When God Srīhari (Shrihari) created Urvaśi (Urvashi) from his thighs, all the gods were bewitched by her. Mitra was one of the gods of the pair Mitrāvaruṇa (Mitravaruna). Urvaśī consented when Mitra sought union with her. But Varuṇa (Varuna) followed her, pulling at the corner of her dress. Urvasī told him, “Mitra has courted me first, so I cannot go with you today.” Varuṇa said, “Alright then. You may go. But leave your mana [here, heart] with me.” When Urvaśi agreed to this proposal, Mitra was enraged and called down a curse upon her, “Since you behaved like a harlot, be condemned to martya [the world of mortals] and serve Purūravā (Pururava).”
Though the two gods, Mitra and Varuṇa, desisted from imprecating each other, their passion remained unfulfilled. They shed their seed and each of them preserved it in a pitcher (kumbha). The sages Vaśiṣtha (Vashishtha) and Agastya were born in these very pitchers—
jalakumbhe tato vīryyaṃ mitreṇa varuṇena ca,
prakṣiptamatha sañjātau dvaveva munisattamau.
vaśiṣṭha agraja, agastya kaniṣṭha—
However, Devī Bhāgavata (Devi Bhagavata) chronicles that Agastya was the older of the two—
agastiḥ prathamastatra vaśiṣṭhaścaparastathā.
The earliest proof of the account of Sage Agastya’s birth, as found in Purāṇas (Puranas), lies in Ṛgveda (Rigveda). There it is mentioned for the first time that Vaśiṣṭha and Agastya were born of Urvaśī’s mana, and the energy effused by Mitrāvaruṇa—
tatte janmotaikaṃ vaśiṣṭhāgastyo yatvā biśa ājabhāra.
utāsi maitrāvaruṇo vaśiṣṭhorvarśyā manaso’dhijātaḥ;
drapsaṃ skannaṃ brahmaṇā daivyena viśve puṣkare tvādadante.
Since Agastya was born inside a kumbha or pitcher, he was popularly known as Kumbhayoni. Kumbha is a measure (1 kumbha = 20 droṇa or drona = 64 sera). Agastya was born inside a kumbha, that is, he could be measured by a kumbha, so, he was also known by the name Māna (Mana), meaning measure. He was called Māna also because his structure resembled the yoke of a temperate plough. However, these are arguments of later scholars; it is difficult to accurately determine why Agastya came to be known as Māna. Still, Ṛgveda bears clear evidence of the fact that Agastya and his family were known by the title ‘Māna’. He received the appellation of Agastya at a later period. The verbal root stai means ‘to stop’, and the meaning of the word aga is ‘mountain’. Agastya had arrested the upward growth, and crushed the ego of the Vindhya Mountain (aga); hence this name. He was of fair complexion, had four arms, and carried prayer beads and an ascetic’s water bowl in his hands. Such is the description given of him in Purāṇas.
- There is another account pertaining to Agastya’s birth where it is said that Agastya was born of Sage Pulastya to Havirbhū (Havirbhu) . In his previous life, he was renowned as Dahrāgni [Daharāgni (Daharagni) or Jaṭharāgni (Jatharagni)— for instance in Śrīdhara Svāmī’s (Shridhara Swami) annotations].
- Once, when Agastya was in the land of Kāñcī (Kanchi) during his travels, the god of gods, Janārdana (Janardan) or Nārāyaṇa (Narayana) appeared before him in the form of Hayagrīva (Hayagriva)— hayagrīvāṃ tanuṃ kṛitvā…prādurvabhūva purato muneramitatejasā.
During this meeting, Hayagrīva delivered religious sermons to Agastya.
- The great sage Agastya is essentially an representative form of Agni (the Fire-god). Once, Indra, the destroyer of cities and tows, directed Agni and Marut (Vāyu or Vayu, the WInd-god) to incinerate the demons who had risen up against gods. When Agni, with Vāyu’s help, set thousands of demons aflame, demons like Tāraka (Taraka), Kamalākṣa (Kamalaksha), Kāladaṃṣṭra (Kaladamshstra), Parāvasu (Paravasu), Virocana (Virochana), et al, fled and took shelter in an underwater fortress in the sea. Agni and Vāyu could no longer do them any harm. Thus, these demons came out of the sea from time to time, beleaguered gods, humans and sages, and retreated back into the ocean. When these sudden attacks continued unabated, Indra, the king of gods, commanded that Agni and Vāyu completely dry up the sea with heat. Agni and Vāyu, who feared that they would take many innocent lives, refused to perform this sinful task. Indra then placed a curse on them as a penalty for disobeying his orders, “Both of you will be born in the same body as a sage. Agni will then be renowned as Agastya, and ingurgitate the ocean. He will then regain his divinity again.” It was this curse that caused both Agni and Vāyu to be born in a single form as Agastya.
