Agastya depicted in a statue as a Hindu sage.
|Affiliation||Rishi (sage), Saptarshi (seven sages)|
Agastya( Telugu:అగస్త్య, Kannada:ಅಗಸ್ತ್ಯ, Sanskrit:अगस्त्य, Malay: Anggasta, Thai: Akkhot, Tamil:அகத்தியர்) is one of the Saptarishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and a revered Vedic sage and earliest Siddhar. He is also believed to be the author of Agastya Samhita. Agastya is a name of Shiva too. The word is sometimes written as Agasti and Agathiyar. A-ga means a mountain, and Asti means thrower. Agastya the Muni, son of Urvashi was born of both Gods, Mitra and Varuna. Agastya is also the Indian astronomical name of the star of Canopus, is said to be the 'cleanser of waters', since its rising coincides with the calming of the waters of the Indian Ocean. He was son of Pulasthya, son of Brahma.
Siddhar were spiritual adepts who possessed the ashta siddhis, or the eight supernatural powers. Sage Agathiyar is considered the guru of all Siddhars, and the Siddha medicine system is believed to have been handed over to him by Lord Muruga, son of the Hindu God Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.Siddhars are the followers of Lord Shiva. Agathiyar is the first Siddhar. His disciples and other siddhars contributed thousands of texts on Siddhar litratures, including medicine and form the propounders of the system in this world. He is considered as the father of Tamil literature and compiled the first Tamil grammar called Agathiyam. It is believed that he has lived in the 6th or 7th century B.C and specialized in language, alchemy, medicine and spirituality (yogam and gnanam). There are 96 books in the name of Agathiyar. However, some Tamil researchers say that Agastya mentioned in Vedas and Agathiyar mentioned in Tamil texts could be two different characters. In Tamil language the term 'Agam' means inside and 'iyar' means belong. One who belong inside (soul) is the Tamil meaning for Agathiyar.
Agastya and Lopāmudrā 
Agastya needed to marry and sire a son, in order to fulfill his duties to the Manus. Once he resolved upon doing this, Agastya pursued an unusual course of action: by his yogic powers, he created a female infant who possessed all the special qualities of character and personality that would be appropriate in the wife of a renunciate. At this time, the noble and virtuous king of Vidarbha (an area in south-central India, just south of the Vindhya mountains), was childless and was undertaking penances and offering prayers to the divinities for the gift of a child. Having come to know the plight of the king, Agastya arranged for the transformation of the child he had created, to be born the daughter of that noble king of Vidarbha. The child thus born was named "Lopamudra" by her parents. Upon her attaining marriageable age, Agastya approached the king and sought the hand of his daughter. The king was initially chagrined to hear such a suggestion from a renunciate, but found that his daughter, who had already exhibited extraordinary standards of mind and character, was insistent that he should accept the proposal. She was utterly intent upon renouncing the royal palace of her father and set out to live in forest at the hermitage of Agastya. Lopamudra and Agastya were duly married and lived a life of extraordinary felicity and happiness. It is believed that they had two sons - Bhringi & Achutha. In Mahabharata (Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva), there is mention of his penance at Gangadwara (Haridwar),in Uttar Khand State in India, with the help of his wife, Lopamudra (the princess of Vidharba). Lopamudra attained the rank of one of Mahapativrathas in the world by her dedication to worship her husband Agastya, and remained with other Pathivrathas (Noble exalted wives),like Mandodari (Ravana's wife),etc.
Legends and beliefs about Agastya 
Sage Agastya if often considered the father of traditional Indian Medicine among many other streams of knowledge. In his book, he is believed to have given the description of, and instructions for the creation of medicines for fever (it may be of any type), cancer, treatments for impotence, abdominal problems, brain and eye problems, bone problems, etc. Reputedly, his medicines gave quick results without any side effects.
