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Ka've'ri Pura'na. l6
plains. It was therefore rather a difficult task, to dress up a history of Coorg in Brahmanical fashion. But the attempt was a matter of necessity. The story of the country, from which the holy Kdven descends into the eastern plains, could not be left to the Coorgs themselves. It had to take its plane in the Kav6ri Purdna and to be in harmony as much as possible both with the rest of the Pura/ia, and with the realities and traditions of Coorg. Four chapters, XI—XIV, of the Kaveri Purana, which professes to be an integral part of the great Skanda Punina, are devoted to this object. An abstract of these chapters will presently be given, short enough, however, to be tolerable to an European reader. The author does not appear to have been very skilful, nor very happy, in the execution of his task. The story of the invisible river Sujyoti, joining the Kanake and Kdveri seems to me a lame, useless imitation of the Northern tale, that Sarasvati, a stream, of great renown among the Brahmans, is not lost, as it seems, in the desert sands, but joins the Ganges and the Yamuna, unseen, at Prayaga. The holy Sarasvati must have an end worthy of its sanctity. But here in the Kav6ri Purana the third, altogether invisible, stream Sujyoti is an idle manufacture, introduced only to complete a Southern Trinity of holy rivers. The extraordinary anachronism of Parvati's blessing given to Chandravarma, the founder of the Coorg people, who is thereby rendered victorious over the Turks (sic !), transgresses even the thoughtless audacity of a Purana, for the Purana belongs according to its own Account to the age of the Rishis, who were long extinct, when the Turks appeared. The numerous passages inculcating the duty of the Valiant Coorgs, to offer to the Brahmans the honors and gifts due to them, have met with singularly bad success. The Coorgs, it would appear, never troubled themselves
much about the contents and the admonitions of the Kav6ri book.
Therefore, (my Moonshee, an old ShrivaisAreava Brahman, when I remarked on the ill success of the Brah mans among the Coorgs, answered me) they have forfeited Kaveri's blessing and lost their country. He did not remember, that many most devoted, Brahmanridden, kings have shared the same fate, since the rising of the Mlenchha Company's star.
These few remarks may suffice for an introduction to the Legend of Coorg.
The Kaveri Purana first gives the history of the river. Its divine origin, its connection with the Rislri Agastya, (the settler of the Vindha-mountain-range, the great son of both Mitra and Varuna), and its course through the eastern country into the sea in obedience to the counsel of Agastya, all conspire to give it a character of surpassing sanctity.
The seizure of the Amrita, the produce of the Oceanchurning by the Asuras, spread consternation and despair among the hosts of the Gods. They invoked the great Vishnu, the Lord of all. He had compassion on them. From him M6hini emanated,—Lakshmi at the same time sending forth L6pamudr6 (a form of Parvati),—charmed the Asuras by her transcendent beauty, and restored the drink of immortality to the Gods. After having delivered the Gods, she retired to Brahmagiri—where the sources of the Kaveri now are— and was changed into a rocky cave. Lopamudre was given to Brahma, who brought her up as his daughter. Thus ends the first act, the scene (true Purana fashion) being laid in the heavens. The second act passes to the earth. Kavera Muni retires to Brahmagiri, there to give himself wholly to meditation on Brahma. He asks Brahma for children. Brahma—how could he refuse the prayer of his devout Rishi ?—gives him L6Ka've'ri Ptjra'na. 15
pamudre for a daughter. She, in order to procure beatitude for her new father, resolves on becoming a river, pouring out blessings on the earth, and all the merits arising from this course of devoted goodness, are to be appropriated to Kavera Muni. For this purpose she resorts to one of the heights of Brahmagiri and invokes Brahma, to give her the privilege, when turned into a river, of absolving all people bathing in the holy waters, from every sin they may have committed. Brahma of course grants this blessing to his daughter. Now another person appears upon the stage, who is to control the future course of Kavera Muni's daughter. While KaveVi is still absorbed in her devotions, the great Rishi Agastya espies her, and forthwith asks her to become his wife. Though longing after the fulfilment of her vow, she consents to live with Agastya, under the condition, however, that she shall be at liberty to forsake him, whenever she is left alone. One day Agastya went to bathe in the river Kanake, leaving KavGri near his own holy tank, guarded by his disciples. Thus deserted by Agastya against his promise, she plunged into the holy tank and flowed forth from it a beautiful river. The disciples tried to stay her course. She went under ground. At Bhaganrfakshetra she appeared again, and flowed on towards Valamburi. When Agastya, on his return, saw what had happened, he ran after Kavdri, begged her pardon and entreated her, to return and to remain with him. Unwilling to change her mind, yet loath to grieve Agastya, Kaveri divided herself, one half flowing off a river, the other half staying with the Rishi. Agastya then explained to the River-half, which road to take to the Eastern sea, enumerating all the holy places lying in the way of the new stream.