- The great sage Agastya is the seer (the one to conceptualise the form) of many hymns of Ṛgveda. At one point of time, perhaps, the community of sages were considering paying a tribute to the Maruts while excluding Indra, by composing an invocation. Perhaps Agastya had acted as a mediator here established a cordial relationship between Indra and the Maruts. This is the kind of opinion held by western scholars who have conducted researches on this topic, “His greatest feat was the reconciliation of Indra and the Maruts after Indra had been annoyed at his proposing to give the Maruts an offering to the exclusion of Indra. This feat is the subject of three hymns of the Rigveda, and is often referred to in the Brāhmanas though the exact details and significance of the legend are variously treated by Olderberg, Sieg, Hertel, and von Schroeder.”
There are many pieces of evidence which show that Sage Agastya was skilled in the use of weapons. Rāma (Rama) had visited the great sage Agastya’s āśrama (ashrama) hermitage with Lakṣmaṇa (Lakshmana) and Sītā (Sita) during their period of exile in the forests. It was then that Agastya had given to Rāma his Vaiṣṇava (Vaishnava) bow, the inexhaustible quiver, and a celestial sword known as Brahmadatta. During the last battle between Rāma and Rāvaṇa (Ravana), Rāma was overcome with exhaustion in the battlefield. The great sage Agastya, then taken over by a sense of duty, appeared on the war grounds, and taught Rāma the Ādityahṛdaya (Adityahridaya) mantra which would make him invincible on the field of battle. In Mahābhārata (Mahabharata), Droṇācārya (Dronacharya) had told Arjuna that he had acquired his archery training under Agastya’s disciple Agniveśa (Agniveśya) (Agnivesha or Agniveshya, respectively). Aśvaththāma (Ashwaththama) mentioned that Droṇācārya had acquired the weapon named ‘Brahmaśira’ (Brahmashira) from Sage Agastya by performing severe religious austerities . However, Droṇācārya himself said that he had received the weapon called Brahmaśira from Agniveśa. Droṇācārya presented this weapon to his favourite disciple Arjuna. It is also known that Aśvaththamā, too, received Brahmaśira from Droṇācārya. Of course, going by tradition, Droṇācārya may also be called a student of Agastya. It seems that Agastya’s Brahmaśira weapon, too, was handed down to Droṇācārya in course of this master-disciple tradition.
- Following his period of exile in the forests, Rāmacandra (Ramachandra) returned to Ayodhyā (Ayodhya) and ascended the throne as king. After his coronation ceremony, Agastya arrived in Ayodhya to present his fecilitations. At Rāma’s request, Agastya narrated in detail the tale of the birth of Rāvaṇa and other rākṣasas (rakshaha) in the lineage of Sage Pulastya, and an account of Rāvaṇa’s life, in the royal court of Ayodhyā.
After he had exiled Sītā, Rāma set out on a tour of India on the Puṣpaka (Pushpaka) chariot. During this time, Rāma went to Sage Agastya’s hermitage to meet him. At that time Agastya had been lay in water, engaged in tapasyā (tapasya) spanning over a period of twelve years. At the end of this period of religious austerity, Agastya delivered many religious sermons to Rāma, and related various tales from Purāṇas.
