On Sunday 22 February 2015, a special event was held on the banks of the Sabarmati River at which a very special and important manuscript describing the history of Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati River was inaugurated by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj in the presence of the Mahant of Jagannath Mandir, Shree Dilip Dasji Maharaj. A special letter of congratulations to Acharya Swamishree Maharaj for inspiring such an important event was sent by the Honourable Chief Minister of Gujarati, Shrimati Anandiben Patel. Dr Shri Rizwan Kadri, one the book’s co-authors was master of ceremonies over the proceedings.
Modern historical exploration into the state of Gujarat and its language is credited to British Administrator Forbes who, during the nineteenth century, explored much of the previous thousand years of the history of the land and compiled a large number of manuscripts. The learned body devoted to Gujarati language is named after him, Farbas Gujarati Sabha with its headquarters in Mumbai. In 1865, with the encouragement and assistance of the great poet of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, Shree Dalpatram, this Farbas Gujarati Sabha published a hand written article which contained the history of the Sabarmati River. This important manuscript had remained mostly forgotten for most of the twentieth century. However, one of Gujarat’s most eminent historians and Professor at Shree Swaminarayan Arts College, Shri Rizwan Kadri recently unearthed a rare copy of this manuscript. With the help of linguist Dr Bhartiben Shelat, these two scholars have produced a legible version of this historical text. And with the encouragement and divine blessings of Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj, the manuscript has been published by Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan.
During the special event held to inaugurate the manuscript, Sants and disciples from all around the world gathered at the Sabarmati Riverfront, which has benefitted from substantial re-development in the past few years. The three bands of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, performed the Rashtriya Geet and saluted Mother India, as the manuscript was inaugurated. Acharya Swamishree Maharaj and the guests also performed a Maha-aarti at the Riverfront.
In His divine blessings, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj re-iterated the commands of Lord Shree Swaminarayan about the importance of looking after nature, and taking care of rivers, trees and the environment. He implored everyone not to get distracted about who caused the pollution, but become active in cleaning up the rivers. Acharya Swamishree said that they should be regarded as our Mothers, in the sense that they provide life, in the form of water. Therefore, they are worthy of profound respect. The rivers must be cared for, and used with consideration and respect.
Acharya Swamishree Maharaj also mentioned the numerous occasions when the supreme Lord Shree Swaminarayan visited the Sabarmati River and bathed at the Narayanghat. It is therefore a sacred place of pilgrimage.
Sabarmati River – Historical Précis
The commercial and political capital cities of Gujarat, Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, were established on the banks of the Sabarmati River. It is one of the biggest rivers of Gujarat, which now originates from the Udaipur District of Rajasthan and meets the Gulf of Cambay in the Arabian Sea after travelling 371 km in a south-westerly direction.
Legend states that the River originated from the sacred River Ganges, and was referred to as the Kashyapi Ganga. This river is mentioned in numerous historical scriptures. In the theological age of Satyug, it was known as Krutvati. In the age of Tretayug, it had the name Girikarnika. In the age of Dwaparyug, it was known as Krutvati. At the start of the present era Kaliyug, it had the name Svabhramati, which became Sabhramati and is now referred to as the Sabarmati River.
The glory of this river is stated in the ancient Padma-Puran scripture. Eminent Sage Dadhichi performed austere penances on the banks of this River. His ashram was situated at the same location where the Sabarmati Ashram currently exists. In order to free the deities from harassment from the evil Vrutasur demon, Sage Dadhichi gave his spinal cord, which became a divine weapon. This Sabarmati Ashram is the site that Mahatma Gandhi regarded as being his home at the time of India’s independence struggle, and where he lived for many years.
This, and much more historical information about the Sabarmati River is contained in the manuscript that has been published by Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan.