Birth of Sage Agastya | Bhaktamal-14
Maharishi Agastya completely realized the Vedic Scriptures. In the Vedic parlance he was a “Drashta” (दृष्टा seer of the Vedas). So, it will be interesting to learn about him.
There are many interesting stories relating to his birth. One of them suggests that He was born along with Sage Vashishtha Mitra and Varuna are his parents and he born inside a pot.
Another story describes that Sage Agastya emerged from the womb of Havirbhuva, wife of Sage Pulastya.
Some Puranas serve as evidence for this statement. There is a mention that during the reign of Swayambhuva Manu (we are now under the reign of Vaivasvat Manu), sage Agastya was known as the able son of sage Pulastya.
Why Are There so Many Different Stories?
It often happens that many sages, by the same name have different parents, relatives, associated with extremely different events. They are part of different anecdotes in the various Puranas. It is possible that this reference can become a point of confusion. But, there is actually no confusion or disagreement.
There are different Kalpas (a Kalpa is one day of Brahma). Sage Agastya, Sage Pulastya, Sage Vishwamitra or any prominent sage appear on each day of Brahma or during the course of multiple Manvantaras. With the end of the particular Manvantara or Kalpa, these prominent personalities, disappear.
They accept the same name in a different Kalpa. But, their pastimes, parents, and history, every time they appear in a particular Kalpa or Manvantara might differ. The person remains the same but enacts different pastimes. However, the pastimes may repeat itself inspite of the change in time. Hence, if one fails to understand this fact one might be clouded with apparent confusion.
Puranas: The Perfect source of Knowledge
There is no dichotomy in the Puranas when it discusses the life of a particular Sage or a Rishi. Because, the life-story is discussed with respect to the specific Kalpa or Manavantara, when the sage appeared. The Puranas and all other Vedic scriptures never contradict each other.
All the pastimes of these great rishis can never be fully expounded. They are just like the Lord and their greatness is immeasurable. Yet, the scriptures try describing certain aspects of their life so that man gets some guidance. These stories are an interesting means through which we get to learn subtle aspects of life.
Story of Demon Vritrasura and Sage Agastya
There is a story of a fearful demon, known by the name Vritarasura. Though he was a demon he had within his heart, great Sharddha (Bhakti) for the Lord. However, the King of Devatas, Indra slayed him. Let us rewind the story a bit. There arose a fierce battle between the two personalities, Indra and Vritrasura. At that time, a demon by the name Kaley took refuge in the ocean fearing Indra’s might. This demon would suddenly appear from nowhere and at odd times attack sages who performed sever austerities and fire sacrifices (Yajna). The whole Vedic community was tormented by the demon associates of Kaley.
Agastya Gulps the Mighty Ocean
These demons attacked the Ashram of Vashishtha, Chyawan (father of Ayurveda), Bharadwaj and others. Many innocent sages became their diet. This heinous crime had sort of become their daily routine. The Devatas could not receive the Yajna-offerings because the entire ascetic community were subjected to the malicious crimes of the demons.
Hence, the Devatas approached sage Agastya for help. The Devatas expressed the pitiful state of the rishis after hearing which the great Sage Agastya was deeply moved.
The Sage appeared at the shore of the ocean where the demons took refuge after battling with Indra. Agasta placed the tip of his cupped palm into the ocean water and sucked it by placing his lips at the base of his palm.
Such was his might and prowess.
When the ocean was sucked dry, all the demons were found lying on the barren land, immediately exposed! Some of the demons were then immediately slain by the Devatas and the remaining fled to Patala Loka (पाताल लोक) or the netherworlds.
Indra Banished from Swarga
Once, the King of Devatas, Indra banefully acquired the sin of Brahm-Hatya (ब्रह्महत्या), sin of killing a Brahmana. Due to this atrocious sin he ought to lose the kingship of Swarga. A King of Swarga requires a great balance of Punya. But, Brahmahatya resets all Punya to nil.
Hence, King Nahusha, who was a king on the earthly plane was promoted to the abode of Swarga. Immediately the coronation ceremony took place and he was announced as the leader of the Devatas, the King of Swarga. Nahusha became proud of his newly acquired position and power conferred upon him by the wheels of time.