- One day, the great sage Agastya found his ancestors within the forest, hanging with their faces cast down. They told Agastya that since he did not have any sons, his bloodline would come to an end after his death. This was the reason for their downcast state. Seeing his ancestors in such a state, Agastya was deeply saddened, and began thinking about how he could bear a son and preserve his lineage. Consequently, he became interested in marriage, but could not find a suitable bride. He then used his imagination to create a girl of excelling in all tasks, and beautiful in all aspects. At this time, the king of Vidarbha was performing tapasyā in order to have a girl child. Agastya presented the girl he had created to him as a daughter. She was then born to the queen of Vidarbha, and was named Lopāmudrā (Lopamudra). When this exquisitely beautiful girl, having great qualities, attained her youth, Agastya, who felt that she was now ready to take up the duties of a family life, approached the king of Vidarbha to ask for her hand in marriage. The king was apprehensive about giving away his daughter’s hand in marriage to a poor, old sage, but could not say anything either in fear of being cursed by the great sage. Finally, it was Lopāmudrā herself who solved the crisis that her father had found himself in, by accepting Agastya as her husband of her own volition. She then dressed herself in loincloth, tree barks and deer hide— the bare clothing befitting the wife of a sage— and left for the forests with Agastya. Though Agastya became a householder, he spent much time performing religious austerities. Lopāmudrā managed her life accordingly in the manner of being a companion to an ascetic. Then one day, Agastya expressed tender feelings [of his heart] towards Lopāmudrā, and told her how he wished to have a son with her. She agreed to his proposal, but at the same time, she expressed to her husband her wish for their union to take place in a palace like the one her father possessed, on a lavish bed, with her adorned in exquisite attire and jewellery. In order to fulfill his wife’s desire, Agastya set out to acquire wealth. His quest for fortune took him to King Śrutarvā (Shrutarva), King Bradhnaśva (Bradhnashwa) and the affluent King Trasadasyu, one after the other. He told the kings that he would be satisfied with whatever leftover wealth they could donate after appraising their income and expenditure, and without causing hindrance to anyone in any way. But none of these kings were could give anything to Agastya, as their incomes and expenditures were equal and there was no excess left. The kings advised Agastya, “The dānava (danava) [here, demon] named Ilvala is truly prosperous. You may acquire a sufficient amount of wealth from him. Agastya then went to meet Ilvala along with the kings.
Ilvala was wicked by nature and an expert in witchcraft. On the grounds of his intense dislike for brāhmaṇas (brahmanas), he had devised a unique way of killing them. He used his witchcraft to turn his younger brother Vātāpi (Vatapi) into a lamb. He then cut up the lamb, cooked it, and served it to his brāhmaṇa guest. After the brāhmaṇa had consumed Vātāpi’s flesh, Ilvala called out Vātāpi’s name. The latter then regained his life and came bursting out out of the brāhmaṇa‘s belly. Ilvala had killed many brāhmaṇas in this way. When Agastya arrived at Ilvala’s house, Ilvala presented him and the accompanying kings, Vātāpi’s flesh in the form of a meal of cooked lamb. But Agastya finished all of it by himself. After the meal, Ilvala called out Vātāpi’s name as usual, but he did not appear again. When Ilvala was surprised, Agastya smiled gently and said, “How will Vātāpi come out? I have digested him already.”
Ilvala was left amazed at Agastya’s unusual power, he was also disappointed on losing Vātāpi. Finally, he gave Agastya and the kings more wealth than they had asked for. Rāmāyaṇa (Ramayana), however, after narrating the account of Vātāpi’s death, mentions that Ilvala, learning of Vātāpi’s death, attacked Agastya. In the end, Agastya burned Ilvala to ashes by virtue of the power of his religious austerities.
Eventually, Sage Agastya, returned to his hermitage with a considerable amount of wealth, and fulfilled all his wife’s wishes. He then asked Lopāmudrā the kind of son she wanted to have— one thousand sons, or one hundred sons equal to ten sons of great aptitude? Ten sons having the quality of a hundred sons, or a single son with the qualities of a thousand sons of great calibre. Lopāmudra prayed for one single son endowed with the merit of a thousand sons. Pleased by his wife’s choice, Agastya gave her the blessing that she would bear a single child endowed with the excellence of a thousand sons of great quality. Then, after impregnating Lopāmudrā, Agastya went to the forests to meditate and practise asceticism. After a long period of seven years, a son was born to Agastya. He was named Dṛḍhasyu (Dridhasyu) and possessed great strength and knowledge. This boy later became a great poet. His other name is Idhmavāha (Idhmavaha). [See Dṛḍhasyu or Idhmavāha]
From the conversation between Agastya and Lopāmudrā, that is recorded in Ṛgveda, it is known that Lopāmudrā had initially rejected Agastya when he desired to be with her. This conversation in Ṛgveda is recorded as incantations in three stages. In the first stage, when Agastya sought union with Lopāmudrā, she spoke about how serving and nursing Agastya all her life had left her exhausted. But Agastya refused to accept her weariness as a reason. Lopāmudrā, on the other hand, desired that a husband be capable in all aspects in order to derive pleasure from copulation. It can be understood that Lopāmudrā was not referring to merely physical ability, but also to other elements of family life that may provide wholesome pleasure. This Vedic tale that is narrated in detail in Mahābhārata.
