Mystical Tales Children

Tricky Travel

The two demon brothers were making merry, preying on innocent travellers... until Sage Agastya decided to put an end to their twisted tricks.

Remember the story of Sage Agastya who got the Vindhya mountains to stop growing? This story is about how he bested two demons after that.

In the forests to the south of the Vindhyas lived two demon brothers called Ilvala and Vatapi, who preyed on all those who travelled through their area. Their method was simple: Ilvala would greet the tired traveller and offer him the hospitality of his house. Most people were happy at the opportunity of some rest and a good home-cooked meal. Now the problem was in the food. Vatapi would turn himself into a goat that would be killed, cooked and served to the guest. Once the unsuspecting guest finished eating, Ilvala would call his brother, “Vatapi, come out”, and Vatapi would tear his way out of the guest’s stomach. The brothers then stole whatever the traveller was carrying and divided it between themselves.

Things became so bad that travellers began to fear this route and had to choose circuitous ways to get to their destinations. When Sage Agastya came south of the Vindhyas, he too heard of the demon brothers and decided to do something about it. After thinking about it, he set out on a tour choosing to deliberately go by the route on which the brothers lived.

Plan in action

Having had slim pickings for some time, Ilvala was delighted to see the sage. He bowed before him to seek his blessings and said, “Please grace my home with your presence. My brother and I would be delighted to serve you.”

Agastya smiled and agreed to go with him. As the sage was washing off the dust of his journey, Ilvala told Vatapi, “Now quickly change your form and let me cook you.” When the sage appeared, a hot meal was waiting for him. Ilvala served him with great reverence and Agastya too ate with great gusto. When he finished, he patted his stomach and said, “All is digested.”

Ilvala, who was waiting for this moment, called out, “Vatapi, come out.” But there was no sign of his brother. Surprised, he repeated the call, but again there was no response. Increasingly frantic, Ilvala asked the sage, “What have you done to my brother?” The sage replied calmly, “I have digested whatever food you served me.” Realising that his brother was dead, a furious Ilvala charged at the sage, intent on killing him. But the powerful sage just turned him into a heap of ash.

With the end of the two demons, the forest way became safe for travellers once more.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2020 8:04:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/tricky-travel/article26710357.ece

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