Among the various legends associated with him is that of the Vindhya Mountains. According to a story in the Shri Rama-Charitra-Manasa, at one time, Mount Vindhyachal was continually growing in size due to taunting comments by the Sage Narada. So as to temper the vanity of the mountains, Sage Agastya and his family traveled to South India, via the Mount Vindhyachal. On their way, when the Vindhyas saw Sage Agastya, he bowed with respect and reverence, upon which Sage Agastya, jokingly asked if he would stay bowed and subdued with respect till the sage returned. The Vindhyas was truly benevolent and promised to not grow until the seer's return from the South. After passing through the mountain, sage Agastya told his wife, that they would never again cross over to the North side of mount Vindhyas.
Another reference is in the Mahabharata Book 10 in Sauptikaparva, section-12 as the sage who gave Drona, the greatest of weapons, Brahmastra (used by both Arjuna and Ashwatthama at the end of the war).
Agastya's Hermitage and references in Valmiki's Ramayana 
Agastya is mentioned most among all the existing Hindu texts possibly in the Ramayana. He is mentioned in the oldest and most original existing versions of the Ramayana (those by Sage Valmiki), as having his abode in the form of a hermitage in the Malaya Mountains, at more than one place. His main hermitage is placed by the epic somewhere in the western half of the Indian Ocean, further south of the so-called Malaya Mountains, amongst a series or chain of large islands and submerged mountains. His hermitage building there is supposedly eighty miles in both length and breadth, and again an astounding eighty miles in height as well, and adorned with inestimable amounts of gold, diamonds, and all other kinds of precious metals and stones.
Agastya Curses Indradyumna Maharaja 
|An article related to|
Srimad Bhagavatam 8th Canto http://vedabase.net/sb/8/4/en
SB 8.4.6: Because Gajendra, King of the elephants, had been touched directly by the hands of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was immediately freed of all material ignorance and bondage. Thus he received the salvation of sārūpya-mukti, in which he achieved the same bodily features as the Lord, being dressed in yellow garments and possessing four hands.
SB 8.4.7: This Gajendra had formerly been a Vaiṣṇava and the king of the country known as Pāṇḍya, which is in the province of Draviḍa [South India]. In his previous life, he was known as Indradyumna Mahārāja.
SB 8.4.8: Indradyumna Mahārāja retired from family life and went to the Malaya Hills, where he had a small cottage for his āśrama. He wore matted locks on his head and always engaged in austerities. Once, while observing a vow of silence, he was fully engaged in the worship of the Lord and absorbed in the ecstasy of love of Godhead.
SB 8.4.9: While Indradyumna Mahārāja was engaged in ecstatic meditation, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the great sage Agastya Muni arrived there, surrounded by his disciples. When the Muni saw that Mahārāja Indradyumna, who was sitting in a secluded place, remained silent and did not follow the etiquette of offering him a reception, he was very angry.
SB 8.4.10: Agastya Muni then spoke this curse against the King: This King Indradyumna is not at all gentle. Being low and uneducated, he has insulted a brāhmaṇa. May he therefore enter the region of darkness and receive the dull, dumb body of an elephant.
SB 8.4.11-12: Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, after Agastya Muni had thus cursed King Indradyumna, the Muni left that place along with his disciples. Since the King was a devotee, he accepted Agastya Muni's curse as welcome because it was the desire of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, although in his next life he got the body of an elephant, because of devotional service he remembered how to worship and offer prayers to the Lord.
SB 8.4.13: Upon delivering the King of the elephants from the clutches of the crocodile, and from material existence, which resembles a crocodile, the Lord awarded him the status of sārūpya-mukti. In the presence of the Gandharvas, the Siddhas and the other demigods, who were praising the Lord for His wonderful transcendental activities, the Lord, sitting on the back of His carrier, Garuḍa, returned to His all-wonderful abode and took Gajendra with Him.
