|This article needs editing.
Add and improvise the content from reliable sources.
वंशावली ॥ Ancestry
The Puranic encyclopaedia traces the ancestry of Rshi Agastya right up to Lord Brahma.
इल्वलः वातापिः च । Ilvala and Vatapi
Rshi Agastya's encounter with the daityas Ilvala and Vatapi is described in the Chapters 96-99 of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata.
The daitya (son of Diti) Ilvala lived in Manimati. Vatapi was his younger brother. Once Ilvala approached a tapasvi brahmana and requested that he be granted with a son as powerful as Indra. However, the brahmana refused the same. This enraged Ilvala and since then, filled with anger, Ilvala began to destroy brahmanas. The elder brother converted the younger one (Vatapi) into a goat and served him as the meal everytime a brahmana visited his house. Ilvala had the power to bring back anyone from the yamaloka by merely calling them out by their name.It is said that,
स चाह्वयति यं वाचा गतं वैवस्वतक्षयम्। स पुनर्देहमास्थाय जीवन्स्म प्रत्यदृश्यत ॥९६.९॥ (Maha. Vana Parv. )
sa cāhvayati yaṁ vācā gataṁ vaivasvatakṣayam। sa punardehamāsthāya jīvansma pratyadr̥śyata ॥96.9॥
Therefore, when the brahmana finished eating, Ilvala would call aloud. “Vatapi, come out”. And breaking the stomach of the guest open, Vatapi would come out. In this way Ilvala had killed a good number of brahmanas. It was to this Ilvala that Rshi Agastya, in order to fulfil his duty as a husband towards his wife Lopamudra, once came to ask for money along with the Rajas Shrutarva, Bradhnashva and Trasadasyu. Ilvala welcomed the guests with due hospitality and as usual killed the goat to offer it to the guests. This disturbed the Rajarshis and they became stunned.However, Rshi Agastya Said,
विषादो वो न कर्तव्यो ह्यहं भोक्ष्ये महासुरम् ॥९९.४॥ (Maha. Vana Parv. )
viṣādo vo na kartavyo hyahaṁ bhokṣye mahāsuram ॥99.4॥
Meaning: Do not yield to grief, I will eat up the great Asura. Saying thus, the mighty Rshi sat himself down and the prince of Asuras, Ilvala, served the food smilingly. When Agastya had finished eating, Ilvala called Vatapi loudly. He kept repeating,
वातापे निष्क्रमस्व ॥९९.८॥ vātāpe niṣkramasva ॥99.8॥ (Maha. Vana Parv. )
Meaning: Come out, O Vatapi ! Then that best of Munis, Agastya, bursting out in laughter, said,
कुतो निष्क्रमितुं शक्तो मया जीर्णस्तु सोऽसुरः ॥९९.९॥ (Maha. Vana Parv. )
kuto niṣkramituṁ śakto mayā jīrṇastu so'suraḥ ॥99.9॥
Meaning: How can he come out ? I have already digested that great Asura. Beholding his brother already digested, Ilvala though sad, joined his hands and asked the guests about the purpose of their visit. At this, Agastya said,
यथाशक्त्यविहिंस्यान्यान्संविभागं प्रयच्छ नः ॥९९.१२॥ (Maha. Vana Parv.)
yathāśaktyavihiṁsyānyānsaṁvibhāgaṁ prayaccha naḥ ॥99.12॥
Meaning: Give us what you can, without injuring others. To this Ilvala said,
दित्सितं यदि वेत्सि त्वंततो दास्यामि ते वसु ॥९९.१३॥ (Maha. Vana Parv.)
ditsitaṁ yadi vetsi tvaṁtato dāsyāmi te vasu ॥99.13॥
Meaning: 'If you say (guess) what it is that I mean to give, then will I give you wealth.' To this the sage replied,
गवां दशसहस्राणि राज्ञामेकैकशोऽसुर। तावदेव सुवर्णस्य दित्सितं ते महासुर ॥९९.१४॥
मह्यं ततो वै द्विगुणं रथश्चैव हिरण्मयः। मनोजवौ वाजिनौ च दित्सितं ते महासुर ॥९९.१५॥ (Maha. Vana Parv.)
gavāṁ daśasahasrāṇi rājñāmekaikaśo'sura। tāvadeva suvarṇasya ditsitaṁ te mahāsura ॥99.14॥
mahyaṁ tato vai dviguṇaṁ rathaścaiva hiraṇmayaḥ। manojavau vājinau ca ditsitaṁ te mahāsura ॥99.15॥
Meaning: O great Asura, you wish to give each of these Rajas ten thousand cows and as many gold coins. And to me you have thought to give twice as much, as also a chariot of gold with two horses with speed as fast thought attached to it. To this, Ilvala agreed that all that Rshi Agastya had said was true but for the chariot which, according to him, was not made of gold. Rshi Agastya then said,
न मे वागनृता काचिदुक्तपूर्वा महाऽसुर। विज्ञायतां रथः साधु व्यक्तमस्ति हिरण्मयः ॥ (Maha. Vana Parv.)
na me vāganr̥tā kāciduktapūrvā mahā'sura। vijñāyatāṁ rathaḥ sādhu vyaktamasti hiraṇmayaḥ ।।
Meaning: O great Asura ! Never has a false statement ever been uttered by me before. Therefore, enquire now, you will soon learn that your chariot is made of gold. And indeed on enquiry, the chariot turned out to be made of gold. The awe-stricken asura Ilvala thus gave each Raja ten thousand cows and as much gold and to Agastya, he doubled the quantity and also presented him with a chariot hitched with two fine horses called Viravan and suravan.In fact, as the horses took flight towards Agastya Rshi’s hermitage along with the wealth and other Rajas, the Asura Ilvala followed the Rshi with the desire to kill him. However, the great Rshi is said to have burnt the Asura with a mere ‘hunkara’
इल्वलस्त्वनुगम्यैनमगस्त्यं हन्तुमैच्छत। भस्म चक्रे महातेजा हुङ्कारेण महाऽसुरम्' ।। (Maha. Vana Parv.)
ilvalastvanugamyainamagastyaṁ hantumaicchata। bhasma cakre mahātejā huṅkāreṇa mahā'suram' ।।
And thus, Agastya Rshi returned to his hermitage and fulfilled the wishes of his wife Lopamudra.
अगस्त्यपुत्रः ॥ Agastya's Son
The birth of Rshi Agastya's son is described in the chapter 99 of the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata. When Rshi Agastya's wife Lopamudra expressed her desire for a powerful son, Rshi Agastya who was pleased with her virtuous behaviour asked her,
सहस्रं तेऽस्तु पुत्राणां शतं वा दशसम्मितम् । दश वा शततुल्याः स्युरेको वाऽपि सहस्रजित् ॥९९.२१॥ (Maha. Vana Parv.)
sahasraṁ te'stu putrāṇāṁ śataṁ vā daśasammitam । daśa vā śatatulyāḥ syureko vā'pi sahasrajit ॥99.21॥
Meaning: A thousand ordinary sons, or hundred sons each having the strength of ten ordinary sons, or ten sons each having the strength of hundred ordinary sons, or one son greater and nobler than one thousand sons - which of these do you prefer? Lopamudra preferred one son. She said,
सहस्रसम्मितः पुत्र एकोऽप्यस्तु तपोधन । एको हि बहुभिः श्रेयान् विद्वान् साधुरसाधुभिः ॥९९.२२॥
sahasrasammitaḥ putra eko'pyastu tapodhana । eko hi bahubhiḥ śreyān vidvān sādhurasādhubhiḥ ॥99.22॥
Meaning: Oh sage, may I have just one great son equal to a thousand. For, in comparison to many wicked sons, one scholarly and great son is always considered best.
Rshi Agastya granted her wish and as she was carrying, he went to the forest to do penance. This lustrous child of Rshi Agastya and Lopamudra, born after spending 7 years in his mother's womb was the great hermit Drdhasyu. Right from the time of his birth, this child is said to have studied the Vedas along with its Shad angas and the Upanishads. Since he used to gather samidha, also known as idhma, (twigs for kindling the ritual fire) for his father, he was also known by the name Idhmavaha (one who carries idhma).
Works by Agastya
It is believed that the following works have been composed by agastya:
1) agastya gītā; in the Varāhapurāṇa, Paśupālopākhyāna.
2) agastya saṁhitā; in pañcarātra.
3) agastya saṁhitā, in the Skandapurāṇa.
4) śiva saṁhitā, in bhāskara saṁhitā.
5) Dvaidha-nirṇaya Tantra.