- Once, the divine sage Nārada (Narada), out on a tour of the world, arrived at Vindhya Mountain. Vindhya extended a warm welcome to him, offered him water for washing his feet, along with a token of appreciation, an exquisite seat, and enquired about his well being. In course of their conversation, Nārada said that he had come from the prosperous Sumeru Mountain which was the residence of Indra, Agni, Yama, Varuṇa and the lokapālas (lokapalas) [here, kings]. Then Nārada continued with a heavy sigh, “Because of his wealth and dignity, Sumeru considers himself superior and more venerable than Himālaya (Himalaya), and even Kailāsa (Kailasa) Mountain which is home to the god of gods.” Nārada’s words worried Vindhya Mountain deeply. He started contemplating about how he could crush Sumeru Mountain’s pride, and be superior to Sumeru. Finally, he thought that the reason behind Sumeru Mountain’s pride was the fact that the Sun and stars revolved around him every day. Thus his arrogance could be vanquished by arresting the Sun’s movement. With this thought in mind, the next afternoon, Vindhya Mountain obstructed the Sun’s path. As a result, creatures on the north and the east began scorching under the blazing sun, and the shadow of perpetual darkness descended on the south and the west. Cries of woe filled the earth and living beings faced certain doom. Sensing that the whole of creation was on the verge of destruction, the gods went to Vaikuṇṭha (Vaikuntha), the abode of Viṣṇu (Vishnu), and apprised Nārāyaṇa of this turmoil. Nārāyaṇa said, “The incomparably powerful Sage Agastya in Varaṇasī (Varanasi) is the only one capable of crushing Vindhyacala’s (Vindhyachala’s) ego.” Following Nārāyaṇa’s advice, the gods sought help from Agastya. For the welfare of the world of the living, Agastya journeyed southwards with this family . When he reached the foothills of Vindhya Mountain, the latter fell prostrate to his feet and offered him obeisance. Pleased by Vindhya’s humility and the way he had paid respects to him, Agastya said, “My dear! I am quite old and do not have the strength to climb your height. Therefore, remain bent over like this till I return.” Under Agastya’s orders, Vindhya Mountain continued to remain in a diminutive form awaiting his return. But Agastya, who crossed Vindhya Mountain and travelled southward, did not come back. Since Vindhya Mountain diminished in altitude, the Sun was free to move once more. Nature regained its previous equilibrium. In this context, it may be said that this incident of Agastya not coming back, and Vindhya Mountain hoping that he would, has perhaps led to the adage of Agastyayātrā (Agastyayatra) or Agastya’s journey in later times. Because Sage Agastya had arrested the aggrandizement of Vindhya Mountain, he acquired the appellation of ‘Agastya’; this has been discussed earlier already.
- However, there is another story in Skandapurāṇa (Skandapurana) about Agastya’s journey towards the south. The landmass around Himālaya sunk low under the weight of the great number of people who had gathered on Kailāśa on the occasion of Śiva (Shiva) and Pārvatī’s (Parvati’s) wedding. As a result, the southern part of the earth became elevated. The mortal world and the gods were frightened when one half of the earth became submerged and the other rose up. When they appeared before Mahādeva (Mahadeva) seeking help, he asked Agastya to travel southwards to bring back the old structure of the earth. Under Mahādeva’s instructions, Agastya crossed Vindhyācala and reached the south. With this, the earth regained its earlier balance.