Parallels from Old Tamil traditions 
Old Tamil literature contains several references to agam in the sense of ‘fort, palace or inner place’. (e.g.) agam ‘palace’ (Perun^.32.100)
aga-nagar ‘the inner city’ (Cil. 2.15.109; Man@i. 1.72)
aga-p-pa ‘inner fortification’ (Nar\. 14.4; Patir\.22.26; Cil.28.144)
aga-p-pa ‘matil-ul| uyar met|ai : high terrace inside the fort’ (Tivakaram 5.198)
matil-agam lit., ‘fortified house’; (Cil.2.14.69); the palace of the rulers of Kerala. A clear distinction is drawn in Old Tamil literature between those who ruled from inside the forts and those who served them, even though the expressions for either group have the same base aga-tt-u ‘in the house’. The rulers of the forts were known as: (e.g.) aga-tt-ar : ‘ (princes) of the palace’ (Kali. 25.3)
aga-tt-ar ‘ those inside the (impregnable) fortification’ (Kural| 745)
aga-tt-or ‘ those inside the fort’ (Pura. 28.11)
aga-tt-on\ ‘ he (king) inside the fort’ (Tol. III: 68.4, 69.5)
Those who served as palace or temple attendants were known as follows: (e.g.) aga-tt-at|imai, aga-t-ton@t|ar, aga-mp-at|iyar etc., (Tamil Lexicon). The palace or temple service was generally called: (e.g.) aga-p-pat|ai, aga-p-pan@i, aga-p-parivaram etc., (Tamil Lexicon). Another important set of Old Tamil expressions for palace and temple attendants is derived from the root culÈ ‘to surround’ > ulÈiyam ‘service, especially in palace or temple’, ulÈiyar ‘palace or temple servants’ (DEDR 2698 > 758). Cf. ulÈi, ulÈai ‘place' esp. about a king (DEDR 684) which also ultimately looks to culÈ ‘to surround, surrounding area’. Note the distinction between ul\ai-y-iruntan\ ‘minister of state, companion of the king’ and ul\ai-y-al|-an\ ‘attendant (in the palace)’ (Tamil Lexicon).
From Etymology to Recorded History 
The critical link between Dravidian etymology and history is brought out by the following two sets of entries: DEDR 7: aga-m ‘inside, house, place’ aga-tt-u ‘within, inside the house’ aga-tt-an\ ‘one who is in, a householder’. C.W.Kathiraiver Pillai’s Dictionary (1910) (gloss in English added by Iravatham Mahadevan ):
aga-tt-i : (1) agattiya mun\ivan\ (‘Agastya, the sage’)
(2) ul|l|-irukkir\a-van\ (‘one who is in’)
(3) oru maram (‘Agasti grandiflora’).
Note how agatti in (1) and (3) get transformed to agasti in Indo-Aryan loanwords.
Agastya and the southern migration of the Velir 
Agastya's legacy is associated with the Chengannur Temple in Kerala in South India, considered to be first built by Agasthya Muni, where he sat in meditation. Here Siva-Parvathy’s idols are worshiped in the same temple. One half of the temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and the other half behind Siva is dedicated to Goddess Parvathy. It is believed that They are available to Their devotees for worship, as husband and wife here. Interestingly it is believed that even today the idol of Parvathy has menstrual flow, though not regular. But if the priest observes blood (claimed to be tested true menstrual blood) in the 'odayaada' during 'nirmalya pooja', Parvathy's idol is removed and kept in a sanctum opposite to the temple within the premises and after a festival 'tripoottaraatu' (7 days) Her idol is placed back into the temple. The festival is celebrated only if Her menses occurs.
Vathapi legend 
Another story has it that two demon brothers, Ilvala and Vathapi, used to kill people who were passing by the forest in a special manner. Vathapi was good at changing to other life forms and the other, Ilvala knew the supernatural slogan Sanjivani mantra which, when invoked can bring back a dead person to life. They hatched a plan against Agastya that Vathapi would turn into a goat and be killed and fed to Agastya. After Agastya had eaten the meat, Ilvala would invoke the Sanjivani mantra to bring back his brother Vathapi to life, who in turn would rend Agastya's stomach and come out thereby killing him. By the plan, one changed into a goat and the other disguised himself as a Brahmachari who invited Agastya to a meal. Agastya knew beforehand about the plan due to his immense Vedic powers, but he resolved to teach both a lesson. After the meal, Agastya simply rubbed his stomach saying Vathapi JeerNo bhava; literally may Vathapi be digested, while the other demon tried to bring his brother to life in vain. Agastya plainly informed the demon that his brother has been digested and could no longer be brought back to life.
