By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Kaveri, KAveri, Kaaveri
Kāveri literally means ‘daughter of the king Kavera’.
Religion has always considered rivers and mountains as sacred spots since they are conducive to the practice of spiritual disciplines. Kāverī is one of the seven most sacred rivers of India included in the mantra invoking the seven rivers at the time of ritualistic worship.
Kāverī originates from the Brahmagiri hills of the district of Koḍagu (or Coorg) in Karnataka. It flows in the south-easterly direction through the Mysore and the Tanjavur (Tanjore) districts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states. It ultimately merges in the Bay of Bengal near the small town Kaveripattinam. Its total length is 760 km (475 miles).
The place where it emerges out of the womb of earth is called Talakāverī. It is 39 km (24 miles) from the central town of Madikeri and 8 km (5 miles) from the little town of Bhāgamaṇḍala. The place of its emergence named Kuṇḍige is just a little pool of 0.6 meter square (2 feet square). Its north is a small maṇṭapa (temple-like structure) about 1.2 meters (4 ft) in height. The water of the Kuṇḍige gets accumulated in a small tank and then flows out under the ground.
Every year, during Tulāsaṅkramaṇa at a particular moment of the day, there is a sudden bursting forth of water in the small pond Kuṇḍige. On this day, thousands of people gather there to offer worship to the goddess Kāverī and bath in the tank. They also carry little holy water home.
Tales of Kāverī
There are several stories in the epics and the purāṇas regarding the river and the river-goddess Kāverī. She was the foster-daughter brought up by the king Kavera. Hence she was called as ‘Kāverī’. She was also known as ‘Lopāmudrā’. She was given in the marriage to the sage Agastya.
Once when Agastya was travelling to the south of the country beyond the Vindhya mountains, he was carrying her in the form of water in his kamaṇḍalu which was upset by a powerful wind near the Sahyādri mountain from where she started flowing as a river. Other stories are similar but add that she was originally a river flowing in Kailāsa, the abode of Śiva.
Pilgrimage Islands in Kāverī
A large number of small rivers and rivulets join it at various places. Well known centers of pilgrimage situated on its banks are:
- Srīraṅgam in Tamil Nadu
- Srīraṅgapaṭṭaṇa near Mysore in Karnataka
- Madhyaraṅga temple near Shivana samudra in Karnataka state
At all these three places, which are small islands in the river, there are temples of Raṅganātha, an aspect of Viṣṇu in the reclining posture.
Temples on Bank of Kāverī
The famous Śaiva temples on its banks are at Cidambaram and Tañjāvur (Bṛhadīśvara Mahādeva). The Jambukeśvara temple near Srīraṅgam also very famous.
Tirujñāna Sambandhar is a well- known Śaiva saint. He was born on the bank of Kāverī. Kamban, the famous poet, is said to have composed his Rāmāyana in Tamil on the bank of this river.
- Kāverī was often called ‘Dakṣīṇagaṅgā’.
- The sun enters the Libra, generally during October.
- She was earlier known as Viṣṇumāyā.
- Kamaṇḍalu is the water pot of mendicants.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore