(Foremost of the Siddhas)
AGASTHYA MUNI or SAGE AGASTHYA is one of the few foremost personages as depicted in the Puranas. He is the Siddhas. He is considered to be the embodiment of nine celestials who came to this earth for enlightening human beings.
It is not unusual to come by several narratives about Him in the famous mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are many books and unpublished manuscripts pertaining to Medical Science, Astrology, Astronomy, Philosophy, etc in His name. While going through all these narrations, it makes one to wonder if there is only one Agasthya or there is more than one. It should be noted that He is popularly known as the First Siddha.
Siddhas are those who have attained perfection in Yogic practices to ultimately reach the stage of immortality. Through higher-level yogic practices, they attain a state of ultra-luminosity that results in invisibility; thus they remain impervious to ordinary vision. But they can be visible to persons of their choice in a particular form. Such Siddhas work incessantly for the propagation of knowledge and the evolution of souls.
During the course of literary research on the Siddha Medical Sciences in a Tamil manuscript written on palm leaves about 3,000 years ago, it was possible to find out the details about Sage Agasthya. The text is an encyclopedia of world knowledge and runs into several volumes titled as “Prapancha Kandam”.
It is attributed to the voice of Lord Muruga- “Kandar Nadi Vakyam”, narrated by Sage Agasthya, recorded by Pulasthiya and associated by Kaappiyan. The original Tamil manuscript belongs to Pandit S. Jayanari of Vellore who is also associated with the Siddha Medical Research Institute, Bangalore.
The following is extracted from several volumes of the text under different chapters and give a succinct account about Sage Agasthya and His works.
The Prapancha Kandam commences with the explanations about the origin of the earth and the entire solar system. The earth is believed to be a fragment of the Sun blown into space as a big ball of fire billions of years ago. This big fire globe, after spinning around and round at a very high speed for innumerable length of time, began to cool on its surface.
During the course of its voyage from the Sun through different gaseous spheres of highly energetic particles, the earth being attracted and repelled by different planets of the solar system, acquired the energetic potencies of all the planets.
Later it gained a constant movement rotating on its own axis having its own path around the Sun. It is stated that the earth took its origin about 200 billion years ago, and was not fit for life for more than one hundred billion years with only land and water. Gradually vegetation began to appear as the earliest form of life on earth. Subsequently, aquatic living creatures followed by insects, reptiles, birds and animals came upon; with the last being humans.
Each species has its own genetic origin and human beings are considered the sixth in the order of the original creation. It is stated that planet earth is the only place for the survival and existence of life in the entire solar system. As life began to exist, time began to be counted.
The entire period was divided into four Yugas – Kritha, Thritha, Dwapura and Kali. The present Kali Yuga is stated to have started from 3100 BC and may correspond to 14th March 3100 BC.
Sage Agasthya was said to have been born about 4573 years prior to the commencement of Kali Yuga at a place in Gujarat in Eswara Samvatsara at Sunrise in the early hours of Tuesday, the first day of Kumbha Masa. This may correspond to 14th day of February 7673 BC. However, other authoritative records seem to demonstrate that he is over 10,000 years of age; and this is deduces from numerous poetries penned by the eminent Sages of Yore.
Belonging to the early Aryan race, His father Bhargava (Savithru – one of the 14 Adityas) was well known for his knowledge. His mother Indumathi belonged to a place in Punjab on the banks of Indus River. They were devotees of the Pasupatha order of the Great Sage Rishabha Muni.
Satta Muni narrates the position of the planets in the zodiac at the time of Sage Agasthya’s birth – He was born in the Kumbha month with the third quarter of the constellation Avittam (Dhanista) with Kumbha Rasi and Kumbha Lagna. The Makara (Capricorn); but it has been taken into consideration as if in Kumbha itself – Mars in Mesha (Aries), Mercury in Dhanus (Sagittarius), Jupiter in Thulam (Libra), ascending node Rahu and respectively. Due to the rare combination of Kumbha Lagna, Kumbha Rasi and Kumbha Masa, he is well known as Kumbha Sambhava or also as Kumbha Muni.
The divine Agasthya had his early education in Gujarat. His thirst for knowledge was immense and with the permission of his parents, He travelled all over the northern region in search of knowledge with particular interest in Philosophy, Yoga, Medicine and Astronomy. He was also the disciple of Siddhas Nandi and Dhanvanthri. In the course of his educational tour and while seeking great scholars, he visited Kashmir, Tiber, China, Nepal and Manchuria and finally came to Kailas, he abode of Lord Siva. He learnt many things under the able guidance of Satta Muni of Kailas. At that time, it is stated that the mount Kailas was located at north of Manchuria.
After many years of study at Kailas, He travelled towards the south through China and Cambodia, establishing the first of his many educational institutions for the propagation of philosophy and science. From there, He went to Malaysia and established an educational institution as well as a hospital. He then moved to Kumari Kandam across the sea.
At the time, Kumari Kandam occupied a vast area extending from the present Sri Lanka up to almost the Antarctic region and was ruled by Ravana who was a pious king and a great musician, particularly in playing stringed instruments. In recognition of the scholarly knowledge of Sage Agasthya, King Ravana gifted him a portion of his Kingdom to establish an institution of knowledge for imparting science and philosophy.
