Deep in the jungles lives a sage. The animals here are gorgeous, deadly, and soft; cliffs are steep and at their feet rivers and brooks run clear, sparkling, and bone-chilling; the trees are thick and tall and thorns and vines intertwine; mosses and orchids hang from branches; the clearings have rich soft grasses and flowers; and the earth itself is sweet smelling.
The name of the sage is Agastha. He is a forager. He gathers leaves, fruit, and roots. They nourish his body and mind. He also gathers herb, bark, and seed that heal him and the others around him when they suffer illness, fever, wounds and broken bones. Some work on his body, some free his mind so he can explore thoughts that he would not be able to explore otherwise.
The seasons bring forth much that is good from the ground.
Agastha and other sages like him mediate and offer penance in the loneliness of such places. For hours, days, and years, they explore their thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences. They offer sadhana meditation and prayers to the lords who give them ideas, techniques, and strengths that make them more able than others.
Agastha is favored of Lord Shiva who has gifted him the knowledge of Siddha medicine. Generous of nature, he has passed on this hard-learned practice to the sect of Siddhar healers who honor him as their guru.
Said to be fathered by Mitra-Varuna sun deities and born to Urvasi, a prominent Apsara dancer of Amarawati , the whisperings are that he is borne of seed planted by a Lord Brahma son and he is, therefore, grandson to the creator himself. He is one of seven stars in the Sapta Rishi constellation and an astha siddhi who holds all of the eight great powers within himself.
Sages like him are hunters, fighters, warriors for the world is a dangerous place and you must be able to keep safe whether it be from animals, murderers, or nation builders. Being a teacher, for he is wise among the wise, and venerated throughout the worlds that know of him, Agastha has ninety-six scriptures to his credit and he is called the father of Tamil writings and worshiped in Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, and Malay languages among others. The Vedas offer him many mentions.
He and other ascetics like him take on young people who would learn the letters, foraging skills, weapon use, create war plans, and gather knowledge that prepare them for a life as rulers, soldiers, gurus, accountants. These young people live with him in the jungles during their formative years serving and learning.
Consorts, wife, and sometimes wives, as well as children of the sages help upkeep. Their water comes from brooks, springs, and wells. Wild rice, yam, squash, deer-fowl-and hunt that they find in traps or kill serve as food, sometimes disciples are rich or royal and guardians send grains, dried or fermented food for the collective.
In the kuti huts that he and his disciples have built using long grasses to cover the roofs; light, true forest bamboo and wood for walls and support; earth paste to smoothen floors and walls; and mined colors that are blue, white, green, red, yellow, and orange, they cook, sleep, live, learn, keep their fowl and cows and other animals.
In the meanwhile, at Mount Kailas, the days are different for Kumar, the son of Lord Shiva. The white snow and sparkling icicles are amazing to look upon and to live with. The ghosts, dakinis, spirits, yogis cackle and laugh and sing about his father’s home day and night. Sages come through life-taking mountain passes to seek learning and blessings from his family as has Agastha done many a time. Some arrive bare foot, some without clothes on: their Lord travels thus and they wish to please him by risking limb and life to emulate his way of doing things.
Kumar, at times, finds the rarified air, the intense worship, and the continuous cold hard to put up with. This is why many many years from now this son of Lord Shiva wished days that were different. He wanted leave from the sparkling Kailas Mountain and the freezing winds that danced upon the roof of the world. Kumar’s thought of sage Agastha’s residence. He wanted to warm himself in the sun of sub-tropical jungles, he wanted the feel of flowering grass beneath his bare feet and the taste of sweet summer fruit on his tongue.
He called upon his steed, the peacock, and they left Kailas and its splendors for a spell, the shrill call of the bird lost in vast brown-white desert that surrounded this world.
Agastha Muni was filled with joy when he saw the young and handsome Kumar. He had heard the call of his steed and hurried back to prepare for Kartikeya’s coming calling to a halt to the hunt that he and his disciples were involved in. He was very pleased that the young Lord had chosen to grace him with his presence. Welcoming him with pleasant words, sweet smelling flowers and clean water with which to wash and refresh himself, he placed an offering of fruit and roots before him.
“O leader of the Deva army, the one with six faces, Skanda, Murugan, Subramanyam, the one wins all wars, the one worshipped by the follower of many religions, Senthil, Swaminatha, Mahasena, Velan, thank you for gracing my humble abode with your presence,” he said.
Kumar was pleased to hear such praise. He found the bird and insect noise pleasant. The breeze was gentle and the play of leaves and flowers soothing. The sun upon the grass roof, the smell of incense of a morning’s prayers, the slow yet important movements of life in the kuti made him benevolent. Stretching out on grass woven mats and animal skin, he relaxed and sought to enjoy his visit.
