Beas River

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Indus and its tributaries

Beas River (Hindi: ब्यास, Punjabi: ਬਿਆਸ) is a river in north India.

Variants of name

Mention by Panini

Vipasha (विपाश) is a place name mentioned by Panini under Arihanadi (अरीहणादि) ( group. [1]


The river rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 kms to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab.


The river was also known as Arjikuja of the Vedas, or Vipasa to the ancient Indians, and the Hyphasis to the Ancient Greeks.[2]

It is said that Beas is a misnomer for Vyasa (exchange of B with V and always truncation of the last vowel is common in North Indian languages) and is named after Veda Vyasa, the presiding patron of the river; he is said to have created it from its source lake, the Vyas Kund.[3]

The Beas River marks the eastern-most border of Alexander the Great's conquests in 326 BC. It was one of the rivers which created problems in Alexander's invasion of India. His troops mutinied here in 326 BCE, refusing to go any further; they had been away from home for eight years. Alexander shut himself in his tent for three days, but when his men did not change their desires he gave in, raising twelve colossal altars to mark the limit and glory of his expedition.[4][5]


The river rises 4,361 metres above sea-level on the southern face of Rohtang Pass in Kullu. It traverses the Mandi District and enters the Kangra District at Sandhol, 590 metres above sea-level. On meeting the Sivalik Hills in Hoshiarpur, the river sweeps sharply northward, forming the boundary with Kangra District. Then bending round the base of the Sivalik Hills, it takes the southerly direction, separating the districts of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. After touching the Jullundur district for a short distance, the river forms the boundary between Amritsar and Kapurthala. Finally the Beas joins the river Sutlej at the south-western boundary of Kapurthala district of Punjab after a total course of 470 kms.

The chief tributaries are Bain, Banganga, Luni and Uhal. The Sutlej continues into Pakistani Punjab and joins the Chenab River at Uch near Bahawalpur to form the Panjnad River; the latter in turn joins the Indus River at Mithankot.

In Mahabharata

Vipasha River (विपाशा) is mentioned in Mahabharata (II.9.19), (VI.10.14), (VIII.30.35), (VIII.30.44), (XIII.26.22)

Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 9 mentions the Kings Oceans and the Rivers who attended Sabha of Varuna. Vipasha River (विपाशा) is mentioned in Mahabharata (II.9.19). [6]....the Vipasha, the Shatadru, the Chandrabhaga, the Saraswati; the Iravati, the Vitasta, the Sindhu, the Devanadi;

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Vipasha River (विपाशा) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.14). [7].... and Shatadru, Chandrabhaga, the large river called Yamuna; of Dhrishadwati, and Vipasha, and Vipapa and Sthulavaluka;

Karna Parva/Mahabharata Book VIII Chapter 30 mentions the tribes who are not followers of Brahmanism. Vipasha River (विपाशा) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VIII.30.35). [8]....I must, however, speak again to thee about what another brahmana had said unto us in the Kuru court, 'There where forests of Pilus stand, and those five rivers flow, viz., the Satadru, the Vipasa, the Iravati, the Chandrabhaga, and the Vitasta and which have the Sindhu for their sixth, there in those regions removed from the Himavat, are the countries called by the name of the Arattas. ...... Vipasha River (विपाशा) is again mentioned with reference to origin of Vahikas in Mahabharata (VIII.30.44) [9]....There are two Pishachas named Vahi and Hika in the river Vipasha. The Vahikas are the offspring of those two Pishachas.

Anusasana Parva/Book XIII Chapter 26 mentions the sacred waters on the earth. Kalika (कालिक) is mentioned in Mahabharata (XIII.26.22). [10].... If a person, subduing his wrath and observing the vow of Brahmacharyya for three days, bathes in the river Vipasha at the retreat called Kalika, he is sure to succeed in transcending the obligation of rebirth.

