The Yamuna (Sanskrit: यमुना), sometimes called Jamuna (Bengali: যমুনা, Hindi: जमुना, Urdu: جمنا) or Jumna, is the largest tributary river of theGanges (Ganga) in northern India. Originating from the Yamunotri Glacier at a height of 6,387 metres on the south western slopes of Banderpooch peaks in the Lower Himalayas in Uttarakhand, it travels a total length of 1,376 kilometers (855 mi) and has a drainage system of 366,223 square kilometres (141,399 sq mi), 40.2% of the entire Ganges Basin, before merging with the Ganges at Triveni Sangam, Allahabad, the site for theKumbha Mela every twelve years. It crosses several states, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, passing by Himachal Pradesh and later Delhi, and meets several of its tributaries on the way, including Tons, its largest and longest tributary in Uttarakhand, Chambal, which has its own large basin, followed by Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken.
Most importantly it creates the highly fertile alluvial, Yamuna-Ganges Doab region between itself and the Ganges in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Nearly 57 million people depend on the Yamuna waters. With an annual flow of about 10,000 cubic billion metres (cbm) and usage of 4,400 cbm (of which irrigation constitutes 96 per cent), the river accounts for more than 70 per cent of Delhi’s water supplies. Just like the Ganges, the Yamuna too is highly venerated in Hinduism and worshipped as goddess Yamuna, throughout its course. In Hindu mythology, she is the daughter of Sun God, Surya, and sister of Yama, the God of Death, hence also known as Yami and according to popular legends, bathing in its sacred waters frees one from the torments of death.
The water of Yamuna is of “reasonably good quality” through its length from Yamunotri in the Himalayas to Wazirabad in Delhi, about 375 km, where the discharge of waste water through 15 drains between Wazirabad barrage and Okhla barrage renders the river severely polluted after Wazirabad in Delhi. One official describes the river as a “sewage drain” with biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) values ranging from 14 to 28 mg/l and highcoliform content. There are three main sources of pollution in the river, namely households and municipal disposal sites, soil erosion resulting from deforestation occurring to make way for agriculture along with resulting chemical wash-off from fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides and run-off from commercial activity and industrial sites.
The goddess of the river, also known as Yami, is the sister of Yama, god of death, and the daughter of Surya, the Sun god, and his wife Saranyu. Yamuna, referred respectfully as Yamunaji, holds a very important position in Pushti Marga, a sect of Hinduism based on the ShuddhAdvaita, where Shri Krsna is the main deity, propagated by VallabhAcharya / MahaPrabhuji, and having a large following in India. The river Yamuna is also connected to the religious beliefs surrounding Krishna and various stories connected with Him are found in Hindu religious texts, especially the Puranas, like that of Kaliya Daman, the subduing of Kaliya, a poisonous Nāga snake, which had inhabited the river and terrorized the people of Braja. Yamuna, according to the legends is closely related to Lord Krishna and Mahabharata.
Krishna was taken across the Yamnuna on the night of his birth. Kansa, Krishna’s maternal uncle planned to kill all his nephew’s, as his eight nephew was predicted to be his Kāla. When Vasudeva, carrying Krishna in a basket, reaches the river Yamuna, on the extremely turbulent, rainy night of Krishna’s birth, Yamuna is said to have parted to make way for Vasudeva. Krishna and the Gopi’s also used to play on the banks of Yamunaji as children.
In 1909 the waters of the Yamuna were distinguishable as “clear blue”, as compared to the silt-laden yellow of the Ganges.However, due to high density population growth and rapid industrialization today Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, especially around New Delhi, the capital of India, which dumps about 58% of its waste into the river. Causes of pollution. New Delhi generates 1,900 million litre per day (MLD) of sewage. Though numerous attempts have been made to process it, the efforts have proven to be futile. Although the government of India has spent nearly $500 million to clean up the river, the Yamuna continues to be polluted with garbage while most sewage treatment facilities are underfunded or malfunctioning. In addition, the water in this river remains stagnant for almost nine months in a year, aggravating the situation. Delhi alone contributes around 3,296 MLD of sewage in the river. The government of India over the next five years has prepared plans to rebuild and repair the sewage system and the drains that empty into the river.