He then went to Malaysia and befriended the King. Overwhelmed by their friendship, the King gave his beautiful daughter in marriage to Agasthya and a portion of his Kingdom known as “Vijayapuri” for which He was the Ruler.
Agasthya who spent many years there was loved by one and all whilst enjoying family life. There too He established institutions that were imparting knowledge on science and philosophy. By then, he was very famous and advanced in his spiritual activities. He also had attained many Siddhis.
After many years of stay in Malaysia, he returned to Kumari Kandam, and had the opportunity of meeting Lord Muruga at Trikona Malai (trincomali). They stayed at a hill station called Kadari Kama, where Lord Muruga impaired to Him the intricacies of spiritual knowledge and liberation of soul.
It is interesting to note that “Kadari” means soul and “Kama” means desire – and therefore the desire for knowledge of the soul. Perhaps this name was given to the place in commemoration of the highest knowledge given to Sage Agasthya by Lord Muruga. Together, they spent many years there in spiritual practice.
With their cosmic consciousness, they were able to foresee the future; particularly in the context of impending calamities. That explains why they went to the North Polar Region at the time was said to be the end of the Dwapura Yuga; placed at about 6580 BC.
Then, tremendous explosion in the planet Mars hurled many pieces into space, which were moving at very high speeds. On such fairly large piece was attracted towards the gravitational force of the earth and struck at a place south of India. Due to this collusion the earth’s path and axis was greatly disturbed causing great deluge. Significant portions of Kumari Kandam submerged in the Indian Ocean and resulted in the continental drift as it stands at present. It took nearly 1500 years for the earth to resume its regular path and axis.
Sage Agasthya returned from North Polar Region and found major changes in the earth’s position. The entire portion of the land was separated by water driving it into five major portions, which are the five continents of today. The Kailas Mountain had disappeared from its original place at the North of Manchuria and more land had emerged outward. The Himalayan Mountain ranges the emerged at the Northern region of India.
Amidst all these geographical changes, Sage Agasthya decided to have a suitable place that would not be affected by future calamities. At the time few people remained scattered all over the world. From the geographically safe point of view, Sage Agasthya found a range of hills located in the southern portion of India, specifically the extreme south of the Western Ghats.
It was there that Sage Agasthya found Lord Siva and his consort Uma had made their abode in the form of Dakshina Murthy and Shenbagha Devi. He travelled to the South along with Siddha Kandan and met them at Mahadeva Giri. The commencement of Kali Yuga is considered to be the date on which these four divine souls got together.
Gradually Sages Nandeeswarar, Pasupathi, Byagrapadar, Pathanjli and other eminent Sages of high knowledge came to Mahadeva Giri and joined them one after another.
It was there that Lord Dakshinamurthy revived the knowledge of the Vedas through these eminent Sages and instructed them to propagate the knowledge for the benefit of humanity. The imparting of knowledge by Lord Dakshinamurthy to this congregation was considered a day of great importance; and took place during the eleventh year of Kali Yuga.
In commemoration, the year was named as Eswara Samavatsara. It is the 21st day of Karthika. Even now this memorable Full Moon day is a day of festivity for the people of South India. Sage Agasthya had given importance to this day as the day of knowledge and all his dating are reckoned from that day only.
Together the Sages went to Alagan Kulam – a place in Ramnad District – recorded their knowledge on palm leaves, and produced the various volumes with individual titles. Sage Agasthya placed these recorded volumes for the perusal of Dakshinamurthy and Shenbagha Devi. Many intricacies and doubts were clarified through extensive discussions.
Finally, Sage Agasthya was entrusted with the great task of taking the necessary steps to propagate the knowledge all over the world in a suitable manner and at the appropriate time, according to need and circumstances.
Having this great task before him, Sage Agasthya had to plan suitably for the teaching and propagation of the knowledge among the people all over the world. With the guidance of Lord Muruga, he selected appropriate persons for this responsible task. At Alagan Kulam, They found Pulathiyan who had the capacity to understand any subject, and Kaappiyan who was good at composing the subjects in prose and poetic form with grammatical regulations.
Thus the entire volumes were classified into different subjects, and rewritten in prose and poetic form with the help of these two divine persons.
As a first step in this direction, Sage Agasthya reformed the Tamil script on the instruction of Kandan. This explains why the Tamil language is known as “Kandan Padai”. Thus Sage Agasthya becomes the originator of Tamil script and language.
After formulating the language and the script for the purpose of posterity, he devised a special process for the first time to record the literature. Utmost care was taken to record and preserve them over a period of time without decay or deterioration. Palm leaves of a particular species were selected for writing. They were cut into proper sizes and were chemically treated and seasoned. The scriptures were written with the help of sharp needles.
The entire literature thus recorded is known as “Tamil Veda” or “Siddha Veda”. All the knowledge of original Vedas in Sanskrit expounded by Lord Brahman are found in the Tamil Vedas; and in a lucid form. Each Subject is classified separately, making them into individual volumes both on material and spiritual sciences for easy understanding of the people. They contain the 64 kinds of learning, 18 Purnas (mythological stories), 96 Tatvas (Primary Elements), 48 branches of scientific knowledge and others.
