Hinduism And Hindu Theology - Who Is Agastya?


Agastya is one of the rishis (sages) of ancient India in Hindu mythology, and is credited with a variety of supernatural abilities. 

  • Agastya, like many of the rishis, is distinguished even by his birth, which occurs in an unusual way. 
  • According to legend, Agastya is born when the deities Mitra or Varuna's sperm are put in an artificial vessel and grown into a newborn boy. 

Agastya is said to favor a distant, austere existence, although he makes concessions in honor of his forefathers. 

  • In a vision, the ancestors implore Agastya to marry and have children so that his sons may continue to perform the ancestral sacrifices; this is one of the three obligations that every Hindu man must pay.
  • Agastya agrees to marry Lopamudra. Agastya's austere lifestyle is believed to have given him incredible abilities, which he displays by accomplishing many amazing feats. 
  • He curses king Nahusha to become a gigantic snake, according to some tales, in retaliation for the insults Nahusha had poured upon him. 
  • King Indradyumna is cursed to become an elephant, and the gandharva called Huhu is cursed to become a crocodile by Agastya; the two are freed many years later by the deity Vishnu's divine mercy.


Not all of his deeds are motivated by his willingness to curse—a characteristic shared by many sages—and some are done for the good of humans. 

  • He is said to have humbled the Vindhya Mountains (here personified), which had grown so big due to Mount Meru's jealousy that the sun and moon can't get past them. 
  • Agastya accomplishes this by requesting that Vindhya bend down to allow him to continue on his trip to southern India. 
  • Agastya vows that when Vindhya arrives, he would be able to get up again, but this has yet to materialize. 

In other instances, Agastya is said to have utilized his abilities to aid in the exorcism of demons

  • When a gang of demons hide in the sea during the day and come out to plunder at night, Agastya exposes them by swallowing up the ocean and so removing their hiding spot. 
  • On another occasion, he defeats a demon who has been posing as a goat and cooking it for unwary guests. 
  • The monster has been bursting out of the diners' guts, murdering them. 
  • As usual, Agastya consumes the demon, but it is subsequently totally annihilated by Agastya's incredible digestive abilities. Also see Gajendramoksha.

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