The answers of Agastya Muni to the generic questions posted by devotees can be found here.
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Though the Lord had taken avatar in Tirumala like that of Kalki avatar, it was indeed Kali Purusha who gave a lot of tests to the Lord himself. He desperately wanted people to forget devotion and to have the dominance of demonic qualities. But all his efforts towards this mission was scattered in to pieces. He tortured an innocent yet best of the rishis as much as possible. But it became beneficial for the rishi himself where he was highly recognised when the Lord named one of the seven holy hills after the rishi’s name Virushachala.
Narada had a desire!
He wanted to know how the lord is going to name the rest of the hills. It will anyway take some time, so Narada wanted to roam around the earth and he wanted a company. Who will be the rightly qualified one for this he thought and Agastya Muni flashed in his mind. He approached Agastya.
“You are a Triloka Sanchari (the one who roams around all the three worlds – tri – three, loka – world, sanchari – the one who roams). Wherever you go, you have the skill to escape out of any situation. I don’t think I can do so. I am thinking of going to Podhigai hills and do tapasya for some time.” – said Agastya.
“Oh you didn’t know? There is a place called Sri Sailam near Tirumala. I heard that Lord Shiva is going to stay here with Parvati Devi for some time.” – said Narada.
“Is it?! This is a great news!” – said Agastya.
“Instead of going to Kailash, we could get a beautiful darshan of Lord Shiva right here in Sri Sailam. I am thinking of going there. I would be very happy if you come along.”
“One must be blessed indeed to have His darshan.”
“Then why wait? Let’s have the Shiva Darshan and go in proceed with our paths thereafter.”
“Fair indeed. My mind wants to stay in Tirumala for some more time and witness the divine play of Lord Narayana. As the spring has come, I also want to witness the beauty of Podhigai hills.” – said Agastya.
“I am calling you to Sri Sailam. Now your condition is like the ant which is in the middle of a fire burning in three sides.” – said Narada sarcastically.
“I have heard this proverb usually as ‘ant with fire on both sides of the stick’. What is this three sides? Can you explain?”
“Sure! You came to Tirumala to have darshan. You want to go to Podhigai hills to witness its beauty. You are restless without Shiva Darshan also. When such a Maha Purusha like you can have this swaying of mind, what can others do?”
Agastya thought for a while.
“What is there to think? Let us first go and have the darshan of Shiva-Parvathi, the rarest of all darshans. Then you may stay in Tirumala or go to Podhigai, up to you.” – Narada was determined. Agastya agreed thinking that whatever Narada says might be correct indeed. As they proceeded, a thundrous voice was heard:
“Who is it? Stop right there!”
“Who are you? Where are you talking from?” – they responded back. But that Mayavi (one who is well versed in magical tricks) put his iron hands on both of them. Though they were able to release themselves from that iron hold through the power of their tapasya, they were shocked to see that Rakshasa who stopped them in the Sri Sailam jungle. They figured out that fighting this demon is next to impossible.
That demon ‘Vrushabachalam’ laughed aloud which echoed across the jungle, causing terror to those who heard it. Agastya got very frustrated at Narada. He had pulled myself to have Shiva Darshan but what I am having is the darshan of a demon! Narada looked at Agastya with a meaningful look which said, “I am not the reason for this mess.”
Agastya could have sprinkled a few drops of holy water from his Kamandalu and burned that asura. But he could not do so!
“Who is this kulla (dwarf) muni?” – asked the demon.
“Not Kulla Muni, but refer to him respectfully as Kumba Muni (read the story of the origin of river Kaveri) O Asura!” – warned Narada.
“What’s the need? Why should I?”
“He is the son of Lord Shiva. He is the foremost of all Siddhas. You may have heard about the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva). Consider him the fourth. Be careful and be respectful.” – said Narada.
“O Narada, do you know to whom you are talking to?” – asked the demon.
“I do, very well. You are the embodiment of all the evil in the world.”
“That is enough for me. You are saved because you are Narada. Not a single insect comes in to this place without my permission. You have but come here with this dwarf.”
“Why can’t we enter this place? Did Maheshwara give you the power of attorney to this place? This is Earth. We will go where we please to. You cannot stop us.” – Agastya muni said angrily.
“O dwarf muni! You are talking way too above your limits. Just see there on what happened to such munis who spoke beyond their limits.” – the asura laughed alound and pointed a place where many a Rishis were tied to trees, deeply wounded. The huts made by them were burnt down. Some of the rishis were being bitten by wild animals such as fox, tiger and cheetah, even dogs, all these were supervised by a few demons.
Some of the rishis were hanged upside down with fire burning right beneath them. The humans who walked there by mistake were thrown in to huge vessels with boiling water inside them. The demons were enjoying all these.
Agastya could not control himself!
He took some water from his kamandalu thinking that this asura should not be spared even for a second, and he began to do his mantra japa with the water in his palm. Narada got scared on seeing this for Agastya can do anything! But this demon had to be destroyed by Venkatava. So he began to speak.
“It is indeed our mistake to have walked in without your permission. Please forgive us, we shall go our way.”
“Very well! Now you understood me right. But what is this dwarf doing with water in his hand, murmering something?”
“He is praying to Lord Shiva.”
“To give you the right mind. To show you that the rishi munis who came to this holy land to pray can be saved through prayers.”
“Narada. I shall spare you for you openly asked for an apology. But I won’t spare this dwarf. He has to undergo the tortures.”
“It is not possible Vrushabasura!”
“You are underestimating Agastya who is the son of Lord Shiva himself, who is the right hand of Venkatava. It is safe for you if you do not go near him.”
Vrushabasura laughed aloud on hearing this.
“I was thus sparing him all the while because of you. Now I am going to swallow him.”
The asura grew enormously. He looked dangerous with his teeth growing sharp and shining. He picked up Agastya with his little finger and took Him near his mouth. Right then…
“Vrushabasura!” – a thundrous tone was heard which even scared the asura himself!
Lord Shiva Himself stood there with flashing eyes and His trident. Narada’s joy and devotion knew no bounds. Agastya’s eyes were filled with tears on Lord Shiva’s darshan. He folded his hands in devotion.
“We came to have your darshan, but got stuck in between.” – said Narada.
“O Three Eyed Lord! Many many thanks for giving us your darshan. I can simply destroy this asura. Why do you have to trouble yourself? To tear a grass, there is no need of a tiger’s claws!” – said Agastya.
But surprisingly, the asura was not moved or shaken by these conversations. He asked Shiva, “What, the Three Eyed One! Have you forgotten the promise you made?”
The Lord Almighty rested His trident on His broad chest and breathed, “Yes, I forgot. I had granted some rights as a result of your tapasya. I am now under the spell of my son’s love.”
“You spoke right. You yourself cannot enter this place without my permission. How can I then allow this dwarf?”
“Vrushabasura! I came to remind you this – Vinasa Kale Vibareedha Buddhi. I will stay here. Not just these two, who ever comes here should not be blocked or disturbed by you. Else, my trident will separate your head from your body.” – said Shiva.
“O Lord! You had but promised me that you won’t kill me when you gave me the boons, remember?” – the asura laughed.
As Shiva stood silent, Agastya sprinkled the holy water from his kamandalu by chanting a mantra.
Featured image courtesy: Go Tirupati
~ to be continued…!