sociated with rivers in Maharashtra, goddesses whose cults I continue to describe in parts of Chapters 3, 4, and 5, and all of Chapter 6.
Chapter 3 combines Māhātmya stories about food, wealth, and agricultural plenty with descriptions of the prominence of these themes in the cults of some of the river goddesses. Chapter 4 explores the complementary theme of the wilder aspects of the natural world, placing folk traditions about inviolable fish in the rivers next to Māhātmya stories and oral traditions about the forest land with which the rivers of Maharashtra are closely identified. And Chapter 5 illustrates ways that central elements of two river goddess cults parallel a Māhātmya story about the birth, and threatened death, of a son.
Chapters 6 and 7 concentrate on a single type of material each. Chapter 6 presents a description and a brief history of the prime example of what I call modern, urban river goddess cults. And Chapter 7 discusses Māhātmya stories about the destruction of sin and other types of evil. Although these two chapters thus do not contain comparisons within them in the same way that the other chapters do, the materials in each of these last two chapters are implicitly compared with the rest of the materials in the book. Chapter 6, which evokes the pride and pleasure of living in a thriving, self-confident Brahman community, portrays this experience as another of the "good things of life" for those who have it. And Chapter 7, whose principal theme is not particularly prominent outside the Māhātmya texts but is extremely important within them, suggests that this theme too may well be connected with the theme of fecundity, the theme whose presence in the Māhātmya texts and whose prominence in other traditional materials the rest of the book seeks to show.