Agastya and the Vindhyas
Once the talebearer Narada happened to come to the Vindhya mountain, who gladly welcomed Narada, gave him a good seat, showed hospitality and asked the purpose of his visit. Narada said,
ममागमनमिन्द्रारे जातं स्वर्णगिरेरथ ॥ २.१८ ॥
तत्र दृष्टा मया लोकाः शक्राग्नियमपाशिनाम् । सर्वेषां लोकपालानां भवनानि समन्ततः ॥ २.१९ ॥
मया दृष्टानि विन्ध्याग नानाभोगप्रदानि च । २.२० ।
गौरीगुरुस्तु हिमवाञ्छिवस्य श्वशुरः किल । सम्बन्धित्वात्पशुपतेः पूज्य आसीत्क्षमाभृताम् ॥ २.२३ ॥
एवमेव च कैलासः शिवस्यावसथः प्रभुः । पूज्यः पृथ्वीभृतां जातो लोके पापौघदारणः ॥ २.२४ ॥
निषधः पर्वतो नीलो गन्धमादन एव च । पूज्याः स्वस्थानमासाद्य सर्व एव क्षमाभृतः ॥ २.२५ ॥
यं पर्येति च विश्वात्मा सहस्रकिरणः स्वराट् । सग्रहर्क्षगणोपेतः सोऽयं कनकपर्वतः ॥ २.२६ ॥
आत्मानं मनुते श्रेष्ठं वरिष्ठं च धराभृताम् । २.२७ ।
mamāgamanamindrāre jātaṁ svarṇagireratha ॥ 2.18 ॥
tatra dr̥ṣṭā mayā lokāḥ śakrāgniyamapāśinām । sarveṣāṁ lokapālānāṁ bhavanāni samantataḥ ॥ 2.19 ॥
mayā dr̥ṣṭāni vindhyāga nānābhogapradāni ca । 2.20 ।
gaurīgurustu himavāñchivasya śvaśuraḥ kila । sambandhitvātpaśupateḥ pūjya āsītkṣamābhr̥tām ॥ 2.23 ॥
evameva ca kailāsaḥ śivasyāvasathaḥ prabhuḥ । pūjyaḥ pr̥thvībhr̥tāṁ jāto loke pāpaughadāraṇaḥ ॥ 2.24 ॥
niṣadhaḥ parvato nīlo gandhamādana eva ca । pūjyāḥ svasthānamāsādya sarva eva kṣamābhr̥taḥ ॥ 2.25 ॥
yaṁ paryeti ca viśvātmā sahasrakiraṇaḥ svarāṭ । sagraharkṣagaṇopetaḥ so'yaṁ kanakaparvataḥ ॥ 2.26 ॥
ātmānaṁ manute śreṣṭhaṁ variṣṭhaṁ ca dharābhr̥tām । 2.27 ।
Meaning: I am coming from the Sumeru Mountain. There I saw the nice abodes of Indra, Agni, Yama, and Varuna. There I also saw the houses of these Dikpalas (the Regents of the several quarters), which abound in objects of all sorts of enjoyments... See ! The Himalaya Mountain is the father of Gauri and the father-in-law of Mahadeva; therefore he is the most worshipped of all the mountains. The Kailasa Mountain again, is the residence of Mahadeva; hence that is also worshipped and chanted as capable of destroying all the sins. So also is the Nisadha, Nila and Gandhamadana and other mountains worshipped at their own places. What more than this, that the Sumeru Mountain, round whom the thousand-rayed Sun, known as Vishvatma, circumambulates along with the lokas and stars, thinks himself the supreme and greatest amongst the mountains ? Having said thus, Devarshi Narada proceeded to Brahmaloka. However, Vindhya lost his peace of mind and wanted to do something to overthrow Meru. He concluded that, the circumambulation of the Sun, stars and lokas daily around the Sumeru is the cause of his arrogance. Therefore, if that is resisted, Sumeru's pride can be curbed.Therefore, Vindhya made his peaks grow higher and higher till they touched the sky. Next day, the Sun found it difficult to pass over the high peaks in his usual journey to the West, and so he stood obstructed. When the journey of the Sun was hindered, everything in the world fell into chaos. Then Indra with other deities took resort, first of Mahadeva and then of Vishnu. And at his behest, they approached sage Agastya and made their petition to him. Rshi Agastya agreed to pacify Vindhya somehow or the other and with this objective, he came to Vindhya from Kashinagara with his wife Lopamudra. When Vindhya saw sage Agastya, he began to shiver with fear. Contracting all his high peaks, he bowed before the sage, who then said to the mountain,
वत्सैवं तिष्ठ तावत्त्वं यावदागम्यते मया ॥ ७.१८ ॥
अशक्तोऽहं गण्डशैलारोहणे तव पुत्रक । ७.१९ ।
vatsaivaṁ tiṣṭha tāvattvaṁ yāvadāgamyate mayā ॥ 7.18 ॥
aśakto'haṁ gaṇḍaśailārohaṇe tava putraka । 7.19 ।
Meaning: O Child ! Better remain in this state until I come back. For, O child ! I am quite unable to ascend to your lofty heights.
