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In the Kishkindha Kanda of the Ramayana, Sugriva sends Vanaras in all four directions to look for Sita. He describes the locations they’ll come across when they go in these directions in this chapter and subsequent chapters of the Kishkindha Kanda. Now scholars have noted that these are not directions relative to Kishkindha. Govindaraja, the Sri Vaishnava commentator on the Ramayana, gives more specificity on what place these directions are in relation to. Here is what page 299 of this book says:

[Different commentators] all try to establish a center in relation to which these geographical locations may be considered east. They choose a middle country, the Aryavarta, “abode of Aryans”, lying between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas. But they give no north-south Axis. [Govindaraja] even describes a river named Sharavali, which flows like a bracelet between those two mountain ranges, and names that as the center.

My question is, what is the Sharavali river mentioned by Govindaraja? Are there any circular rivers today that flow between the Himalayas and Vindhyas?

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  • Are there any circular rivers today that flow between the Himalayas and Vindhyas? -- This question has nothing to do with Hinduism.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 6:33
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    I mentioned that as a way to help find the answer to my actual question, which is where is the Sharavali river, which according to the Sri Vaishnava commentator Govindaraja was the center point relative to which Sugriva gave directions to the Vanaras. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 7:04

1 Answer 1

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There is a Sharavali Mata temple in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh state. It may be derived from Maa Sherawali. Kullu may come from Kulanta (end of habitation), as Manu settled in the nearby Manali after the flood.

Here, there is also a River Sarvari, a major tributary of River Beas. Also, if River Beas is named after Maharishi Veda-Vyasa, then the entire river system (Sarvari + Beas) may have been called Saravari (Sharavali?) earlier. It does flow between the Himalayas and Vindhya mountain range.

That being said, the central point for Sugreeva to give directions was the Vindhya mountains, probably based on population density.

The team led by Vinata went East including Rivers Yamuna, Ganga, Kaushiki, Sona, etc. covering regions from Kashi, Kosala, Videha, Magadha, Anga, onwards upto Yava and Suvarna dwipa (Java and Sumatra of Indonesia) [Valmiki Ramayana 4.40.16-32].

Angada-Jamvantha-God Hanuman went south of the Vindhyas including Rivers Narmada, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishnaveni, Varada (Karnataka), Kaveri, Tamraparni, covering regions of Dasharna (Northern Madhya Pradesh), Avanti (Ujjain), Vidarbha, Vanga, Pundra (East Bengal), Utkala and Kalinga (Odisha), Andhra, Pandya, Chola and Kerala [Valmiki Ramayana 4.41.8-20].

Sushena and his team went west to regions including Saurashtra, where River Sindhu meets the ocean, Bahlika and beyond [Valmiki Ramayana 4.42.1-15].

Shatabali went north including Shurasena (Mathura), Bharata, Kuru, Himalayas; provinces of Mlechhas like Madraka, Darada, Kamboja, Shaka, Yavana; then a vast barren land spanning hundreds of yojana all around, and then reach Mt Kailasha, Kubera's region, Uttara-Kuru [Valmiki Ramayana 4.43.1-57].

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