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"Vatapi, Be Digested"

The story of llvala and Vatapi itself is an interesting one. They hated sages They had destroyed all the sages and ascetics who lived near by. Agasthya knew all this. But he was not afraid. "What will they do? Let me see. If they behave in a bad way let me destroy them. The world will be
benefited." So thinking he came to Badami.

Llvala and Vatapi had a clever trick to kill the sages. Both were masters of magic. They could do what seemed impossible to others. They would go to the sages in mock humility and invite them, saying and "please do come to our house. If you accept the food we offer, we shall feel we have not lived in vain." The sages used to accept the invitation. Llvala with his magic would convert Vatapi into a goat. He would kill the goat and cook the meat. It was fed to the guest. The innocent sages used to eat it. Then after the meal llvala would shout, "Vatapi, come out." Then Vatapi who was in the stomach of the guest would tear it open and come out. The ascetic who came as a guest would in a minute become the guest of the god of Death.

llvala and Vatapi were very happy to see that a sage had come to them on his own, without being invited. They received Agasthya with all honour. Then they begged him to tell them the reason for his visit.

Agasthya said, "O Kings, I am pleased with your courtesy. You are very rich. I want some gold ornaments and fine clothes. Please give me some. I
have come to ask for them as a gift."

The two rakshasas said with false humility, "Please do accept our hospitality first. It is indeed our good fortune that a great sage like you should have come to our very doors. We will give all you want."

The food was ready. llvala called replied, "He has gone on an urgent errand. You are a Maharshi, why should you wait? Please have food. He will come soon." Agasthya laughed and said, ""Yes, yes; of course, he will come soon." Llvala meant that Vatapi would burst forth from Agasthya’s
body. Agasthya understood the irony in llvala’s words but llvala did not understand the meaning of Agasthya’s comment.

Agasthya happily finished his meal. Later addressing llvala, he said, "I had never eaten such a sumptuous meal. I have never seen such a dutiful host as you." So saying he drew his hand on his stomach and said, "I am satisfied, really satisfied. Vatapi, be digested" and belched.

Seeing all this llvala was afraid. As usual he called out, "Vatapi, come out." But no one came. He called again and yet again. But it was of no use. Vatapi had been digested by Agasthya long before. How could he come out?

Llvala was beside himself with grief; he attacked Agasthya. By his yogic power Agasthya destroyed the angry llvala. He then gathered all the fine clothes and jewels he wanted from the tresury of the evil brothers and went back to his hermitage.

Agasthya’s fame spread all over the world. Even today ‘Vatapi, be digested’ has become a proverb reminding people of Agasthya’s might.

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