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A VARIANT OF THE SAME. Whether the name of the river suggested the above myth, or the river really owed its origin to the revered sage Agastya's breach of promise, it matters not, and here is the legend and one may take it for what it is worth. Another variant of the same legend continues with the story, instead of stopping with the Kaveri's fall into the tank and her disappearance into the waters. The myth has it that one of the disciples of the sage, who happened to witness the weird metamorphosis, hurried after her (now in the form of a tiny stream) and tried his utmost to confine her within the limits of the hermitage. As if to satisfy him, she seemed to enter the deeper caverns of the earth with the intention of remaining there underneath, but lo! the wily girl again emerged from the crevices with fourfold vigour and began to flow in a stronger and swifter current. To the august sage, the loss of his beloved wife was indeed irreparable, and he ran with all his might after the lady, imploring her to pardon him for his negligence and stop with him for some time more and share the joys of conjugal bliss. She was only a woman after all, and tender-hearted, she could not refuse the pleadings of her husband, much as she was bent upon carrying out her long-cherished desires ; and as a compromise between her resolve and her partner's request, she split herself into two pieces-streams-one of which continued to flow as the Kaveri, and the other re-assumed the original form, in flesh and blood, of the mountain maid, and stood by the sage embracing her saintly lord. Re-united with the woman dear to his heart, the sage drank deep of the spring of connubial felicity, and spent his remaining days in devotion to the Almighty, warmed by the
the genial rays of Kaveri's chastity and faithfulness towards her lover.
LEGEND THE SECOND. It so happened that the sage Agastya during his visit to the Southern country under the divine orders had to carry
with him, as one of his travelling requisites, the river Swarna, one of the seven rivers of Mount Kailas, to serve him during his daily ablutions- morning, noon, and evening. It was really a hard task for him to cabin so mighty a river in his brazen pitcher, but those were days when time and load were not in the reckoning and he trudged along his way till his arrival at the hilly regions of Brahmagiri, where fascinated by the romantic scenery around him, he broke his journey for a night's halt at a spot now called Talakaveri. It chanced somehow that Indra, taunted by the cruel giant Sura, had taken shelter in a forest near the modern town of Shiyali, where he kept a neat little nursery of flower plants for his daily worship and prayers to Siva. The country was not in a prosperous state when Agastya set foot on the soil of the Dakshinabhumi, a drought having occurred and blighted all the hopes of the poor cultivators whose crops faded and withered for want of rain. Indra's crop and flower plants shared the same fate, and several months passed without Siva getting a handful of flowers from the hands of Indra. Naradji, the unpaid spy in the employ of the celestial detective force, scented the arrival of sage Agastya with his sacred baggage and soon conveyed the news himself to Indra who was sitting uneasy in his country garden brooding over his sad fate. The sight of Naradji sent a thrill of joy into Indra's heart-for it was so unexpected—and with the usual salutations after the manner of heavenly beings, the two friends
two friends entered into a lively conversation on matters of topical interest. "You seem to look very gloomy and dejected. I know why it is that you are unhappy. You are of the celestial realms, and yet you do not know what goes on around you. The sage Agastya has come to these parts and is now staying in the Brahmagiri hills.
What is strange with him is, he has brought in his little vessel one of the seven sacred rivers from our Kailasgiri.” Here he chuckled to himself, and indulging in a roaring guffaw,
he went on “Friend Indra, I have hit upon a plan which, I think, will give you an endless supply of water to feed your fading plants. Just send for our friend Gajanan, the obstacle-thrower, and request him to hurry on to the hills and upset the pitcher so that the water may take the form of a stream and flow to your garden. Do this now, and you will be happy.” Proffering this timely suggestion, Naradji went his way in his airship to Rameswar. Following up the advice, Indra did likewise, and with the help of the mischievous elephant-headed god Ganesh, had the stream brought to his garden direct from the hills.
This, in brief, is the story of the origin of Kaveri, and there seems to be a spice of truth in this second legend; whereas the first one is rather improbable and unconvincing, considering the fact that Agastya was already married to one Lopamudra, a cultured woman of his times, and
, would not go in for another wife by marrying Kaveri, for polygamy was prohibited among sages, even of the Vanaprastha Asram, and it was not to the credit of Agastya that he should pine after maidens and damsels without attending to his more austere duties.
