Saturday, June 7, 2008


This post is all about the most popular diety of vedic religion, Agni. Agni means fire in Sanskrit. It becomes important here to tell that in Russians also call fire as ‘Ogni’, and the latin ‘Ignis’ also has same origin.

om apa naH shoshucadaghamagne shushugdhyA rayim.

apa naH shoshucadagham. om shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH om

Om. O Agni! Burn our sins. Enlighten our true wealth.

Burn our sins. Om peace, peace, peace. Om.

Agni on his Ram

Agni represents that burns fire, sun, heat, passion, lust, stomach. He is worshipped in his three major forms as uttama (the highest, i.e. the Sun), madhyama (the intermediate one, i.e. thunderbolt) and Parthiva (the one situated on this earth). He also represents virility and has special place in tantric system and still forms a part of ‘Homams’ and ‘Havans’. During the Havans the crackling sound created is considered as the sound of Agni himself. He is also worshipped as the priest of gods and god of priests. His consorts are svaha and svadha.

Agni has highest number of hymns dedicated to him in rig veda, around 200 and about 80% of mandalas start with his praise.He is ever youthful god because he is born with every fire. Agni is considered as the messenger between men and gods, for he takes human sacrifices to god. Or to say we can visualize fire as the gateway to the world of gods, it is the doorway between the material world and etheric world. One depiction of this would be from this story,

Ramayana in India is followed in varied forms, in one of the version, Lord Ram already knows that Ravana will come after Sita, so he sents Sita to Agni’s custody and creates a Sita(illusory sita) with the help of Maya(illusion). And after the death of Ravana when Sita (illusory) comes back, they conduct this faked Agni pariksha (Fire Test ,in this test sita would survive only if she was not touched by Ravana) and get back the actual Sita during the test. Here agni acts as the doorway through which Sita comes back to this world.

Agni loves sacrifices so is he considered the god of sacrifice. He is also called as the ‘Saptajihva’ which literally translates to ‘the seven tongued one’. This seven tongues represents the way the flames part themselves. He uses his seven tongues to lick the sacrificial butter. He is also shown with two faces, generally representing his two faces-good and bad. He rides a Ram ,since Ram was the most sacrificed animal it is probable that they had used Ram as his vahana.

In Vedas at certain places agni is said as the supreme being and his attributes are also comparable to supreme being. The Upanishads describe Atman or soul as a flame of the size of a thumb. Other gods and elements such as the earth, the air are but his manifestations. He is the thunderbolt of Indra's weapon, the light of the Surya. In the later vedic period he became, one of the Ashtadikpalas as lord of the southeast quarter. In Mahabharatha he is praised as "All this universe, conscious and unconscious, is made of fire [Agni] and offering [Soma]”. Initially during the vedic period Agni enjoyed very high position in Indian Pantheon but as the society developed he lost his power to other gods like Brahma, Vishnu , Mahesh.

To honor Agni, Hindus are expected to face fires in the proper direction for different purposes. When facing East, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the gods; when facing South, the fire should be used for sacrifices to the spirits of the dead. Fires should face west when used for cooking.