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Rishi Agastya

Feb 04, 1996 10:01 PM
by MK Ramadoss



                            Our Elder Brethren
                              The Great Ones
                            The World's Service

                                 Edited by
                               Annie Besant
                   President of the Theosophical Society

                     The Theosophical Publishing House
                           Adyar, Madras, India



     This little book is an attempt to convey in words a faint
     reflection of the beauty and the splendor of the Great Servants
     of the World, whose wondrous story is written by its effect on
     the hearts of men and women, who look up to Them in deathless
     devotion. Conquerors have founded kingdoms by force of arms, and
     have imposed their yoke on millions. But what kingdom can compare
     with the kingdoms of These that are not of this world, that are
     ageless and timeless and spaceless, shining-out by love, by
     compassion, by infinite pity, and shall last when history is
     forgotten. Poor as is the offering, we venture to lay it at Their

                                                          Annie Besant



     The Hierarchy, or the Rishis, Sages and Saints.
     The Masters, or the World's Rulers, Teachers and Guides.
     Shri Shankaracharya.
     The Lord Buddha.
     The Great Sage of Hinduism.
     Orpheus, the Supreme Singer.
     Shri Krishna.
     The Bodhisattva or the Christ.
     The Lord Vaivasvata Manu.
     The Rishi Agastya.
     Pythagoras, a Future World-Teacher.
     The Lord Mohammad.
     The Lord Chaitanya.
     The Noble Army of Martyrs.
     Giordano Bruno.
     Guru Nanak.
     Ashoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India.


                             THE RISHI AGASTYA

                                 By H. V.

     	Among the Great Ones of India, none seems to hold a
     higher place than this Maha-Rishi, who is said to be "Seventh of
     the Seven," that is, of the Seven Sages or Saptarishi.

     	From allusions to Him, in the Ramayana and elsewhere, He
     would seem to have been leading a secluded existence in His
     Ashrama for long ages past; and to-day has His home in the
     Nilgiris, where He may be approached by the few who know, though
     the idly curious find themselves somehow thwarted in all attempts
     to intrude on His privacy.

     	Apart from myths, His historical achievements are mostly
     connected with the Aryanising of the South of India, by leading
     down and establishing colonies of Brahmanas from the North, many
     centuries B.C. These Brahmanas lived under the protection of
     Dravidian Kings, the Rishi Agastya Himself being named the Royal
     Priest of the Pandyas. In this capacity, he compiled the first
     Tamil Grammar, being said in some accounts to have invented the
     language, or to have learnt it from the Lord Shiva. Probably He
     first gave literary form to the rude Dravidian dialect, and much
     enlarged its scope. He founded and presided over the first Tamil
     Academy, at Madura, probably named after the northern Mathura.
     This Madura was destroyed by a flood, but a second Academy grew
     up and flourished, also under His presidency, though several
     centuries later, not far from modern Madura. Hence it seems clear
     that Tamil Culture was shaped by this Great Rishi, whether acting
     directly through a continuous physical incarnation, or
     influencing the course of events more subtly through His
     disciples, is immaterial -- Indian chroniclers draw no such
     distinctions, and find nothing incredible in a "life" stretching
     over thousands of years, for they recognise the man apart from
     his vehicles. After all, the cycle of incarnation completes
     itself in the three lower worlds, and the facility of
     communication between the three has always been well-known fact
     in India, though only a recent re-discovery of the West.

     	Some of the legends connected with the name of the Rishi
     Agastya are interesting, though obscure in meaning; they
     consistently show Him as one of the great Builder-Rulers,
     protecting the land from disasters, giving it wealth, banishing
     its foes, teaching the arts of cultivation and or civilization.
     What the Lord Manu does for the whole Aryan Root-Race and the
     lands it occupies the Rishi Agastya does for India, the Mother-
     Country of the Aryans, and the treasure-house of their Ancient
     Wisdom. It seems likely that the Seven Rishis of Aryavarta are
     analogous, on a smaller cycle, to the Seven Builders, Rectors or
     Cosmocratores the "mind-born sons of Brahma," worshipped in the
     ancient Mysteries as the Kabiri.

