The branch of the Bhargavi, which is called Dandabhanga Nadi, is none other than the expansion of Yamuna herself. On the most auspicious occasion of Sri Krishna Janmashtami, at the Mangala Ghat site of the river Dandabhanga (which is at Brahmagiri close to the Alarnath Mandir), people even now celebrate a very popular festival known as Maha Yamuna Snana. Mahaprabhu Himself had declared this river as Yamuna and during His stay at Sri Jagannath Puri; He very ecstatically took part in this great bathing ceremony.
This great ceremony has its own deep and blissful heritage. Actually, the river’s earlier name was called Kancha, kancha meaning “lotus and nectar”. That is, its waters had tasted just like that of nectar. Moreover, its scenic presentability was also enhanced by the growth of many beautiful lotuses. That is why the place of the Dandabhanga pastime site was also otherwise known as Kamalapura (Land of Lotuses).
It was only after the occurrence of this pastime, that the river Kancha eventually got its new name as river Dandabhanga. 2 Kms upward, from the site of the great Dandabhanga pastime, is the location of a place known as Ganga Narayanapur. We can find an extremely ancient shrine that has the sacred Deities of Ganga Devi and Lord Narayana. This was the site from where Ganga Devi had herself appeared a long time ago out of the sacred river. There is a very thrilling story about the same that has been heard often from the people of that generation and has been passed down to the present one.
Every year, during the month of Chaitra, people numbering up to a several thousands gather at the Ghat (steps) of Ganga Narayanapur and take part in the most famous festival known as Maha Maha Vaaruni Snana (the great Vaaruni bath). This great event is also popularly known as the Maha Ganga Snana. In Prayag, we can see three sacred rivers namely Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati flowing unitedly together. This great meeting site is known as a Yukta Triveni Tirtha, at which the great Bharadvaja Muni had established his permanent asrama.
In the same manner, we can also see three branches of holy rivers flowing at the great Dandabhanga pastime site; these three streams are not flowing unitedly, but instead are flowing separately. Therefore, the site here is otherwise termed as a Mukta Triveni Tirtha. Although these rivers are not the direct, gross expansions of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, the fact that they are their original manifestations has been well explained in several old palm leaf manuscripts. For example, we can see in the rasa lila, that a great number of forms were expanded from one original eternal form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna.
This kind of potency remains present not only in Bhagavan (The Supreme Personality of Godhead) but also in his pure devotees as can be seen in the scriptures. Therefore, there is no reason to be astonished about seeing the same potencies exhibited by the rivers namely Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati. Glorifications of the river Bhargavi have been made in many places.
For example, in the most famous Murari Gupta Kadacha (diary), it has been stated as follows:
punyan shivasyanyatamanscha lingaan vilokya
harshena namam punaryayau
nadim mahaviryavatim sa barghavim tasyaam
krta snana-vidhihi punaryayau
(Murari Gupta Kadacha, 4th prakrama, 10th sarga)
Translation: On the way to Sri Jagannath Puri, the Lord took pleasing darsana of the various Siva lingam and then after paying obeiscances unto them, he took his bath in the most glorious river Barghavi and proceeded further. In this verse, the river Bhargavi has been glorified as mahaviryavatim, which means “the possessor of the great potency”.
Furthermore, also in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, its glories have been made as follows:
krtadisu prajaraajan kalabichhanti sambhavam
kalau khalu bhavishyanti narayana parayanaah
kvachit kvachinmaharaja dravidesu cha bhurishah (38)
taamraparni nadiyatra krtamaala payasvini
kaveri cha mahapunya pratichi cha mahanadi (39)
ye pivanti jalam taasam manuja danujeshwara
praayobhakta bhagavati vasudeve malaashayaah (40)
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11th canto, Ch-5, text-38 to 40)
Translation: Oh, king! Even the inhabitants of Satya-yuga desire to take birth in this blessed age of Kali. In this age of Kali, a great number of Vaisnavas will be born especially on the sacred land of Dravida. In this land, we will find sacred rivers such as Taamrapaani, Krtamala, Kaveri and the most auspicious rivers such as Pratichi (Prachi) and Mahanadi flowing.
Oh King, anyone who drinks the water from these rivers will get his heart purified enough in order to receive the most rare gift of Bhagavad-bhakti. The river Bhargavi is nothing but the expansion (tributary) of the most auspicious and blessed Mahanadi.
The following is a small part of a conversation that was recorded regarding the topic of the Ganga Narayanpur temple:
Sacinandan Das: Now lets come to Ganga Narayanjiu, you know? Bhargavi is no one but Ganga. There is a place every year where Maha Varuni Snan takes place. It is also known as Maha Ganga Snana. Thousands and thousands, lakhs of people gather during that day to worship Ganga Narayanjiu. That Ganga Narayanjiu, which is extremely ancient, was excavated from the bed of river Barghavi. Now it is being worshipped over there.
Devotee: I have heard from people that even now there is a temple of Ganga Devi underneath the river Bhargavi. Is that true?
Sacinandan Das: Yes. There are actually seven different stories that I heard. One of the stories says that the entire temple had been excavated from the bottom of the river. But till now I have not got any scriptural evidence for any of the sayings. Only an old man, had shown me a very old manuscript. That manuscript may be here. Let me see. (after some time)
No, there are so many manuscripts but that manuscript may not be here. I had gone through that manuscript. You know, in that manuscript it is stated that the Deities of Ganga Narayanjiu had been excavated from the bottom of the river Bhargavi. And thousands of people had gathered at the time of its excavation. For three days and three nights they gave the Jai Dhwani of Ganga Narayanjiu, remained on fast and had a very sumptuous prasadam distribution ceremony. This was all mentioned in that manuscript.
That’s why I decided to talk on it because I had some reference regarding the shrine in this old manuscript. Otherwise I would have also mentioned of the entire temple along with Ganga Narayanjiu, being excavated from the river Bhargavi as far as I heard from old people. But till now, so far I did not have any scripture or manuscript form to that effect.
Devotee: How old are these Deities?
Sacinandan Das: They are very old. I cannot say how old. But they really are very old.