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By Dr.E.S.Neelakantan

India is a country with a rich heritage. From age old days, people have made it a point to visit holy places and take a purificatory or ceremonial bath in holy rivers. Even today we can see this in practice during times of Kumbha mela. The word “Theertthaatana” means visiting pilgrimage centres. The astrological rules for the same are given by Prof N.E. Muthuswamy as follows: – 

1) a) Rahu in 10 – Bath in river Ganges 

     b) Jupiter in 10 – Bath in river Ganges

2) Jupiter and Venus in quadrant – pilgrimage

3) Exaltation of Jupiter, Venus and the second lord 

4) Mercury in 12 – bath in Ganges.

5) Dispositor of Mercury in 12 – pilgrimage

6) Moon in watery sign in the 3rd aspected by benefics.

7) Lord of 9th in watery sign in a quadrant – Bath in Ganges.

8) Jupiter aspecting the 9th house – Bath In Ganges.

9) Mercury in 9th with benefic aspect – visiting pilgrim centres 

(Vide Encyclopaedia of Indian Astrology Volume 2 page 467)

With reference to the above, I would like to make one observation here. Mostly the river mentioned above is the holy Ganges. However, the same can also be interpreted to mean any other holy river, such as Godavari, Krishna or Tungabhadra. Kaveri is one of the Seven holy rivers in India.( the other six being Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Sindhu/Indus, Narmada and Godavari ). In south India Kaveri is the third largest river next only to Godavari and Krishna.

In Bhagwad Gita also Lord Krishna Says “Of the flowing rivers, I am Ganges (Chapter 10 Verse 31)

But these only show that Ganges occupies the pride of place amongst rivers, although the rest are no less holy, at least in the minds of the pilgrims.

Chapter 10 of the treatise Bhavartha Ratnakara contains certain astrological combinations for dips in sacred waters.

1. If Jupiter is in association with or aspected by the 10th

 lord, the native will be engaged in good 

deeds ( Bhavartha Ratnakara, Chapter 10 ,Verse 1)

2. If the lords of 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th

 and Jupiter are all together in a watery sign, the 

native will have dips in rivers as sacred as Ganga and in Ganga itself during Jupiter’s dasa (Ibid Chapter 10, Verse 2/3)

3. No pilgrimage will be undertaken by the native during the dasas of the 5th and 7th lords; he will spend his time listening to God’s stories instead (Ibid, Chapter 10, Verse 4)

 4. If Jupiter and Saturn are in 9th in Aquarius, the native will have the fortune of many dips in the Ganga and holy rivers. The same results if there is a VenusSunJupiter combine in 10th in Capricorn (Ibid, Chapter 10, Verse 5/6)

5. If the 10th lord is associated with Jupiter, the native will be religious. Opposite results are produced when the 10th

 lord is in the 6th or 12th (Ibid, Chapter 10, Verse 7)

The river Kaveri originates from the Brahmagiri Mountain range forming part of the Western Ghats in Tala Kaveri, in Kodagu district of Karnataka. (Formerly known as Coorg).The Wayanad district in Kerala is south of Brahmagiri. Kaveri  enters Tamilnadu and gives rise to the Hogenakkal Falls (Considered as the Niagara Falls of India) in Dharmapuri District of Tamilnadu. It then flows towards Erode District, giving rise to the Triveni Sangamam in Bhavani, due to the confluence of the rivers Kaveri, Bhavani and the mythological Aakash ganga. The Sangameshwarar temple is located near the confluence of the three rivers. From there it flows towards Trichy. The Srirangam temple is located on banks of the Kaveri river. From there it enters Tanjore and flows towards Mayavaram (Mayiladuthurai) and it finally  joins the Bay of Bengal near Poompuhar.

Thula Kaveri mahatmyam, mentions about the advice of sages to King Harischandra exhorting him to take a purificatory bath in river Kaveri. To get rid of sin one should bathe in the waters of Kaveri in the months, Chaithra (April – May), Vaishaka (May – June) or Thula (October – November) When Sun is in Thula Rasi, all waters come to Kaveri. There are 66 crores of theerthas (rivers) in the southern world (lokas), which come to Kaveri to get rid of their accumulated sins. Kaveri will relieve one of all sins and grant all attainments. The sand particles on the river bed are all devatas. There are temples of Siva and Vishnu on both sides of the river and there are hermitages of sages which grant the fruit of austerity immediately. It is said that only Lord Mahavishnu can narrate the merit of listening to a chapter or a verse in Thula Mahatmyam or taking bath in river Kaveri. We know that the four ends of life are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. If Kaveri is capable of granting Moksha, is it necessary to say that she will also grant Dharma, Artha and Kama?

