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neither boil nor bubble up, nor alter its colour or stillness.” 1 Many other instances of the same fact might be given. So in Kashmîr, in one well water rushes out when a sheep or goat is sacrificed ; another runs if the ninth of any month happen to fall on Friday; in a third, those who have any special needs throw in a nut; if it floats, it is considered an omen of success; if it sinks, it is considered adverse. At Askot, in the Himalaya, there is a holy well which is used for divination of the prospects of the harvest. If the spring in a given time fills the brass vessel to the brim into which the water falls, there will be a good season ; if only a little water comes, drought may be expected.”
Hot springs are naturally regarded as sacred. We have already noticed an example in the case of Sîtâ's well at Monghyr. The holy tract in the hills, known as Vaishnava Kshetra, contains several hot springs, in which Agni, the fire god, resides by the permission of Vishnu. The hot springs at Jamnotri are occupied by the twelve Rishis who followed Mahadeva from Lanka.
Waterfalls, naturally uncommon in the flat country of Upper India, are, as might have been expected, regarded with veneration, and the deity of the fall is carefully propitiated. The visitor to the magnificent waterfall in which the river Chandraprabha pours its waters over a sheer precipice three hundred feet high in its descent from the Vindhyan plateau to the Gangetic valley, will learn that it is visited by women, particularly those who are desirous of offspring. On a rock beside the fall they lay a simple offering consisting of a few glass bangles, ear ornaments
| Hunt, “ Popular Romances,” 292.
made of palm leaves, and cotton waist strings. In Garhwâl there is a waterfall known as Basodhâra, which ceases to flow when it is looked at by an impure person.'
There are also numerous lakes which are considered sacred and visited by pilgrims. Such is Pushkar, or Pokhar, the lake par excellence, in Râjputâna. One theory of the sanctity of this lake is that it was originally a natural depression and enlarged at a subsequent date by supernatural agency. “Every Hindu family of note has its niche for purposes of devotion. Here is the only temple in India sacred to Brahma, the Creator. While he was creating the world he kindled the sacred fire; but his wife Sawantarî was nowhere to be found, and as without a woman the rites could not proceed, a Gûjar girl took her place. Sawantârî on her return was so enraged at the indignity that she retired to the height close by, known as Ratnagirî, or 'the hill of gems, where she disappeared. On this spot a fountain gushed out, still called by her name, close to which is her shrine, not the least attractive in the precincts of Pokhar.” Like many of these lakes, such as are known in Great Britain as the Devil's Punch-bowls, Pokhar has its dragon legend, and one of the rocks near the lake is known as Nâgpahâr, or “Dragon Hill." There is a similar legend attached to the Lonâr Lake in Berâr, which was then the den of the giant Lonâsura, whom Vishnu destroyed.
Most famous of all the lakes is Mâna Sarovara in Tibet, about which many legends are told. “The lake of Mâna Sarovara was formed from the mind of Brahma, and thence derived its name. There dwell also Mahadeva and the gods, and thence flow the Sarjû and other female rivers, and the Satadru (Satlaj) and other male rivers. When the earth of Mâna Sarovara touches any one's body, or when
1 Atkinson, “ Himalayan Gazetteer," iii. 26.
2 Tod, " Annals," i. 814 sq. ; Conway, “ Demonology," i. 113; Gazetteer," 169.
any one bathes therein, he shall go to the Paradise of Brahma ; and he who drinks its waters shall go to the Heaven of Siva, and shall be released from the sins of a hundred births; and even the beast which bears the name of Mâna Sarovara shall go to the Paradise of Brahma.” It is said that the sons of Brahma, Marichi, Vasishtha and the rest of the sages proceeded to the north of Himalaya and performed austerities on Mount Kailâsa, where they saw Siva and Pârvatî and remained for twelve years absorbed in meditation and prayer.
There was very little rain and water was scanty. In their distress they appealed to Brahma. He asked them what their wishes might be. The Rishis replied, “We are absorbed in devotion on Kailâsa, and must always go thence to bathe in the Mandâkinî river; make a place for us to bathe in.” Then Brahma, by a mental effort, formed the holy lake of Mânasa, and the Rishis worshipped the golden Linga which rose from the midst of the waters of the lake.'
