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Ilvala (Sanskrit: इल्वल) and Vatapi were rakshasas, they ruled from Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, named after rakshasa king Vatapi. According to the Mahābhārata, Vatapi ruled the area along with his brother Ilvala.[citation needed] Legend has it that both rakshasa were vanquished by the sage Agasthya. Ilwala, the word means "absence of good qualities, of restless mind". Vaataapi means "one who drinks of all life” meaning "death".[1] Once Ilvala invited a tapasvi Brahmin, played host to him with reverence and asked him to grant a boon. He desired to have a son equal to Indra. But the sage did not oblidge. Following this, his anger turned to hatred against all Brahmins and medicants. Ilvala and his brother Vatapi took a grudge against sages and hated them implacably.

Vatapi knew the art of transformation and had the power to change into any life form. Ilvala knew the ‘Mritasanjivani’ mantra to bring back the dead to life. They used these powers to loot and kill people. Ilvala would invite a brahman to a feast and Vatapi would turn himself into a goat. There he would serve the meat of the goat which Vatapi had turned into.[2] They would offer the meat as a satvic food, that is, as a vegetarian dish as sages consume satvic food. After the Brahmin had partaken of the feast he would call his brother out by shouting "Vatape athragacha" who would rend his way back to life, tearing the belly of the guest.[3][4]

Encounter with Sage Agastya and death[edit]

Once the sage Agastya was invited. Agastya came to Ilvala and the sage was received with reverence and great honour. Sage Agastya with his divne power knew the intention of the hosts and wanted to put an end to this. Agastya ate the food served to him. As soon as the sage finished eating, Ilvala called,"Vatape atragacha"(Vatapi come here). Immediately Agastya what he was up to and passed his right hand over his stomach and said,"Vatapi Jeernobhava"(Vatape get digested). Vatapi could not come out of Agastya's stomach and that was the end of the demon. Ilvala, was scared. He went on shouting "Vatapi atragacha" Agastya then he said,"oh,you wicked Ilvala, you wanted to kill me,but your brother Vatapi cannot come out and he is already digested". Ilvala decided to take revenge on Agastya for killing his brother and attacked Agastya. With the power of his tapas (penance), Agastya reduced Ilvala to ashes. In this way Agastya rid the world of the two terrible demons who were troubling the people and helped people live in peace.[5]


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