Brahmaputra

The Mishing Tribe considers the Subansiri to be the source of their origin. They call it the Abanari.
The Dimasa Tribe considers the Dhansiri to be the source of their origin.
As believed by some tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, the guardian of the lake on top of the Rongoka or the Patkai Hills at one time was a serpent. They believe that a cock convinced the Serpent to release the water from the lake and this is how the Tirap and Diyang rivers originated.


Folk Tales of the Valley

The Hill Mishimis believe that men did not wear clothes because they did not know to weave. It is believed that a girl named Homboroomai pleased the God through her worship and he in turn taught her to weave. She looked at nature and wove motifs and patters of flowers and other things. One day a porcupine saw the cloth and wanted to steal it. In the process of stealing it a huge rock fell on the girl and killed her. Her looms got shattered and the river washed it and brought it to the plains of the river. This is how they believe they learnt to weave.
According to the Singpho tribe, a man named Intupoa was tired of cutting wood with stone. He asked a tree, the grass and the animals where he could find something sharper, But none replied saying that if they told him he would make weapons and kill them. Finally it was only the river that gave him iron. This is how the first blacksmith came into being

 

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