Tasminneva Agrahāyaṇī-Some traces of lost constellations- Part 3-Ilvalosur and Vela constellation of Argo Navis

Ilvalaa Taarakaa Iti ilvalosura iti unaadau ShriBhojadevo vyaakarot.

In the quest of Ilvala- yet another constellation.

I had elaborated in my Srijan, now Sangam talk about the etymology of Agastya where I had shown that all the names pertain to Dhruva- i.e., The pole star. But the pole stars were of northern and southern hemisphere. All the Astronomical treaties book contain Agastya and all of them have Agastya as a Southern star. Likewise Ilvalaosura~-(ilvalaḥ+ asura); इल्वलोसुर-(इल्वलः+ असुर) also should belong to souther celestial hemisphere. We also had read that Invakaa has Deity Marut. Marutganas are not assigned as Asuras in Rig Veda, they are the sons of Rudra. But Ilvalaa is asura here. Till now we have discovered Auriga, Three belt stars with two as Invakaa-parastaat in part 1 &2, and now the search is for Ilvalosur.

The Rgvedic times also knew these three prominent star of Mriga Nakshatra as इषुत्रिकाण्डा Iṣu Tri-kāṇḍā is the name given in the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa1 to some constellation, perhaps Orion’s girdle. It is mentioned with Mṛga, Mṛgavyādha, and Rohiṇī.
So, formally we are getting aquatinted with many star clusters, which are talked about and commented upon, being with Mrigashirsha nakshatra. The last one remains is IlvalaH and has been commented by Bhojdeva in his Grammar treaties book as being a part of Mrigashirsha nakshatra. How to find Ilvalosur. From this information it is clear that Ilvala is also a star, while we also find the dialogue between Agastya and Ilvalaasura in different Indic texts. We will see one text today, i.e., from Mahabharata.

Demystifying Agastya and Ilvala story from MBH

There is a story of Ilvala in the Tirthyatra section XCVIII of MBH. When Lopamudra desired to have progeny, she called upon her husband Agastya but with riches. Agastya being ascetic didn’t have wealth so he proceeds to Kuru King Shrutarvana desirous of wealth. Instead Shrutarvana says he doesn’t possess the asked wealth. So they go to Vradhnasva, he also shows inability. So they all go to Purokutsa’s son, Trasadasyu, of enormous wealth. Agastya asks for wealth but without injuring anyone. Trasadasyu shows his wealth. Agastya could see that if he takes away the wealth his act would result in injury to all creatures. Thus, Trasadasyu advice to go to Ilvala asura who had enormous wealth. Ilvala was bent upon killing all Brahmanas, out of his old wrath, with the help of his brother Vatapi. Ilavala, gets information that rishi is coming, he turns his brother Vatapi into a ram. He cooks ram and give Agastya to eat. Before Vatapi could say, “Vatapi come out”, which would kill the rishi due to the bursting of stomach, Agastya said, “Vatapi jeerNo bhava”; Vatapi get digested. After the incedent, Vatapi couldn’t come out of the stomach. Agastya asks for wealth . “O great Asura, you have even purposed to give unto each of these kings ten thousand kine and as many gold coins. And unto me you have purposed to give twice as much, as also a car of gold and a couple of horses fleet as thought. If you enquirest now, you will soon learn that your car is made of gold.” Ilvala made enquiries and learnt that the car he had intended to give away was really a golden one. It had two steeds Vivarna and Suvarna.

Ilvala, cognate of Vela

Here from this story we find that Vatapi star was digested( apparently now not seen) and Ilvala also who possessed a Car had to give away. In the Urania sky atlas I tried to locate a car which would posses the gold. I could find Vela constellation with golden trophy-treasurewealth and animals around with Argo navis by the side which was a golden Navis. Nothing could fit better by this description, if not exact. Conspicuously Vela is a cognate of Ilvala. Vela with Canopus star almost on the same celestial latitude justify the Ilvala and Agastya connection. The whole Vela constellation cannot be seen above 30 degree N. Alone Agastya- Canopus can be seen till 30-31 degree N. The Canopus rise has the connection with Sirius and Orion rise. We do not know which two Stars of Vela constellation ( Ilvala and Vatapi) are being recorded in Indian scriptures but it is for sure that one star is Visible and Vatapi is now invisible which used to be visible at one point of time when the declination of Agastya would had been greater than of todays time…..Does it then takes Agastya-Ilvala story to +26,000 BCE when Agastya with the similar condition had more declination than todays time seen from Kurukshetra. As of now it appears to be so.

Too much of a coincidence that our stars have western cognates….? You will literally enjoy the forthcoming study of Indus-Pavo constellation.


1) iii. 33. Cf. Hillebrandt, Vedische Mythologie, 2, 205, n.


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