विपाश = विपाशा

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[11] ने लेख किया है ..... विपाश = विपाशा (AS, p.859): 1. विपाशा अथवा 'विपाश' पंजाब की व्यास नदी का वैदिक नाम है। इसका उल्लेख ऋग्वेद में केवल एक बार 3,33,3 में है- 'अच्छासिंधु मातृतमामयांस विपाशमुवी सुभगामगन्मवत्समिवमातरासंरिहाणे समानं योनिमनुसंचरंती।'. बृहददेवता 1,114 में 'शुतुद्री' या 'सतलज' और विपाशा का एक साथ उल्लेख है।

वाल्मीकि रामायण अयोध्या काण्ड 68,19 में अयोध्या के दूतों की केकय देश की यात्रा के प्रसंग में विपाशा नदी को पार करने का उल्लेख है- 'विष्णु:पदं प्रेक्षमाणा विपाशां चापि शाल्मलीम्, नदीर्वापीताटाकानि पल्वलानी सरांसि च।'

महाभारत वनपर्व 130,8 में भी विपाशा के तट पर विष्णुपद तीर्थ का वर्णन है- 'एतद् विष्णुपदं नाम दृश्यते तीर्थमुत्तमम्, एषा रम्या विपाशा च नदी परमपावनी।' इसके आगे महाभारत, वनपर्व 130,9 में विपाशा के नामकरण का कारण पौराणिक कथा के अनुसार इस प्रकार वर्णित है- 'अत्र वै पुत्रशोकेन वसिष्ठो भगवानृषिः, वद्ध्वात्मानं निपतितो विपाशः पुनरुत्थितः।' अर्थात "वसिष्ठ पुत्र शोक से पीड़ित हो अपने शरीर को पाश से बांधकर इस नदी में कूद पड़े थे, किंतु विपाश या पाशमुक्त होकर जल से बाहर निकल आए।'

महाभारत, अनुशासन पर्व 3,12,13 में भी इसी कथा की आवृत्ति की गई है- 'तथैवास्यभयाद् बद्ध्वा बसिष्ठः सलिले पुरा, आत्मानं मज्जयश्रीमान् विपाशः पुनरुत्थितः’ तदाप्रभृति पुण्य, ही विपाशान् भून्महानदी, विख्याता कर्मणातेन बसिष्ठस्य महात्मनः।'

'द मिहरान ऑफ़ सिंध एंड इट्ज ट्व्यिूटेरीज' के लेखक रेवर्टी का मत है कि बियास का प्राचीन मार्ग 1790 ई. में बदल कर पूर्व की ओर हट गया था और सतलुज का पश्चिम की ओर, और ये दोनों नदियां संयुक्त रूप से बहने लगी थीं। रेवर्टी का विचार है कि प्राचीन काल में सतलुज बियास में नहीं मिलती थी। किंतु वाल्मीकि रामायण, अयोध्या काण्ड 71,2 में वर्णित है कि शतुद्र या सतलुज पश्चिम की ओर बहने वाली नदी थी। (‘प्रत्येक स्रोतस्तरंगिणी') अतः रेवर्टी का मत संदिग्ध जान पड़ता है। बियास को ग्रीक लेखकों ने 'हाइफेसिस' (Hyphasis) कहा है।

2. विष्णुपुराण 2,4,11 के अनुसार विपाशा प्लक्ष द्वीप की एक नदी थी- 'अनुतप्ता शिखी चैव विपाशात्रिविदा क्लमा अमृता सुकृता चैव सप्तेतास्तत्र निम्नगाः।'


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.501
  2. Beas The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 7, p. 138
  3. Wasini Pandey, Bindhy. Geoenvironmental hazards in Himalaya. Pg.58.
  4. Travels into Bokhara, Lieut. Alex. Burnes FRS, London, John Murray, 1834, page 6
  5. The Empire and Expeditions of Alexander the Great
  6. विपाशा च शतद्रुश च चन्द्र भागा सरस्वती, इरावती वितस्ता च सिन्धुर देव नदस तथा (II.9.19)
  7. शतद्रुं चनद्रभागां च यमुनां च महानदीम्, दृषद्वतीं विपाशां च विपापां सथूलवालुकाम (VI.10.14)
  8. पञ्च नथ्यॊ वहन्त्य एता यत्र पीलु वनान्य अपि, शतथ्रुश च विपाशा च तृतीयेरावती तदा, चन्थ्र भागा वितस्ता च सिन्धुषष्ठा बहिर गताः
  9. बहिश च नाम हलीकश च विपाशायां पिशाचकौ, तयॊर अपत्यं बाह्लीका नैषा सृष्टिः परजापतेः (VIII.30.44)
  10. कालिकाश्रमम आसाद्य विपाशायां कृतॊदकः, बरह्म चारी जितक्रॊधस तरिरात्रान मुच्यते भवात (XIII.26.22)
  11. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.859

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