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Greatness of Thula Cauvery

From: M.N.Ramanuja (mnr_at_physics.iisc.ernet.in)
Date: Mon Oct 28 2002 - 04:52:07 PST

 The month of Thula or Aippisi, is famous for the birth of Mudalalwars and 
Sri Pillai Lokacharyar. However, it is also great because of the boon 
given to Goddess Cauvery.

"ShaTShaShTi kOti tIrthAni dvisaptha bhuvanEShu cha.
KEshavasya AjnayA yAnti thulAmAse marudvridhAm"

Sixtysix crores of sacred waters in all the fourteen worlds, come stay in 
Cauvery, in the month of Thula by the order of Lord Keshava says Agneya 
purANa. Cauvery river is  very  important for sri vaishnavas because 
association with Ranganatha in Adi, madhya and anthya ranga kshetras. 

Has any purvacharya composed stotrams eulogizing cauvery? Here and there 
we find one or two mentions but it was Sri Parasara Bhattar who realised 
the significance and adored her and devoted nearly fifteen bhakti filled 
slokams in SriRangarajastavam in the invocatory verses. He considered 
Cauvery, perhaps, as his grand mother because cauvery is the mother of 
Ranganayaki Thayar  and Ranganayaka is her son-in-law as stated in 
"dugdhAbdhir janakO janayaham iyam ShrirEva puthrI vara: Srirangesvara  
Etadarhamiha ..." in SriRangarajastavam and Ranganayaka and Ranganayaki 
are parents of SriParasaraBhattar as stated in " srirangaraja 
kamalApadalAlitatvam"  We plan  to  cover all of them in this month by 
posting in the lists, if possible. At the outset it is interesting 
to read through the following article regarding Cauvery as an 
introduction as it may interest the bhagavaytas. 



 THE CAUVERY IN MYTHOLOGY



Londoners do not attach sanctity to the Thames, nor Americans to the 
Hudson. But to Indians, the Ganges, the Jumna, the Godavery, the Cauvery, 
are sanctified. Their waters may give food, may give wealth, may  give 
light to the nation. But they are not dear on that account. They are 
sacred because their waters purify and sanctify the body, and liberate the 
soul.

The legend of the Ganges is well known. Born from Vishnu's feet, 
descending through Bhagiratha's prayer, lost in the coils of Shiva's head, 
and flowing thence for the salvation of the myriads.


The mythology of the Cauvery is not so simple, or so well-known.


Kavera, an ancient king, performs tapas. Brahma becomes visible to him, 
and asks his desire. Kavera wants moksha, salvation. Brahma says that he 
will not give him moksha, but will give him a daughter who will give him 
moksha.  That daughter is known as Cauvery, alias Lopamudra. Then 
Lopamudra wants to serve the world, and performs tapas.

At the same time, young Agasthya is performing tapas. God becomes visible 
to Agastya, and asks him what he wants. Agastya wants moksha. God says, 
"No, you must marry first Lopamudra, and afterwards have moksha."  He then 
becomes visible to Cauvery and asks her what she wants. She wants to 
become a river and sanctify mankind. God says, "Agastya will come and 
marry you, and take you South, where you can become a sacred river."

Agastya then marries Lopamudra, and takes her South, and settles at 
Sahyadri in Coorg. Later on a great storm arises, and Lopamudra is 
transformed into Cauvery.

People who think of  Cauvery forget the great story about Lopamudra. Once, 
on a travel, Agastya is ill and unconscious, on the road, and Lopamudra 
has to carry him on her shoulder in the dark. Unfortunately, the dangling 
foot touches some holy person on the road, and he angrily curses, "Let the 
man whose foot touched me die before sunrise". Lopamudra hears the words 
and swears, " if I am a woman of  Pativrathya (chastity), let not the Sun 
ever rise."  Next day, the Sun, great saviour of the world, does not rise, 
and the world is plunged in darkness. The Devas are in consternation, and 
Brahma and Indra come and beg Lopamudra to lift the ban. She tells them 
about the curse, and says that the ban could not be lifted unless her 
husband's life is assured. They grant Agastya immunity from the curse, and 
long life, and she lifts the ban. That Lopamudra becomes the Cauvery. A 
great woman, and a great river!


