By Swami Harshananda
The demons Ilvala and Vātāpi were the sons of the demoness Siṃhikā and destroying them was one of the exploits of the sage Agastya.
Once Ilvala approached a brāhmana sage with the request to bless him a son equal to Indra. The sage rejected it. Since then Ilvala started hating and killing the brāhmaṇas with the help of his younger brother Vātāpi, adopting a strategy. He transformed Vātāpi to a goat through his magical powers, then prepared a meal out of it and served it to a brāhmaṇa specially invited for dinner. After the dinner he would call Vātāpi to come out and Vātāpi would emerge in his original form tearing the brāhmaṇa. Both the brothers thus killed many brāhmaṇa-s.
When Ilvala tried the same trick on the sage Agastya, he quietly uttered the words, ‘Vātāpi jīrṇo bhava’ which means ‘O Vātāpi, get digested’ and in this way Vātāpi was destroyed Ilvala was also burnt to ashes by Agastya’s fierce look.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore