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Agastya - The Sage Who Invented The Tamil Language

Agastya – The Sage Who Invented The Tamil Language

Sage Agastya is a highly respected sage in the Indian Vedic Culture and is often connected to his spouse, Lopamudra. He is one of the creators of various hymns of Rigveda which are in the Sanskrit language. Along with some hymns of Rigveda, sage Agastya has also written many notable Sanskrit texts like Agastya Samhita and Agastya Gita found in Skanda Purana and Varaha Purana respectively. He is fondly known as Mana, Kumbhaja, Kumbhayoni, Maitra Varuna and Kalasaja based on his fabled origins/birth stories.

Agastya’s birth story is a very interesting one. The hymns of Rigveda which are dedicated to sage Agastya do not provide much information about the biography or his life story. The reason for the birth of the sage was his father, Pulastya. There was a big spiritual offering right after the birth of Agastya. The yajna was done by Varuna and Mitra. The beautiful and talented celestial nymphs – Urvashi and Apsara appeared in this yajna as well. He was born from a jar along with his twin – Vashistha. This is mentioned in various Puranas but not all. This is where the name “Kumbhayoni” comes to be known as an alternate name to sage Agastya.

Agastya grew up to be a Brahmin who led a yogic life and educated himself. He then became a celebrated and well-revered sage. This revered sage has been mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata many times. He is one of the seven sages who have the boon of semi-immortality. He is one of the Saptarishi. He also has a notable contribution to the Tamil language. The Shaivism tradition considers him Tamil Siddha because there are various proofs that show that Agastya invented the grammar aspect in the Tamil language.

Agastya, being a celebrated sage, has been mentioned in Hindu scriptures and temples across India. The temples dedicated to Agastya are popularly found in Tamil Nadu. The most common sculpture found of Agastya in these southeast Asian and south Asian temples is of the sage holding a pitcher. But these scriptures have their differences based on different temples.

As mentioned earlier, his incidences are prevalent in Ramayana and Mahabharata. Let’s take a look at these stories and understand the journey of his life. His hermitage is said to be on the banks of river Godavari. Sage Agastya has been the one to ask the Vindhya mountain range to lower themselves to let sun, moon and living beings cross over them. He is also known as the one with powers of dharma, so mighty that he killed Vatapi and Ilwala after they destroyed and killed 9,000 men. In short, Ramayana tells the story of sage Agastya as someone whose actions are stronger than that of gods and who can do things that even the gods find impossible.

Yudhishthira and Lomasa converse about the sage and we get another one of his engrossing stories. Apart from the story of his marriage to Lopamudra, there is a tale that describes Agastya drinking the entire ocean at the request of gods for revealing the demons. These demons were hiding in the depths of the ocean. Sage Agastya went on to live a marvellous life with his wife and his son Drdhasyu. He will always be remembered for his extraordinary life journey and teachings to the world.

Click here to read about Kaikeyi And Her Three Devastating Wishes.

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