Other facets of Agastya 
He is considered as the first and foremost Siddha. He is considered the guru of many other Siddhas. He is also called Kurumuni, meaning short (kuru) saint (muni). He made contributions to the field of Medicine and Astrology - especially Nadi astrology. He is said[Tamil sidhhars] to have lived for over 5000 years, and that one of his medicinal preparations, Boopathi Kuligai, is so powerful that it can even bring the dead back to life. Two of his students and disciples were Therayar and Tholkappiar.
Another story about him is that once when the great sage accompanied by his beloved royal wife were wandering through forests, she fainted due to the humidity and hot conditions prevailing in the south. She was royal, hence not exposed to hard conditions. By seeing this the great sage became angry and prepared to punish the Sun God. The sun god immediately, frightened, appeared before Agastya and presented him with umbrella and chappals (foot wear).
Unity of Vishnu and Shiva 
At a Saivite temple named Kutralam, formerly a Vishnu temple, in Tamil Nadu, Agastya, in one legend, was refused entry. He then appeared as a Vaishnavite devotee and is said to have miraculously converted the image to a Shiva linga. A symbolic meaning of this conversion is to show that Vishnu and Shiva are different aspects of the one and same God.
Sage Agastya in Akilam 
According to Akilattirattu Ammanai, the religious book of Ayyavazhi, Agastya was created from the mind of Lord Shiva in order to offer boons to Kaliyan (See:Boons offered to Kaliyan). As per the order of Siva, Agastya offered many boons including all worldly knowledge to him. Therefore, as per Ayyavazhi, in the Kali Yuga, all the knowledge, including the basic formulae and forms of modern scientific technologies came from Agastya.
Certain important Stotrams 
- The Lalita sahasranama, which describes the 1000 names of the Goddess Lalita (known commonly as Dākshāyani, Pārvatī or Durgā), was first revealed to the world when Hayagrīva, a manifestation of Viṣṇu, taught the same to Agastya.
- Agastya is progenitor of the Āditya Hṛdayam, a hymn to Sūrya taught to Rāma just before Rāma's battle against Rāvaṇa.
- Agastya also composed Saraswati Stotram.
Contrast between Northern and Southern Traditions 
The Comparision between the Two Traditions 
The Comparison between the Two Traditions shows that the Northern Tradition is basically a historical,and is nothing more than a collection of incredible fables and myths dimly remembered from a very remote past with which those who recorded the tradition had lost living contact.On the contrary the Souther tradition rings much truer and appears to be a down to earth account of a historical event,namely the mass migration to the South of the Velir who are identified as part of living tradition at the time of the cankam polity described in the earliest Tamil works.
The fact of Agastya's leadership of Velir clan 
The fact of Agastya's leadership of Velir clan rules out the possibility that he was even in origin an Indo-Aryan speaker. The Velir-Velar-Velalar groups constituted the ruling and the land-owning classes in the Tamil country since the beginning of recorded history and betray no trace whatever of an indo-Aryan linguistic ancestry. The Tamil Society had of cource under the religious and cultural influences of the North even before the beginning of the Cankam Age but had maintained its linguistic identity.From what we now know of the linguistic prehistory of India,it is more plausible to assume that the Yadavas were the Aryanised descendants of an original Non-Aryan people that to consider the Tamil Velir as the later offshoot of the indo-Aryan speaking Yadavas.The Agastya legend itself can be re-interpreted as Non-Aryan and Dravidian even in origin and pertaining to the Pre-Vedic Proto-historical period in the North.
Martial arts 
Agastya is regarded as founder and patron saint of Southern Kalarippayattu, an ancient Indian martial art. Kalarippayattu is known as mother of all martial arts. Southern Kalarippayattu or Adi Murai mainly includes Silambam and Varma Kalai. Other components are Kuttu Varisai and Marma Adi etc.
