The foremost father of ‘Akhand Bharāt’ - Maharshi Agasti
I got to know Rishi Agasti for the first time through Ramcharita, i.e. the epic Ramayana, and my affection for him has, since then, only been growing. The combined radiance of all the four Vedas, the Puranas, the folklores, customs and folk songs of South India, as also the temples of Agasti have over the ages built an image of him that encompasses infinity. What is it that he has not done? There is only one answer to that. With his supreme and untiring efforts, he achieved and accomplished all things that were par excellence, supremely sacred and pure and which enhanced and elevated Bhāratiya culture.
While studying the literature on Agasti, I, quite unexpectedly, landed up in a small hamlet in the south of Bharat in a temple dedicated to Agasti. It is from here that the many secrets and mysteries of the divine and majestic personality of Agasti began to unfold. It was in this temple that I came to know about literally hundreds of other Agasti temples in the south of Bhārat. The sentiments expressed by the ācharyas, worshippers and the sculptures of these temples firmly entrenched Agasti into my intellect.
Just as there cannot be another Samudragupta, there cannot be another Agasti.
Today, we know Agasti as the one who drank the entire water in the ocean by collecting it all in his cupped hands, very few are aware of the Agasti who asked the Vindhya mountains to lower their height, while there are farmers in rural areas who know the star that is named after him. However, today, there is an overwhelming and profound need for us Bhāratiyas to know Agasti, who was also an extremely great sage, an ascetic, a scientist, a religious teacher, a promoter and custodian of our culture, an expert in the use of weapons, a composer of several ruchās (verses) of the Vedas, a visionary who led the vast Bhāratiya subcontinent to the zenith of its cultural glory, a tolerant consensus builder, and an immense ocean of creativity and its execution.
Even today, among several communities across most regions of Bhārat, especially in rural areas, it is believed that if one starts his journey after sighting the star named after Agasti, it makes the travel smooth, by doing away with the obstacles that may come in the way. In case the star of Agasti cannot be sighted before commencing the journey it is customary to take darshan of the ‘Mangal Kalash’ (a sacred metal pitcher), considering it as the sighting of Agasti.
From today (year 2006) for the next 19 years, if the journey that India has to undertake is to be successful, auspicious and free from obstacles, then the mere sighting of the star of Agasti will not be enough. In fact, it is necessary to know about the incredible life and work of this great sage and follow his advice.
Agasti and Vasishtha are twin brothers; Agasti being the elder and Vasishtha younger of the two. The pair of Mitra and Varun occupy the highest pedestal in the upasanas of the Vedic times and those given by the Vedas. The Rigveda provides a detailed and in-depth description of the attributes of this pair, with Agasti being referred to as the son of Mitra-Varun. Generally, Mitra means the sun, and Varun is the presiding deity of rain. However, the truth is even more beautiful and of the higher realm.
Mitra is not only the sun of the earth in this galaxy but is the original and infinite source of solar energy; i.e. Mitra is the point of origin of momentum and direction, progress, development, growth and valour of this timeless and infinite universe. Similarly, Varun is not only the deity of the rivers and oceans and the harbinger of rain to the earth, but Varun is also the original and infinite source of strength, care, contentment, solace and morality (adherence to Maryādā) for the infinite cosmoses.
According to the Vedas, the existence of Mitra and Varun just cannot be distinct. If one is present, then the other is bound to be present, and the absence of one certainly means the absence of both. Just as a magnet always has a north and a south pole, no matter how many pieces the original magnet is cut into, each piece still has a north and a south pole. Likewise, in every process of creation of the universe, the involvement of Mitra-Varun is a certainty, just like the two poles. When the divine personality of the sages and their Pradnya which contemplates on the infinite, was blessed with the darshan of the attributes of the Parmeshwar, the manifestation of that darshan in sagun form was Mitra-Varun.
Today, the Vedic worship of Mitra-Varun is nowhere to be found, with only a few remnants present in some of the Yadnyavidhana, that stipulate the manner in which Yadnyas are to be performed.
The brave, holy and generous Indra in the Vedas has been sidelined and replaced by the Indra of the Puranas, who has been projected as being lustful, selfish and cowardly. Consequently, the upasana of Indra, who bestows valour, gradually fell by the wayside. These days, the Vedic upasana that survives is is limited only to the upasana of Agni from the Vedas.
Agasti, the son of Mitra-Varun was the teacher and advisor to Indra, Prabhu Rāmchandra and Bhagwān Shreekrishna, and is the protector of Agni.
(To be continued…)
Courtesy: Dainik Pratyaksha
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