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AGASTHYA

Shri Ramachandra's Guide

Agasthya was living in the midst of the sages in the forest of Dandakaranya. He was running a Gurukula (a residential institution to which students who sought education joined) and was the teacher of a large number of students.

Shri Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, had to spend fourteen years in the forest. (The story of Shri Rama is narrated in the great epic, the Ramayana.)

He came to Dandakaranya with his wife Seetha and his brother Lakshmana. The sages welcomed them with greataffection. Shri Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana came to the hermitage of Agasthya. Because of his spiritual powers, Agasthya had known for a long time that Shri Rama would visit him. Agasthya looked after the guests well. He gave Rama a mighty bow known as the Vaishnava Dhanus and a quiver known as Akshaya Thuneera. This was a quiver known as Akshaya Thuneera. This was a quiver, which would always be full of arrows. He also bestowed on him a number of weapons of rare power. According to his advice Rama and Lakshmana built a ‘Parnakuti’ (a hut) on the banks of the river Godavari and went to live there.

Later, in the war between Rama and Ravana, Agasthya was among the many sages who assembled to watch the mightly battle. Ravana, too, was a great warrior. Shri Ramachndra was worried. He did not know how to kill Ravana. Then Agasthya came forward and taught him the most sacred mantra known as the ‘Adithya Hridaya’. It was addressed to the Sun God. By chanting it three times Rama got the strength to kill Ravana. Then peace and happiness reigned on earth.

After returning to Ayodhya Shri Rama chandra became the king. He had killed Ravana and brought relief to a troubled world; but his mind was not at peace. He was worried. At this time with Agasthya as the leader, a group of sages came to see Shri Rama. Agasthya understood the cause of Rama's unhappiness. Rama had killed Ravana, the great grandson of Brahma, the Creator, and so his mind was clouded. As a remedy, Agasthya advised
Rama to perform the Ashvamedha Sacrifice.

Such acts of Agasthya won him reverence everywhere. He was a devotee of Ishwara, and Shanmukha; it is said that, carrying our instructions, he popularized the Tamil language. The people of Tamil Nadu honour him even today as the Father of the Tamil Language. The Shivalingas installed by Agasthya are famous to this day as
'Agasthyeshwara'. There is also a pool by name Agasthyateertha in the south. Since he was the first among the sages to come to the south, the south is named after him. There is also a story about his mastery over music. It is said that Agasthya defeated even the great Ravana in a contest of playing on the veena. He gave many disciples to the world; he formulated many Vedic mantras; he wrote a learned work called 'The Grihyasuthra'; and the credit of popularizing the famous' Lalithasahasranama' (the Thousand Names of the Goddess Lalitha ) goes to Agasthya and Lopamudra.

In all the stories about Agasthya we find magnificent will power. A mountain or the ocean, what does it matter? I shall conquer all - such was the undaunted attitude of this great sage. Mountain, river or ocean - everything should be of service to the world. Human beings or rakshasas - the evil doer must be punished. That was his principle. Because of his tapas he equaled in weight all the gods; the very mountain bowed before him; all the
water of the ocean just filled his palm. Thus in every story about him we see the heroic soul of man.

It is no wonder that people devoutly believe that God, pleased with the magnificent deeds of Agasthya, trans- formed him into a star so that he might
look down from the sky on that world which he saved, guided and enriched.

May the blessings of such a great soul be on us and be our shield in life!

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Agasthya - The mighty sage who is the symbol of man's heroism
About Agasthya
Introduction
The God Agni Becomes Agasthya
A Great Seer Who Stabilized The Earth
Gajendra Saved
'Sarpa, Sarpa' -'May You Become A Serpent!'
Lopamudra's Desire For Ornaments
'Vatapi, Be Digested'
The Mountain Bows
The Ocean In A Single Gulp
Kaveri The Great Mother
You are Here! Shri Ramchandra's Guide
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