Agastya & Ambasamudram

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Victor & I have just performed a rattlesnake of a tour across the vasty land of the Indian Tamils. It began in Auroville with a cyclone – or at least the threat of one – which was supposed to follow on from a monsoon-style downfall which consumed most of Friday night & Saturday morning, last. This became the catalyst for us to cut short our tour, argue with the French landlord, whose 3-night minimum stay I countered with my ‘act of god’ speech – comparing the situation to the England-Argentina World Cup Quarter Final of 1986, & that I was a bit like Maradonna & I definitely would not be paying for a third night, given the chance my hut could be lifted off the kitchen roof – with me in it – & smashed to pieces off some nearby rocks!

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So that was it, with our bags swiftly packed we were cruising the red dirt-roads of Auroville & off on our 11 day mission to get to Calicut via Kannayakamari & Kerala. 8 k in we dropped off the bike, & then jumped in a 150 rupee rickshaw to Pondicherry bus-stand. There, after a half hour wait, we got on a bus to Chidambaram, which we arrived at two hours or so later. Five years ago, when I was originally working on the Kural, I’d spent 8 whole days walking & working among its compact, bustling streets. Things were different this time, just a bite to eat, a walk around the fascinating Nataraja Temple, & playing poker in the hotel with Vic over a couple of beers.

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The next morning we set off early, catching an 8AM bus to Veeitheswara (Eswara = Ishvara = Jesus), a mad little townlet which is famous for the Nadi Astrology. The originator of the system was a saint called Agastya, who, of course is the 6th of the seven avatars of Jesus. According to my inquiries, Agastya is the Tamil version, whose name was originally given to a Vedic poet, who lived c500 BC. The second Agastyan strata was applied to a guy who lived in the first century AD, who is said to have left north India via Dwaraka, one of Krishna’s cities, which of course links him to Jesus. He was propelled to do so by a flood, which I’ve already shown in a previous post links him to Krishna – & Iarchus – at the Govardhan Hill. What is immediately striking about the guy, is that he possessed the same powers as Jesus, as in;

1 – One of his medicinal preparations – Boopathi Kuligai – could bring the dead back to life.

2 – He had the ability to make the physical body disappear completely and resurrect in a glow of light into a subtler vibrational field. This act is highly reminiscent of the Transfiguration of Jesus found in the Gospels, as in; ‘Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, & John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; & He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, & His clothes became as white as the light.’ (Matthew 17:1-2)

3 – He could render his body in a tomb in a state of suspended animation (jeeva samadhi) at will, where the blood circulation and the breathing have stopped but a luminous pranic energy keeps the body-cells alive. This is surely the most important connection, for it tells us the exact way in which Jesus survived the Crucifixion.

Agastya
Agastya – Looks a bit like Jesus

After an hour at Veitheswara, we carried on our Tamil tour, arriving at the town of Kumbakonum, from where we headed onto Thanjavur & then a place called Puddukotai – a good 6 hours or so of travel – it was a good chance to listen to the tunes we’d stocked up on previously, a journey broken only by food & drinks at the bus stations, & insane leaps into teh air whenever our bus hit a safety bump. Puddokotai was nothing special, but we managed to entertain ourselves with watching Thor 2 in a Tamil at a cinema, which Victor assures me was better than Thor I in English.

Agastyeesvara Temple
Agastyeesvara Temple

Next morning we took a rickshaw for 700 rupees, who drove us about the area looking for traces of Agastya. I found him at one place, where in a chola temple I found a curious stone carving of two intertwined snakes. Now, to anyone but a trained litologist, this wouldnt arouse much interest – however, I can trace that carving straight to the Nativity itself. The three wise men were known as ‘Magi,’ which strictly speaking were members of an ancient snake-worshipping (i.e. wisdom) philosphical system that stretched from India to Ireland – both druids & brahmins were the essentially the same. Thus, by showing Agasty was a membr of the system, we can draw a connection to even Jesus’ suggested visit to Glastonbury to study with the druids.