If one takes bath in either the Thula month or the Magha month, he will attain to Brahmaloka along with three crores of his family members comprising of his own family as well as that of his in-laws Gift of food (annadhanam) and gift of water (Theertha dhanam) will fetch merit a crore times more than normal when performed in Thula month on banks of Kaveri. Pitrus attain satisfaction for a kalpa if Pindadanam, Sraddham and tarpanam are done in Kaveri bank in Thula Month. Due to contact with the air on the banks of Kaveri, even animals, birds and trees attain liberation. That being the case what should one say about a human being who takes a ceremonial bath in Kaveri?

The following matters require punya (religious merit) in many births to materialize.

1) To think of Kaveri.

2) To utter the name of Kaveri

3) To have darshan of Kaveri

4) To take bath in Kaveri

Mukti is attained by uttering the name of Ganga, having darshan of Rama sethu in Dhanushkodi and listening to Ramayana. Merely by thinking of river kaveri, one is assured of Mukti. 

Kaveri is considered as one of the holiest of rivers similar to Ganges;amongst rivers Kaveri in foremost just as Tulsi among plants, Ekadashi among vrats ,pranava (Om) among letters, Gayatri among Mantras, Sama veda among vedas, Sun among luminous objects, Srirangam among holy places, Ramasethu among waters,  Purusha Suktam among vedic hymns, Kamadhenu among cows and Kritayuga among Yugas.

Mukti is attained by merely thinking of Kaveri or by uttering the name of Ganga river, or by listening to Ramayana or having a darshan of Ramasethu in Dhanushkodi.

It is said that “Bharat” or India is Punyaboomi stretching for a length of One Lakhs yojanas and occupying a width of 9000 yojanas ( 1 yojana = 13kms ). One can earn religious merit only in this punyaboomi. Rest of the world is bhogaboomi. One needs the merit of a thousand births to be born as human being. 

It is said that a person is comparable to donkey, if he fails to take a ceremonial bath in kaveri after having been born as a human being (In south Tamilnadu there is a saying that one who has not visited Madurai is comparable to a donkey). 

There is a proper way to take bath in Kaveri. One should get up from bed in Brahma muhurtha. Technically speaking one Muhurtha equals 48 Minutes – so the penultimate muhurtha before sun rise is known as Brahma muhurtha. Brahma muhurta is an auspicious period of 48 minutes that begins 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise and ends 48 minutes before sunrise. It is considered the best time for meditation and spiritual practices. After getting up in Brahma Muhurtha one should perform daily ablutions, meditate on God and then take a holy dip in the waters of the Kaveri river. The following rituals are important,

1) With both hands one should offer flowers to Kaveri.

2) One should prostrate to the river and to Ranganatha

3) One should offer Arghyam of water

The next ritual is to listen to the greatness of Kaveri through a Vedic pundit who is well versed in Thula Kaveri Mahatmyam. One should not consider the Vedic pundit just as yet another human being but someone as holy as Rishi Vedavyasa himself. The Vedic pundit should be in complete control of sense organs, free of desire and anger and he should be an authority on Vedas, Vedangas, Vedanta, Dharmasastra and Puranas. He should observe virtuous conduct. Certain restrictions are there for a person who does Thula snanam. 

1) One should avoid oil bath 

2) One should not eat in the company of evil-minded persons.

3) One should avoid gossip.

4) If a person takes bath without following above regulations, ven then he will still get rid of all sins; if he observes these regulations and then takes the ceremonial bath, he will get Mukti.

A person who is unable to take a dip in Kaveri can do one of the following and still earn the merit of a purificatory bath.

A) He can listen to the Kaveri Mahatmyam

b) He can offer gifts to the Vedic pundit

c) One who keeps a copy of the book on Kaveri mahatmyam will attain to the status of Brahma. 

d) If the book on Kaveri mahatmyam is gifted to a Vedic pundit, one will be relieved of all sins and he will be worshipped in Vishnuloka.

Effects of gifts.

1) One should take bath in Kaveri and offer gifts; such a person will enjoy all the happiness of this world and will be worshipped in Brahmaloka.

2) One who lights a lamp in shrine of Harihara in Thula month after snanam will attain Suryaloka.

3) One who gives a gift of clothes will go to Chandraloka.

4) One who gives a land to Vedic pundit will travel to Brahmaloka, enjoys his stay there and returns to this earth as an Emperor.

