Chapter 31 Getting to Know Rishi Agastya
Yudhishthira had the brahmanas with him at Indraprastha, and they had followed him there. Maintaining such a big establishment was challenging.
A brahmana sage by the name of Lomasa visited the Pandavas’ home after Arjuna had left on his hunt for Pasupata.
Prior to embarking on his trip, he counselled Yudhishthira to trim down his entourage because it would be impossible to travel around easily while carrying a big group of people.
Yudhishthira, who had long experienced this difficulty, told his followers that those who were unaccustomed to hardship, hard labour, and meagre food as well as those who had only remained with him out of loyalty, could either return to Dhritarashtra or, if they preferred, visit Drupada, the King of Panchala.
Later, the Pandavas embarked on a journey to holy locations with a somewhat smaller entourage while familiarising themselves with the legends and customs associated with each. One such tale is the one about Agastya.
It is reported that Agastya once noticed several ancestor spirits hanging head downward and inquired of them as to their identities and the circumstances leading up to their unfortunate situation.
They answered: “We are your ancestors, dear kid. If you don’t pay off your obligation to us by getting married and having children, no one will be left to give us sacrifices after you. Therefore, in an effort to convince you to save us from this danger, we have turned to this austerity.”
Agastya wanted to get married after learning this.
The king of Vidarbha was childless and hence worn out. He went to Agastya to ask for his approval. When Agastya bestowed the blessing upon the king, he revealed that he would be the father of a lovely girl, who he said should be given in marriage to him.
The queen soon gave birth to a child, a female they called Lopamudra. With time, she developed into a young woman of such exceptional beauty and charm that the kshatriya community praised her. But because of terror of Agastya, no prince dared to pursue her.
Later, the wise man Agastya visited Vidarbha and sought the king’s daughter’s hand. The monarch was hesitant to propose marriage to the finely raised princess to a sage leading a simple life as a forester, but he also feared the sage’s wrath if he said no and was overcome with regret. Having learned the reason why her parents were unhappy, Lopamudra announced her readiness—nay, her desire—to wed the guru.
The king was relieved, and Agastya and Lopamudra’s wedding was soon celebrated. He commanded the princess to give up her pricey clothing and priceless jewellery before she left to travel with the sage.
Lopamudra cheerfully accompanied the sage while unquestioningly distributing her magnificent gems and clothing among her associates and helpers. She also dressed herself in deerskin and bark clothing.
A deep and lasting love blossomed between Lopamudra and Agastya during their time in tapas and meditation at Gangadwara. Lopamudra’s modesty diminished from the absence of solitude in a woodland hermitage for a marital life. And one day she told her spouse what was on her mind in a blushing and modest manner.
She uttered: “My goal is for you to have magnificent clothing and accessories, just like I did while I was living at my father’s place: the regal bedding, the exquisite robes, and the priceless diamonds. After that, we may live our lives to the fullest.”
Agastya responded with a smile: “I don’t have the resources or the money to provide you what you desire. Are we not scavengers in the woods?”
Lopamudra, who was aware of her Bhagwan’s yogic might, retorted: “Bhagwan, the strength of your penances proves that you are all-powerful. If you have the desire, you can acquire all of the world’s money instantly.”
No certainly, Agastya responded, but if he used his austerities to acquire such fleeting things as money, they would quickly vanish to naught.
She answered: “That’s not what I want. What I want is for you to make enough money the normal manner so that we may live comfortably.”
Agastya agreed and went to several kingdoms dressed as a common brahmana. Agastya visited a monarch who had a reputation for being extremely wealthy. The wise man advised the king: “I came here looking for money. Please grant me my request without inflicting any harm or damage to others.”
The king gave him a clear picture of the State’s revenue and expenses and told him he could take anything he wanted. The accounts revealed to the wise man that there was no remaining balance.
It always turns out that a state’s expenses are at least equal to its revenues. It appears that this was also true in antiquity.
Agastya saw this and said: “For the people, accepting any gift from this monarch would be difficult. I will therefore look elsewhere “the wise man was about to go. The monarch promised to go with him, so they both travelled to another State, where they discovered the same situation.
Thus, Vyasa establishes and exemplifies the dictum that a ruler should not tax his subjects more than required for justifiable public expenditure and that if one takes anything as a gift from the public coffers, one increases the burden of the subjects to that level.
Agastya reasoned that he should visit the evil asura Ilvala and try his luck there. Brothers Ilvala and Vatapi harboured a ferocious hate towards brahmanas. They had an intriguing killing strategy. A brahmana would be invited to a feast by Ilvala with graciousness.
By using his sorcery, he would turn his brother Vatapi into a goat, which he would then kill for dinner and serve to the guests.
The brahmanas used to eat flesh back then. After the feast, Ilvala would call on his brother Vatapi to emerge since he was skilled at reviving the dead.
And Vatapi, who would emerge whole and sound and rip his way out with devilish laughter once food had entered the unfortunate brahmana’s vitals, naturally murdering the visitor in the process.
Many Brahmanas had perished in this manner. When Ilvala learned that Agastya lived nearby, he was overjoyed because he thought he had been given an excellent brahmana. He therefore greeted him and set up the customary feast. The sage devoured Vatapi’s transformation into a goat, and Ilvala was the last to alert Vatapi to the goat’s rending. Ilvala then recited the secret phrase and yelled, “Vatapi come out!” as usual.
“O Vatapi, be digested in my stomach for the peace and good of the world,” Agastya said, grinning. In a fit of hysterics, Ilvala repeatedly yelled, “O Vatapi, come forth.”
The sage explained why there had been no answer. Vatapi was already absorbed. Too many times has the technique been attempted. The asura submitted to Agastya and gave him the treasures he was after. The sage was able to fulfil Lopamudra’s wish in this way. Agastya questioned her about her preference: 10 decent boys or one excellent son with the virtue of ten. Lopamudra said that she would want to have a boy who is extraordinarily wise and moral. According to legend, she was fortunate to have a son with such talent.
The Vindhyas formerly sought to heighten themselves out of jealousy for the Meru Mountain in order to block the sun, moon, and planets. The gods asked Agastya for help because they were powerless to avert this threat. Going to Vindhya Mountain, the sage uttered: “Stop growing, mountains, till I traverse you on my journey south and back up north. You can develop anyway you choose when I’ve returned. Until then, wait.” The Vindhya Mountain submitted to Agastya’s request since it respected him.
Agastya never went back to the north at all; instead, he settled in the south, and as a result, the Vindhyas’ expansion has been halted ever since. This is the historical narrative as it appears in the Mahabharata.
Keep Mahabharat Book at Home and Read Daily – DO NOT FALL TO FAKE PROPAGANDA and Allow Enemies to Weaken our Dharma and Bharat
This historical epic Mahabharat is known as fifth Veda. It is a common misconception spread by mlecchas; muslims and christian missionaries, and secular Hindus that reading Mahabharat or keeping it at home will likely lead to arguments and fighting. All of this misinformation was spread by illiterate mlecchas and anti-Hindus, and it is completely incorrect. It is done to mentally weaken Hindus so that they avoid reading Mahabharat. Because Mahabharat invokes bravery, pride and sense of confidence in Hindus.
Keep a copy of Mahabharat at home and read it online at the HariBhakt website. Mahabharat is rightly called the fifth Veda for Kaliyuga people because it is a tool and guidance to invoke confidence and bravery in Sanatan Dharmi Hindus.
You can read complete Mahabharat by following Chapter links given below. You can check Glossary of Mahabharat here.