LEGEND THE THIRD. It is similar in structure to the second one, but differs a little from it in version and, curiously enough, it is the name that suggests the legend and not the myth that accounts for the river's origin. It is this :- This legend is found in Mr. Percival's “ Tamil Proverbs” and seems to me the most interesting of all in that it furnishes us an interpretation of the term Kaveri, Ka and Eri. cient times when the people of South India sụffered from drought, Kavera, a sage, became incarnate in the form of a crow. As such he visited the abode of an ascetic on one of the Western hills. He there alighted on the waterpot of a hermit and upset it. The water thus spilt, by reason of the hermit's merit, became a river." Thus the river took its name Kaveri, which implies a current that owes
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its origin to the settling of a crow on a pitcher. Ka signifies a crow, and Eri, ascent, and these two terms, when combined according to the rules of Sandhi of the Tamil grammar, become Kaveri, v serving as a softening letter.
THE FESTIVALS OF THE KAVERI. It is in the month of Tula (Libra) November that the most important festival in South India takes place. This period is really a pleasant season, when the country assumes a cheerful aspect all around. The sun appears flooding the universe with its genial and warm rays of sunshine, and the people everywhere are gay and merry. The thirty days of this month are considered to be festive occasions, and at Talakaveri, especially, there will be a constant movement of myriads of pilgrims to visit the sacred shrines located there and have a bath in the waters of the Kaveri. Every Indian household sends its representatives and thousands come from Mysore, Canara and Malabar. In gay picturesque groups, clad in holiday costume, they ascend the long slopes by many paths up to the lofty valley. With songs and music resounding on all sides the pilgrims muster strong in the early hours of the day. It is only to three days of the month of Tula that a great amount of importance is attached and these are the Prathama (first day), full moon (Powrnami), and the
moon (Amavasya) days. On these occasions the crowds increase in numbers and congregate vastly, and standing on the steps that lead to the water's edge, await eagerly the approach of the auspicious hour to be announced by the river-priests (Thisthvasis). Writing about these classes of men Mr. Crookes observes that “one has only to watch the squabble and intrigues of these harpies who beset the roads by which the pilgrims enter the holy ground and see how much that is sordid enters into the Hinduism of our day. When the signal is given by the purohit all present, men and women, rush into the water, shouting and screaming, and making an indescribable uproar, and jostling their neighbours to the best of their strength.
“ Bathing over, they ascend the steps of the ghats where they offer fruits and flowers to the river-goddess, and money presents to the priest who blesses them. They return home carrying in a lota (vessel) a quantity of the holy liquid with which to cleanse the souls of invalids who keep themselves to their houses. The stay-at-homes also participate in the festivities. Some go to the river and offer cakes of rice flour and plantain fruits, both well-kneaded, and throw them into the waters to be eaten up by fishes. Others fast the whole day and at night partake of cakes, singing
singing with much ardour the legends of the cow and the leopard” to appropriate tunes, or the ballad relating to the curse of Talakad and its sanctity. Of the latter this verse may serve as a specimen
Come and see, Talakada, you pilgrim,
THE LEGEND OF THE COW AND THE LEOPARD.
Once on the banks of the Kaveri a herd of oxen and cows used to graze on a meadow land adjoining a thick jungle infested with wild beasts. There lived a huge tiger, to which the sight of strong and healthy cattle was a temptation which it could not resist. Awaiting a favourable opportunity, one day, the ferocious tiger sprang into the herd and began to attack them. Terror-stricken, all of them ran away, but one weak cow fell into the tiger's clutches and as the tiger began tearing it, it gathered some presence of mind and addressed the wild animal thus : Oh my gracious enemy, it is my fate that I should fall a victim to your ravenous greed. You can make short work of me at your pleasure, but only grant me one request. I shall go home and give suck to my baby-calf, and bidding good-bye for the last time to my children and my relatives in whose charge I shall place my baby, I shall return to you and you can enjoy a hearty meal at my expense. It was indeed