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Vashanti

The Vishanti are Agamotto, Hoggoth, and Oshtur, three benevolent extradimensional entities possessing vast mystical power, who bestow mystical knowledge and power upon sorcerers who invoke their names and whom they consider worthy. They are the beings whom Earth's sorcerer supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange, most often invokes to grant additional power to his spells.

Very little has been revealed about the Vishanti themselves. Presumably they are indeed three separate beings, although one text has referred to Agamotto as one of the "aspects" of the Vishanti. On the few recorded occasions that the three Vishanti have manifested themselves together to human beings, Hoggoth has appeared as a mans head, Oshtur as the head of a beautiful young woman, and Agamotto as the head of a catlike being. On one of these occasions Agamotto resembled a lion, while on another he looked much like a tiger. It is not known what resemblance these manifestations may bear to the Vishanti's true forms. When Doctor Stephen Strange has visited Agamotto's own dimension, Agamotto has appeared to him as a gigantic caterpillar. In fact, Agamotto explained to Strange that this was not his true form and that he had made himself an image from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" that he had seen in Strange's mind Agamotto has also been pictured as a being resembling no creature on Earth.

Hoggoth is often called "hoary Hoggoth," presumably indicating that he is of great age. Agamotto, however, has claimed to have existed before the creation of the Earth. Hence, if Hoggoth is indeed the eldest of the Vishanti, he is older than most other known beings in the multiverse. Sorcerers speak of "the hoary hosts of Hoggoth" and sometimes invoke the hosts themselves in casting spells. This fact suggests that Hoggoth's hosts themselves have existed perhaps as long as Hoggoth himself and that they too can bestow mystical power. No more is known about the hosts of Hoggoth, however.

Oshtur is often called "omnipotent Oshtur." This name suggests that she may be the most powerful of the three Vishanti. However, it is clear that Agamotto himself is one of the most powerful known mystical beings. On one occasion Doctor Strange invoked both Hoggoth and Oshtur in casting a spell against Agamotto, but the spell failed. Possibly this incident indicates that Agamotto is more powerful than either Hoggoth or Oshtur, or perhaps only that the other two Vishanti chose not to help Strange against Agamotto (in any event, though Oshtur clearly possesses vast power, she is presumably not literally omnipotent.) The fact that Oshtur is also addressed as "gracious lady" may indicate that she has a kindly and noble nature.

Of the three Vishanti, the most is known about Agamotto the All-Seeing according to one account, Agamotto was the first sorcerer supreme of the Earth dimension. Considering that Agamotto claims to be older than the Earth itself, and that he appears to be of other dimensional origin, this account may not be entirely accurate. However, Agamotto may indeed have himself acted directly to protect the Earth dimension before the rise of its first native sorcerer supreme. Agamotto is known to be the creator of the Amulet of Agamotto, which contains the Eye of Agamotto, which can generate a powerful beam of "white" magical energy. The Amulet of Agamotto is traditionally in the possession of the Earth dimension's principal opponent to the sinister mystical being, Dormammu. Currently the amulet is the principal weapon in the possession of Dormarnmu's arch foe, Doctor Stephen Strange.

Doctor Strange also possesses another creation of Agamotto, the Orb of Agamotto, a mystical crystal ball through which Strange can see persons and things in far distant places both in the Earth dimension and other dimensions. Agamotto is aware of every time either the Amulet or the Orb is utilized.

Agamotto himself is called "the All-Seeing," and has apparently spent his long life observing events throughout the multiverse from the pocket dimension in which he resides. Agamotto's senses and mind are far more complex than a human being's, enabling him to watch and comprehend seemingly unlimited number of events simultaneously. Presumably the Orb of Agamotto draws on Agamotto's mystical ability to observe distant places.

