One of the foremost of sages known in the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition is Maha\u1e5b\u1e63i Agastya. Several sources suggest that Agastya is a \u2018Tamil\u2019 mystic, who greatly influenced the philosophy of \u015aaivism in the South and produced pioneering works in Tamil grammar and medicine. The \u1e5agveda contains several sets of hymns that are presented by sage Agastya and his celebrated wife, Lop\u0101mudra. The sage also finds mention in the quintessential Bh\u0101rat\u012bya texts of the R\u0101m\u0101ya\u1e47a and the Mah\u0101bh\u0101rata; each presenting a portion of the great sage\u2019s earthly sojourn and exploits. Here is a distinguished l\u012bl\u0101 of sage Agastya, as presented in the V\u0101lm\u012bkir\u0101m\u0101ya\u1e47a. Even the etymology behind the very name of this sage is awe-inspiring. The R\u0101m\u0101ya\u1e47a states that Agastya was named so because he commanded Mount Vindhya to stop growing \u2014 \u2018Agam stambhayati iti agastya\u1e25\u20191. Sage Agastya plays a vital role in the avat\u0101ric mission of \u015ar\u012br\u0101ma. The sage remains a repository of power and plays a central role in preserving the mystique of the celestial world, according to the text. Unlike the K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47\u0101vat\u0101ra, the R\u0101m\u0101vat\u0101ra neither interacts with the characters in the celestial world nor travels to other worlds to acquire the specific tools required for his avat\u0101ric mission. Mystical tools descend to the mortal world at specific times and are left in the care of powerful sages; to be claimed by the avat\u0101ra when the time is at hand. 1 He who stilled the mount. Sage Agastya fulfils the role of the guardian of said profound tools. He safeguards the divine astras (missiles) left in his care by celestials and hands them over to the R\u0101m\u0101vat\u0101ra when the time is right. He remains as a via media between the celestial world and the mortal world; whereas also remaining as the veil that strictly distinguishes the celestial world from the mortal world. For instance, the mighty bow of Vi\u1e63\u1e47u that Para\u015bur\u0101ma uses to challenge \u015ar\u012br\u0101ma is handed over to Varu\u1e47a (in the B\u0101lak\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da). Varu\u1e47a, in turn, deposits it with sage Agastya. R\u0101ma seeks out sage Agastya in the Ara\u1e47ya-k\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da to claim the bow and vanquish the r\u0101k\u1e63asa horde stationed at Janasth\u0101na in Da\u1e47\u1e0daka forest; a move that will herald the downfall of the powerful R\u0101va\u1e47a. Similarly, R\u0101ma finds the need to equip himself with a certain potency to vanquish the r\u0101k\u1e63asa king R\u0101va\u1e47a, in a battle at La\u1e45k\u0101. Sage Agastya arrives there at this juncture and initiates R\u0101ma in the \u0100dityah\u1e5bdaya hymn, the spiritual potency, which will subsequently bring about the destruction of R\u0101va\u1e47a. Agastya yet again becomes the vehicle through which a mystical potency reaches the avat\u0101ra to aid in his avat\u0101ric mission. The power of sage Agastya\u2019s penance can be inferred from the vital acts carried out by him in the larger schema of the avat\u0101ric mission. The Ara\u1e47ya-k\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da sheds light on a particular episode in the sage\u2019s life that bears witness to his superior power. When R\u0101ma\u2019s sojourn at one section of the forest ended, it was time for him to make his way to Pa\u00f1cava\u1e6d\u012b and set about his actual avat\u0101ric mission; namely the destruction of the r\u0101k\u1e63asa horde and ultimately, R\u0101va\u1e47a himself. R\u0101ma needed the bow of Vi\u1e63\u1e47u that had been left with sage Agastya to slay the r\u0101k\u1e63asas at Janasth\u0101na. R\u0101ma thus asks sage Sut\u012bk\u1e63\u1e47a to direct him to the hermitage of Agastya. In the process of mapping out the way that R\u0101ma must take in order to reach Agastya\u2019s hermitage in the forest, sage Sut\u012bk\u1e63a\u1e47a also sheds some light on the greatness of Agastya. R\u0101ma later shares this anecdote with Lak\u1e63ma\u1e47a as they journey through the forest seeking sage Agastya. Here is the anecdote as narrated in the R\u0101m\u0101ya\u1e47a. The southern section of the forest had verily become a death trap for the br\u0101hma\u1e47as and sages. Two r\u0101k\u1e63asa siblings \u2014 V\u0101t\u0101pi and Ilvala would trick the br\u0101hma\u1e47as into accepting an invitation to grace the ceremonies they held in order to propitiate the Pit\u1e5bs (forefathers). V\u0101t\u0101pi, who could assume forms at will like his brother, would transform himself into a Me\u1e63a (a ram). Ilvala who would don the garb of an innocent br\u0101hma\u1e47a would cook V\u0101t\u0101pi, the ram, as \u015ar\u0101ddha (ceremony of consecrated offering) to the Pit\u1e5bs (forefathers) and would then feed it to the br\u0101hma\u1e47as. Once the br\u0101hma\u1e47as have partaken of the consecrated offering, Ilvala would call out to his brother thus thunderously, \u201cV\u0101t\u0101pi, Emerge Forth!\u201d. The r\u0101k\u1e63asa would then tear open the guts of the br\u0101hma\u1e47as and emerge forth with glee, thus killing them. Ilvala and V\u0101t\u0101pi thus systematically and mercilessly slew many a pious br\u0101hma\u1e47a at the forest, every single day. Noticing the havoc wrecked by the r\u0101k\u1e63asa siblings, the celestials rushed to sage Agastya for intervention. Requested by I\u1e47\u1e0dra, Agastya graced the farce of a ceremony that the r\u0101k\u1e63asa siblings conducted in the name of the \u015ar\u0101ddha. As was the norm, Ilvala cooked V\u0101t\u0101pi (who was in the form of a ram) and offered the meat to Agastya, upon the completion of the observance. After sage Agastya had partaken of the meal, a delighted Ilvala exclaimed, \u201cDone!\u201d and offered sage Agastya water to mark the end of his meal. Once the sage had accepted the water, Ilvala then called out V\u0101t\u0101pi to emerge; however much he called, V\u0101t\u0101pi did not emerge. While Ilvala was perplexed, Sage Agastya chuckled. He then said to Ilvala with a smile, \u0915\u0941\u0924\u094b \u0928\u093f\u0937\u094d\u0915\u094d\u0930\u092e\u093f\u0924\u0941\u0902 \u0936\u0915\u094d\u0924\u093f\u0930\u094d\u092e\u092f\u093e \u091c\u0940\u0930\u094d\u0923\u0938\u094d\u092f \u0930\u0915\u094d\u0937\u0938\u0903\u0964 \u2028\u092d\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0924\u0941\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u092e\u0947\u0937\u0930\u0942\u092a\u0938\u094d\u092f \u0917\u0924\u0938\u094d\u092f \u092f\u092e\u0938\u093e\u0926\u0928\u092e\u094d\u0964\u0964 \u201cWherefrom will your brother, who was in the form of a ram and has since been digested by me and has thus reached the abode of Yama, find the strength to emerge forth?\u201d - Ara\u1e47ya-k\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da, 11.65 Ilvala was aghast by the tenacity of the sage and greatly enraged. His eyes red with rage, he charged towards sage Agastya desiring to devour him. The ascetic directed his flaming energy (tejas) towards the charging Ilvala. In a trice, the r\u0101k\u1e63asa, who had slain many a pious sage in the past, was reduced to cinders. Agastya then carried on with his duties as if nothing had transpired until R\u0101ma came seeking for him. Rendering his homage to R\u0101ma, Lak\u1e63ma\u1e47a, and S\u012bt\u0101 in his hermitage, the sage handed over a formidable array of weapons to R\u0101ma, including the glorious bow of Vi\u1e63\u1e47u. The sage then added, \u0905\u0928\u0947\u0928 \u0927\u0928\u0941\u0937\u093e \u0930\u093e\u092e \u0939\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e \u0938\u0902\u0916\u094d\u092f\u0947 \u092e\u0939\u093e\u0938\u0941\u0930\u093e\u0928\u094d\u0964 \u2028\u0906\u091c\u0939\u093e\u0930 \u0936\u094d\u0930\u093f\u092f\u0902 \u0926\u0940\u092a\u094d\u0924\u093e\u0902 \u092a\u0941\u0930\u093e \u0935\u093f\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0941\u0930\u094d\u0926\u093f\u0935\u094c\u0915\u0938\u093e\u092e\u094d\u0964\u0964 Having slain many a r\u0101k\u1e63asa in war with this bow, reclaim the splendorous glory of the celestials, as did Lord Vi\u1e63\u1e47u in the days of yore. - Ara\u1e47ya-k\u0101\u1e47\u1e0da, 12.35 R\u0101ma, who had arrived at the hermitage wanting to serve the sage and to spend his remaining sojourn at the forest in the company of the sage, was impelled by these words of Agastya. He requested for a suggested spot appropriate for his residence. In essence, it was as if Sage Agastya had enlivened an aspect of Supreme potency in the avat\u0101ra by handing over of the bow of R\u0101ma; thereby hastening the avat\u0101ra into his immediate mission of slaying R\u0101va\u1e47a. With the power of his penance, the sage had thus revealed a particular aspect of Divine potency that then manifested in R\u0101ma as the resolve to resort to Pa\u00f1cava\u1e6d\u012b, where he would encounter \u015a\u016brpa\u1e47akh\u0101 and thereby hasten the battle against R\u0101va\u1e47a.