In olden times there was a asura (demon) named Ilvala who lived in Manimati and had a younger brother called Vatapi.
He asked a brahmana for a son equal to Indra but the brahmana refused. Ilvala had a boon with which we could call any dead person, and that dead person would take their old body, and come back to the world.
Ilvala changed his brother Vatapi into a ram, cooked him, and fed him to the brahmana who had refused him. Ilvala then called his brother back from the dead, and Vatapi ripped open the brahmana’s stomach, and came back to the world.
Ilvala was a cruel asura who did this to many brahmans.
At this time, the sage Agastya was roaming the earth and came across a cave where he saw his ancestors hanging upside down. The sage asked him whey they were hanging upside down, and they told him they are this way because Agastya has no offspring, and that Agastya should perform his duty, and beget a child, and free his ancestors from this state.
Agastya searched for a bride equal to his being but couldn’t find one, so he created limbs of a perfect woman, and gave them as a boon to the king of Vidarbha (modern day Nagpur) and his wife who were childless. A girl was born to them called Lopamudra, and when Lopamudra was of a marriageable age, Agastya came to the king to ask him to marry her.
The king was very upset at this because he didn’t want to marry the princess to a penniless ascetic but he was afraid of saying no to Agastya and facing his wrath. So, he asked his wife what he should do? However, Lopamudra herself told her father that she wishes to be married to Agastya, so he should not worry about her, and get her married.
He did as asked, and Agastya asked his wife to lose all palatial garments and get dressed in deerskin, and bark and follow him. She dressed as an ascetic, followed him and they started living happily.
Then one day Agastya saw her getting out of the river after her bath, and summoned her for intercourse.
She said that there is no doubt that a man marries for offspring, but it is my desire that you get adorned in garlands, I get dressed in celestial garments, and then we consummate our marriage on a bed like the one in my father’s palace.
Agastya says that I don’t have riches like your father, and can’t get a bed or celestial garments. She insists that you are a great sage and you can command all the riches in the world, so do that which will fulfill my desire without reducing your ascetic merit.
The sage then goes to king Srutarvan who is known to be the richest king on earth, and asks him to give Agastya riches such that no injury is caused to anyone else. The king gives a detail of his expenses and revenues to Agastya and says you can take whatever you want. Agastya compares the revenues to the expenses, and sees that they are exactly equal, and decides he can’t take any riches from Srutarvan. Then they go to the king Vradhnaswa and the same thing happens, they then go to the king Trasadasyu but the same thing happens.
Now, they decide to go to Ilvalu who they know to possess immense riches.
Ilvalu receives them and according to his custom, cooks his brother Vatapi as a ram and serves it to them. The kings are extremely disturbed but Agastya asks them to put their mind to rest and then eats Vatapi alone. When Ilvalu calls Vapati from the dead, Agastya merely belches, and says I have already digested him.
At this Ilvalu is sad and now asks for the purpose of Agastya’s visit. Agastya tells him that he wants riches, and takes with him cows, gold coins, and other wealth.
The princess Lopamudra is now happy and ready for consummation. Agastya tells her that he is extremely happy with her and asks her what she wants.
Does she want a thousand sons, or a hundred sons equal to ten, or ten sons equal to hundred or just one son who can vanquish a thousand?
Lopamudra answered, ‘Let me have one son equal unto a thousand, O thou endued with wealth of asceticism! One good and learned son is preferable to many evil ones.'” (Probably the moral of this story).
The foetus grew for seven years and thus Dridhasyu was born and thus also his ancestors were freed of their debt.
On hearing this story, Yudhishthara asks who this great sage Agastya is, and how he became so great, and Lomasa starts recounting the tale of Agastya.
He says that in Satyuga or Kritayuga there was an asura called Vritra who had a terrible coterie of asuras and was causing great havoc to people and gods. The thirty gods with Indra at their head went to Brahma and asked for his help.
Brahma asked them to go to the sage Dadicha and ask for his bones. He said that only with his bones can you create a vajra powerful enough to kill Vritra.
They assemble and go to Dadicha and ask for his bones, and Dadicha gives up his body for the welfare of the world and lets them use his bones. The gods take his bones to Vishwakarma who is the architect of the gods, and he creates a powerful vajra which he gives Indra.
Indra then accompanied by the other gods goes to fight Vritra and a terrible fight ensues, the asuras are winning this fight, and all the gods are terrified, Indra himself is very scared, and Vishnu gives him some of his own energy to continue fighting. Indra is still terrified but somehow manages to strike a fatal blow to Vritra, but he doesn’t realize that he has killed Vritra and goes and hides in a lake after killing Vritra.
The other asuras disperse at this sight, and go and hide in the depths of the ocean. There they plot the destruction of the worlds, and decide that everything is based on the austerities of the sages, and they will destroy all hermitages and all sages.
With this in mind they go to hermitages in the night, and kill all brahmans or sages there, and then return to hide in the sea during the day.
The gods are very disturbed at this and they go to Vishnu to ask him for his help and give them a way to save the sages because with the sages destroyed, the earth will be the destroyed, and after that the heaven will be destroyed.
Vishnu advises them to go to the sage Agastya and seek his help.
They then approach Agastya and as is customary praise him, and recount his tales of greatness, one of which was stopping the Vindhya mountain.
Yudhisthara asks why did Agastya need to stop the Vindhya mountain, and how did he do so?
Lomasha recounts the story to him. The Vindhya mountain tells the sun god that you circumambulate the Meru mountain every day, but never me. You should circumambulate me as well. The Sun says that I don’t do this on my own wish but because the creator of the universe has willed so and it is not possible for me to circumambulate you. Vindhya gets enraged at this and says that I will continue growing till I obstruct the path between you and the moon and the other planets and stop your motion altogether.
The gods are scared at this as there is no sign of Vindhya stopping, and they ask Agastya for his help. Agastya agrees, and with his wife goes to the Vindhya mountain and tells him that I must pass from north to south and that you must create a path for me to do so. Vindhya says that I will stop growing for you to pass, and will wait for you to return.
Agastya crosses the mountain with his wife, and tells her that he will never go back north and thus he stopped the progress of the mountain and the destruction of the solar system.
Back to the main story, Agastya hears from the gods their purpose of the visit, and asks them how he can help them. They seek his help to find the asuras in the seas, and he tells them witness as I dry up the ocean so no asuras can hide in them, and you can find and destroy all of them.
Having said this, he starts drinking the water of the oceans, and drinks all the water of the seven oceans.
The gods then find the asuras and kill all of them thus saving the earth. They then ask Agastya to restore the water but he says he has already digested it, and they should find another way to restore the oceans. The gods go to Brahma to seek his help but he says that a great deal of time must pass before the oceans are restored again, and that the king Bhaghiratha will do it in due time for the sake of his relatives. How he does that is another incredible story, but for another time!