Lopamudra (Sanskrit: लोपामुद्रा) also known as
Kaushitaki and Varaprada  was a female philosopher according to
ancient Vedic Indian literature. She was the wife of the sage Agastya
who is believed to have lived in the
Rigveda period (1950 BC-1100 BC)
as many hymns have been attributed as her contribution to this Veda.
She was not only the consort of
Agastya but a Rishiki in her own
right, as she was the well known rishiki who visualized the
"Panchadasi" mantra of the
Sakta tradition of Hinduism.
There are three versions of Lopamudra' legend; one is in the Rigveda
Hymns; the second is in the epic
Mahabharata (Vanaparva: Tirtha-yatra
Parva), where there is an elaborate version with a mention that
Agastya Rishi did penance at Gangadwara (Haridwar), with the help of
Lopamudra (the princess of Vidarbha). According to
Lopamudra was created by sage
Agastya with the most graceful
parts of animals such as eyes of the deer etc.; and the third
version is Giridhara Ramayana.
Lopamudra signifies the loss (lopa) that the animals and
plants suffered by giving their distinctive beauties (mudra's) when
Agastya created her. After creating her,
Lopamudra to the
Vidarbha who was doing penance seeking for a progeny. Agastya
Lopamudra with the intention of marrying her. The king
Lopamudra as his daughter. When she grew up, Agastya
demanded her hand in marriage.
Lopamudra agreed to marry him and left
the King's palace for his hermitage. However, after some time, she
grew tired of Agastya's austerity. She wrote hymn in the Rigveda,
asking for his attention and love. The hymn made
Agastya realize his
duties towards his wife. The couple had a son named Dridhasyu, who
became a poet.
Together with her husband she is also credited with spreading the fame
Lalita sahasranama (the thousand names of the Divine Mother).
It is also believed that
Agastya learnt the hymns of Lalitha
Sahasranama from Hayagriva who is an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
1 In Rigveda
2 In Mahabharata
2.2 Creation of Lopamudra
Lopamudra marries Agastya
Agastya acquires wealth
3 In Giridhara Ramayana
4 Other aspects
In Rigveda, hymns authored by 27 female rishis or rishikas reflect
their success and progress as women intellectuals. These hymns are
presented under three headings. The first group has hymns contributed
by female rishis only such as by Vishwavara and Apale; Vishwavara's
hymn is dedicated to
Agni while Apale's hymn is about Indra. In the
second group some are attributed to female rishis, particularly
Lopamudra and Shashiyasi, wife of Taranta. Lopamudra's hymn has six
verses in particular which have her name tag and are dedicated to
Goddess Rati. Her hymns elaborate on the relationship between husband
and wife in order to follow celibacy.
Lopamudra is credited to have
composed hymn number 179 in the Rigveda. The third group of hymns,
though attributed to female rishis are not identified by any author
and deal mostly with mythological characters and representation of
theoretical qualities. In
considered as "mantra drashta" (seers who are discoverer of
mantras). She is also mentioned in
Brihaddevtakara (4:57–59) and in Agama granthas, and hailed as
"Mantradrika" (well versed in mantras) in Rigveda.
In the translation of the Sanskrit text of the
Rigveda by Ralph T.H.
Griffith (1896), the hymns or sutras related to Agastya,
a disciple are titled "Rati" meaning love, which are six verses, two
are by Lopamudra, two by Agastya, and the last two are to the credit
of the disciple or Agastya. M. Bergaigne has commented that the
hymn has mystical meaning, with
Agastya identified as the heavenly
Lopamudra represents her feminine attraction which
fructifies in getting
Agastya out of his "secret dwelling place". It
is presented more as a dramatic dialogue between husband and wife with
the student commenting his appreciation. The first two verses are
expressions of Lopamudra's passion filled approach to her husband,
highlighting his old age and his coolness towards her charms.
Six verses of Book 1 Hymn 179 of the
Rigveda composed by Lopamudra
(Verses 1 &2),
Agastya Rishi (verses 3 & 4) and
Agastya or a
student (Verses 5 & 6)
Number of Verse
Original Sanskrit Version.
English Translation 
परुवीरहं शरदः शश्रमणा
दोषा वस्तोरुषसो जरयन्तीः
मिनाति शरियं जरिमा
pruvīrahaṃ śaradaḥ śaśramaṇā doṣā vastoruṣaso
mināti śriyaṃ jarimā tanūnamapyu nu patnīrvṛṣaṇo
[Lopamudra] For many autumns have I been laboring, evening an morning,
through the aging dawns.