Agamotto dwells within a pocket dimension that Doctor Strange has entered by casting a spell that mystically transports him into the Eye or Orb of Agamotto. (If Strange enters through the Eye, then he exits through the Orb, and vice versa.) Agamotto's dimension is said to be a realm of "unreality," in which the natural laws of the Earth dimension do not necessarily apply. Hence, once when Strange was mortally wounded on Earth, he would not die as long as he remained within Agamotto's dimension. A traveler into Agamotto's dimension perceives that dimension according to his own subconscious fantasies. Hence, Strange's perception of that dimension appears to be based on his knowledge of the works of Lewis Carroll, EC Comics. 1960s' psychedelic art, and medieval art, among other things.

Agamotto utilizes a device whose true form is unknown, but which Doctor Strange perceives as the caterpillar's hookah, or water pipe. Agamotto claims he uses it to focus his magic spells.

In his documented appearances along side Hoggoth and Oshtur, Agamotto appears to act as solemnly as the other two Vishanti. However, when he encounters Doctor Strange in his pocket dimension, Agamotto behaves quite differently, sometimes taking an ironic attitude toward Strange and the multiverse in general, sometimes becoming threatening, and sometimes acting in a highly benevolent manner. To what extent Agamotto's behavior with Strange reflects his true personality is not known. Moreover, it is possible that Agamotto is continually role-playing in his encounters with Strange in an effort to test Strange's skill and determination.

Doctor Strange first entered Agamotto s pocket dimension soon after Strange had been mortally wounded by his enemy, Silver Dagger. When the dying Strange used the Orb of Agamotto, he found himself drawn through the Orb into Agamotto's dimension. There Strange met Agamotto, who appeared to him as a giant Caterpillar but did not identify himself. The caterpillar claimed that Strange's own wish to continue living was an "unreal' desire (presumably because it seemed impossible), and that its unreality caused him to be drawn into this dimension of unreality (It is quite possible, however, that Agamotto drew Strange into the dimension specifically to save his life. After briefly taking on a more sinister form and battling Strange (possibly as a test of Strange's will to live), Agamotto told Strange how to leave the pocket dimension. Strange did so, died and returned to life through the intervention of the spirit of his deceased mentor, the Ancient One, and defeated Silver Dagger. On realizing that Strange was on the side of morality in their clash, Silver Dagger was himself drawn into Agamotto's dimension and remained a prisoner there for some time. Strange returned briefly to Agamotto's dimension in a later encounter with Silver Dagger.

Years later, the alien sorcerer, Urthona, stole most of Strange's occult talismans and volumes, including the Orb of Agamotto and the Book of the Vishanti. Strange cast a spell to destroy the talismans and volumes in order to prevent them from being used by Urthona for evil purposes. (Urthona nonetheless escaped with the indestructible Darkhold, which he had also stolen from Strange.) Strange believed that the spell had indeed taken effect, but in actuality, Agamotto mystically transported the talismans and volumes to his pocket dimension.

Months later, Strange returned to Agamotto's dimension to escape imprisonment in the nether dimension ruled by the demon, Mephisto. Strange again encountered the caterpillar, who revealed himself to be Agamotto, and insisted that Strange remain there as his companion Strange refused, intent on returning to Earth to save it from devastation by Mephisto and another demon, Satannish. Strange battled the far more powerful Agamotto, to no avail until Strange finally captured the caterpillar's "hookah." At that point Agamotto agreed to allow Strange to leave his dimension in exchange for the "hookah." Moreover, Agamotto returned to Strange the Orb of Agamotto, the Book of the Vishanti, and the other talismans and volumes that Strange had thought he himself had destroyed, as well as the Darkhold, which Agamotto had spirited away from Urthona's possession. Furthermore, Agamotto mystically gave Strange one of Silver Dagger's eyes, to replace the one that Strange had himself recently lost. Agamotto also gave Strange a cryptic hint as to how to defeat Mephisto and Satannish that Strange later successfully interpreted and used.

Possibly the first human magician on Earth to seek knowledge and power from the Vishanti was the man now known as the Aged Genghis. Before the dawn of human history in the Orient, the Genghis asked certain mystical beings, presumably the Vishanti themselves, for great mystical knowledge. In return for their gift, he pledged to bring together Earth's most powerful sorcerers once every hundred years for a mystical competition to determine who should hold the rank of Earth's sorcerer supreme. The Aged Genghis has now lived for many thousands of years, aging extremely slowly but inevitably. Ultimately his extreme age and the strain of holding so much mystical knowledge within his mind caused the Genghis to give way to senility. However, his full sanity returns every hundred years long enough for him to organize the competition, at which the Vishanti appear and administer a test of combat to the assembled sorcerers. The contest is held at the Temple of the Three in the jungles of Java. No sorcerer is allowed to approach the temple unless he is summoned to do so by the Vishanti or by the Aged Genghis, as their representative. The victor in the contest is obliged to grant a boon to any other sorcerers who were not felled in the struggle.

In the most recent such competition, which took place after Strange's most recent journey to Agamotto's dimension, the Vishanti created a large mystical crystal which imprisoned the Aged Genghis and which projected mystical forces at the competing sorcerers. The victor in the contest, who succeeded in freeing the Genghis, was Doctor Strange. (It should be noted that all of the competitors were native to Earth. Possibly this means that the winner of the contest has proved himself to be the sorcerer supreme of Earth, but not necessarily the sorcerer supreme of the entire dimension containing Earth. At least one extraterrestrial, the sorcerer Urthona, is known to seek to become the Earth dimension's sorcerer supreme. It should also be noted that even before the competition, Doctor Strange was generally recognized to be sorcerer supreme of the Earth dimension.)

Doctor Strange possesses the Book of the Vishanti, the greatest known source of white magical knowledge (that is to say, magical knowledge that is not linked to evil) in the Earth dimension. The Book contains descriptions of more spells and occult rituals than any other known work except the Darkhold, which deals primarily with black magic (magical knowledge used for malevolent purposes). Every possessor of the Book has added his or her own original spells to the volume. Consequently, the arcane lore contained within the Book of the Vishanti is written in a variety of languages. It is not known how many pages the Book contains: as if by magic, pages seem to materialize within its binding to accommodate additional spells.

The origins of the Book of the Vishanti are unknown. However, it is believed to have been written by practitioners of the occult arts who were in regular contact with the Vishanti themselves.

The various possessors of the Book of the Vishanti have also inscribed within it the history of various occult practitioners and phenomena. For example, the Book is known to contain a biography of Baron Kart Amadeus Mordo, the history of the Darkhold, and an account of the history of the Frankenstein family and the artificial living beings they have created.

Thousands of years ago, the Book of the Vishanti came into the possession of the priests of the Babylonian god. Marduk. The priests had the Book guarded by a gryphon, a winged creature that resembles both an eagle and a lion. Within the last hundred years the Ancient One traveled back in time, defeated the gryphon, and took possession of the Book, which he brought back to his own time. The Ancient One eventually entrusted the keeping of the Book of the Vishanti to his disciple, Doctor Stephen Strange, who afterwards succeeded his mentor as sorcerer supreme of the Earth dimension. Today, Doctor Strange keeps the Book in the library of his town house in New York City's Greenwich Village. Intricate protective spells keep unwary innocents from using the Book. The Book is itself a talisman containing great mystical power. Doctor Strange once used the Book itself (not the spells inscribed within it) to deflect mystical bolts hurled toward him by the sorcerer, Kaluu.

First Appearance: (first reference to Vishanti and Agamotto) STRANGE TALES #115, (first reference to Hoggoth) STRANGE TALES #116, (first reference to Oshtur) STRANGE TALES #120, (first appearance of Agamotto as caterpillar) DOCTOR STRANGE (first series) #1, (Aged Genghis) STRANGE TALES # 136

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