Having become a river, Cauvery has another wish, and prays to God,

" Sire, of all rivers in the world, Ganga is said to be the most sacred. 
Make me greater than her."

-	

God replies,

"Ganga is sacred because she starts from my feet. You become more sacred, 
by having myself near you." So, at Seringapatam, at Sivasamudram, and at 
Srirangam, shrines of  Ranganatha adorn the bosom of Cauvery and sanctify 
her. 

>From then on, during the millenniums that have elapsed, the 450 miles of 
her course, from Sahyadri to the eastern sea, have been studded with 
temples, lingas, kshetras and teerthas, gathering mystic tradition for 
purifying the body, illuminating the mind, and liberating the soul. Shiva  
and Parvati claim that they both got each other by bathing in  Cauvery.  
Harischandra, the victim of Viswamitra, Nala, the victim of Karkotaka, 
recovered their kingdoms by bathing in the Cauvery. Indra and Chandra, 
becoming accursed owing to their lapses, bathed in the Cauvery and became 
normal. Rama made Vibheeshana bathe in the Cauvery in order to wash off 
the pollution of Ravana's contact. Krishna advised Arjuna to bathe in the 
Cauvery in order to attain Subhadra. Bhrigu and Kundina become 
Gotra-Rishis by bathing in her. Yagnyavalkya, Bodhayana, Apastamba attain 
intellectual illumination through her grace.


Therefore it is rather presumptuous to attempt to speak of her spiritual 
greatness in less than a quarter of an hour.


Agneya Purana says,


"If Shesha, with big thousand mouths, spoke for 10,000 years, he could not 
finish recounting the glory of the Cauvery." 

"Just as food is the best of charities, Moon is the best of  planets. Sun 
is the best among the lustrous, Cauvery is best among the rivers."


The Mahabharata declares,

"The Ganges purifies a person in 3 nights, Yamuna in 5 nights, Goutamee in 
7 nights, Krishnaveni in 4 days, Tunga in 10 nights, and Hemakoota in 5 
nights. The Cauvery  purifies immediately even the prospective sins till 
death."


The Puranas affirm,

"There are five means of wiping out the five capital sins and attaining 
salvation: the Purusha-Sookta among the Vedas, the Geeta in the 
Mahabharata, the Gayatri among mantras, Ekadasi among Vratas, and, among 
river-baths, bathing in the Cauvery in the month of Tula (Aippisi), in the 
presence of Ranganatha.


Mahadeva tells sage Gowtama,


Maidens who bathe with due sanctity in the sacred waters where the 
paschima vAhini (westward flowing branch) mingles with the dakshina vAhini 
(southward flowing ) on the auspicious day of the week, Friday, and 
devoutly worship Goddesses Ramaa and Umaa with flowers, will get happily 
married, and be blessed with children and grandchildren. And men who bathe 
in those sacred waters on Sundays in the morning, facing the Sun, will 
attain all the four vargas, dharma, artha, kama and moksha.


In an eloquent peroration Agneya  Purana  says,

"Punya cannot be obtained without straining the body. Therefore he who 
would bathe in the Cauvery should observe these restraints. Bathing 
without observing the rules will only remove superficial dirt. The body is 
like a bubble, and is the abode of much filth. Yama is alert, always 
watchful for loopholes. Morning and evening are enemies which wear away 
life. Therefore, you should not, you should not, you should not, waste the 
day. The body is in your command; the senses are not bad. Rivers are 
easily accessible, and afford sanctity. Autumn is an auspicious season. 
The man who fears naraka should drive away the demon of sleep, awake at 
daybreak, and bathe in the waters of the Cauvery. I tell you again and 
again, with raised right hand, "Cauvery, best of rivers, flows 
incessantly, capable of destroying all sins. Those who bathe in it, 
without worldly desires, will attain Heaven by mere bathing."


Such, in brief, is the Cauvery in Hindu mythology!

                                                                              
G. R. Josyer


 ( Extracted from a talk at AIR,  Mysore, on  2-7-1951)





Adiyen
Ramanuja dasan
Ramanuja



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