- Once upon a time, the class of demons known as Kāleya (Kaleya), under the authority of the asura [here, demon] king Vṛtrāsura (Vritrasura), used to oppress the people of the earth (martyaloka). Even gods had come to fear them. When Vṛtrāsura was killed by Indra, these demons fled to the bottom of the sea and took refuge in an underwater fortress. They came out during night to torment sages dwelling in hermitages, and retreated to their water fortress after they were done. Even the gods were unsuccessful in killing these demons who were bunking beneath the sea. [This story has been narrated in relation to Agastya’s birth.] The worried gods eventually came to Nārāyaṇa for help. He advised them to lay the sea to waste in order to kill the demons, and asked the gods to request the great sage Agastya to undertake this task, only he would be capable of accomplishing such a feat. At the request of the gods, for the benefit of the world, Agastya drank up the waters of the ocean. With the sea dry, the demons could no longer remain in hiding, and were exterminated easily by the gods. Only a few demons were left alive who fled to take refuge in the underworld. After this, when the gods requested Agastya to replenish the sea once again, he said, “I have digested the water. Hence, you have to find another way of restore the ocean.”
Brahmā (Brahma) assured the gods who were worried about the dissipated sea, “When Bhagīratha (Bhagiratha) brings Gaṅgā (Ganga) to earth for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors, the water carried down by Gaṅgā will replenish the sea.” At a later period, when Bhagīratha brought Gaṅgā to the plains, she cascaded down with tremendous force along the path indicated by Bhagīratha to become one with the sea. This great expanse of water once again filled the sea to its brim. [See Gaṅgā]
Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheṣvara (Maheshwara) were pleased by Agastya’s extraordinary feat, and wanted to grant him a boon. Agastya wished for an aircraft which he could fly over the mountainous regions in the south. Additionally, he wished that the person who prayed to him while his aircraft was in flight, would become the lord of saptaloka or the seven worlds. The gods granted him his desired boon.
- Agastya, at different times, is seen engaged in slaying oppressive demons, either at the request of gods or driven by his own sense of duty. The tale of Ilvala and Vātāpi has already been discussed before, and so has been the episode where he consumed the ocean to help the gods kill demons. From Anuśāsanaparva (Anushasanaparva) of Mahābhārata, it is known that on one occasion, when the gods who had been defeated by the demons had sought help from Agastya, the sage had burnt down the army of the demons with the fire of his rage. In Rāmāyaṇa it is seen that Agastya had repressed the oppressive demons to make Daṇḍakāraṇya (Dandakaranya) and the southern regions habitable for humans beings—
yada prabhṛti cākrāntā digayaṃ puṇyakarmaṇā;
tadā prabhṛti nirvairaḥ praśāntā rajanīcarāḥ.
nāmnā ceyaṃ bhagavato dakṣiṇā dik pradakṣiṇā.
- Once Indra was condemned by a curse for the sin of murdering brāhmaṇas when he killed two demons named Triśirā (Trishira) and Vṛtrāsura. In order to absolve himself of this sin, Indra ceded his position and started performing rigorous tapasyā. With Indra absent from the kingdom of heaven, the gods and sages requested King Nahuṣa (Nahusha), a mortal, to take up Indra’s position. He was powerful, extremely virtuous and belonged to the Candra (Chandra; Lunar) Dynasty. Nahuṣa, endowed with the strength and vitality required to occupy Indra’s position by the spiritual powers of the sages, was enthroned to the kingdom of heaven, and efficiently worked towards preserving dharma (a righteous governance) and maintaining the well being of his subjects. But Nahuṣa gradually became arrogant. He abandoned the path of dharma [here, virtue]. He became lascivious and indulgent towards sensual pleasures. He always surrounded himself with celestial nymphs and spent his time in diversions and hedonism. On one occasion, his eyes fell on Indra’s wife Śacī (Sachi). He became intent on acquiring Śacī for himself, and did not even hesitate to force himself on her. A helpless Śacī managed to buy some time from Nahuṣa under the pretext of ovserving some vows (vrata). Śacī promised to come to Nahuṣa voluntarily after this period of observance [of vows] was over. After this Śacī, terrified of the tyrannical Nahuṣa, went to Bṛhaspati (Brihaspati), the guru of the gods, and asked him to recommend a way by which she could escape Nahuṣa’s clutches. By Bṛhaspati’s grace, Śacī found her husband, Indra, engaged in tapasyā. Following Indra’s advice, Śacī told Nahuṣa, “I will be yours only if you come to my palace on a palanquin borne by sages.” On hearing this, Nahuṣa arranged for a palanquin to be carried on the shoulders of sages for his visit to Śacī’s residence. The sages and hermits walked along slowly, carrying the palanquin on their shoulders. Nahuṣa grew impatient at their unhurried pace and urged them to move faster in foul invective. Finally, his patience gave out and he kicked Agastya on the head. Enraged by this, Agastya said, “Since you lost your patience and denigrated the brāhmaṇas by saying “sarpa sarpa” (“go, go”), you will become an Ajagara (python) snake” [sarpa is the Sanskrit word for ‘snake’ also]—
sarpa sarpeti bacanānnodayāmāsa tau tadā.
agastya śivikāvāhī tataḥ kruddho’śapannṛpam;
viprāṇāmavamantā tvamunmatto’jagaro bhava.
