There is a mountain called Vindhya, in times of the Puranas, he was tall and good-looking. A meddlesome person once praised Meru, another mountain right in front of Vindhya. Wanting to be taller than Meru, a jealous Vindhya started growing towards the sky.
Very soon, he blocked the Sun. People, animals, and forests in Vindhya’s shadow, got no sunlight at all. The Sun was at a loss. However high he rose, Vindhya grew taller and blocked his light. The people, animals, and forests begged Vindhya to stop, but he heard nothing.
Even the Gods were at a loss. In desperation they approached the powerful sage Agasthya for help. The sage went to Vindhya and asked him to bend so that he could cross over to the South. After he crossed over, he asked Vindhya to stay that way until he crossed back. Vindhya promised to stay at that height until the sage returned. Once he came south, the sage stayed back, to the happiness of the people around Vindhya.
When sage Agasthya reached South, he had a duty to fulfill. He was about to become a cause for birth of River Kaveri.
King Kavera, who used live in southern India, said to have prayed to Brahma for a child. And incidentally Lord Brahma had a daughter Vishnumaya, who craved to serve humanity on Earth.
With Brahma’s blessing, Vishnumaya was born as Lopamudra to King Kavera. She was called Kaveri as she is the daughter of Kavera. Lopamudra grew up into a beautiful woman, with her craving to serve humanity (Vishnumaya’s wish) very much intact.
Sage Agasthya on one of his many travels met Lopamudra, and asked Kavera for her hand in marriage. He was an older man and not really pleasing to the eye with his sage-like dress and hair. Lopamudra agreed to marry the sage on one condition – he was not to leave her alone for a great stretch of time. If he did, she would leave. Sage Agasthya was agreeable.
From Lopamudra to River Kaveri:
Legend goes on that Sage Agasthya once turned Kaveri into water and took her in his kamandala, as he was not supposed to leave her alone for a long time.
Once it so happened that, Agasthya sat down for a Dhyana and left Kamandala at his Ashrama.
On realizing that she had been left alone for a long time, Lopamudra flowed out as a river. The sage’s disciples tried to stop her, but she dived into the Earth and they could not track her. Eventually the Kamandala reappeared at Bhagamandala, and River Kaveri was flowing out of that spot.
Much later, the sage came looking for her and recognized her in the river Kaveri. Some believe that she did live on with Agasthya as his wife and also served the people as the river.
There is also a version which says that Agasthy had kept his wife in his kamandala as water. Ganesha in the form of a crow flew by toppling it over and letting the waters flow.
When Kaveri grew up, she married sage Agastya. The couple lived happily together, till they heard of the demon Shoorapadma. This demon wanted to trouble King Kavera’s subject and used his powers to prevent rain from reaching the earth. This led to many rivers drying up in no time.
One day, Sage Agastya who was about to leave for a bath, decided to turn his wife Kaveri into water and poured her in to a kamandala. He did this out of the fear of leaving her behind, alone. But as soon as he reached the river bed, he kept the kamandala on the bank and went inside the nearly empty river.
Seeing him enter the water, Lord Ganpati quickly turned into a cow and pushed the kamandala onto the bank. And Kaveri who was inside the kamandala spilled over as water and became a huge river, merging with the existing water body.
This way King Kavera’s wish of helping his subjects through his daughter was fulfilled
Why Kaveri has a special place in Puranas:
Wanting to be the holiest river, Kaveri prayed to Lord Vishnu and asked to be made holier than the Ganga. Vishnu explained that the Ganga was holy as she originated from his feet. He said Cauvery would be his garland, close to his heart, and therefore, more sacred. And so it is that three of the holiest shrines of Vishnu are found at Srirangapatna, Shivanasamudra, and Shrirangam called Adi-ranga, Madhya-ranga and Antya-ranga respectively: in every one of these places the temple is on island with the Cauvery encircling it, just like the garland!
From this came the other legend that the Ganga comes via an underground route once every year to Cauvery for a cleansing dip.And so it was that just as Vishnumaya had craved, she flowed on Earth as Kaveri serving humanity.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth