From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Vedic God of Fire, Sacrifice and Knowledge
Agni god of fire.jpg
Agni, The Messenger God
Abode None (wanderer)
Planet Mercury
Mantra Oṃ Agnidēvāya Namaḥ
Weapon Staff
Greek equivalent Hermes
Etruscan equivalent Turms

Agni (pronounced ăgˈnē;[1] Sanskrit: अग्नि Agni) is the Rigvedic deity of fire[2] and the conveyor of sacrifices to the Gods. He is also a god of divine knowledge, who leads man to the gods. He was one of the most important of the Vedic gods.


The word agni is Sanskrit for "fire" (noun), cognate with Latin ignis (the root of English ignite), Russian огонь (ogon), Polish "ogień", Slovenian "ogenj", Serbian oganj, and Lithuanian ugnis—all with the meaning "fire", with the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root being h₁égni-. Agni has three forms: 'fire', 'lightning' and 'the Sun'.[3]

Sthaulāśthīvi informs us that Agni is the drying agent which neither wets nor moistens anything. Śakapūṇi tells us that the word Agni is derived from three verbs – from 'going', from 'shining or burning', and from 'leading'; the letter "a" (अ) is from root "i" which means 'to go', the letter "g" (ग्) is from the root "añj" meaning 'to shine' or "dah" meaning 'to burn', and the last letter is by itself the root "nī" (नी) which means 'to lead'.[4]

Yaskacharya explains that the fire-god is called अग्नि (Agni) because he is अग्रणी (Agrani), the forward leader who is the ever awake disseminator of knowledge and the first principle of thought which manifests as Speech; it is carried at the front in all ritualistic undertakings (yajnas).[citation needed]

Pippalāda, the sage of the Prashna Upanishad, merely highlights the एकायुः (Ekayu, the Sole person) status of Agni when he tells Kābandhi Katayāna – " That very one, Surya who is Aditya, rises up who is Prana and Agni, who is identified with all creatures and who is possessed of all fame."[citation needed]


The Rig Veda often says that Agni arises from water or dwells in the waters; the Vedic sage says that Agni manifesting in the waters and seated in the lap of the winding waters, flaming upward, increases; and that Agni was born by the prowess of Tvashtr (Rig Veda I.95.5). He may have originally been the same as Apam Napat, the supreme god of creation, who is also sometimes described as fire arising from water. Hydrogen burns easily and Oxygen is required to inflame the fire. This is the important physiological phenomenon in any living body, which in a natural explanation may have referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water, or as the seven rays or seven bands of light of a rainbow. Other Rig-vedic names, epithets or aspects of Agni include Matarishvan, Jatavedas, or Bharata.

Vedic conception of Agni

Agni is the god of fire and sacrifice, of divine knowledge, and is also associated with water.[note 1] Agni, identified with energy and action, is the first emanation and the sacred spark hidden within all beings. Agni is second only to Indra in the power and importance attributed to him in Vedic mythology, with 218 out of 1,028 hymns of the Rigveda dedicated to him. With Varuna and Indra he is one of the supreme gods in the Rig Veda.

Vedic god of fire and sacrifice

Sacrificial fire and high-priest

Agni is the personification of the sacrificial fire. He is associated with Vedic sacrifice, taking offerings to the other world in his fire. He is the priest of the gods, and the god of the priests. Through yajna he carries the oblations to the gods, to ensure the continuance of conditions favourable to mankind. No god is approachable without the medium of Agni, and no divinity is without the presence of Agni.[note 2]

Agni is the chief terrestrial deity personified by the sacrificial fire which is the centre of the ritual poetry of the Rig Veda. The earth enveloped in darkness and the sky, become visible when Agni is born; the acquisition of fire by man is regarded as a gift of the gods. Agni is only compared and not identified with the Sun.

Agni as the immortal guest is the witness of all actions, supremely powerful, all consuming and unresistible but who commands all earthly and heavenly riches i.e. all temporal good.[6]

Agni is the receiver, holder and distributor of energy, who leads the devtas to victory in their battles against the asuras, and confers wealth of various kinds to the performers of yajnas. Born in the human aspirant he awakens the gods, and burns the opposing foes, the demons.

Jataveda and Kravyād

Agni has two forms: Jataveda and Kravyada:

  • Jātaveda is invoked to burn and carry the offerings (except flesh) to the respective Gods, in which case Agni is light identified with knowledge and with Brahman.
  • Kravyād is invoked to burn the flesh (corpses and animal parts) in the Pitri-yajna for which purpose Agni is obtained from the rays of the Sun.