Previous to this origin of the KaveVi River, a Brahman, Suyajna, performed great devotions to Yisknu at Dhatripura, a spot near the fountain of the Kavdri. VisArcu at length appeared to him. Suyajna asked the god, to give him Mukti, (beatitude i. e. in the Hindu sense, loss 01 consciousness, yea of self; individuality being the source of sin and misery) and to render him a benefactor of the world. Visfau gave him Sujy6ti for a daughter, and told him, "she -will be a benefactress of the world, and her merit shall be thine. Go to the Agni Hill. Kanake a servant of Devendra lives there. Into her charge give Sujyoti, and do thou attend to thy devotions." Suyajna fulfilled the command pf VisAnu. Sujy6ti, joined Kanake in her meditations. After a while Devendra came on a visit, and asked Sujyoti to become his wife. She promised to obey; but secretly she opened her mind to Kanake and told her, what grief she felt at having to be Dev6ndra's wife instead of becoming a river. Both of them set off immediately as two streams, Kanake and Sujy6ti. Devendra finding himself cheated, cursed Sujy6ti, and said: let thy waters disappear. Whereupon Sujy6ti begged his pardon, when Devendra, pitying her, said: when Kaveri will appear, you and Kanake may join her and in her company go the great Sea. This word of Devendra was fulfilled, when Kaven flowed forth from the holy tank of Agastya.
(There are only two streams, let it be remembered, which join at BhagamantMa. The Kav6ri runs under ground for some distance, which is accounted for in the Purana by the interference of Agastya's disciples.)
Now follows a glowing description of all the holy country. In the eleventh chapter Sanaka and the other Rishis ask Siitapuranika about the country, in which the sources of the river Kavfiri are. What name has it? they inquire; and what is the origin of the name? What are the frontiers of the country, its customs, its tribes?
Ka've'ri Ptjra'na. 37
To these questions Sutapunuiika replies by repeating the account given in times of old to the king I>harmavarma by the Rishi Dalbhya. The frontiers of the country are these: it lies to the West of Ramanathapura; (thither the earth in the form of a cow went to implore Shiva's help against the RaktfAasas, who destroyed her; her stony form is still to be seen there, •ays the bard. There Rama, to atone for his murder of the Brahma-descended Havana, consecrated in Shiva's -name the holy Linga,) to the North of the renowned Parashurama's KsA6tra (holy land); three gavuda (12 coss) to the East of the "Western Sea; to the South of Kanva Rishi's habitation. From East to West it measures 6 yojana (24 coss), from North to South 3 yojana (12 coss).
The country has three names : the first, Brahmak*A6tra ; the second, Matsyadesha; the third, Kr6rfad6sha. The origin of these names is as follows:
1. When Brahma performed his pilgrimage over the world, i. e. India, he came to Sahyadri, where he saw a strange sight. A Nelli tree (Myrobolan) stood before him spreading a hundred boughs. As he looked at .the tree, he beheld the form of \ishmi with shell, discus aud club. The next moment, when he fixed his eye upon it, he saw nothing but a bare tree. Upon this Brahma worshipped VisArcu many days, pouring upon the tree out of his holy vessel water from the Viraja. River. (This river is not to be found in modern Geography; it runs beyond the seven seas, which surround the world). On this account the country, from which the holy river Kaven springs, has been named BrahmaksAetra.
2. Of the second name two accounts are given. There is a mountain called Halfmoon in this country, the hard says. Near it there is a holy spring. In it VisAmi took the form of a fish and worshipped Shiva.