Before the advent of Sage Agasti, that is, during the very ancient times, there was a vast territory, right from Australia extending upto South Africa, which formed a single landmass with today’s southern part of Bhārat. The region was named ‘Lemuria’ by Western researchers. This entire region was inhabited by people following the ‘Dramil’ culture. According to Prof. Caldwell & Prof. Ritz, their language was close to the original Scythian language. This society was highly advanced, cultured and tightknit. Idol worship, paddy cultivation, use of ornaments made from various metals and well-planned villages were its distinctive features. Later, a thousand years before Sage Agasti came on to the scene, a great upheaval took place in the Indian Ocean, as a result of which ninety per cent of the land mass got submerged under the sea. Those who survived the deluge regrouped themselves and reached the southern coast of Bhārat and thereafter gradually spread across the entire southern peninsula. Some of the branches of these communities reached Asia Minor by sea and thereafter, taking the route via Iran, Iraq and Balochistan, settled in the northern part of Bhārat. Originally, both these cultures were the same. However, the communities, which came from the north, had lived in Iran for almost 200 years before settling in northern Bhārat and had developed close ties with the local population there. This led to some changes in their way of performing Agni Pooja, their body colour and physique, and language. It is noteworthy that even today the ‘Liki’ community, based in Asia Minor, identifies itself as ‘Tammili’ or ‘Dramiz’. Interestingly, even today, the names of many villages in Iraq and Iran are similar to names in Tamil.
Thus, there were two groups of people, one in the north and the other in the south of Bhārat, which had originated from the same place, had the same culture but had dispersed and settled down in different parts of Bhārat. These two groups that had the same origins were separated by the Vindhya mountain ranges. As a result of the geological catastrophe in the Indian Ocean, the height of the Vindhya mountains had increased significantly. Consequently, communities originating from the same culture were not even aware of each other's existence. The community that settled in the north of Bhārat came to be known as ‘Arya’ while the other community belonging to the same culture that made south Bhārat their home got the name ‘Dravid’.
In the Shabdakalpadrum grantha, the meaning of the word ‘Arya’ is given as the one who is dutiful and whose conduct was above any reproach. According to Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, an erudite writer and thinker, the word ‘Arya’ signifies virtuous attributes and is not related to lineage or varna. Also, in reality, the word ‘Arya’, appearing in Vedas, does not have even a single reference linking it to lineage or social status. On the contrary, it has always been associated with excellence and generosity, while the word ‘Dravid’ means knowledgeable and righteous.
According to historical linguists, the languages of the communities settled in north Bhārat developed in the form of Indo-European languages, while the languages of the communities in south Bhārat developed further from their original Scythian language.
Due to these circumstances, north and south Bhārat, to begin with, got geographically, socially and culturally separated from each other, and this gap kept on increasing with the passage of time. At the same time, more and more changes took place as these communities mixed with the native Bhāratiya tribes of Naga, Pulind and Andra in south Bhārat and Nishad, Kaivarta, Pani and Kirat tribes in north Bhārat.
Born and raised in north Bhārat, Sage Agasti learned ancient history through folklores while travelling across north Bhārat and realised that his own brethren had been separated from each other due to the enormous and lofty Vindhyachal. Deeply pained by this disintegration of this original, superior culture, Muni Agasti made a resolve to unite the whole of Bhārat, in which this ancient and magnificent culture had once flourished. For this, he established his first ashram in Dandakaranya (Vakataka – present-day Maharashtra), the midpoint border region separating north and south Bhārat. He was accompanied by about a thousand disciples and their families at this ashram. King Shwetaketu (Emperor Sārvabhāv), who ruled the kingdom of Vidarbha, which was located north of Dandakaranya, was impressed by the immense treasure of knowledge that Sage Agasti possessed and accorded the status of Gurukul of the highest order to Sage Agasti’s ashram. Furthermore, he also got his daughter Lopamudra married to Sage Agasti. Some of the forest tribes of Vidarbha state knew Dandakaranya and Vindhyachal at the back of their hand. With the help of the two officials named ‘Nakkirar’ and ‘Idaicchangam’ among them, Sage Agasti, the son-in-law of Vidarbha, began his journey towards Vindhyachal.
To be continued...
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