Faith

Sage of great renown

The aim of the Rama avatar, besides the killing of Ravana, is to establish dharma. During the first ten years of His forest life, Rama enjoys the association with the holy sages. Even as Valmiki captures the serene atmosphere of austerities and rituals in the ashrams of the sages, he also highlights with equal felicity the constant presence of the rakshasas who are a threat to their penance, pointed out Sengalipuram Sri Balaji Bhagavathar in a discourse.

Rama visits the ashram of sage Agastya, the great sage known for his spiritual wisdom and penance. It is held that once the Vindhya mountain ranges had started to grow and obstruct the sun’s passage between the north and the south hemispheres. But at the orders of Agastya, the mountain had bent low and has remained so till date. There is also the story of how Agastya put an end to the atrocious behaviour of the two rakshasas, Vatapi and Ilvala. Vatapi had obtained a boon by which his body would always remain strong and intact even if he was cut into pieces.

Ilvala, in the guise of a brahmana, would invite the sages in the ashram one by one to partake of the food for the manes. He would cook the body of Vatapi and offer it to the unsuspecting sages. Once they are done with it and the formalities are over, Ilvala would ask Vatapi to come out and the rakshasa would come out tearing the stomach of the sages. Many rishis had died in this way. But this trick did not work on Agastya as he digested the food which was actually the rakshasa and thereby put an end to this. He also reduced to ashes Ilvala who rushed at him with anger. Rama is welcomed by the sage. He gives Rama many weapons that would be useful to destroy Ravana. He advises them to stay in Panchavati.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2022 12:11:49 am | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/sage-of-great-renown/article65403906.ece