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We had a nice driver, who after showing us the temple took us for chai, where chatting with the locals I managed to extract the local tradition that Agastya was once resident on a nearby hill. Over at said hill – well more like a massive rocky boulder dropped on the plain – I came across a series of beds carved into a natural overhang. With it being dated to the 2nd century BC, one can now imagine Agastya/Jesus having spent time in the place.

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We had left Puddokotai by mid-day, & journeyed for a few more hours south to Madurai, where we took a hotel by the busy Bus Stand. Taking a rickshaw into the city, I showed Vic the mentally beautiful temple, before heading back for beers & a chill. The next morning we were off early again, catching a deluxe bus (plenty of space, no blaring Tamil music & good suspension) – the price for this was still only 1.15 sterling, & whisked us south for a hundred miles; which is 25p cheaper than a bus-ride up Leith Walk. We reached Thirunelvi in the early afternoo, from where we took another bus for an hour to a place called Ambasamudram. The reason being is that Agastya was said to reside on a hill near here called Pothiyil or Pothigai. Also said to have resided here, & to have taught Agstya the Tamil language, is the Boddhisattva Avaloketisvara, who I have already shown in an earlier post, was a poetic creation of the another Jesusian avatar, Asvaghosa. It’s from the latter’s name that we can observe where the philochisp took place, as in;

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Agas-tya

I arrived in Ambasamudram with two ancient geographical descriptions of the Pothiyal Hill, being;

Then, the merchant’s son Sudhana… arrived in due order at mount Potalaka, and climbing Mount Potalaka he looked around and searched everywhere for the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Finally he saw the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara on a plateau on the western side of the mountain in a clearing of large woods abounding in young grass, adorned with springs and waterfalls, and surrounded by various trees. He was sitting cross-legged on a diamond rock surrounded by a multitude of bodhisattvas seated on rocks of various jewels. He was expounding the dharma-explanation called ‘the splendour of the door of great friendliness and great compassion’ belonging to the sphere of taking care of all sentient beings. Gandavyuhasutra


To the east of the Malaya mountains is Mount Po-ta-lo-kia. The passes of this mountain are very dangerous; its sides are precipitous, and its valleys rugged. On the top of the mountain is a lake; its waters are clear as a mirror. From a hollow proceeds a great river which encircles the mountain as it flows down twenty times and then enters the southern sea. By the side of the lake is a rock-palace of the Dêvas. Here Avalôkitêsvara in coming and going takes his abode. Those who strongly desire to see this Bôdhisattva do not regard their lives, but, crossing the water, climb the mountain forgetful of its difficulties and dangers; of those who make the attempt there are very few who reach the summit. But even of those who dwell below the mountain, if they earnestly pray and beg to behold the god, sometimes he appears as Tsz’-tsaï-t’ien (Îsvâra-dêva), sometimes under the form of a yôgi; he addresses them with benevolent words and then they obtain their wishes according to their desires.
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Its only modern scholars who have assoicated the Pothiyil hill with the Potolaka of ancient history. My plan is to see if the descriptions do indeed fit the mountain. Unfortunately, on arriving in Ambasamudram, I discovered that to visit the mountain I had to go in from the Kerala side, gaining permission from Trivandrum forestry commission en route. However, not to be deterred, we took a hotel for the night, where a kindly local on a walk around time (i) pointed out the mountain in the distance & (ii) is gonna help us get there in the morning! Potiyil is a cone shaped edifice, erupting out of its less aesthetic shadowy cousins of this portion of the Western Ghats. As we looked upon at from a distance, I remarked to Victor how much it looked like Tokien’s Mount Doom – & that we were Frodo & Sam.

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Potiyil is in the middle in the distance
Potiyil is in the middle in the distance

I just hope there’s no ring-wraiths (i.e. the Forestry Commission) on the road come morning…

Ambasamudram
19/11/13

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