Anuśāsanaparva of Mahābhārata chronicles that every day Nahuṣa used to hitch sages to his chariot and have it drawn by them. Now reveling in Indra’s position, Nahuṣa became highly conceited. The great sage Bhṛgu (Bhrigu) stepped up when called upon by Brahmā to put an end to these injustices. Bhṛgu and Agastya devised a strategy to banish Nahuṣa from heaven. Bhṛgu hid himself within Agastya’s dreadlocks. Agastya was not irked when Nahuṣa wished to harness the great sage to his chariot, instead he happily agreed. Nahuṣa drove his chariot, lashing Agastya with a whip from time to time. Finally, when Nahuṣa kicked at Agastya’s head in a state excitement, Bhṛgu, who lay inside Agastya’s hair, cursed him and turned him into an Ajagara snake. A terrified and distraught Nahuṣa begged to be told a way to be freed from the curse. Agastya (or Bhṛgu) then said to him, “You will be freed from the curse when you encounter Yudhiṣṭhira (Yudhishthira), the Virtuous and Righteous King, a descendant of your lineage.
By this time, fortunately, Indra had completed his period of penance. The gods, distressed by Nahuṣa’s atrocities, were discussing with Indra the means by which Nahuṣa could be banished. At this point Agastya arrived to deliver the news of Nahuṣa’s fall. The sages and gods again reinstated Indra to the throne of the kingdom of heaven.
- Once, the heinous yakṣa (yaksha) Sunda was killed by a curse placed on him by Agastya. Sunda’s wife was an exceptionally powerful female yakṣa named Tāḍakā (Taraka). Enraged by her husband’s death, Tāḍakā attacked Agastya along with her son Mārīca (Maricha) with the intention of killing him. For this Agastya cursed them and turned Tāḍakā and Mārīca into a rākṣasī (rakshashi) and a rākṣasa respectively. They had gruesome features. Rāmacandra and Lakṣmaṇa slayed this Tāḍakā rākṣasī while on their way to the great sage Viṣvāmitra’s (Vishwamitra’s) hermitage.
- In the land of Paṇdya (Pandya) in the southern part of India, there lived a king named Indradyumna, who was an extremely dedicated devotee of Viṣṇu. King Indradyumna had built a hermitage on Malaya Mountain where he engaged in worshiping Śrīhari Viṣṇu with great devotion, observing a vow of silence. At this time, the great sage Agastya arrived there, surrounded by his disciples. Since King Indradyumna was committed to his prayers, he did not greet Agastya even when he saw him. Agastya was angered by this behaviour and cursed Indradyumna, “Since you have acted like an imbecile elephant, you will become an elephant.” However, by Śrīhari’s grace he was freed from his curse.
- Once upon a time, the gods held a meeting of their advisory council in Kuśavatī (Kushavati) city. Kuvera came to attend this meeting with an armed company of yakṣas. On their way, they came across the great sage Agastya performing religious austerities on the banks of Yamuna. Kuvera’s friend and leader of the rākṣasa, the conceited yakṣa Maṇimāna (Manimana) spat on Agastya’s head in a state of frenzy. This incident infuriated Agastya who cursed Kubera, “Kuvera! Since this wretched friend of yours insulted me right before your eyes, your army will also to perish in the hands of a terrifying human, and you will remain a dumb witness to their annihilation. Only after that will you be freed from this curse.”
Later on, during the Pāṇdavas’ (Pandava) period of exile in the forests, Bhīmasena (Bhimasena) arrived at Kuvera’s capital, the area of Gandhamādana (Gandhamadana) hills. A terrible battle ensued between Bhīma (Bhima) and Kuvera’s army of yakṣa–rākṣasa army. In this battle, Bhīma was attacked by Kuvera’s friend Maṇimāna. But Bhīma single-handedly defeated and exterminated the vast army and Maṇimāna. It was in this way that Agastya’s curse came true and Kubera was freed from the curse.
- Śveta (Shweta), the king of Vidarbha presented the great sage Agastya with much wealth. For his piety, he attained a place for eternity in Brahmaloka. [See. Śveta– 22]
- Once the Sage Agastya resolved to hold a twelve year long yajña (yajna) of great proportions. Many great sages, hermits and ascetics participated in this yajña. Agastya arranged for appropriate meals for the invited sages according to his means. The yajña continued in this manner without any interruptions when suddenly, Indra, the king of gods, stopped the rains. With the discontinuance of rain, the worried sages engaged in discussions among themselves in the midst of the ceremony, “It seems that Indra will not send down any rain these twelve years. Lack of rain will hamper the production of crops. How will Agastya’s yajña be completed if there are no crops, and how will he feed so many sages and hermits invited here?” Agastya assured the sages, “This yajña will not be affected even if Indra sends down no rain in twelve years. I shall perform a cerebral yajña by virtue of my spiritual powers, and there will be no flaws in this yajña or in the hospitality of the guests.” Agastya’s spiritual powers brought forth the ingredients, wealth and the food necessary for the yajña. The sages were amazed at Agastya’s astounding powers, and gladly took part in the yajña. Indra, who also observed Agastya’s spiritual power, brought down the rains on time. Agastya’s yajña was concluded successfully without any interruptions. Indra himself attended the site of the yajña along with Bṛhaspati to felicitate Agastya.
- During ancient times, the sages once assembled at Prabhāsa (Prabhasa), a holy site of pilgrimage and decided to visit all the holy sites in India. Indra, the king of gods, himself assumed the role of the leader of this troupe of pilgrims, and took up the responsibility of escorting the sages to the different places of pilgrimage. After visiting many holy sites, they arrived at the holy lake, Brahma Sarovara. The sages bathed in the Brahma Sarovara and started collecting stalks of lotuses from the lake. Sage Agastya had plucked a beautiful lotus flower from Brahma Sarovara. Suddenly, it came to light that someone had stolen this flower from Agastya. Sad and angry, Agastya said to the other sages, “One of you must have taken my lotus. Return it to me immediately.” The sages were greatly saddened by this accusation and replied, “We swear that we have not stolen your lotus.” After that, each of them began placing severe curses on the actual thief. In the end, Indra said, “Let the brāhmaṇa who has stolen your lotus give his daughter’s hand in marriage to a brāhmaṇa who has completed the first stage of life (i.e. brahmacarya) and has knowledge of Yajurveda or Sāmaveda; or else, let him study Atharvaveda and take a holy bath at its completion. May the person who has stolen the lotus study all the Vedas, be renowned as a pious and virtuous person, and may he find his way to brahmaloka.” At Indra’s words, Agastya said, “You are blessing the person who has stolen the lotus. Therefore, you are certainly the one who has taken it. Please return my lotus to me.” Indra apologized to Agastya and said, “I stole the lotus with the wish to hear words of wisdom from these sages. The oaths sworn by them have fulfilled my desire. Please take back the lotus that belongs to you, and pardon me.” The great sage Agastya was pleased by Indra’s words and forgave him.
- It appears that the great sage Agastya had contributed immensely during the first phase of Aryanisation in India. The holy land around the Sarasvatī (Saraswati) and Dṛṣadvatī (Drishdwati) rivers was the original home of the Aryans. Although Agastya left this region a few times to travel to different places in northern India, we find frequent instances of Agastya’s presence throughout the entire southern part of India after he crossed Vindhyācala. While on one hand, it seems that this ancient brāhmaṇa had immense dignity and influence, on the other hand, his travels and sojourns fascinate us. [See Agastya-āśrama – 1; Agastya-āśrama – 2; Agastya-āśrama – 3; Agastya-āśrama – 4; Agastya-āśrama – 5; Agastya-āśrama – 6; Agastya-āśrama – 7; Agastya-āśrama – 8; Agastya-āśrama – 9; Agastya-āśrama – 10; Agastya-āśrama – 11; Agastya-āśrama – 12; Agastya-āśrama – 13]