Nahusha Desires Sachi as his Queen
Overpowered by power, authority and lust, the short-sighted King Nahusha tried to forcefully wed Sachi Devi (wife of Indra). Sachi was being continuously tormented by the new King until she gave a ‘yes’ to the king’s proposal. So, she decided to consult the preceptor of the Devatas, Sage Brihaspati. The queen decided to trick the king now.
After the meeting, she put forth an intelligent offer to Nahusha, after accepting which the foolish King could have her as his queen.
Sachi asked Nahusha to ride on the shoulders of the Rishis and then propose her. Nahusha heartily accepted the offer due to his miscalculation. He assumed the rishis are ignorantly non-violent beings and that they do not care for their own prejudices.
Why did Sage Agastya Curse King Nahusha?
To fulfil the offer made by Sachi, He arranged a group of Rishis who agreed to carry him on their shoulders. They began their travel. On their way, an old rishi who carried the hefty king on his shoulder, began panting. Nahusha overtaken by his lust for Sachi Devi started losing his calm. He spat out harsh words: “Sarp, Sarp” (सर्प-सर्प) which in Sanskrit also meant “Faster, Faster”.
He kicked the old sage in his anxiety as he wanted him to speed up. This unpleasant event was quietly being watched by Sage Agastya, seated in his hermitage. He could not bear this grave insult and thus immediately issued a curse. Burning with anger, the great sage said: Nahusha, you foolish king, become a Sarp (सर्प Snake) instantly”. The king was punished for his ill-doings.
This curse of Sage Agastya was an eye-opener to all those who were deluded by their pride and prejudices.
Love of Agastya for Sri Rama
Once, Lord Rama, during the course of his 14 year banishment from the kingdom of Ayodhya, arrived at the hermitage of sage Agastya. Sri Rama offered obeisance to the great sage and worshipped his feet. He had intense Bhakti towards sages and the blessed Rishi became a recipient of the Lord’s tender love.
Sage Agastya conferred upon the Lord the many secrets of divine weapons along with the mantras to invoke them. These gifts that Agastya bestowed upon the Lord proved to be useful in His battle with Ravana. Sage Agastya addressed Sri Rama as “Sri Raghavendra” while composing different hymns in praise of Him.
Sage Agastya writes on Sri Rama
One of the hymns goes something like this, “Only those souls who are dedicated to the Lotus feet of Sri Rama, those who chant the holy names of Sri Raghavendra, shall true knowledge arise in their hearts. Nobody else can become a vessel to receive God’s grace. Those beings who are surrendered to Raghavendra are truly Liberated, none else.
Without the sweet ambrosia of Bhakti, towards the Lotus feet of Sri Rama, Liberation can never be attained. The main cause for love towards the Lord and thereby attaining Liberation is Sadhu Sanga (साधु-संग Holy association of sages) alone.
Agastya describes qualities of a True Sadhu
A Sadhu is only known by his one-pointedness towards the divine. He is free of any malice. He never puts down others and has a balanced approach. The Sadhu is never hypocritical and is always focused on the welfare of whoever approaches him. He is free from greed and selfishness and his food is the glorification of the Lord and His pastimes.
The true devotees, Sadhus are contented with whatever they have and find grace even in the most tormenting situations of life. Sri Rama, you are the Lord of such Sadhus. You are their protector. Oh Rama, You are my only object of Life. Let my love and surrender to Your Lotus feet be maintained eternally. This can be my only success.
By having your Darshanam, I am truly blessed. All my Yajna has come to fruition today. Sita Devi along with You should reside in my heart always. Let me never forget “Sita-Rama” even for a moment.”
Glories of Sage Sutikshana
Sutikshana, the prime disciple of Sage Agastya was a Bhakta of Sri Sita-Rama. Whenever, devotees remember Sage Sutikshana, he is gloriefied as one of the greatest devotees of Sita-Rama. By praying thus, the hearts of the most fallen gets purified. Such is the power of the pure devotees of the Lord.
On his return from Lanka, the Lord was coronated as the King of Ayodhyaji. To witness this divine cermony, Sage Agastya was travelled to Ayodhya and spent a great deal of time in the kingdom. He narrated many stories from the Puranas to the Lord. We can hear them too. The stories mentioned in Uttara-Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana are mostly narrated by sage Agastya to Sri Rama.
Hearing the pastime of such an exalted Sage, Sage Agastya who has been blessed with the knowledge of the Vedas, who protected the whole of Deva Loka and above all who has been in close proximity with the Lord and other devotees is indeed worship.
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