Today was a much-appreciated day since the walk started on 12th of January, 2015. After almost two months of hectic activity, with even the rest days in Kerala being busy, the Karnataka leg has started on a more relaxed note. Sri M and the yatris now get to spend time with themselves in an informal environment. It was a boundless feeling not to be doing anything based on a set agenda on this day of rest. Many of the padayatris did absolutely nothing stressful today and were happier for it. Many of them caught up on lost sleep and some of them on their chores or wandered around the small town on personal errands. Some of them visited Talakaveri.
Talakaveri is generally considered to be the source of the river Kaveri. It is located by the Brahmagiri hill and a tank has been built on the hillside, where the river originates and springs from Mother earth. A small temple also marks it, and pilgrims frequent the area. The temple here is dedicated to Goddess Kaveriamma.
As with most of the important rivers in India, the river Kaveri too has very interesting legends associated with it. The most popular one is the story of Lopamudra. When the great ocean of milk was churned by the Devas and the Asuras in order to obtain Amrita (the elixir of life), LordVishnu took the form of Mohini—a woman of infinite charm and appeal to distract the Asuras and restore Amrita to the Devas. Goddess Lakshmi sent along Lopamudra, one of the apsaras to assist Mohini. After Amrita was successfully restored to the Devas, Lopamudra was brought to Brahma as his daughter.
A sage of renown, Kavera, came to Brahmagiri to meditate. All alone, he prayed to Lord Brahma to bless him with a child. Pleased with his devotion, Brahma gifted him Lopamudra as his daughter. She was renamed Kaveri, the daughter of the sage Kavera.
Keen that her father should have every happiness and prosperity in a land full of good and happy people, Kaveri went to Brahmagiri and prayed to Lord Brahma that she turn into a river and flow through the country, turning the land green and fertile. She also prayed that her waters be holy so that all sins may be absolved of people who have a dip in the waters. These were readily granted which made her very happy.
In the meanwhile, Sage Agastya saw Kaveri when she was deep in meditation on Brahmagiri (The hill of Brahma). He was attracted to her and asked her to marry him. Though her heart was set on turning into a river of blessings, she could not refuse Agastya and married him on the condition that he would never leave her alone for too long and if he did, she would go her way. Agastya agreed and kept up his promise for a while. Once, while he was with his students and lost track of time. Kaveri waited patiently for a while but after some time she jumped into Agastya’s holy tank and flowed from it as a river. Agastya’s disciples saw what had happened and tried to stop her from flowing away. She hid underground and appeared again at Bhaganda Kshetra and flowed on towards Valambari & finally into the Bay of Bengal. Since then, the river has been worshipped as a sacred river, throughout its course.
Another belief is that the river Ganges joins Kaveri underground once a year, during the Tulamasa, in order to wash herself free of the pollution caused by the crowds of people who bathe in her waters all year round. Kaveri is considered as sacred as the Ganges throughout its course, endowed with the same power of spiritual cleansing. But the spot, Bhagamandala, where the three rivers meet, is considered the most sacred of all. Temples have been constructed all along its banks, visited by thousands of pilgrims.
In the morning, at around 11 a.m., a group of Kashmiri migrant folk artistes gave a dance recital at Bhagamandala Shree Kashi Math. There was an interaction session them, where Sri M spoke, introducing Walk of Hope saying that it would visit their place, Kashmir too. Following this, the artists performed five lively and graceful pieces.
The graceful yet fast paced dances were enlivening and gladdened the hearts of all onlookers. All present there applauded in accompaniment to the tunes, thereby feeling one with the dance. It was truly an enthralling and heart warming performance and the audience felt exhilarated to be part of a cultural sangam of sorts. The dance performed by the artists was a mixture of folk beats and Sufi music. Sufiana Music is the most popular among the mystics in Kashmir and is considered as the soul of their music.
The yatris were served lunch at 2.00 pm. After a rest, they congregated again to walk a kilometre to the Bhagamandala temple. A group of priests conducted the aarti by the bank and all the onlookers watched it with due respect and devotion. A very spectacular ritual was the burning of a 15 feet white cloth strung vertically between two long bamboo poles. This ritual is called the Dattowsav and signifies the burning of all that is negative.
Following this, padayatris returned their place of rest, had dinner at around 7.30 pm and retired for the night.
Aarathi at the River cauvery by Sri M and the padayatris