Old Age diminishes the beauty of bodies. Bullish men should now come
to their wives.
ये चिद धि पूर्व रतसाप आसन
ye cid dhi pūrva ṛtasāpa āsan sākaṃ devebhiravadannṛtāni
te cidavasurnahyantamāpuḥ samū nu patnīrvṛṣabhirjaghamyuḥ
[Lopamudra] For even those ancients who served truth and at one with
the gods spoke truths,
even they got out of harness for they did not reach the end. Wives
should now unite with their bullish (husbands)
न मर्षा शरान्तं यदवन्ति
देवा विश्वा इत सप्र्धो
जयावेदत्र शतनीथमजिं यत
na mṛṣā śrāntaṃ yadavanti devā viśvā it spṛdho
jayāvedatra śatanīthamajiṃ yat samyañcā mithunāvabhyajāva
[Agastya] Not in vain is the labor that the gods help. Let us take on
let us two win here the contest of a hundred stratagems, when a united
couple we will drive on
नदस्य मा रुधतः काम आगन्नित
आजातो अमुतः कुतश्चित
लोपामुद्र वर्षणं नी रिणति
धीरमधीर धयति शवसन्तम
nadasya mā rudhataḥ kāma āghannita ājāto amutaḥ kutaścit
lopāmudra vṛṣaṇaṃ nī riṇati dhīramadhīra dhayati
[Agastya] The lust of a mounting bull [/waxing reed=penis] has come to
me, lust arisen from there, from everywhere.
Lopamudra makes the bullish one flow out; the steadfast man does the
flighty woman suck while he is snorting.
इमं न सोममन्तितो हर्त्सु
यत सीमागश्चक्र्मा तत सु
मर्ळतु पुलुकामो हि
imaṃ n somamantito hṛtsu pītamupa bruve
yat sīmāghaścakṛmā tat su mṛḷatu pulukāmo hi martyaḥ
[Student or Agastya] This soma within my heart, just drunk do I
Whatever offense we have committed let him forgive that for of my many
desires in mortal man.
अगस्त्यः खनमनः खनित्रैः
उभौ वर्णाव रषिरुग्रः
पुपोष सत्या देवेष्वशिषो
aghastyaḥ khanamanaḥ khanitraiḥ prajamapatyaṃ
ubhau varṇāv ṛṣirughraḥ pupoṣa satyā deveṣvaśiṣo
Agastya, digging with spades, seeking offspring, descendants, power--
with regard to both "colors" [=offspring and ascetic power] mighty
seer throve. He arrived at his hopes, which came true among the gods
Laurie L. Patton interprets
Rigveda hymn 79 as representing Lopamudra
in a state of "voracious sexuality". Initially resisted by Agastya,
finally he is “overwhelmed.” Patton also states that "the
final line of the hymn celebrates Agstya as having attained
immortality both through children and through ascetic practice, while
Lopamudra remains marked by sexual desire". According to Dr.
Rameshchandra Mukhopadhyaya, Lopamudra's sutras say that men should go
to women. Even the past rishis who attained knowledge of gods enjoyed
women and "were never tired of it". Lopamudra's expression of
frustration in this verse is a result of Agastya's abstinence from
having sex with his wife. Her saying that she has become old is an
expression of "pathos."
Agastya explains in reply that this restraint
was god created.
Agastya succumbs to Lopamudra's entreaties and
submits to her. In the last two verses the disciple of Agastya
glorifies Agastya's "kindred points of love making and penance".
The legend of Lopamudra, a mythological female, is the story of
Lopamudra narrated in the Aranyakaparvan of the epic
Mahabharata. This version of the legend is said to be "the
glorification of domestic life and family and demonstrates the
incompleteness of a life based solely on asceticism."
Temple image of Agastya
The background to
Agastya and Lopamudra’s legend in Mahabharata
starts with the asura brothers Illwala and
Vatapi who lived in ancient
times in Manismati. It is also aid that they hailed from
Karnataka, South India. Illwala requested a learned
bless him with a son who would be as powerful as Indra. As this did
not materialize Illwala and his brother
Vatapi got annoyed with the
Brahmins and started taking revenge against them by adopting magical
tricks. Illwala's brother
Vatapi would transform himself into a
buffalo and after slaying the buffolo the cooked meat would be served
to the Brahmins. Once the meal was consumed by the Brahmins then
Illwala would call out for his brother to come out of the stomach of
Vatapi would then assume his normal human form and
emerge from the stomach of the Brahmins killing them in the process.