To address river pollution, certain measures of river cleaning have been taken by the Government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests in twelve towns of Haryana, eight towns of Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) which has been implemented since 1993 by the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Japan Bank for International Cooperation is participating in the Yamuna Action Plan in 15 of the above 21 towns (excluding 6 towns of Haryana included later on the direction of Supreme Court of India) with soft loan assistance of 17.773 billion Japanese Yen (equivalent to about Rs. 700 crore INR) while the Government of India is providing the funds for the remaining 6 towns added later.
In 2007 the Indian government’s plans to repair sewage lines were predicted to improve the water quality of the river 90% by the year 2010. However in 2009, the Union government admitted to the Lok Sabha (Indian Parliament), the failure of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) and the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP), saying that “rivers Ganga and Yamuna are no cleaner now than two decades ago” despite spending over Rs 1,700 crore to control pollution. According to a CSE official, these plans adopted the Thames model, based on a centralized sewage treatment system. This meant that huge sum of money and a 24-hr power supply were needed to manage the treatment plants, while only an 8-hr power supply was available, contributing to the failure of both river plans. In August 2009, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) initiated its plan for resuscitating the Yamuna’s 22 km stretch in Delhi by constructing interceptor sewers, at the cost of about Rs 1,800 crore.]
Ancient literature and history
Literally meaning “twins” in Sanskrit, as it runs parallel to the Ganges, its name is mentioned at many places in the Rig Veda, written during the Vedic period ca between 1700–1100 BC, and also in the laterAtharvaveda, and the Brahmanas including Aitareya Brahmana and Shatapatha Brahmana. In Rig Veda, the story of the Yamuna describes her “excessive love” for her twin, Yama, who in turn asks her to find a suitable match for herself, which she does in Krishna. The tale is further detailed in the 16th century Sanskrithymn, Yamunashtakam, an ode by philosopher Vallabhacharya. Here the story of descent to meet her beloved Krishna and to purify the world has been put in verse. The hymn also he praises her for being the source of all spiritual abilities, while the Ganges is considered an epitome of asceticism and higher knowledge and can grant us Moksha or liberation, it is Yamuna, who being a holder of infinite love and compassion, can grant us freedom from even death, the realm of her elder brother. She rushes down the Kalinda Mountain, and verily describes her as the daughter of Kalinda, giving her another name, Kalindi, the backdrop of Krishna Leela.
The text also talk about her water being of the colour of Lord Krishna, which is dark (Shyam). It is mention as Iomanes (Ioames) in the surveys of Seleucus I Nicator, an officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi, who visited India in 305 BC, later Megasthenes, a Greek traveller and geographer, visited India, sometimes before 288 BC, the date of Chandragupta’s death, also mention the river in his text Indica, where he described the region around it as the land of Surasena. In Mahabharata, Indraprastha, the capital of Pandavaswas also situated on the banks of Yamuna, it is considered to the modern day city of Delhi. There is evidence indicating Yamuna was a tributary of the Ghaggar river, also known as the Vedic Sarasvati River in the ancient past and the rivers were collectively known as Sapta Sindhu or seven streams.
It changed its course to east following a tectonic event in north India and became a tributary of the Ganges instead. As the it is believed that the Sarasvati river dried and it also meant the end of many Indus Valley civilization settlements, and creation of the Thar desert, the Ghaggar-Hakra river now flows only during the monsoon season. The importance of the Ganges–Yamuna river basin, and the Doab region as traditional the seat of power, can be derived from the fact, in much of early history of India, most of great empires, which ruled over majority of India, until the Chalukyas King, Vinayaditya, were based in the highly fertile Ganges–Yamuna basin, including the Magadha (ca 600 BC),Maurya Empire (321–185 BC), Sunga Empire (185–73 BCE), Kushan Empire (1st–3rd centuries CE), Gupta Empire (280–550 CE), and many had their capitals here, in cities like Pataliputra orMathura.
These rivers were revered throughout these kingdoms that flourished on their banks, in fact ever since the period of Chandragupta II (r. 375–415 CE), statues both the Ganges and Yamuna became common throughout the Gupta Empire. Further to the South, images of the Ganges and Yamuna are found amidst shrines of the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas (753–982), as well as on their royal seals, and prior to them, the Chola Empire too added the river into their architectural motifs. The Three River Goddess shrine, next of famous Kailash rock-cut Temple at Ellora, built by Rashtrakuta King, Govinda III, shows the Ganges flanked by the Yamuna and Saraswati.
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