Agastya's Turtle Formula for attaining Siddhis

Agastya addresses Pulastya, one of his students, in this verse. He calls Pulastya as Parthibha, a word which commonly denotes a king. The know from the final line of this verse that Agastya is describing the path to gain the wealth of Ashtanga. Ashtanga here may refer to the eight Tantrik Siddhis. Agastya's path towards these Siddhis however differs from the path of a Tantrik. Agastya says that Siddhis manifest effortlessly for one who has attained Kailasa Nidhi, the supreme bliss. The ultimate goal, therefore, according to this verse is uniting with supreme consciousness which is Shiva consciousness. Kailasa is the abode of Shiva consciousness. The word Kailasa itself means only (Kai) joy (Lasa).

Agastya strangely takes the search for Kailasa through Patala, the nether worlds.  Different domains are not elsewhere but right here. Agastya says that Patala appears inside this Earth to the one who is clairvoyant. Clairvoyance here is a perception of the subtle aspects of this creation. The source of two types of Nidhi, material wealths, lies in Patala. These two Nidhis are called Shanka Nidhi and Padma Nidhi in other texts. Everyone seeks these two in their lives. The very sight of these two draw men. Agastya cautions that one should move past the source of these two. The Verse makes it clear that the source of these two is one in Patala. Shanka (Conch) and Padma (Lotus) are simply references to certain principles.

The first half of the verse describes a procedure to gain clairvoyance. It is filled with symbolism that we don't understand today. Agastya himself says that one should approach a Guru to know the particulars. The procedure starts with the hunt for a tortoise with the name Mundraan. It is a kind of a black turtle. One has to search for its Karu (young one?) with keen intellect and with determination. The Guru provides the knowledge of the identification of the turtle. The Karu has to be rolled in a red silk cloth. This then has to be used respectfully as the wick of a ghee lamp. The soot from such a burning lamp is collected with a happy mind. Soot is then churned with the oil of black sesame. Jabbadu, a scented substance, is then added in equal quantity to it. One applies this paste as Tilak, a marking on one's forehead. One gains the ability to peer past long distances with such a Tilak. One can see other domains by shifting one's gaze.

The early part of the verse is likely a reference to a Yogic procedure rather than a formulation. It contains the four sounds "aam", "naam", "om" and "thaam". These may be reference to certain seed mantras. Agastya mentions the importance of certain mental attitudes in obtaining clairvoyance. The most interesting learning from this verse is that the fourteen domains of existence are here and now. They are not somewhere out there. We just don't see them unless we cultivate sensitivity and awareness. Spiritual accomplishments such as clairvoyance however can become an impediment to attain the final goal. The final goal is to feel the oneness with transcendental consciousness.


ஆமப்பா யின்னமொரு வசியஞ்சொல்வேன்
அண்டரண்ட பூதங்களெல்லா மங்கேகாணும்
நாமப்பா சொல்லுகிறோம் புலத்தியாகேள்
நல்ல கரு ஆமையிலே முன்றானாமை
ஓமப்பா குருவருளால் கண்டுதேறி
உறுதியுடன் மனதறிவால் கருவைவாங்கி
தாமப்பா சிவந்தபட்டு தன்னால்சுத்தி
சங்கையுடன் நெய்துவைத்த தீபமேற்றே
ஏற்றிநன்றாய் கருகிநின்ற கருவைப்பார்த்து
யின்பமுடன் தானெடுத்து கல்வத்திட்டு
பார்திபனே காரெள்ளுத் தயிலத்தாலே
படிவாகத் தானாட்டி வழித்துக்கொண்டு
போற்றியந்த மைக்கினிகர் சவ்வாதுசேர்த்து
பத்தியுடன் தானிருந்து திலர்தம்போட்டால்
நால்திசையும் வெகுதூரங் கண்ணோட்டம்ப்பார்
நன்மையுடன் மேல்கீழும் தன்றாய்ப்பாரே
பார்க்கையிலெ அண்டவரை நன்றாய்காணும்
பத்தியுடன் பூமியில் பாதாளந்தோணும்
ஏற்கவே பாதாளந் தன்னைக்காணில்
இருநிதியு மொருநிதியா யேகந்தோணுங்
காக்கவே பெருநிதியை யகலத்தள்ளி
கயிலாச பூரணமாய் நிதியைத்தேட

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