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Disappearance Of Saraswati River – Vinasana

Vinasana literally means destruction or disappearance. The term occurs for the first time in Brahmanas with references to the place where the Saraswati River loses itself in the desert. It is also state in Puranic texts that diksha (initiation) was taken at Vinasana for the performance of the Sarasvata and Darshavata sessions (sattras) and the sessions were performed upstream along with the two rivers and ended at their sources, followed by avabhritha snana (lustral bath) in Yamuna which flowed probably quite close to the sources of Saraswati and Drishadvati.

Rig Veda describes Saraswati as the best of the rivers (nadi-tama) which flowed to the sea, but Brahmanas refer to her disappearance. (This shows that between the Rig Vedic and Brahmana periods, the river disappeared).

The Mahabharata also records that Saraswati went underground in the upper part of the desert at Vinasana, which has become a tirtha (holy place). A visit to this place is stated to bring emancipation from all sins and the merit of performing a Vajapeya and takes one to Soma Loka (the world of soma). The Mahabharata explains the hostility towards Abhiras and Shudras as the reason of the disappearance of Saraswati in the desert. Bhagavata Purana states that Bhishma fell fighting here.

Trikandasesha identifies Vinasana with Kurukshetra. Since Brahmanas and the Mahabharata specifically state that Saraswati disappeared in the desert, this view does not seem to be probable. Some scholars identify it with modern Sirsa (the ancient Sairisaka). O.P. Bharadwaj has identified Vinasana with the Chalcolithic site of Kalibangan.