So the Nainî Tâl Lake is sacred to Kâlî in one of her numerous forms. The goddess Sambrâ, the tutelary deity of the Chauhan Rajputs, converted a dense forest into a plain of gold and silver. But they, dreading the strife which such a possession would excite, begged the goddess to retract her gift, and she gave them the present lake of salt.* The people say that the Katûr valley was once a great lake where lived a Rakshasa named Râna who used to devour the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages. Indra's elephant Airâvata descended to earth at the place now known after him by the name Hâthi Chîna, and with his mighty tusks he burst the embankment of the lake and the water flowed away, so that the goddess Bhrawarî, whose shrine is there to this day, was enabled to destroy the monster.
THE LAKE OF THE FAIRY GIFTS. In the Chânda District of the Central Provinces is the
| From the “ Mânasa Khanda” ; Atkinson, “ Himalayan Gazetteer,” ii. 308.
"Rajputâna Gazetteer," ii. 131.
lake of Taroba or Tadala, which is connected with an interesting series of folk-lore legends. A marriage procession was once passing the place, and, finding no water, a strange old man suggested that the bride and bridegroom should join in digging for a spring. They laughingly consented, and after removing a little earth a clear fountain gushed forth. As they were all drinking with delight the waters rose, and spreading over the land, overwhelmed the married pair. “But fairy hands soon constructed a temple in the depths, where the spirits of the drowned are supposed to dwell. Afterwards, on the lake side, a palm tree grew up, which appeared only during the day, sinking into the earth at twilight. One day a rash pilgrim seated himself on the tree and was borne into the skies, where the flames of the sun consumed him.” This part of the story reads like a genuine solar myth. “The palm tree then shrivelled away into dust, and in its place appeared an image of the spirit of the lake, which is worshipped under the name of Taroba, or ‘the palm-tree deity.” Formerly, at the call of pilgrims, all necessary vessels rose from the lake, and after being washed were returned to the waters. But an evil-minded man at last took those he had received to his house, and from that day the mystic provision wholly ceased.” This legend of the fairy gifts which are lost through the selfish greed of some mean-spirited man has been admirably illustrated by Mr. Hartland. It is also told of the Amner Lake in Elichpur, of the Karsota Lake in Mirzapur, and of many other places." Many of these lakes possess subaqueous palaces beneath their waters. At Cudden Point in Cornwall, the unhallowed revelry of a party of roisterers is heard from under the waves.” In one of Somadeva's stories the hero dives after a lady, and comes on a splendid temple of Siva; Sattvasila falls into the sea and finds a city with palaces of gold, supported on pillars of jewels; Yasahketu plunges into the sea and finds a city gleaming with palaces that had bright pillars of precious stone, walls flashing with gold, and latticed windows of pearl. So in the sixth fable of the second chapter of the Hitopadesa, the hero dives into the water and sees a princess seated on a couch in a palace of gold, waited on by youthful Sylphs. The sage Mandakarni alarmed the gods by his austerities, and Indra sent five of his fairies to beguile him. They succeeded, and now dwell in a house beneath the waters of the lake called from them Panchapsaras. At the Lake of Taroba, the tale of which has been already told, on quiet nights the country people hear faint sounds of drum and trumpet passing round the lake, and old men say that in one dry year when the waters sank low, golden pinnacles of a fairy temple were seen glittering in the depths. This is exactly the legend of Lough Neagh, immortalized by Thomas Moore.
* “Science of Fairy Tales,” chapter vi.; “Berār Gazetteer,” 148. * Hunt, “Popular Romances,” 194.
THE SHAHGARH LAKE.
A lake at Sháhgarh in the Bareilly District is the seat of another legend which appears widely in folk-lore. When Rāja Vena ruled the land, he, like Buddha, struck by the inequality of human life, retired with his young wife Sundari or Ketaki to live like a peasant. One day she went to the lake to draw water, and she had naught but a jar of unbaked clay and a thread of untwisted cotton. In the innocence of her heart she stepped into the lake, but the gods preserved her. After a time she wearied of this sordid life, and one morning she arrayed herself in her queenly robes and jewels, and going to the lake, as usual, stepped on the lotus petals. When she plunged in her jar it melted away, and the untwisted thread broke, and she herself sank beneath the water. But she was saved, and thenceforward learned the evil of vanity and pride in riches, and the strength of innocence and a pure mind. And the lotus pool, in honour of the good queen Sundari, was called by all men the Râni Tâl, or “the Queen's Tank,” and is to be seen to this day just outside the town of Kábar, though the lotus