Sage Agastha was glad to see Kumar like this and as he related the happenings in his world, he wanted to add to his knowledge of the universe. Kumar, being a son of Lord Shiva, had information that no one else has. So seeing him inclined to share some of what he knew Agastha asked Kumar to tell him of the creation of the universe.
“How did this universe, this earth that we live on, the plants and animals around us, the air that moves, the grass that we sit on, the wondrous Sumeru Mountain, and everything else come about? I am curious. You are one of few beings who know of this. If you would be kind and relate such beginnings I would be blessed.”
From the half-dreams that the sun and the food and the warmth of Agastha’s welcome, Kumar replied:
O Agastha Muni, in the beginning, you must know that God has, in his possession, an infinite number of cosmic eggs. Each of them can become a source of everything that you see about yourself and everything that you do not, each cosmic egg has the potential to give life to a universe. The fundamentals of all that live and all that are not alive are within them. All material necessary to make mountains, stars, moons, and planets are within each egg.
And within each egg are not only that which can be touched and made tangible, but also potential words, feelings, shapes, and smells intagible. Such is the essence of the cosmic eggs that they can shape universes that are each unique and infinite, encompassing and amazing.
Each cosmic egg has its own Brahma and Bishnu. Lord Brahma shapes and designs the cosmos for God and Lord Bishnu preserves what has been created. It is up to Lord Shiva to decide that the time for change and destruction have arrived. While we know the roots of Brahma and Bishnu, no one knows the beginning or the end of Lord Shiva. He is present in each cosmic egg before it comes to life and he is the one who sees it to the end. Such is his glory.
The life of each cosmos is finite. Lord Brahma, in his own way, is like a human being. He has to eat and sleep. Perhaps not as frequently as us but without nutrition, without rest, he cannot go on. In one day of his life, his creation undergo four ages: Satya, Treta, Dwapar, and Kaly. They are as mornings, afternoons, evenings, and nights for him and for his creation.
Of these ages, Satya, or the age of truth is the best as all that happen during this time is good. Almost everything that he creates during this age is flawless. Perhaps this is because he is fresh during this time of his day.
Then comes Treta age. During this period, some illness, some evil, some cracks and decay begin to appear, though it is little. Lords and their creations that wish the good of the universe need to work to assure that truth and goodness are maintained. Lord Bishnu himself took on the shape of a Baman dwarf, Parshuram the warrior priest, and Ram the prince of Ayodhya to keep evil at bay in this universe during the Treta age.
It is as if Lord Brahma’s afternoon has started and after the hard and fruitful work of a morning, his work is no longer as pristine and pure perhaps as some tiredness has begun to creep into what he does. With the coming of the evening Dwapar yug begins. Half or more of the creation now may not turn out right, may turn to evil and may suffer shorter or less productive existence.
The Lords, those that care for the universe and its goodness need to be alert and a constant battle is ongoing. After working hard for the creation, even Lord Bishnu returns to his residence in Baikuntha for rest and recuperation, especially after his involvement in the Mahabharat wars. This leads to the age of endings.
When Kali yug begins it is almost as if light has begun to fail on Lord Brahma’s creation. This is a time of strife and difficulty for the cosmos. Demons and weapons that are powerful and wondrous take form. Evil proliferates and even those that are good are no longer able to keep the ending at bay. Now Lord Brahma himself needs rest and such is the state of the cosmos that when he goes to sleep much of what he has created is brought to an end as Lord Shiva destroys what has gone wrong and prepares for Lord Brahma to wake up to another beautiful morning.
As one hundred years of days and nights like these pass by, Brahma ages and his life comes to an end as does the life of Lords Bishnu. With their passing ends all that is one cosmos. And now that the universe is no more, if God wills, another cosmic egg comes into life.
I have related how creation works in brief. Since there have been so many cosmic eggs that have been given life and have come to an end, I cannot relate the stories of them all. What I now relate to you is the story of one cosmic egg. I will tell you the story of this universe. Listen carefully.
When God wished to give life to our cosmos, three great Lords appeared within one of the cosmic eggs: Shiva, Brahma, and Bishnu. From Shiva a female force appeared and this force was nature. Mortal beings were to live within her boundaries and obey her rules. Trying to oppose her brought strife and difficulties, knowing her and working with her brought peace, knowledge, and moksya.
Since there is no end to creation and destruction, happiness and sadness are but a dream. If you can bring the mind and your emotions under control, you can find a path and become a siddhi.