Agastya Maharshi kills the daitya brothers Ilval and Vātāpi

Lomasha Maharshi after thinking for sometime decided to narrate a very important incident to Dharmaraja Yudhishtira. “O scion of the Kuru dynasty! Listen to me. In the olden days, in this Manmatīnagar, there lived a daitya named Ilval. Vātāpi was his younger brother.


One day, the daitya Ilval asked a tapasvi Brahman, “Bhagawan! Please bestow upon me a son who will be equal to Indra in valour.” The Brahman heard him but did not give him a son equal to Indra.


As Ilval was highly proficient in creating māyā, he used to turn his brother into a goat. Vātāpi was also capable of assuming any form he so desired. He would transform into a sheep or goat at a moment’s notice. Then, Ilval would cook that sheep or goat and feed the meat to a Brahman with an intention to kill him after serving him.


Ilval also possessed the rare gift wherein he could call the name of a person who was residing in Yamaloka and that entity would again assume a body and appear to be alive.


Outraged that the Brahman did not bestow his wish, Ilval turned Vātāpi into a goat, cooked its meat and served it to the Brahman. He then called his brother’s name loudly. His brother on hearing his name tore the ribs of the Brahman and emerged from it laughing. In this manner, the evil-minded Vātāpi and Ilval fed countless unsuspecting Brahmans and proceeded to kill them.


The radiant Agastya Maharshi on the instruction of his ancestors chose the stunningly beautiful and accomplished Lopāmudrā as his wife to beget a son. On the suggestion of his lovely wife, Agastya Maharshi decided to ask a few kings who were virtuous and truthful to gift him some wealth.


Agastya Maharshi went to three kings who parted with their wealth with eagerness. The pious sage only took as much from each of them as required without inconveniencing the citizens. The three kings who were not particularly rich and in want of wealth told Agastya Maharshi about Ilval, who was extremely wealthy and charitable.


Agastya Maharshi accompanied by the three kings and other eminent persons reached the outskirts of Manmatīnagar. Ilval on being informed about the arrival of the brilliant Agastya Maharshi and his friends, greeted him with honour and invited him to a meal.


He quickly cooked his brother and prepared the meat to be served to his distinguished guests. The Rajarshis came to know that Vātāpi had taken the form of a sheep, had been cooked and the meat ready to be served to them. They were shocked and swooned.


Agastya Maharshi reassured them by saying, “Do not have any fear. I will eat this mahādaitya


Agastya Maharshi took his seat and the daitya began to serve him the meat. Agastya Maharshi ate all the meat prepared. After he had finished, Ilval called his brother’s name.


A deafening sound likened to a thunderstorm could be heard from the anus of Agastya Maharshi followed by gas. Ilval repeatedly called his brother’s name. Agastya Maharshi smilingly said, “I have digested that daitya for the benefit of the universe.”


Ilval was first shocked and then sad. He respectfully asked Agastya Maharshi why he had come here and how he could serve him. Agastya Maharshi replied, “We have come to seek wealth from you. We hope that you will give each of us as much wealth as you can without inconveniencing the citizens.”


Ilval replied, “If you can correctly guess how much I am thinking of giving each of you, then I can help you.”


Agastya Maharshi immediately said, “You have decided to give each of the three kings ten thousand cows along with ten thousand gold coins. You have decided to give me double of that along with a golden chariot driven by two horses who are as fast as the mind.”


“Everything you have said is correct except that the chariot you have spoken about is not of gold.”


Agastya Maharshi said, “I have never spoken a lie. Send someone immediately to verify. That chariot will definitely be made of gold.”


And indeed it was! The chariot made of gold was driven by two magnificent horses Virāv and Surāv who turned towards the direction of Agastya Maharshi’s ashram the moment they all ascended the chariot.


Ilval distraught over his brother’s death followed them at a distance. He then decided to kill Agastya Maharshi. However, Agastya Maharshi was quick to respond and uttered the sacred Humkara and turned him to ashes.”


[Excerpt: Tīrthayātrāparva, Vanaparva, Māahabharat]

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