Ilvala the demon15Agastya was living in a cottage in the forest. The particular place where Agastya lived was full of demons, or raksasas. These raksasas used to terrorise all the people in that forest, but they did not dare to attack Agastya because he was so powerful.
There was a particular raksasa, Ilvala, who was especially fearsome, and everybody in the forest was frightened to death of him. Ilvala had a younger brother, Vatapi, who had the ability to change himself into a ram. People would then unwittingly take him for sacrifice. After killing the ram, they would cook it and offer it as food to their family, guests and themselves. When the meal was over, Ilvala used to summon his brother with his occult power. As soon as he called, Vatapi would burst forth from the stomachs of all the people who had eaten the ram, and thus they were killed. Then Vatapi became a ram again.
This went on for quite a few years. A large number of people were killed in this way, but nobody could do anything about it.
Once the two brothers tried this trick on Agastya and Agastya ate the ram. But when Ilvala cried to Vatapi to come forth, Agastya just laughed and laughed. He said in a thunderous laughter, “Where is your brother now, Ilvala? I have digested him. He is all gone. I have digested him very nicely so you can’t have him. And you have to remain my slave for the rest of your life. If you resist, I will destroy you with my occult power.”
Ilvala said, “O sage, O sage, do not destroy me. I shall be your slave. I shall eternally remain your slave. I will do everything possible and impossible for you. Only do not destroy me. I know you can easily destroy me. I am at your feet. Give me protection. Show your compassion to me. This is what I need, although I do not deserve it. I am sure you will grant it, for you are not only the most powerful, but also the most benevolent sage. Forgive me. Forgive me.”
Agastya said, “I am forgiving you. Remain my slave, and from now on try to become spiritual and divine.”
GIM 114. 29 January 1979↩