5) One who gifts money or grain to the poor Vedic pundits will remain wealthy lifelong; thereafter they will become friends of Kubera and enjoy their life.

6) One who gifts honey to the Vedic pandit will beget progeny and will be reborn in many births as a knower of Vedas. 

7) Gift of Amalaki (Indian goose berry) will fetch true knowledge and devotion to God.

8) Gift of Sesame will gratify the pitrus and is equivalent to Gayasraddham

9) One who donates food on the banks of Kaveri, becomes a deva.

Listening to the greatness of Kaveri itself is an activity which give rise to punya.

1) One who chews the Betel Leaves while listening will be reborn as an animal.

2) One who listens lying down will be born as a python.

3) One who listens while sitting on a pedestal similar to that of a guru is reborn as a animal.

4) One who despises the Guru will be reborn as a dog.

5) One who raises irrelevant questions will be reborn as a donkey.

6) One who does not listen is reborn as a pig.

7) One who organises or encourages a discourse on Kaveri mahatmyam, attains a higher state of evolution in the afterlife.

8) One who offers clothes to the pundit will be blessed with wealth and happiness in many births.

9) Even if one listens to one verse of Thula purana one will be able to get rid of all sins. 

Vedic pandit Padmagarbha was narrating Thula Kaveri mahatmyam to an audience. At that time a crocodile caught hold of the foot of the Vedic pundit. At that time the crocodile by chance listened to a verse from Thula purana. The meaning of the verse is as follows:-

He who bathes in the Kaveri in Thula month early in the morning will get rid of all sins and ascend to Vishnuloka.”

 At that time an aerial car arrived and the crocodile left its mortal form, got the form of a divine being ,boarded the Vimana, to leave for Vishnu loka. Padmagarbha was stunned by the sequence of events .The devine being said, “I am not a deva;I am a Vedic pundit by name, Suryabandu of Panchaladesha. Though well-versed in Vedas and scriptures, I had no compassion, felt angry all the time and was not at all charitable. A pundit from Kanva, came requesting for help to perform a yagna, for which I refused all help. Then I suffered in hell and was born as a crocodile.

Now I listened to a verse you uttered and I got rid of that sinful birth. How did I get your darshan? How could I get the good fortune to listen to Thula kaveri mayatmyam? Please explain this to me” 

Padmagarbha replied “In your earlier birth, the king of Vangadesha, once took bath in Kaveri, listened to Thula purana and gave gifts. In order to obtain some gift, you pretended to be a holy mendicant by wearing the ochre robes, bathed in Kaveri and prosstrated before the pundits. You listened to the discourse on Thula purana. Owing to that merit, you got liberated from this birth as a crocodile and you will now proceed to attain the higher worlds”

In Mahabaratha one comes across the wedding of Arjuna with Subadra. After the wedding the time had come for Dharmaputra to say farewell to Krishna. Dharmaputra expressed his anguish over the troubles created by Kauravas, more particularly by Duryodhana. Krishna said that he himself had to undergo several troubles and advised Dharmaputra to stick to the path of dharma and all would be well in future and the kingdom would be regained. Then Krishna recounted the story of Thula purana and finally advised him as follows;-

“Those who do Thula snanam ,listen to Thula purana, honour the Vedic pundit, even if they be atheist, of evil ways, deceitful or faithless – they will become pure, enjoy all happiness in this world, along with their sons and grandsons and finally they will attain Moksha, by my grace”. In this particular anecdote, it is specifically stated that the two important pilgrimage centres Srirangam and Mayavaram were specifically created by the Almighty to confer Moksha. 

In this story, a detailed account is also given of Arjuna’s pilgrimage to the south. Arjuna had Thula snanam in Mayavaram. After the bath, he proceeded to Srirangam and had darshan of Lord Ranganatha .He also visited Madurai and then proceeded to Rameswaram where he worshipped Shiva as Lord Ramalinga. He had Magha snanam in the waters of Rameswaram and listened to the narration of Magha mahatmyam. After completion of Magha vrata he returned to Madurai. From there Arjuna proceeded to Sahayadri , where Kaveri originates and visited Gokarna. After having darshan of Lord Shiva at Gokarna, Arjuna bid adieu to the accompanying Vedic pundits and left for his hometown, Dwaraka.