In the Jātaveda form, "He who knows all creatures", Agni acts as the divine model for the sacrificial priest. He is the messenger who carries the oblation from humans to the gods, bringing the Gods to sacrifice, and interceding between gods and humans (Rig Veda I.26.3). When Agni is pleased, the gods are generous. Agni represents the cultivated, cooked and cultured aspects of Vedic ritual. Together with Soma, Agni is invoked in the Rig Veda more than any other gods.[7]

Kravyād (क्रव्याद) is the form of Agni which eats corpses, the fire of the funeral pyre; the fire that eats corpses can eat everything. This is the impure form which is much feared.[8] In this form, after one’s death and at the time of cremation, Agni heats up and burns the body only, the body which is the impure human condition (SB[9]


Agni is Abhimāni, from Sanskrit: abhi (towards) + man (the verbal root man 'to think', 'reflect upon') meaning dignified, proud; longing for, thinking. Agni is the 'Mystic Fire', who leads man on the journey to God. Agni is worshipped as the symbol of piety and purity; as expression of two kinds of energy i.e. light and heat, he is the symbol of life and activity. Agni-rahasya, "the secret of fire," is the key to all knowledge because Agni is the power of inner and outer illumination.


Agni is also called Arka, "water," the accessory to worship, and the cause of fire that covers all food which covers all life(Yajurveda V.vii.5).[10][11] Rishi Tritapti (Rig Veda X.v.3), in a mantra in praise of Agni, refers to the bearers of water, the most subtle and the most refined aspects of manifestations. In a subsequent mantra he says[note 3] that in the conditions prevalent prior to the formation of water, Agni, which was the first visible manifestation of the Unmanifested, was the giver and the taker, both, because as energy it had transformed into matter, beginning with water.[12]

Textual appearance


In the Vedic pantheon, Agni occupies, after Indra, the most important position. Agni occupies a prominent place in the Vedas and particularly the Brahmanas. In the Rig Veda there are over 200 hymns addressed to and in praise of Agni. Agni is the Rishi ('hymn-seer') of Sukta X.124 of the Rig Veda, and along with Indra and Surya makes up the Vedic triad of deities.[13]

Agni is the first word of the first hymn of the Rig Veda (Sukta I.i.1) revealed to Rishi Madhuchchandah Vaishvamitah in Gāyatri metre.[note 4] This mantra is a prayer to Agni:

I aspire intensely for Agni, the adorable, the leader who carries out the yajna; who does and gets done the yajna in due season, who is the summoning priest capable of bringing the gods to the yajna performed here, and the one who establishes excellent felicities in the aspirants.

In the Rig Veda (I.95.2), a Rishi prays - दशेमं त्वष्टुर्जनयन्त गर्भम - for the ten eternal powers to bless Tvashtr (the supreme mind which creates all things) with the birth of Agni, which is a reference to the ten undisclosed powers that nourish Agni.[14]

Shatapatha Brahmana (SB tells us that Prajapati was generated through the tapas of the rishis (equated with the non-existent of the Beginning), thereafter, through his own tapas Prajapati generated all the gods and all the creatures. He also generated Agni as the sacrificial fire and as the second self having wearied himself his glow and essence of him heated up and developed Agni (SB Ritually Agni, as the altar built by the sacrifice, reconstitutes Prajapati.


The Isha Upanishad focuses on the tradition of Agni as the Divine Will and action.[15] The sage of this Upanishad surrenders the lower egoistic human nature, and prays to Agni to guide and lead him to That (Brahman), the establishment, origin, and refuge of all that is (Isha Upanishad.18).[16]

In the Kena Upanishad, Agni reveals his identity as the heat energy and the ever-burning flame of the conscious force in matter, that makes up the entire world.[17] The gods sent first Agni to find out the nature of Brahman, which means it is Agni that releases the energy which is latent in all beings. Moreover, the sage of the Kena Upanishad refers to the functional differentiation and specialization of body parts, on which account the life-stream progresses, when he speaks of Agni becoming the speech and entering the mouth, and Vayu becoming breath and entering the nostrils.[18]

The Katha Upanishad tells how Yama taught Nachiketa the secrets of the fire that leads to heaven, and what bricks were required to build the altar.[19]

The Chandogya Upanishad describes the Panchagni Vidya, the meditation on the five fires. It explains the interconnectivity of everything that exists, with creation as a kind of sacrifice. Each manifestation, the microcosm, is a manifestation of Prakrti, the macrocosm.[20]


Agni with his consort Svaha.


In Hindu scriptures, Agni is depicted with two or seven hands, two heads and three legs. One head marks immortality, and the other marks an unknown symbol of life. He rides a ram[21] or a chariot harnessed by fiery horses. Agni is represented as red and two-faced, suggesting both his destructive and beneficent qualities, and with black eyes and hair, three legs and seven arms.[22] He rides a ram, or a chariot pulled by goats or, more rarely, parrots.

Agni has two mothers,[23] or has two parts of the firedrill used to start the fire. He has ten servant maids, the fingers of the man who is lighting the fire or the ten undisclosed powers that nourish Agni.[24]

Seven rays of light emanate from his body. One of his names is Saptajihva, "the one having seven tongues".[25] He has seven fiery tongues with which he licks the sacrificial butter. In the Mundaka Upanishad (I.ii.1-5) it is said that Agni, here meant the Āhavaniya Fire, has seven tongues or flames – Kālī ('black'), Karālī ('terrible'), Manojava ('speedy as the mind'), Sulohita ('very red'), Sudhumravarna ('coloured like thick smoke'), Sphulingini ('emitting sparks') and Vishwaruchi ('having the fuel as the Sun' – तस्मादग्निः समिधो यस्य सूर्यः (II.i.5)).

The ancient seers divided Agni into three parts – gārhapatya (for general domestic usage), āhavaniya (for inviting and welcoming a personage or deity) and dakshinagni (for fighting against all evil).[26] Yāska states that his predecessor Sākapuṇi regarded the threefold existence of Agni as being in earth, air and heaven as stated by the Rig Veda, but a Brāhmana considered the third manifestation to be the Sun.

Cultural artefacts

In the collection at Bharat Kalā Kendra (Benares Hindu University), there is a First century CE, red sandstone sculpture identifiable as Agni shown in the garb of a Brahmin, very much like sage Kashyapa, on the Govindanagar Rsyasrnga door-jamb. In the Panchala coins of Agnimitra there is deity with a halo of flames. On Kushana coins there is engraved an Iranian deity under the name of Athos (Agni?). In Gupta sculptures, Agni is shown as a Brahmanical deity with a halo of flames round the body and also with a beard, pot-bellied and holding amrtaghata (nectar-pot) in his right hand.[27]



Agni is the eldest son of Brahma. In the Visnu Purana, Agni, called Abhimāni is said to have sprung from the mouth of the Virat purusha, the Cosmic Man. In another version, Agni is the son of Dharma (Eternal Law) and Vasubhāryā (daughter of Light).

A sage of the Rig Veda (Sukta IV.iii.11) states that the Sun became visible when Agni was born.[28]

In some Hindu symbolism, Agni's parents are said to be the two components of the firedrill used to start the fire, and when young he was said to be cared for by ten servants who are represented by the ten fingers of the man who starts the fire.

Agni hid from the gods, but Atharvan found him and raised him, thus combining the divine and the human worlds, transforming the sublime and the subtle to the gross and the material.

Ascension and family

At the command of Bhrigu, Agni was brought down from the heavens for man’s use by Matarishvan, in the later writings Agni is described as a son of Angiras who happened to discover fire and its uses.

Agni married Svāhā (invocation offering) and fathered three sons - Pāvaka (purifier), Pāvamāna (purifying) and Śuchi (purity) who in their turn had forty-five children, all different aspects of fire.[29][30] Agni’s three sons, according to the Vayu Purana, stand for three different aspects of Agni (fire): Pāvaka is the electric fire, Pāvamanā is the fire produced by friction, and Śuchi is the solar fire. Every fire has a corresponding relation to one of the human psychic faculties. They also represent body, spirit and soul, and body.[31] Abhimāni, his three sons, and their 45 sons constitute the 49 mystic fires of the Puranas, especially the Agni Purana.

Agneya is the daughter of Agni and the Hindu Goddess of Fire. Medhā (intelligence) is Agni’s sister.[29]


Offended by Agni, Bhrigu had cursed Agni to become the devourer of all things on this earth, but Brahma modified that curse and made Agni the purifier of all things he touched.[32]

The Khandava Forest

In the "Khandava-daha Parva" (Mahabharata CCXXV), Agni in the guise of a Brahmin is seen to approach Krishna and Arjuna seeking sufficient food for gratification of his hunger; and on being asked about the kind of food which would gratify, Agni expressed the desire to consume the forest of Khandava protected by Indra for the sake of Takshaka, the chief of the Nagas. Agni wanted to regain his own nature, which had been dulled by the sacrifice of King Swetaki, who had poured clarified butter for twelve years into a fire. Aided by Krishna and Arjuna, Agni consumed the Khandava Forest, which burnt for fifteen days, sparing only Aswasena, Maya, and the four birds called sarangakas; later, as a boon Arjuna got all his weapons from Indra and also the bow, Gandiva, from Varuna.[33]


The Puranas associate with Agni the origin of Krittika nakshatra (the Pleiades star-cluster) and the birth of Kartikeya. It is said that Agni received Shiva’s energy from Parvati as alms that he had to share with others, being the carrier of all oblations to the gods. Agni gave this energy to the six wives of the saptarishis, who wanted to warm themselves, and for this they were cursed by their husbands to become nakshatras, the six nakshatras that make up the Krittikas, the 3rd of the twenty-seven Lunar mansions. Thereafter, these six wives gave the energy they had received from Agni to the Himalayas, which then flowed down as one to be distributed to the reeds from which the six-headed boy, Kartikeya was born.

Another version of this legend states that Kartikeya was initially born from Shiva and Parvati's combined power as an effulgent orb of energy, so radiant so as to burn the universe. Agni stole it so as to keep the child safe and kept running across the universe to escape the vile Asura Taraka who was to be destroyed by Kartikeya. Parvati awoke from her meditative state and found out that her son was missing. She was enraged and came rushing out of the cave to which she encountered the Devas and their preceptor, Brihaspati. They informed her that Agni had taken her son and only did so to ensure their son's protection. This made Parvati extremely furious and she attained her Adishakti form which caused lightning and all other calamities to begin on Earth. In anger, she cursed the Devas that their wives would be infertile and never enjoy parental happiness furthermore. She cursed Agni that he would be an all-consumer, adding that he would be unable to differentiate between pure and impure and that all who touched him would turn into ash (bhasma) and because of the impurities in his food, he would be surrounded by thick black smoke forever. At the nick of time, Shiva came out of the cave and calmed down Parvati promising her that he himself would find their son. She assumed her normal form and went back inside the cave. Shiva later found Agni and blessed him that despite Parvati's curse, he would always be holy.[34]

King Shibi

There is the story about King Shibi who was tested by Agni assuming the form of a pigeon and by Indra assuming the form of a hawk; Shibi offered his own flesh to the hawk in exchange of pigeon's life. The pigeon which had sought Shibi's shelter was thus saved by the king's sacrifice.[35]

Fire ordeal

Agniparikshā or 'the Fire ordeal' has Agni as the witness. Sita was forced to undergo this ordeal to prove her virtue. Agni redeemed the original Sita from the wrath and condemnation of her husband and her community.[36]


A Hindu Marriage Ceremony in progress.

Vedic rituals all involve Agni. Agni is present in many phases of life such as honouring of a birth (diva lamp), prayers (diva lamp), at weddings (the yajna where the bride and groom circle the fire seven times) and at death (cremation).

Agnihotra yajna - sacrificial fire

The Agnihotra is the "sacrificial fire". Agnihotra is believed to free the yajmāna (the performer of the yajna) from evil and death, both signified by Agni.[37]Prajapati had to create milk as food for the hungry Agni and perform the first act of Agnihotra to avoid death and preserve his own existence.[37]

Vedic times

The Agnihotris once maintained a perpetual fire in their homes. This ritual ceremony was conducted on important and auspicious occasions. In many homes prayers are still offered to Agni (fire).

The sage of the Atharvaveda (Sukta 19.55.3) prays to the fire for happiness and peace, for a happy temperament, resolve and good health, for strength and mental contentment, and as the ladder to spirituality. The sage also states that Agnihotra destroys enemies.[note 5]

Shatapatha Brahmana (SB tells us that Agnihotra should be performed by the performer knowing that he will gain the strength and victories gained by Agni who conquered the earth, Vayu, the air and Surya, the sky, with whom he shares the world; and the same text further tells us that the Agnihotra, doubtless, is the Sun.[38]

Contemporary fire ritual

Hindus consider it as the duty of a man to perform Agnihotra. The main offering is milk, and at the end, the sacrificer offers four water oblations, to the gods, to father and the fathers, to the seven seers and to Agni on earth.[39]

The priest invokes Agni through Agni in his sacrificial form; the sacrificial form of Agni is the Sun which shining brightly appears to all men. The priest also invokes Vayu which is Agni’s own greatness. Therefore, Agni as the deity is treated differently from Agni, the messenger who carries oblations to the gods. The sacrificial form of Agni is Aditya and Vayu.[40]

Ritual versus knowledge

Shankara in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras states that the rightful observance of the agnihotra and other rites are meant for those desirous of attaining Heaven and other enjoyments, and the understanding of the rightful doctrine of the Soul is meant for those desirous of emancipation.[41]

Paśubandha - animal sacrifice

During Vedic times, Pasuyajña, animal sacrifices to propriate Agni, were frequently made. The animal to be sacrificed was tied to an octoganal wooden stake called yupa, be it a he-goat, a horse or a bull. The entire ceremony was supervised and co-ordinated by an adhvaryu, because this ritual called for the completeness of the sacrifice to meet the demands of the liturgical rules.[42] Niruddha-pasubandhayajna involving immolation of a he-goat was an obligatory rite performed once in six months or once a year with the aid of six priests to appease Indra and Agni, with Surya and Prajapati as deities.[43]

The Rig Veda does not make a direct reference to animal sacrifice,[44] but in Rig Veda mantra VIII.43.11,[note 6] which is addressed to Agni, rishi Virupa Angirasa invites all devout to pray to Agni, who is called ukshānna and vaśānna, that is, the eater of bulls (uksha) and barren cows (vaśā).[note 7][45]

The Shatapatha Brahmana (VI.ii.1.2-3) speaks about the five animals or sacrificial victims, man, bull, horse, ram and he-goat, which Agni enters and becomes. The same text explains that it is Agni who is sacrificed as animal victim (SB XIII.ii.7.13).[46]


Yajna being performed at Vishnu Yangna Kunda on the occasion of Kumbhabhishekam of renovated Gunjanarsimhaswamy Temple at Tirumakudal Narsipur.

Agni-rahasya, "the secret of fire," is the esoteric interpretation of the fire-altars. The fire-altars are re-interpreted as symbolic representations of the mind, and its connection the Absolute reality. In these interpretations, various meanings are stringes together, to reach a new understanding.


The terrestrial world, the air, the sky and the sun are spoken of as the fire-altars, with all things on and in them as various bricks, making up the whole of Agni. The tenth book of the Shatapatha Brahmana[note 8] says that the fire-altar is the mind, and that the mind is prior to breath (Prana) and speech (Vac).[47] It also describes the benefits of the Vājapeya and the Rājasūya sacrifices,[48] identifies the person residing in the sun with the person residing in the right eye, and proclaims the meditation on Brahman as the Mind.[note 9][49]

Tura Kāvasheya

The Shatapatha Brahmana[note 10]) and the Aitareya Brahmana[note 11] speak of Tura Kāvasheya, the teacher of the Agni-rahasya doctrine, who built a fire-altar to the gods at Karoti. He was the purohit of Janamejaya, son of Parikshit, to whom the Mahabharata was recited. Tura Kavasheya had received this knowledge from Prajapati who had in his own turn received it from the self-existent Brahman. This knowledge finally teaches that the Ashvamedha is the yonder shining sun, which is Agni, which is Brahman; the year is his body; Agni is Arka and the worlds are his bodies; and both Arka and Ashvamedha combine to become one deity, Death, knowing this one conquers Death.[note 12] [50][51]

The fire of the mind

The Brahmana tells us that "the mind saw itself as thirty-six thousand; it saw the adorable fires as belonging to itself, lighted up by the mind, and conceived as identical with the mental modes."

There are thirty-six thousand mano-vrittis or 'mental modes', one for each day of life spanning one hundred years, which correlates to the mind-generated bricks of the altar. The fire is lighted up by the mind itself, thus establishing mental connection to the prescribed Vedic ritual acts or rites.[52]

Badarayana[note 13] and Jaimini[note 14] both agree that the fires of the mind and speech of Agni-rahasya are not parts of any concrete ritual, but refer to conceptual fires, which are meditations, which are not subservient to rites.[53]


One of Agni's epithets is Abhimāni (from Sanskrit: abhi (towards) + man (the verbal root man 'to think', 'reflect upon') meaning dignified, proud; longing for, thinking. Agni is worshipped as the symbol of piety and purity; as expression of two kinds of energy i.e. light and heat, he is the symbol of life and activity.


Agni denotes the natural element fire, the supernatural deity symbolized by fire and the inner natural will aspiring for the highest knowledge.[54][55][56]

Heat, combustion and energy is the realm of Agni which symbolizes the transformation of the gross to the subtle; Agni is the life-giving energy.[57] Agnibija is the consciousness of tapas (proto-cosmic energy); agni (the energizing principle); the sun, representing the Reality (Brahman) and the Truth (Satya), is Rta, the order, the organizing principle of everything that is.[58]

The one who knows

Agni, who is addressed as Atithi ('guest'), is also called जातवेदसम्, meaning "the one who knows all things that are born, created or produced."[59] He is the god of will-power, united with wisdom. The Vedic people knew human will-power to be a feeble projection of this power which they believed could be strengthened by the Rig Vedic chants to Agni.[60]

The Kanvasatpathabrahmanam (SB.IV.i.iv.11) calls Agni "wisdom" and the "ind."[note 15][61] Rishi Bharadavaja Barhaspatya, in a mantra addressed to Agni Vaishvanara[note 16] calls Agni "the mind swiftest among (all) those that fly."[62]

Rishi Praskanva states that Agni represents great learning and enlightening wisdom, which ought to be sought, located and humbly approached. Agni excites Buddhi (reason and intellect), the perceiving and the determining factor, and by illuminating the mind it makes one understand and comprehend the truth – प्रचेतसोऽग्ने देवाँ इह द्रवत् (Rig Veda I.xliv.7).

Vedic rishis

Agni is the essence of the knowledge of Existence. The Vedic Rishis held Agni to be responsible for the manifestation of gods for the mortal beings, who then come to know them and worship them by the mind.[note 17] They pray[note 18] for Agni, which is the essence of the knowledge of existence, to increase its own strength or power, which is within all human beings, to enable them to cultivate strong conviction and belief, without which there cannot develop a meaningful faith and deep devotion to support a dedicated mind.[63] With Agni's increase ignorance and all delusions are wholly destroyed, without nescience to be taken for granted, and the human form assumed by Brahman is erased from the mind.[64]


The Kena Upanishad says that Agni was the first to discover Brahman's nature, limits and identity. The Vedic gods manifest themselves in man, and assume the appearance of human limitations.[65] 'Knowledge', 'faith' and 'works', these three, because of their connection with human faculties, are not without their respective limitations,[66] and it is the mortal body harbouring within it the individual self and the Universal Self that remains bound by limitations.[67]

Agni symbolises the soul; it is the power of change that cannot be limited or overcome. Light, heat, colour and energy are merely its outer attributes; inwardly, agni impels consciousness, perception and discernment.[68]

Raja Rishi Chitra, describing the path of Jnana, states "He (at the time of death), having reached the path of the gods, comes to the world of agni, to the world of vayu;"[note 19][69] this leads to the Brahmaloka, the sphere of Brahman. This is the path taken by the enlightened souls with transcendental knowledge.[70]

Relation with other gods

Agni is often identified with other gods:

  • Varuna and Mitra: in the evening he becomes Varuna, when he rises in the morning he becomes Mitra.
  • Indra: Agni is Indra's twin, and therefore a son of Dyaus Pita and Prthivi.[citation needed] Agni is also called Vishva-Vedāh,[note 20] "dawn," which refers both to Indra, the Protector, and to the all-knowing Agni.[71]
  • Rudra: in the Rig Veda Agni is addressed as Rudra, bringing together two distinct but destructive aspects of nature, namely storm and fire.[note 21][note 22] The Linga Purana tells us that a pillar of fire (stambha) appeared before Brahma and Vishnu. The Shiva-linga represents that pillar of fire which is Agni.[72][73]
  • Sarama, the Goddess of Intuition: in a hymn in praise of Agni,[note 23] Rishi Parāśara Śāktya speaks of Saramā, the Goddess of Intuition, the forerunner of the dawn of Truth in the Human mind, who finds the Truth which is lost.[note 24] It is Saramā who is a power of the Truth, whose cows are the rays of the dawn of illumination and who awakens man who finds Agni standing in the supreme seat and goal.[74][75]
  • Vayu and Soma: in the Vedas, Agni, Vayu and Soma or 'fire' (light and heat), 'air' (energy and action) and 'water', are the principal deities. Agni brings the subject and the object together and establishes a relation between the two (sambandha); Vāyu causes that relation to evolve (abhidheya), and whose activity Soma directs converting forms into pleasure that consciousness enjoys (prayojna). These three shaktis are involved in all material and spiritual vedic rituals.[76]
  • Vayu and Jala: Agni, Vayu and Jala are three of the three-fold eight fundamental qualities of intelligence, i.e. eight in terms of the value of consciousness, eight in terms of the devata quality of consciousness and eight in terms of the chhandas quality of consciousness.[77]
  • Diti: in a sukta addressed to Agni,[note 25] Vamadeva calls Agni as Diti (दिति) which word is to be read as Aditi, the all devouring Death.[78][note 26] Aditi is an ancient Rig Vedic deity; she is the divine mother of all Vedic gods and therefore, is the source of all things. Her womb, protected by Vishnu, is the navel of prithvi. Aditi means boundlessness.[80]

Agni and Hindu astrology

Jyotiśa, the study of astronomy and astrology, is one of the six vedangas or limbs of the Vedas. The first drekkana of Taurus and Virgo sign is ruled by Agni, and the 10th shashtiamsa (1/60th part of the sign) is the Agni-amsa.[81] Persons born in fiery signs ruled by Agni are enthusiastic, energetic but accident prone.[82] The 3rd nakshatra (constellation) beginning with Ashvinī is ruled by Agni.[83]


In the Buddhism of the Far East, Agni is one of the twelve Devas, as guardian deities, who are found in or around Buddhist shrines (Jūni-ten, 十二天).[84] In Japan, he has been called "Ka-ten".[85]

He joins these other eleven Devas of Buddhism, found in Japan and other parts of southeast Asia:

  • Indra (Taishaku-ten),
  • Agni (Ka-ten),
  • Yama (Emma-ten),
  • Nirrti (Rasetsu-ten),
  • Vayu (Fu-ten),
  • Ishana (Ishana-ten),
  • Kubera (Tamon-ten),
  • Varuna (Sui-ten)
  • Brahma (Bon-ten),
  • Prithvi (Chi-ten),
  • Surya (Nit-ten),
  • Chandra (Gat-ten).[86][85][87]

Ayurvedic conception

Agni is an important entity in Ayurveda. Agni is the fiery metabolic energy of digestion, allows assimilation of food while ridding the body of waste and toxins, and transforms dense physical matter into subtle forms of energy the body needs. Jathar-agni determines the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, Bhuta-agni determines the production of bile in the liver, Kloma-agni determines the production of sugar-digesting pancreatic enzymes and so forth. The nature and quality of these agnis depend on one’s dosha which can be – vata, pitta or kapha.[88]

Agni is also known as Vaisvanara, food.[note 27] Just as the illuminating power in the fire is a part of Agni’s own effulgence, even so the heating power in the foods digestive and appetizing power is also a part of Agni's energy or potency.[89]

See also


  1. According to tradition, Agni first appeared in the heavens in the form of lightening. His second birth was among the human beings as Jātaveda (learned by birth). His third birth was in water (Rig Veda I.45.1).[5]
  2. See Agni Purana
  3. Rig Veda X.v.7: अग्निः ऋतस्य पूर्वे आयुनि वृषभ्श्च
  4. अग्नि॒मीळे पुरो॒हि॑तं यज्ञ॒स्य॑ देव॒म् ऋत्वि॒ज॑म् । होता॑रं रत्नधा॒त॑मम् ॥
    agnimīḷē purōhitaṁ yajñasya dēvam ṛtvijam
  5. अग्नेर्होत्रेण प्रणुदे सपत्नान् - Atharvaveda 9.2.6
  6. उक्षान्नाय वशान्नाय सोम पृष्ठाय वेधसे
  7. During those times the slaying of a barren cow was an essential feature of funeral ceremonies.
  8. X:1:2:3
  9. मनो ब्रह्मेत्युपासीत "mind is to be meditated upon as Brahman", Chandogya Upanishad III.xviii.1
  10. IX.v.2.15
  11. IV.27, VII.34
  12. SB
  13. Brahma Sutras III.iii.44
  14. Jaimini Sutras III.iii.14
  15. मेधायैमनसेऽग्नये स्वाहेति
  16. Rig Veda VI.ix.5
  17. अग्निर्यद् वेर्मर्त्ताय देवान्त्स चा बोधाति मनसा यजाति (Rig Veda (I.77.2)
  18. अस्माकमिदं वृधे भव (Rig Veda (I.79.11)
  19. स एतं देवयानं पन्थानमापद्याग्निलोकमागच्छतिस वायुलोकं स आदित्यलोकं (Kaushitaki Upanishad I.3)
  20. विश्ववेदा, appearing in the Taittiriya Samhita (IV.iii.2.10) – अभून्मम सुमतौ विश्ववेदा आष्ट प्रतिष्ठामविदद्धि गाधम्, and in the Rig Veda:
    * ये पायवो मामतेयं ते अग्ने पश्यन्तो अन्धं दुरितादरक्षन्
  21. According to Śatarudriya (oblation) section of the Yajurveda
  22. In a prayer (R.V.I.27.10) addressed to Agni, the sage prays ": जराबोध तद्विविड्ढि विशेविशे यज्ञियाय
  23. स्वाध्यो दिव आ सप्त यह्वी रायो (Rig Veda I.72.8)
  24. He says – विदद् गव्यं सरमा दृहमूर्वमं येना नु कं मानुषी भोजते विट् – "Saramā discovered the strong and wide places of the hidden knowledge; this discovery brings happiness to all human beings".
  25. "चित्तिमचित्ति चिनवद्वि विदवान् पृष्ठेव वीता वृजना च मर्त्तान्
  26. The same as is stated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (I.ii.5): "And whatever he (Death) brought forth, that he resolved to eat; verily because he eats everything, therefore, it is Aditi (Death) called Aditi."[79]
  27. In Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (Sloka 15.14) it is said: ":अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः


  1. "Agni–pronunciation". The Columbia University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Cavendish, Richard (1998). Mythology, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Principal Myths and Religions of the World. ISBN 1-84056-070-3
  3. "Agni, the Vedic God of Fire". Retrieved 9 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. The Nighantu and the Nirukta. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 120.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Who is Agni: Prophet or Parameshwar. Q.S.Khan’s Books. p. 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. B.K.Chaturvedi. Agni Purana. Diamond Pocket Books. pp. 11, 9, 12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Doniger, Wendy (2010). The Hindus: An Alternative History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959334-7 (Pbk)
  8. Danielle Feller. Sanskrit Epics. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 91.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Walter O.Kaelber. Tapta Marga: Asceticism and Initiation in Vedic India. SUNY Press. pp. 36, 37, 52.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Ram K. Piparaiya. Ten Upanishads of Four Vedas. New age Books. p. 104.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. The Yajur Veda. Netlancers. p. 430.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. The Illumination of Knowledge. New Delhi: GBD Books. pp. 141, 197, 239.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World Vol.1. Concept Publishing Company. p. 210.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. R.L.Kashyap. Agni in Rig Veda. Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture. p. 160.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Islam Katob. Upanishads. Islam Katob. pp. 89, 48.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo Ashram. p. 10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Sri Aurobindo. The Upanishads = II – Kena and other Upanishads. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication. p. 81.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Rohit Mehta. The Call of the Upanishads. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 42.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. R.D.Ranade. A Constructive Survey of Upanishadic Philosophy. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. pp. 32, 183.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Choudur Satyanarayana Moorty. Gleanings from Rig Veda-When Science was Religion. Authorhouse. pp. 107–115.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Bowker, John (1997). World Religions. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.
  22. Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 63.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. The Illumination of Knowledge. New Delhi: GBD Books. p. 197. Rig Veda I.31.2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. The Illumination of Knowledge. New Delhi: GBD Books. p. 43. Rig Veda 1.149.4<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Jansen, Eva Rudy (1993). The Book of Hindu Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning. p. 64
  26. B.K.Chaturvedi. Agni Purana. Diamond Pocket Books. pp. 18, 21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Sonya Rhie Quantanilla. History of Early Stone Sculpture of Mathura. BRILL. p. 215.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Arthur Anthony Mcdonell. Vedic Mythology. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 88–99.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 Alain Danielou. The Myths and Gods of India. Inner Traditions. p. 88.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Dowson, John (1961). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion: Geography, History, and Literature. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-7589-8
  31. SD 2:247
  32. Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World Vol.1. Concept Publishing. pp. 210, 212.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. The Mahabharata Book 1. pp. 434–447.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Ramanuj Prasad. Know the Puranas. Pustak Mahal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Eastern Wisdom. Wilder Publications. p. 200.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Ratna Kapur. Erotic Justice: Law and the New Politics of Postcolonialism. Routledge. pp. 51, 200.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. 37.0 37.1 Essays in Indian Philosophy, Religion and Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 54, 55.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. The Satapatha-brahmana. p. 327.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. A.B.Keith. The Religion and the Philosophy of the Vedas and the Upanishads. p. 318.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Swami Parameshwaranand. Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Vedic Terms Vol.1. Sarup & Sons. p. 52.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. The Brahma Sutras: With the commentary of Sankaracarya. p. 45.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. Uma Marina Vesci. Heat and Sacrifice in the Vedas. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 103–109.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Vedic Sacrifices (PDF). Shri Ramakrishna Math. p. 11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. the Rig Veda 3- volumes. Oxford University Press. p. 33.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. D.R.Bhandarkar. Some Aspects of Ancient Indian Culture. Asian Educational Services. pp. 70–71.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Stella Kramrisch. The Hindu Temple. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 70.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Satpatha Brahmana Part IV.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. The Shatapatha Brahmana. Atlantic Publishers. p. xxx.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. Encyclopaedic dictionary of Upanishads. Sarup & Sons. p. 24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  50. The Shatapatha Brahmana. Atlantic Publishers. p. xxxii,404.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. R.K.Mookerji. Ancient Indian Education. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 125.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. David Shulman. More than Real. Harvard University Press. p. 129.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. The Brahma Sutras: With the commentary of Sankaracarya. pp. 730–738.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. John A.Grimes. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy. SUNY Press. p. 18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  55. Categorisation in Indian Philosophy. Ashgate Publishing. p. 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. Bina Gupta. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 22, 24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  57. Jeaneane D. Fowler. Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. p. 98.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  58. The transition to a Global Consciousness. Allied Publishers. p. 294.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  59. Rig Veda I.xliv.4
  60. R.L.Kashyap. Agni in Rig Veda. Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture. p. 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  61. Kanvasatpathabrahmanam Vol.3. Motilal Banarsidas. p. 21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  62. The Rig Veda. Oxford University Press. p. 783.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  63. The Illumination of Knowledge. New Delhi: GBD Books. pp. 40–44, 31, 159.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  64. The Illumination of Knowledge. New Delhi: GBD Books. pp. 159, 195. Rig Veda 1.79.11<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  65. Sri Aurobindo. The Upanishads. Sri Aurobindo Ashram. p. 81.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  66. Sri Aurobindo. Wisdom of the Gita. Sri Aurobindo Ashram. p. 192.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  67. Sahebrao Genu Nigal. Axiological Approach to the Vedas. Northern Book Centre. p. 101.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  68. Roger Calverley. Crystal Yoga. Lotus Press. p. 244.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  69. The Upanishads.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  70. Encyclopaedia of Upanishads and its Philosophy. Genesis Publishing Co. p. 408.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  71. Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Arctic Home of the Vedas. Arktos. pp. 88–93.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  72. Devdutt Pattanaik. 7 Secrets of Shiva. Westland. pp. 11–13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  73. "Stone statue of Shiva as Lingodbhava". British Museum.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  74. R.L.Kashyap. Agni in Rig Veda. Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture. p. 121.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  75. Sri Aurobindo. The Secret of the Veda. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication. p. 218.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  76. Ashish Dalela. Vedic Creationism. iUniverse. p. 312.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  77. Anna J. Bonshek. Mirror of Consciousness. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 135.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  78. Aiyangar Narayan. Essays on Indo-Aryan Mythology. Asian Edu.Services. p. 296.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  79. Nicol Macnicol. Hindu Scriptures. Genesis Publishing. p. 44.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  80. Madhu Bazaz Wangu. Images of Indian Goddesses. Abhinav Publications. p. 33.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  81. P.S.Shastri. Textbook of Scientific Hindu Astrology. pp. 157, 161.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  82. C.P.Arora. Learn Think and Predict through Astrology. Rupa publications.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  83. Ravinder Kumar Soni. Planets And Their Yoga Formations. Pigeon Books India. pp. 31–38.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  84. Twelve Heavenly Deities (Devas) Nara National Museum, Japan
  85. 85.0 85.1 S Biswas (2000), Art of Japan, Northern, ISBN 978-8172112691, page 184
  86. Willem Frederik Stutterheim et al (1995), Rāma-legends and Rāma-reliefs in Indonesia, ISBN 978-8170172512, pages xiv-xvi
  87. Adrian Snodgrass (2007), The Symbolism of the Stupa, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120807815, pages 120-124, 298-300
  88. Yoga Journal Sep-Oct 2003. Active Interest Media. p. 38.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  89. Jayadayal Goyandka. Srimadbhagavadagita Tattvavivecani. Gita Press. p. 613. Verses BG 15.14<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links