Saying thus, Sage Agastya went on to the South, built a hermitage in the Malayachala and settled there. It is said that, since then, neither has Agastya ever gone to the North nor has the Vindhya ever risen up. In fact, as he had made the mountain (Aga) bow its head, the sage is said to have got the name Agastya. This story is enumerated in the Tenth skandha (Chapters 2-7) of the Devi Bhagavata.
शापकथाः ॥ Curses by Rshi Agastya
राजानहुषः ॥ Curse to Raja Nahusha
अनुशासनपर्व ॥ Anushasana Parva
According to the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata (Chapter 99-100), Raja Nahusha attained the position of Indra as a result of his tapasya and punya. However, in due course of time, the thought that 'I am Indra' made him fall prey to 'ahankara'. Deluded by the boon he had received, he made rshis pull his chariot. One day, it was Rshi Agastya's turn to pull Raja Nahusha's chariot. At that time, Rshi Bhrugu approached Rshi Agastya and discussed how it is necessary to bring an end to the tyranny of Nahusha. Since anyone coming within the sight of Nahusha became subjugated to him, Rshi Bhrgu decided to take shelter amongst the tresses of Rshi Agastya and it was he who cursed Nahusha to become a serpent when he kicked Rshi Agastya on his head with his foot.
देवीभागवतपुराणम् ॥ Devi Bhagavata Purana
Book 6 - Chapter 4
Devendra killed Vṛttrāsura, an enemy of the gods. As Devendra had resorted to treachery for killing the enemy (see the word Vṛttrāsura) he incurred the sin of ‘Brahmahatyā’. Once indra went to the Mānasasaras, without the knowledge of anybody and hid himself in the petal of a lotus flower. The gods and especially Śacīdevī were much alarmed at the disappearance of Devendra. Heaven was without a King. Bad omens began to appear. indra, who had hidden in the lotus stalk in the shape of a water-snake, was not at all visible as the petals had closed over him. It was at this critical moment that King nahuṣa had completed hundred horse-sacrifices and became eligible for the throne of Devendra. At a great gathering of the Gods nahuṣa was elected as Devendra. Though nahuṣa got all the celestial maids at his disposal in the Nandanodyāna (nandana Garden) his passion for women was not satiated. So he began to have an eye on indrāṇī. She was in sorrow and misery at the disappearance of her husband indra, and did not at all look with favour on this new move on the part of the new indra. She sought the help of bṛhaspati, who agreed to protect her from nahuṣa. The newly-elected indra could not tolerate this disloyalty on the part of indrāṇī. He became furious and threatened bṛhaspati with death, if indrāṇī was not sent to him forthwith. All hermits gathered round nahuṣa and tried with their advice to dissuade him from this attempt, but he would not be dissuaded. nahuṣa belittled bṛhaspati and all the hermits and was rude to them. Finally the hermits, being afraid of nahuṣa, went to bṛhaspati to persuade him to send indrāṇī to nahuṣa. bṛhaspati suggested to indrāṇī a way of safety. Accordingly she came to nahuṣa and said to him “Lord, to become your wife, is a matter of great pleasure to me. But before that I must make sure if my husband is living anywhere. So allow me to make a search”. nahuṣa agreed to this and by the blessings of devī, indrāṇī found out her husband. But indra would not return to the court, with indrāṇī, who then complained about Nahuṣa's outrageous behaviour. indra advised her a new way to protect herself from Nahuṣa's onslaught.
indrāṇī returned to nahuṣa and told him “Lord, women generally love pomp and glory. I have a mania for vehicles. You should make a palanquin. Let the palanquin bearers be hermits. You must come to my house in that palanquin with hermits as your palanquin bearers and then I will accept you as my husband.” nahuṣa agreed. He employed agastya and such other hermits to bear his palanquin. He got into his palanquin and started for Indrāṇī's house. His desire to reach indrāṇī was such that he thought the hermits to be very slow. To make them quick enough he ordered “Sarpa, Sarpa” (walk quick, walk quick). The hermits began to run. Still nahuṣa was not satisfied. He kicked at the heads of the hermits and whipped the dwarfish agastya.
agastya got angry and cursed nahuṣa thus: “Since you have whipped me saying ‘Sarpa Sarpa’, may you be transformed into a mahāsarpa (huge serpent) and fall into the great forest.”
The horror-stricken nahuṣa pleased agastya by praise. agastya said that nahuṣa would be freed from the curse and attain heaven when he happened to meet dharmaputra. nahuṣa instantly changed into a serpent of immense size and slided into a great forest in the Himālayās. (devībhāgavata, 8th sarga).
During their sojourn in the forest, the pāṇḍavas visited many holy places and reached the yāmuna mountain in the Himālayās. When bhīma was passing by the mouth of a cave he was attacked by a huge serpent. In spite of his immense strength bhīma could not extricate himself from the hold of the snake, who eventually informed bhīma of its previous history. When bhīma understood that the serpent was none other than nahuṣa, a King of the sūrya dynasty (Solar), he felt sorry for him. dharmaputra, who came there in search of bhīma, talked with nahuṣa, who immediately regained his original form and went to heaven. (mahābhārata, Chapter 17 of Udyoga Parva; Chapter 179 of Vana Parva; Chapter 342 of śānti Parva).
कुबेरः ॥ Kubera
In the course of their sojourn in forest, the pāṇḍavas visited several holy places and reached the proximity of the Himālayas. Leaving his brothers behind, arjuna went up the mahāmeru to worship śiva. Years passed by. At last his brothers also started for the mahāmeru in search of arjuna and with the help of the hermits vṛṣaparvā and ārṣṭiṣeṇa, they reached Kuberapurī (the capital of kubera). There bhīma destroyed the army of kubera and killed maṇimān, his friend and favourite. dharmaputra, repenting of his younger brother's iniquity bowed before kubera and asked him with politeness, why the power of Gods gave way to the power of man. kubera replied that it was due to the curse of agastya and began to depict the event thus: Once my friend maṇimān and myself were going, in a chariot, to be present at the singing and chanting just begun at kuśavatī. At that time agastya was standing in his hermitage on the bank of kālindī, performing Sun worship. When maṇimān saw this from the sky, he spat on the head of agastya, who instantly getting wild cursed me. “Lo, kubera, your friend maṇimān spat on my head in your sight. So this maṇimān and your army will meet with death at a man's hand. When they die you should not feel sorry for them. If it becomes possible for you to meet the man who killed maṇimān you will be liberated from the curse.” It is this curse that brought about the death of maṇimān and the army. When kubera saw bhīma face to face his curse was revoked. (mahābhārata, Vana Parva, Chapter 160).
मारीचः ताडका च ॥ Maricha and Tadaka
The boys rāma and lakṣmaṇa went to the forest with viśvāmitra for protecting sacrifice. When they entered the Tāḍakā forest viśvāmitra told them the story of Tāḍakā thus:--
Tāḍakā is the daughter of suketu, a semi god of the tribe yakṣa. Being childless for a long time suketu was miserable and began to do penance before brahmā, who blessed him and granted his wish and a daughter was born to him. This daughter was named Tāḍakā. brahmā blessed her, giving her the strength of one thousand elephants. Tāḍakā grew up and became a young woman. suketu gave her in marriage to sunda, son of Iharjha. Tāḍakā gave birth to a son called mārīca. When sunda was killed, Tāḍakā got wild and ran into the hermitage of agastya causing much havoc there. At this agastya got angry and cursed her to become a Rākṣasī (giantess) and instantly the bodies of Tāḍakā and mārīca were deformed. Tāḍakā could not control her anger and she demolished the hermitage of agastya. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa).
उर्वशी जयन्तः नारदः च ॥ Urvashi, Jayanta and Narada
Once agastya went to the realm of the Gods, as a guest of indra. On that day a performance of dance by urvaśī was held in honour of agastya. In the midst of the dance Urvaśī's eyes fell on jayanta and she fell in love with him; her steps went out of beat. nārada also went wrong slightly in playing on his famous lute called mahatī. agastya got angry and cursed urvaśī, jayanta and nārada. According to the curse jayanta became a bud. urvaśī was born in the earth as a woman called mādhavī and ‘Mahatī’ the lute of nārada became the lute of the people of the earth.
Duṣpanya was the last son of the King of Pāṭaliputra. The wicked Duṣpanya had slain a large number of babies, and the King therefore expelled him from the palace. Duṣpanya went into the forest, where he caught hold of the child of ugraravas and killed it by putting it under water. ugraravas cursed him and accordingly he fell into water and died and his spirit became a ghost and wandered about tormented with pain and anguish. At last the spirit approached agastya, who called his disciple Sutīṣṇa and asked him to go and bathe in the Agnitīrtha (a bath) in the gandhamādana mountain and bring some water from the tīrtha and sprinkle it on the spirit of Duṣpanya. Sutīṣṇa acted accordingly and immediately the spirit of Duṣpanya received divine figure and entered heaven. (setu Māhātmya).
Rshi Agastya empties the Ocean
indra ruthlessly killed Vṛttrāsura, who had been harassing the Gods, with the help of the kālakeyas. The frightened kālakeyas got into the ocean and hid themselves at the bottom. From that hideout they decided to destroy the three worlds. At night they came out on the earth and ate a good deal of Brahmins, and caused much damage to the hermitages of vasiṣṭha and cyavana. All the Brahmins on the earth were terribly afraid of the kālakeyas. The gods went to viṣṇu and prayed for protection. viṣṇu informed them that the kālakeyas could not be caught unless the ocean was dried up, and this task could be performed only by agastya. So the Gods approached agastya and told him what viṣṇu had informed them. With pleasure agastya accepted the job. Accompanied by the Gods and hermits he neared the swaying and surging ocean. While all were watching unwinkingly agastya brought the great ocean into his palm and drank it up very easily and subsequently the kālakeyas were killed. Now the Gods again approached viṣṇu and made representation about the loss of the ocean. viṣṇu told them that by the penance of bhagīratha the divine gaṅgā would fall into the earth and then the ocean will be filled. In this way the earth regained its lost ocean. (mahābhārata, Vana Parva, Chapters 101 to 105).
The story of the theft of lotus
Once bhṛgu, vasiṣṭha and other hermits went on a pilgrimage, with indra as their leader. On the way they reached brahmasaras, in the holy place of Kauṣikī. agastya had grown some lotus flowers there. The pilgrims plucked stealthily all the lotus flowers nurtured by agastya and ate them. The furious agastya got into the midst of the hermits in search of the culprit. None admitted the theft. Finally he caught hold of indra, as the thief. indra said “O, Lord, had it not been for my eagerness to hear discourses on duty from your face, I would not have stolen your lotus flowers.” Saying thus indra returned the lotus flowers. agastya was pleased and let indra and the hermits depart in peace. (mahābhārata, anuśāsana parva, Chapter 94).
Rshi Agastya burns the Asuras
(This story occurs in the mahābhārata as, having been told by the God vāyu to bhīṣma as a discourse on the greatness of agastya, and bhīṣma reiterating it to arjuna).
Once the Gods had to accept defeat at the hands of the Asuras (Demons) and they approached agastya and said thus: Oh, hermit, since we have been defeated by the Asuras, our prosperity is at an end. There is none to help us but you.” Hearing this agastya became angry and began to burn the Asuras to death, by the merits of his penance. Many of them fell down on the earth and some fell into pātāla (the nether world). The asuras who thus fell were not killed by agastya. Thus the menace of the Asuras in heaven was warded off, and the Gods lived in peace and prosperity. (mahābhārata, anuśāsana parva, Chapter 155, Verses 1 to 13).
Rshi Agastya and Indra
Once agastya commenced a sacrifice of twelve years' duration. Many hermits participated in this sacrifice. No sooner had the hermit begun the sacrifice, than indra, (the God of Thunder and Rain) stopped rain in the world. Crops could not be raised. But agastya provided everybody who took part in the sacrifice, with sumptuous meals. The hermits wondered how agastya could do this. Some of the hermits feared that the sacrifice would have to be stopped before the stipulated time, if the drought continued. agastya told them not to fear, and that if indra refused to send rain, he himself would become indra and protect the subjects. indra was horrified, when he heard this and he began to send rain regularly. (mahābhārata, Āśvamedhika Parva, Chapter 92).
In the bhārata a story occurs, as to how agastya cursed King indradyumna, and turned him to an elephant. While indradyumna, the King of pāṇḍya was absorbed in deep meditation on viṣṇu, agastya reached the palace. Being immersed in meditation the King failed to notice the arrival of the great hermit, who getting angry with the King, cursed him to become an elephant, for one thousand years. Instantly the King was deformed into a big tusker and quitting the palace it went to a big forest and lived there happily with the she-elephants there. At that time a hermit named devala was doing penance in that forest. One day Hūhu, a gandharva (a class of semi-gods) enjoying the company of some celestial maids came to the place where devala had put up his hermitage. The hermit saw the gandharva and the maids playing and bathing in the pond in front of his hermitage in complete nudity. Getting angry devala cursed Hūhu and he was deformed into a crocodile. This pond which was in the trikūṭa mountain was thus under the suzerainty of the crocodile. The tusker (indradyumna) entered the pond to drink water. The crocodile caught hold of the leg of the elephant. Each tried to pull the other with equal force. This fight is said to have lasted for a thousand years. When both were tired, godly feelings began to dawn in their minds. Then, riding on an eagle Mahāviṣṇu appeared before them, cut them asunder with his Cakrāyudha (the wheel-weapon) and both were given deliverance. (bhāgavata, 8th skandha, Chapter 2).
When śrī rāma was fighting with rāvaṇa in laṅkā, dejection befell him, his heart being weighed down with faintness, for a little while. rāvaṇa made the best use of this opportunity and began to advance. The gods had gathered in the sky above to witness the fight. agastya, at that particular moment, taught śrī rāma the āditya-hṛdaya mantra, a hymn in praise of the Sun-god and when śrī rāma chanted that mantra, he resumed fight with Vigour and rāvaṇa was defeated and slain. (vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, yuddha Kāṇḍa, sarga 107).
Balance of Earth
The matrimonial ceremony of Śrī Parameśvara and pārvatī was held in the Himālayas. On that auspicious occasion all the living beings of the world were present, and as a result the Himālayan region sank down and the earth slanted to that side. To keep the equilibrium of the earth, śiva sent agastya to the south. Accordingly agastya reached Kuttālam, where there was a temple dedicated to the worship of viṣṇu. agastya had besmeared his forehead with ashes and so admission to the temple was denied to him, by the devotees there who were Vaiṣṇavites. By his own power agastya turned himself into a vaiṣṇavite and got into the temple, and immediately the image of viṣṇu in the temple changed by itself into a śivaliṅga (murti or vigraha representing śiva). Since then the temple at Kuttālam has remained a temple of śiva. agastya proceeded to the southernmost point of the earth and sat there and because of his weight the earth regained its normal position. (skanda purāṇa).
Rshi Agastya and Krauncha Mountain
When agastya passed the vindhya mountain and proceeded to the South a rākṣasa (giant) called krauñca hindered his way. By his power the rākṣasa caused to fall everywhere a very heavy rain. agastya sprinkled a few drops of water from his waterpot on krauñca, who instantly became a mountain. Telling him that he would get deliverance from the curse when the weapon of subrahmaṇya struck him, agastya continued his journey to the South. (skanda purāṇa.).
Rshi Agastya and River Kaveri
Once Sūrapadmā, an asura (demon) drove the Gods out from heaven. indra came to śiyāli a place in the district of Tanjāvūr (Tanjore) and began to do penance to please śiva. Rain was completely stopped. agastya had compressed the river kāverī and held the water in his waterpot. gaṇapati having come to know of this, came in the form of a crow and toppled the waterpot. agastya got angry and ran after the crow, which immediately assumed the form of a boy. agastya caught hold of him. The boy instantly revealed himself as subrahmaṇya and granted agastya a boon. “Your waterpot will always be full”. Since then there had never been shortage of water in the kāverī. (skanda purāṇa).
Rshi Agastya in the palace of bhadrāśva
Once agastya lived in the palace of bhadrāśva as his guest for seven days. agastya praised Kāntimatī the queen on several occasions. The King wanted to know the reason. agastya said: During her previous birth Kāntimatī was the handmaid of a rich man. On one occasion of dvādaśī (twelfth night after full moon) in the month of Tulā (second half of October and first half of November) the rich man had asked his handmaid to see that the lights in a certain temple did not go out and she did so, in consequence of which, during her current birth she has become your queen, bearing the name Kāntimatī. The King and the queen were much pleased at this explanation of agastya and thenceforward they began to observe dvādaśī as a day of fasting. (vāyu purāṇa).
How agastya got golden Bangle. Once agastya entered a forest of about a hundred yojanas wide. The forest was devoid of life. When he had walked a few more steps some Gandharvas (semi-gods) and celestial maids came there singing and dancing. From among them a noble male being came forward to the bank of a lake in the forest and ate without any hesitation, the corpse of a man that was lying there. After that he walked round agastya and made obeisance to him. agastya asked him why he had eaten the corpse of a man. The noble man told agastya thus: “In tretā yuga (the third age) there lived a King named vidarbha. I am his son and my name is śveta. After having ruled. over my kingdom for a long time, I came to the bank of this lake and began to do penance. After that discarding my body I entered heaven. Though I attained heaven my hunger was not appeased. I asked brahmā how, I, a dweller of heaven, got this hunger. brahmā said that when I was King I had given nothing to anybody and so I got this hunger even after entering heaven. As a remedy brahmā suggested that I should come here everyday and eat corpse and when I had completed ten thousand days the hermit agastya would come here and that when I offered him a golden bangle my sin would be washed away.” Saying thus śveta offered to agastya the golden bangle given by brahmā and then he vanished and the corpse also disappeared. śveta went to heaven. (uttara rāmāyaṇa).
(1) agastya had a brother called Sutīṣṇa. (agnipurāṇa, Chapter 7).
(2) Sutīṣṇa was Agastya's disciple too. (setu Māhātmya).
(3) ilvala and vātāpi were the sons of the giantess ajamukhī. In the valley of a mountain ajamukhī prayed to durvāsas for love and thus ilvala and vātāpi were born from durvāsas. These two sons demanded that durvāsas should impart to them all his merits of penance. Getting angry durvāsas cursed them that they would meet with death at the hands of agastya. (Skandapurāṇa, Āsura Kāṇḍa).
(4) agastya had been the priest of the King Khela. (ṛgveda, 112th Sūkta).
(5) When śrī rāma returned to ayodhyā, with sītā from laṅkā, hermits from various parts visited him, among whom, dattātreya, namuci, pramuci, Śrī vālmīki, soma, kaṇḍu, agastya and their disciples were from the South. (uttara rāmāyaṇa).
(6) agastya gave śrī rāma an arrow, which, when shot at an asura (demon) would pierce his heart, pass on to the other side, fly to the sea and bathe in the sea-water and return to the quiver, it is said. (uttara rāmāyaṇa).
(7) Once agastya visited the hermitage of Āpasṭamba. He asked agastya, who, of brahmā, viṣṇu and śiva, was the Supreme deity. agastya replied: “These three are only three different manifestations of the one supreme Being”. (brahmapurāṇa).
(8) For the story of how agastya cursed the sons of maṇibhadra and transformed them to seven palms, see the word ‘Saptasāla’.
(9) There was a hermit called Sutīṣṇa, to whom Śrī rāma and lakṣmaṇa paid a visit when they were wandering in the forest. This Sutīṣṇa is the younger brother of agastya. (See the word Sutīṣṇa).
(10) agastya cursed śuka and deformed him into a rākṣasa. (See the word śuka ii.).
It is believed that the great hermit agastya, who had performed such wonderful deeds by the merits of his penance, is still doing penance in the agastya kūṭa hills. agastya who had travelled throughout the length and breadth of bhārata had several hermitages. In the vālmīki rāmāyaṇa, Āraṇyakāṇḍa, sarga 11, a description is given, of a beautiful hermitage of agastya, and the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed in and around it. agastya had presented to śrī rāma a bow got from viṣṇu, when the brothers visited his hermitage. agastya had accompanied Śrī rāma and his followers on his return journey to ayodhyā from laṅkā, with sītā after killing rāvaṇa. There is a legend in the Tamilnād that agastya was a member of the first two ‘Saṅghas’ (groups) of the “three Saṅghas”, mentioned in Tamil literature. As agastya was dwarfish he is mentioned as Kurumuni, (short hermit) in Tamil works. He has written a Tamil grammar on music, literature and drama. But this work is not available now. The Tamil Grammar ‘Tolkāpyam’, which is considered to be the oldest grammar, was written by Tolkāpyār, one of the twelve disciples of agastya. Even today in certain temples in the Tamilnād, agastya-worship is carried on. kambar, has mentioned about agastya in his rāmāyaṇa. A great Tamil author Villiputturan says that the Tamil language is the beautiful maiden presented by agastya.
अगस्त्यकर्तृकं विन्ध्यगिरिवृद्धिनिवारणं देवैः सह सागरतटगमनं च (3.104)
|अगस्त्येन समुद्रसलिले पीते सति देवैर्दैत्यसंहारः पुनः समुद्रपूरणविषये देवानां ब्रह्माणं प्रति प्रश्नः|
|राज्ञः सागरस्य सन्तानार्थं तपः शिवकर्तृकं वरप्रदानं च|
- Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
- Vettam Mani (1975), Puranic Encyclopaedia, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
- Ramanarayanadatta Shastri Pandeya, Mahabharata (Vol.2), Gorakhpur: Gita Press.
- Devi Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 10, Adhyaya 2.
- Swami Vijnananda, The Srimad Devi Bhagavtam, The Sacred Books of the Hindus (Volume 26, Part 3), Edited by Major B.D.Basu, Third Edition, Allahabad.
- Devi Bhagavata Purana, Skandha 10, Adhyaya 7.
- Ramanarayanadatta Shastri Pandeya, Mahabharata (Vol.6), Gorakhpur: Gita Press.