Legend has it that Lord Siva's son Lord Murugan taught this art to sage Agastya, foremost of the Siddhar's, during the times of Sangam Literature. He transferred the knowledge of this art to other Siddhar's and he also wrote treatises on this art in Tamil. The presence of shrines to Agathiar in Courtallam suggests that he researched the art there.
Varma adi or Marma adi ("hitting vital spots") is a part of the art of healing and harming Varma Kalai. This system of marmam is part of Siddha Vaidhyam, also attributed to Agastya and his disciples. Medical treatment in the southern styles is identified with siddha, the traditional Dravidian system of medicine distinct from north Indian ayurveda. The Siddha medical system, otherwise known as siddha vaidyam, is also attributed to Agastya.
Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, also practiced kalaripayattu. When he traveled to China to spread Buddhism, he brought the martial art with him, which in turn was adapted to become the basis of Shaolin Kung Fu.
See also 
- BURROW,T. 1958"Sanskrit and Pre-Aryan Tribes and Languages,"The Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Cluture(Reprinted in collected papers on Dravidian Linguistics,Annamalai University,1968.)
- EMENEAU,M.B. 1954Linguistic Prehistory of India," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society vol.98 P.282(Reprinted in Collected Papers,Annamalai University,1967.)
- EMENEAU,M.B 1956"India As a[Linguistic Area," Language,Vol.32,P. 3(Reprinted in Collected Papers,1967).
- GHURYE,G.S http://www.sociologyguide.com/indian-thinkers/g-s-ghurye.php 1977 Indian Acculturation : Agastya and Skanda,Popular Prakashan,Bombay.
- KEITH,A.B.& MACDONELL,A.A. 1912 A"Vedic Index of Names and Subjects ( 2 Vols.,Reprint 1967)
- PARGITER,F.E. 1922 Ancient India Historical Tradition(Reprint 1962)
- RAGHAVA IYENGAR,M.1913 Velir Varalaru(in Tamil),3rd ed. 1964.
- RAGHAVA IYENGAR,R.1941 Tamil Varalaru(in Tamil),Annamalai, University(Reprint 1978 )
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola
- Sanskrit-English Dictionary (ISBN 0-19-864308-X) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams
- The Sauptikaparvan of the Mahabharata A new verse translation by W.J. Johnson
- The Epic Tale of Mahabharatam
- Dharma Bharathi, 2007, Karnataka, India - Carried a series of articles on Agastya Samhita and its contents.
- Agastya, Amar Chitra Katha
- Manorama Yearbook 2006, Malayalam; pp 398
- "Siddha Central Research Institute". Retrieved July 19, 2012.
- Lopamudra The Mahabharata, translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli (1883 -1896), Book 3: Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva: Section XCVII.
- http://www.venkatesaya.com/255.ramayana/daily.readings.php?m=7&d=1 Valmiki's Ramayana
- Mahadevan, Iravatham (2009). "Meluhha and Agastya: Alpha and Omega of the Indus Script". Indus Research Centre, Roja Muthiah Research Library, Chennai,India and Harrapan.
- Agastya Legend and the Indus Civilization by கட்டுரையாளர் : ஐராவதம் மகாதேவன் Mahadevan, Iravatham கட்டுரையாளர் பணி : Retired I.A.S, his studies pertaining to the Indus Civilization கட்டுரைப் பிரிவு : Indus Valley Signs - சிந்துவெளி குறியீடுகள் ஆய்விதழ் எண் : 030 - December 1986 பக்கங்கள் : 024 - 037, Journal of Tamil studies
- Zarrilli, Phillip B. (1998). When the Body Becomes All Eyes: Paradigms, Discourses and Practices of Power in Kalarippayattu, a South Indian Martial Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Luijendijk, D.H. (2005) Kalarippayat: India's Ancient Martial Art, Paladin Press
- Zarrilli 1992
- "Mother of All Martial Arts". Gurudev. May 21, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
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