This aspect was made known to Agastya. At that time
Agastya who had
attained benefit of his long penance through asceticism went to the
heaven where on his way he saw a few manes suspended with their legs
up over a gorge. Surprised,
Agastya asked them the reason for their
such a plight. They told him that they were waiting for a son to be
born to their descendant to get release from this curse. They also
told him that they were his ancestors and it was now left to him
(Agastya) to get married and soon beget a son, perform oblation rites
to gods, and get them released from the curse so that they could go to
Agastya promised the manes of his ancestors that he would
fulfill their wish. In another version it is said that Agastya
encountered his ancestors in a dream in the form of suspended manes
with heels up over a deep ravine.
Creation of Lopamudra
Agastya then started creating a woman of rare beauty and intelligence.
He did this creation from most graceful parts of various creatures
possessing such a beauty (drawn from "different birds, animal and
flower, the eyes of the doe, the grace of the panther, the slenderness
of the palm trees, the fragrance of the champak flower, the softness
of the feather on a swan's neck"), who would eventually beget a son
for him. At that time the king of Vidharbha, who was childless, was
doing penance to gods seeking boon of a progeny.
Agastya bestowed his
creation of the women of his imagination to the king. As the girl
child emerged into the world, in glowing beauty, the king called the
Brahmins to bless the child. The Brahmins named her Lopamudra. As the
creation was done due to the loss of parts of creatures (animals and
plants) the girl was named Lopamudra, 'lopa' meaning "loss" and
'mudra' meaning "parts.". She grew up to be a very pretty,
learned and devoted daughter and the King wanted to get her married
when she attained puberty.
Lopamudra marries Agastya
The King approached
Agastya seeking his advice for the marriage of his
Agastya who was responsible for her beautiful
creation for begetting a son for him, asked the king for her hand in
marriage. This caused anguish to the king and queen as to how their
daughter who was brought up in princely comforts could be married to
an ascetic, a forest dweller. They were also scared of the power of
Agastya who they felt could curse them if they refused to give
Lopamudra in marriage to him. Looking at the worried status of her
Lopamudra volunteered to marry
Agastya and requested her
father to perform the wedding. Once married and taken to the forest to
live with him,
Lopamudra to discard all her royal attire
and ornaments and wear clothes fit for an ascetic’s wife. She obeyed
her husband and wore rags, deer skins and bark for her clothes.
She dutifully, respectfully, lovingly and willingly served
his religious practices and penance. Her asceticism through tapas
Agastya was then not attracted to her beauty
and did not cohabit with her and remained detached though she was
beautiful and was his own creation. However, after a long lapse of
Lopamudra was taking swimming in a naked state and her seductive
Agastya who then wanted to have sex with her to beget
a son who would full fill his promise to his ancestors and relieve
them of their curse. However,
Lopamudra was not willing as she put a
condition that she would sleep with him only if she got all the riches
and the princely comforts that she enjoyed at her father’s place.
Agastya countered pleadingly that as he was an ascetic he could not
break the laws of asceticism otherwise all his spiritual achievements
of so many years of penance which were meant for the benefit of human
beings would be lost. But
Lopamudra persistently argued that with
great acetic qualities
Agastya could achieve anything in this world.
As her child bearing biological cycle would not last long she urged
him to agree to her conditions and go in search of riches.
Agastya acquires wealth
Agastya then went out seeking wealth. He met three kings, Srutarvan,
Vradhnaswa, and Trasadasyu, one after the other, who welcomed him with
due respects offering oblations and requested him to state his wish.
He then told them to give him a part of their wealth. They all told
him that after meeting the expenditure related to their commitments to
the well being of their subjects, with due diligence of the status of
their revenue, they would be happy to spare surplus, if any. Agastya,
after considering this statement felt that they had no wealth to spare
for him. On the advice of the three kings, he then approached Illwala,
the King of asuras or danavas who was considered a very wealthy
Agastya and the other three kings who accompanied
him, within the limits of his city, with due honours. Once in his
palace Illwala served
Agastya and his entourage the magic potion of
the meat of his brother
Vatapi who had taken the form of a buffalo to
be served as cooked meat so that the brothers could slay the Brahmins
after they consumed the meat. The kings were scared to consume the
Agastya told them not to worry as he would consume all the
meat served to them and will spare them from eating it. He then
consumed the meat dishes served to him and straight away digested the
meat and said "
Vatapi Jeerno Bhava", meaning let '
digested'. Illwala then, as per past practice, called out for his
Vatapi to come out. But
Agastya only belched and gas came out
of his mouth as
Vatapi had been digested. With this turn of events
then Illvala was sad but bestowed all the wealth that
The asura king gave away his golden chariot and gold and silver coins
Agastya and his three kings carried away with them. With the
Agastya approached his wife who was pleased with the
outcome. Agastya, who demonstrated his power in both the
"secular and the sacred realms", approached Lopamudra's bedroom.
