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Agni

From Academic Kids

The word Agni can have these meanings:-

  • In Hinduism, he is a deva, second only to Indra in the power and importance attributed to him in Vedic mythology.
  • In Zoroastrianism, Agni is, literally, fire, which symbolicly represents the life-animating force radiating from Ahura Mazda.
  • In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, he is a lokapala guarding the South-East. (see e.g. jigten lugs kyi bstan bcos: = "Make your hearth in the South-East corner of the house, which is the quarter of Agni"). He also plays a central role in most Buddhist homa (fire-puja) rites.

As a Hindu deity, there are various statements about him, that:-

  • He is Indra's twin, and therefore a son of Dyaus Pita and Prthivi.
  • He is a son of Kasyapa and Aditi or a Queen who kept her pregnancy secret from her husband.
  • He has ten mothers, or ten sisters, or ten maidservants, who represent the ten fingers of the man who lights the fire.
  • He has two parents: these represent the two sticks which, when rubbed together swiftly, create fire (called a fire drill). Some say that he destroyed his parents when he was born because they could not care for him.
  • He is married to Svaha and father of Karttikeya by either Svaha or Ganga.
  • He is one of the Ashta-Dikpalas, representing the southeast.

His name is the first word of the first hymn of the Rigveda:-
agnim īļe purohitam / yajasya devam ŗtvijam / hotāraM ratnadhātamam.
(The vowels which are underlined here, carry the Vedic udātta pitch accent.)
"I praise Agni, the priest of the house, the divine ministrant of sacrifice, the invoker, the best bestower of treasure."

The sacrifices made to Agni go to the gods because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day; but also he is immortal.

In some stories about the Hindu gods, Agni is the one who is sent to the front in dangerous situations.

Another hymn runs: "No god indeed, no mortal is beyond the might of thee, the mighty One.". He lives among men and is miraculously reborn each day by the fire-drill, the friction of the two sticks which are regarded as his parents. He is the supreme director of religious ceremonies and duties, and even has the power of influencing the fate of each man in the future world. Agni is also representative of the power which digests the food in every person's stomach. He created the stars with the sparks resulting from his flames.

He is worshipped under a threefold form: fire on earth and lightning and the sun. His cult survived the change of the ancient Vedic nature-worship into modern Hinduism, and there are fire-priests (agnihotr) whose duty is to watch over his worshippers. The sacred fire-drill for procuring the temple-fire by friction -- symbolic of Agni's daily miraculous birth -- is still used.

In Hindu art, Agni is represented as red and two-faced (sometimes covered with butter), suggesting both his destructive and beneficent qualities, and with black eyes and hair, three legs and seven arms. He rides a ram, or a chariot pulled by goats or, more rarely, parrots. Seven rays of light emanate from his body.

The Rigveda often says that Agni arises from water or dwells in the waters. He may have originally been the same as Apam Napat, which see.

Topics in Hinduism
Shruti (primary Scriptures): Vedas | Upanishads | Bhagavad Gita | Itihasa (Ramayana & Mahabharata) | Agamas
Smriti (other texts): Tantras | Sutras | Puranas | Brahma Sutras | Hatha Yoga Pradipika | Smritis | Tirukural | Yoga Sutra
Concepts: Avatar | Brahman | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-Deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya
Schools & Systems: Schools of Hinduism | Early Hinduism | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti
Traditional Practices: Jyotish | Ayurveda
Rituals: Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Diksha | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Yajna
Gurus and Saints: Shankara | Ramanuja | Madhvacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Sree Narayana Guru | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami | Swaminarayan | A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Denominations: List of Hindu denominations
Vaishnavism | Saivism | Shaktism | Smartism | Agama Hindu Dharma | Contemporary Hindu movements | Survey of Hindu organisations
ca:Agni

fr:Agni it:Agni ja:アグニ pl:Agni pt:Agni sl:Agni

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