     	This Building and Ruling Department comes to the fore
     especially during periods when the configuration of the Earth is
     being changed, and lands are being prepared for new races. The
     name of the Pandya King, advised by the Rishi Agastya, means "He
     who survived the flood"; and several legends show how the Rishi
     was actively concerned in the shaping of India after the great
     cataclysm which sank the greater part of Lanka, leaving only
     Ceylon, while raising the Himalayas and the northern plains. One
     such legend tells that He was asked to use His power to stop the
     Vindhya Mountains from growing "in competition with the Sun";
     accordingly He laid His commands on them to stop, until "He had
     returned from South and drunk up the Sea". This latter feat too
     He is said to have accomplished, in answer to the prayers of the
     Gods and Brahmanas, who complained that they were being devoured
     by certain Daityas (or Asuras), whom Indra with his thunderbolt
     had driven into the sea. The Rishi Agastya then came forth from
     His Ashrama, and "drank up the Sea," so that the defeated Daityas
     had to flee, for further refuge, to the remote recesses of the
     Earth, the nether region called Patala. So thoroughly was the
     work done that the reclaimed land was too dry, and so we next
     hear of Gods and men complaining to Vishnu that the Rishi Agastya
     could not restore the Ocean, having "digested" it. Vishnu went to
     Brahma for a solution for this difficulty, and the latter
     declared that, in due time, the Sea would be replenished, in the
     days of King Bhagiratha, a prophesy said to have been fulfilled
     when the waters of Ganga burst forth. In this legend, it would
     seem as if He was regarded as the ensouling Intelligence of
     India, the land forming His body, so being able to "digest" the
     water, which would quickly percolate through the sandy soil of
     newly reclaimed land collecting in hidden reservoirs until
     sufficient to burst forth as springs, feeding the great river,
     and ultimately the sea.

     	Another legend referring to this dry period of the
     central plains tells that the Rishi Agastya took on Himself a vow
     for twelve years to obtain food for the people by cultivation of
     seeds. But Indra refused His rain, and the Munis came to acquaint
     the Rishi with this as threatening failure to this sacrifice. The
     great Rishi then so powerfully increased the rigor of His
     resolution, vowing to perform so many kinds of TAPAS, or
     austerities, that Indra Himself with Brihaspati came to appease
     Him and not only rain, but all forms of wealth, poured into the
     place of sacrifice.

     	Other legends obviously refer to conflicts with the dark
     Atlantean sorcerers, whose degenerate practices stained the
     Dravidian Civilization of S. India, which the Aryans had to
     uplift. One such tale tells of a Danava King called Ilvala, who
     used to decoy Brahmanas to his house, and there set before them
     the roasted flesh of a ram, into which his own brother Vatapi had
     entered. The meat having been devoured, Ilvala would call on
     Vatapi to come forth from the Brahmana bodies, which he would do,
     rending them to pieces. But the Rishi Agastya, having accepted
     and eaten of the ram, so quickly "digested" the meal that Vatapi
     did not respond to the call of his brother sorcerer, who, in
     consequence, had to part with his wealth to the Rishi Agastya and
     his friends. This evidently refers to some sacramental rite of
     initiation into the Dark Mysteries, the secrets of which some
     Aryans were foolish enough to covet, to their own undoing. The
     Rishi Agastya alone was strong enough to wrest the occult secret
     -- the Word of Power -- from the Dark Hierophant, and make a
     right use of what had hitherto been abused, so winning wealth
     from the store-house of Nature which is a good servant, though a
     bad master.

     	According to this legend, the wealth of Ilvala was wanted
     for the Rishi Agastya's wife, Lopamudra, whom He is said to have
     created for Himself, guiding her birth as a Princess, whom He
     sought in marriage. His marriage had been enjoined on Him by His
     "Ancestors". The meaning of this seems to be that, before this
     Divine Being descended into the lower worlds, at the behest of
     His "Ancestors," or predecessors in His great office, He had
     created for Himself, out of mental and astral matter, what should
     serve Him as a soul, or middle principle, and this, as the Greek
     Psyche, is typified as a woman, bride of the Higher Self or
     Spiritual Spark. Truly she is created out of the "best parts of
     animals," for this vehicle is the result of the evolutionary
     process, aspiring upwards through the Kingdoms of Nature till she
     achieves union with the Divine Bridegroom, who, however, has
     shaped and moulded her from the first.

     	Again, it is said that Lopamudra was given her choice of
     1,000 sons, or of 100 sons each equal to ten, or of 10 sons each
     equal to one hundred, or of 1 son equal to a thousand, which last
     she chose. Does not this clearly indicate no physical progeny,
     but the number of earthly incarnations which this Spirit and Soul
     unitedly would take, and to agree with the abnormal length of
     days claimed for the Rishi Agastya?

     	These are, perhaps, mere impertinences of speculation,
     and they are put forth only to stimulate thought, not so much on
     the legends in their quaint antiquity of metaphor, as on the
     wondrous reality that lies behind the Living Person, Who is to-
     day as well accredited among Hindus, and with as good reason, as
     the King-Emperor on his throne. To Him may fitly be applied the
     term "Rock of Ages," and naught can go seriously wrong with the
     land over which His shadow broods.

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