Every year in May, the temperature rises all over India. In the height of summer, people look up to the sky, waiting for grey clouds to appear. These clouds carry water with them. When it rains, the lakes, ponds, wells, and even rivers fill up. But these clouds would appear only in June.
Many years ago, one summer was particularly hot. To make matters worse, the grey clouds failed to appear in the sky. Without rains, the rivers ran out of water. Ponds and lakes dried up. Water in the wells shrunk and no more water could be found.
Without water, plants withered and animals started dying.
In midst of all this, Sage Agastya sat on a hill-top with eyes closed, deep in meditation.
Then a crow flew in, hovered over the sage, and eyed the kamandalu, a pitcher with a snout in which the sage carried water. The crow bowed to the sage by flapping its wings, and gently knocked down the kamandalu. Out flowed the water from the kamandalu. It began as a trickle, soon it became a stream, and as it flowed down the hills, it grew into a mighty river. Animals came running to have their fill. Men, women and children rushed out of their homes, and ran to the newly-born river flowing down the hills.
The sage opened his eyes. He saw the kamandalu knocked down and water gushing forth. The crow took a dip in the river flowing out of the kamandalu. The next moment Ganapati stood in the stream.
The sage bowed to Ganapati.
“O Agastya, I knew that my father Lord Shiva had filled your kamandalu with waters of the Kaveri,” said Ganapati. “People were crying for water. Only you could have saved them. But you were in deep meditation. I knew for certain that you would have shared your water with them. So, I took wings as a crow and released Kaveri from the kamandalu.”
“Ganapati, you are the lord of wisdom. You know what is the right thing to be done,” said the sage, “Water is a life giver. May all share the waters of Kaveri.”
To this day, the Kaveri flows in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. All along the banks of the river, we see temples dedicated to Sage Agastya.