The original Tamil literature was then translated into four different languages that existed at that time for purpose of spreading them all over the world. It is stated that Sage Agasthya produced the script not only in Tamil but also in four other languages – Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew and Chinese. Another Siddha, Bhogar was also associated with him and the work.
Sage Bhogar was a friend and adviser of the ruler of China and had acquainted himself with Sage Agasthya even prior to the Kali era. During the 17th year of Kali era, Thaeriyar, a Sage from Malaysia who had previously acquaintance with Sage Agasthya also joined them as well.
During the 53rd years of Kali Yuga, a conference of Siddhas was held at Courtalam to program for the ways and means of propagating the knowledge to the world. This first of its kind event held during the Kali era was known as Siddhar Sabai.
In commemoration of this event, the year was known as Siddharthi Samvetsara. An institution named as Siddhar Gnana Koodam was also founded, inaugurated by Lord Kandan with a hospital attached and was assisted by Thaeriyar who was expert in surgery. Yugimuni was in their research activities as well.
As the activities of the Siddhas extended, different departments were established at various other places. At Thorana Malai – a few miles from Courtalam – a medical research centre was established. This was a University of Medicine where people from all over the world were given training and where surgical methods were also practiced. It is stated that many wounded warriors were treated here with surgery that even replaced limbs. Thaeriyar was in charge of this institution.
An Ayurvedic Hospital with a herbarium was established at Paradesi Kundai. Yugimuni was in charge of this institution. A Chemistry Research Centre was established at Thirupparankundram near Madurai with Bhogar as the head. For the sake of conducting experiments with chemicals, an animal house was also established at Pasu Malai. A venom research centre was established at Maruda Malai near Coimbatore with Pambatti Siddhar as the head. During the course of such a research, the administration of medicine through injections was developed.
After establishing the institution, Sage Agasthya and Bhogar took up extensive travelling as a mission for propagation of knowledge throughout the world. In the course of their tour and as part of their missionary work, They established educational institutions, open hospitals to serve the suffering and formed Gurukulas and Monasteries for religious and spiritual training. Every such centre was under the charge of specialized scholars for the regular conduct and furthering of their mission.
Thus They established several institutions at Tibet, Manchuria, Egypt, Palestine, Rome, America, Africa and Malaysia and in the Arabian countries. It is stated therein that Jesus Christ had his training under Sage Agasthya and spent nearly twelve years at Paradesi Kundai of Courtalam Hills undertaking Yogic training. Lord Buddha also had some years of training at the institution of Sage Agasthya.
Sage Agasthya along with Bhogar thus carried out their missionary work for nearly 3,500 years since the beginning of Kali Yuga. After such exemplary missionary work all the Siddhas went into Samandhi one after another at different places converting their physical body to ultra-luminous form, thus merging themselves in the cosmos.
Kandan went to Thorana Malai, Bhogar selected Palani, Thaeriyar along with Pulappani and Yugimuni went to Kantha Malai and Sage Agasthya selected particularly Podigai Hills as their permanent abode. These Siddhas, having attained the state of immortality by Yogic practices of higher order could make themselves visible to persons of their choice in a particular form.
From the text, it could be noted that the Siddhas particularly selected the Courtalam range of hills as it was said to be a stable portion of the earth, which could stay long without any further catastrophe. This portion is called Dakshina Meru and the abode of Lord Sivas as Dakshina Murthy.
Since Sage Agasthya put his first step on this hill after the great deluge and selected this place for his permanent abode, it has been named as “Padukai” or “Podigai”. As the atmosphere of the entire range of hills with its medicated sacred water could dispel all the karmic ailments – both mental and physical, is named as “CUTRU ALAM” (an antidote for all poisons).
There have been various establishments and institutions in Courtalam with Podigai as the centre. Philosophical teachings with scientific background was taken up at Paradesi Kundai, Scientific research work was taken up at Panchanga Kudai, an Astronomical observatory had been established at Ekanaga Kudai, Teachings in yogi practice was conducted at Athrimuni Ashram and a nature-care hospital with proper dieting was established at Shenbhagadevi.
All these research activities and their findings were systematically recorded on palm leaves which are even available during the present time with some ancient practitioners. It is believed that some of these records are still hidden somewhere in the vicinity of Courtalam range of hills.
Thus, it could be noted with delight that all the branches of science were propagated by the Siddhas under the able guidance of Sage Agasthya who was known by many names. He was also called as Thava Muni, Ma Muni, Ghana Muni, Kumbha Muni, Malai Muni and Vedavakula Marai and many more.
References of Original Manuscript.
Prapancha Kandam 810.
Prapancha Kandam 1700.
Adi Poorvam 1,2,3,4.
Thaeriyar Poorvam – Moolam.
Podigai Malai Charal.
Kutrala Kuravanji Malai Yathreekam.
By: Dr. Mandayam Kumar (Siddha Medical Research Institute, Bangalore-560003)