Agastya then asked
Lopamudra whether she would beget him 1,000 sons or
just one son who could defeat a thousand.
Lopamudra then told Agastya
that she would prefer to have only one learned son as against 1,000
evil ones. Then they cohabited, she conceived and after a lapse of 7
years she delivered a baby boy. The son was named Idhmavaha (meaning
"carrier of sacrificial wood") as he would serve his father in his
sacrificial rites with wood. He was also called Drdhasyu. He was
highly knowledgeable in
Vedas and Upanishads.
Agastya was pleased with
his son. Following this,
Agastya performed rites for his ancestors who
were then relieved of their curse, and attained heaven.
Laurie L. Patton, an indologist, has observed that "in the case of
Lopamudra, both the retention of seed in asceticism and the making of
progeny are goals of the rishi Agastya, ... she is portrayed more and
more derivatively, almost anemically, as she helps her husband/creator
to promote the abstract ideal of dharma."
In another version of the story narrated by
Vasudha Narayanan of the
University of Florida,
Lopamudra who is fully cogniscent of Agastya's
imperative necessity for a progeny to redeem the curse of his
ancestors and the demon king Illvala's "intentions and machinations",
she manipulates the sage which ensures his success.
In Giridhara Ramayana
Giridhara Ramayana has a different story of Lopamudra. Agastya
approached king of
Kanyakubja who had many daughters seeking a girl in
marriage. The king promised the sage a girl when they come of age and
asked him to come back a few years later. By the time the sage
returned, however, the king had married off all his daughters. He was
so worried about getting cursed, that he dressed his son
a girl and presented him to Agastya. Miraculously,
transformed and became a woman after the wedding.
In the Hindu tantra tradition,
Sri Vidya mantra devoted to the Devi
which has twelve variations, each credited to a devote which included
Lopamudra; the other devotees are Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Manmatha,
Agstya, Surya, Indra, Skanda, Shiva and Krodhabattaraka (Durvasa). A
version popular in
South India during about the 6th century AD is
Lopamudra mantra though now not practiced but it is also
associated with traditions in Kashmir.
Karnataka is called Lopamudra. The legend
behind this is that
Agastya had kept Lopamudra, whom he had married
for her beauty, confined in his
Kamandala or water pot. During one of
his sojourns away from his hermitage he stayed away for a long time
and lived with another woman with whom he had fallen in love. Noting
this, Lopamdura started weeping. Then
Ganesha who was passing by heard
her cries and released her by overturning the vessel in which she was
confined. She flowed out as the river Kaveri.
^ a b c d e Garg 1992, p. 200.
^ Swami & Irāmaccantiraṉ 1993, p. 242.
^ a b c d e Pandharipande, Dr. Rajeshwari. "A Possible Vision of
Lopamudra!". themotherdivine.com. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ a b c d e f g "Hinduism Mahabharata, Section XCVI". Sacredtext.com.
Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ "Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India: Lopamudra". Retrieved
^ a b c "Hinduism Mahabharata: Section XCVII". Sacred Texts.com.
Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ a b "Hinduism Mahabharata:Section XCVIII". Sacred Texts.com.
Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ a b c d "Hinduism Mahabharata:Section XCIX". Sacred Texts.com.
Retrieved 8 December 2015.
^ Kapoor 2002, p. 1153.
^ Josh 2005, p. 26.
^ Prasoon 2009, p. 70.
^ Jain 2008, p. 11.
^ a b c Griffith (tr), Ralph T.H. "RigVeda Book 1". Sacred Texts.com.
Retrieved 9 December 2015.
^ a b "Rig Veda Book 1 Hymn 179". Sacred Texts. Retrieved 8 December
^ a b Jamison & Brereton 2014, p. 380.
^ a b Leslie 2014, p. 28.
^ Mukhopadhyaya 2014, p. 49.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Leslie 2014, p. 34.
^ a b Hurteau 2013, p. 14.
^ Rao 2014, p. 8.
^ a b Leslie 2014, p. 34 in footnotes.
^ Brooks 1992, p. 87.
^ Warrier 2014, p. 199.
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