Harischandra, who was listening to Sage Agastya prayed to the sage to enlighten him about the origin of Kaveri. Agastya narrated Kaveri ‘s story thus:-

Kavera was a raja rishi who practised total detachment . Upon seeing his penance, Brahma appeared before him ,conveyed the news that Vishnumaya would be born as Kavera’s daughter and grant him Mukti. She would be endowed with two roles – one being that of Kaveri river and other being Lopamudra, consort of Sage Agastya .

Accordingly Vishnumaya was born as the daughter of King Kavera. She did severe penance in the Himalayas. When Lord Vishnu appeared before her, she asked for the boon of becoming the river which would fetch the person who takes bath in it. ( however ungrateful or evil minded he may be) attainment of the feet of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu blessed her saying that the boon is granted and hence forth she would become “Dakshina Ganga” (Ganges of the south). “I am also going to reside in your lap as Ranganatha at Srirangam. The merit of the Ganges bath and other sacred thirthas in the four yugas would be less that one-sixteenth of the merit attained by bathing in Sahayadri at the foot of the Amalaka tree.” Thus was Kaveri born.

Sage Agastya was performing penance in Himalayas when Lord Brahma appeared before him and requested him to marry Lopamudra. While Agastya protested Brahma said, “Karma can lead to Mukti. While abstaining from Kamya Karma, one gets mukti even if the karma performed  is defective; on the other hand the sannyasin who thinks of enjoyments fails to reach the goal” Acting on Brahmas advice, Agastya married Lopamudra.

Lopamudra advised the sages to come down to the south, take bath in Kaveri and attain Mukti. Then Agastya proceeded down south and remembered the words of Brahma, when he reached the Vindhya mountains. 

The Vindhya Mountain was egoistic and kept on growing, posing a threat to the cosmic order. Agastya requested Vindhya to stop its growth until he returned from the south. Vindhya granted this promise to sage Agastya. Agastya permanently settled in the south, thereby quelling the  threat of the Vindhya mountain.

It is said “ All vedas form the head of Kaveri; Milk is her water; all merits are the foam;Principle of eternal truth is the whirlpool;Yagas are the sand; merit is the bubble, steps to vaikunta are the waves. The noise of the flow gives rise to the words, “I shall remove sin”. Kaveri is the best ornament of earth; she is the mother of the world. She is the only means of getting merit;she is the best gem guarding the world”.

Agastya said “Kaveri is verily the Viraja river (of Vaikunta) on earth;Srirangam is Vaikunta itself ;which other river can equal Kaveri in merit?

Brahma gave the boon that he who bathes in kaveri river in Thula month and listens to Kaveri mahatmyam would get happiness in this world and Moksha thereafter;Siva gave the boon that a dip in Kaveri would fetch the merit of having taken bath in the seven seas. The merit of listening to Vishnu’s story for ten years would be equal to listening to Thula kaveri mahatmyam once. This was the boon conferred by Lord Vishnu.

If in Pousha or Maagha (Tamil – Thai or Masi) month, Amavasya, Vyatipata yoga and Sravana star occur on Monday, then it is called Mahodaya.(This rare combination last occurred on  on Feb. 8, 2016). Any pious deed done on such an occasion is equivalent to merit gained in 100 Solar eclipses.If the above combination occurs on a Sunday it is known as Ardhodaya punyakalam. One gets rids of all sins by taking a ceremonial bath on Ardhodaya or mahodaya. It is  very auspicious to bathe in Rama sethu during Ardhodaya period.One redeems crores of generations and attains to Vishnu loka by taking bath in the holy waters of Dhanushkodi on New Moon day and in Kaveri on a Ekadasi day. 

Though every day in the Thula month is auspicious, the following hold special significance; –

1) Thula Vishnu punya kalam

2) New moon day

3) Ekadashi

4) Last day of Thula masa

5)  Mudavan Muzhakku (1st day of vrischika masa)

A cripple failed to reach Kaveri in Thula month and reached there only on the first day of the following month. Lord Shiva appeared in the dream, the previous night and advised in to take bath prior to sunrise the next day, assuring him that he will get the full benefit of having taken bath in Thula month. As Lord Shiva Himself fixed the time of bath, the said occasion is known as Mudavan Muzhakku,which occurs on the very first day after conclusion of Thula month. 

It is said that bath in Prayag in Magha month, a bath in Kaveri in Thula month and a bath in Ramasethu in Ardhodaya period can be had only as a result of merit  (punya) in one million births.Such is the greatness of river Kaveri.

Post Script.

Thula Vishu Punyakalam falls on 17/10/2021

Thula Snanam begins on 18/10/2021 

Thula Snanam ends on 16/11/2021

Mudavan muzhakku is on 17/11/2021.

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