Feb 04, 1996 10:01 PM
by MK Ramadoss
RISHI AGASTYA - EXTRACTED FROM THE FOLLOWING BOOK
Our Elder Brethren
The Great Ones
The World's Service
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
The Hierarchy, or the Rishis, Sages and Saints.
The Masters, or the World's Rulers, Teachers and Guides.
The Lord Buddha.
The Great Sage of Hinduism.
Orpheus, the Supreme Singer.
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.
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
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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