By Rachna Singh Chopra February 2004 Number three has mystical significance in many traditions. Hindus have their Trimurti, and Christians their Trinity and it was on the third day that Jesus was resurrected. All spells and magical chants are recited thrice for them to get activated and manifest their power. Number three has mystical significance in many traditions. Hindus have their Trimurti, and Christians their Trinity and it was on the third day that Jesus was resurrected. All spells and magical chants are recited thrice for them to get activated and manifest their power. And as though to remind us of number three’s symbolism and power, Mother Nature creates myriad configurations and coincidences. One such reminder comes to us from the remote village named Mekedatu in Karnataka. Mekedatu, in Kannada, means goat’s leap. Here, three mighty hills of the Western Ghats come so close to each other that there is just enough triangular space between them for a goat to make a leap and jump across to the other side. At the base of this triangle, three rivers Cauvery, Arkavathi and Gupta Gamini converge, making what is called a Brahma-Kundam, or a sacrificial pit. Too much of a symmetry! Rather, too much of a mystery! As though this was not enough, Sage Agastya is said to have come here to do penance, making it memorable as the Agastya Kshetra. As the road swirled finally towards the mystical Mekedatu, the trees grew greener and the fields vaster. Tall coconut trees swirled from side to side with perpetual breeze moving through them, hustling, whispering nature’s secrets unto my ears. The mountain line beckoned us forward. On the wayside I spotted herds of goat, swinging from side to side in their fur coats and typically feminine gait. “Many years ago, a pious Brahmin and his wife are believed to have lived in this village,” my car driver started narrating to me the local folklore. The couple were ritualistic, kind and noble. In the pleasant season of spring, in the month of Visakha, on the fifth day of the Shukla (bright moon) half of the month (Adi Sankara was born on the same day in the 7th century), a daughter was born to them, who was beautiful, divine and noble. She radiated mercy, peace and piety as she grew up; and worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Sangameswara. As a consequence of her severe penance and spiritual powers, she cured many who were sick and suffering. The whole village reveres her to this day as Mata Jayalakshmi, and the ambience in the village is said to be as sweet and warm as one’s mother’s home. True enough, I thought, as I set my foot on its land and keeping my luggage in the Mata’s ashram, headed straight for a bath in the river. Walking barefoot, I noticed the temple of Lord Sangameswara, the presiding deity of the village. Since the ancient ritual commands that one bathes first and with water dripping from one’s dress, circumambulates the Shiva-lingam, I took a dip. The pretty dance of the waves has always been dear to my heart; and I responded with equal mirth as I played with the water and collected some in my palms. Before it could slip out, I offered part of the water to the Sun, and sprinkled the rest over my head. Offering thus my prayers, I went into the river’s lap, watching from a distance the towering mosque, built in the memory of the Muslim fakir who initiated the young Jayalakshmi. With water dripping from my clothes, and gratitude dripping from my heart, I touched the Sangameshwar lingam with my forehead, adorning the red kumkum from its surface and took three rounds ritualistically around it. The meal back at the ashram indeed tasted sweet, as though prepared by the Mother herself. Early evening saw me on the 7 km trek along the river up till the confluence point, the Brahma-Kundam, where the three hill peaks make a sacrificial pit and rivers Arkavathi and Cauvery unite and gush forth with immense force. Removing my shoes and negotiating my way up through the dangerously slippery rocks, I reached the spot from where one can see the 5-meter-wide goat’s leap point. The whole of Cauvery folded itself to accommodate the goat’s leap! Amidst the waves, I tried to look for Gupta Gamini, the hidden river that merges with the other two. Then I remembered that it was a mythological stream (reminds you of Saraswati river) that none can trace the origins of. It springs from the secret unseen source. Yet, you can feel its intangible presence. Just then I heard a soft giggle. I looked around, and seeing no one, I knew it was the chuckle of the young Jayalakshmi, the hidden spirit of Mekedatu, who spent her childhood on this land, serving sages and healing villagers with her sacred yantras drawn over wet sand.For discussion, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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