Agni Deva is one of the most important Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and acceptor of sacrifices. He is ever-young and famous because the fire is re-lit every day. Fire is dominant to all Vedic rituals. All the offerings in the Vedic sacrifices are regularly offered to Agni and through him to other gods. So, he is known as the mediator between heaven and earth.
God Agni is represented by the eyes and by the digestive fire in the body. His importance is evident from the fact that Agni Purana is named after him. Before the emergence of Lord Shiva as the god of Hindu trinity, Agni was the god of destruction both feared and revered by the worshippers. Symbolically he represents limitless desire and hunger for food.
Agni was especially important in the Vedic period. Almost all divisions of the Rig Veda begin and end with a hymn to Agni. The Vedas encompass more hymns to him as the supreme god and creator. He pronounces hymns to immortals and takes them down from heaven to sacrifice them. Without Agni, the deities do not experience any satisfaction. He was central in sacrificial ceremonial as it was the fire that transformed the offerings into something accessible to the gods. He is the mouth of the gods and also known as the wealth giver. So, Agni is worshipped in numerous forms such as a wise director, a protector of all rituals, and a successful accomplisher.
Origin of Agni deva
The origin of Agni has many legends. He is said to be one of the closest connected gods with humans than any other deities. There are many different stories regarding how Agni Deva was born. Rig Veda says that the deity was born from water. (Rig Veda I.95.5)
Agni Purana says that Agni was made from the coupling of the god of the earth known as Prithvi and the god of the heavens known as Dyaus. However, he is described as a son of Angiras, father of mankind. Agni is also called the son of Brahma and then named Abimani. As the oldest son of Brahma. He is said to embody ten forms, the first five are physical forms and the last five ritual forms. The forms are Ordinary fire, Lightening, The Sun, Digestive fire, Destructive fire, Fire lit by sticks for the ceremony, Fire for home worship, The fire that was given to initiate students Funeral fire, and The fire of the ancestors.
Agni is known by multiple names such as Vahni, Dhananjaya, Jivalana, Dhumketu, Saptjivha, and so on.
The appearance of Agni Deva
Agni is said to be a red man who has seven tongues with which he licks up the butter offered in sacrifices. Agni is depicted with seven arms, four horns, three legs, and two heads. His seven hands represent the seven flames and the three legs represent the three worlds which he rules. Agni is occasionally shown riding in a chariot with fiery horses or goats. He is usually seen wearing a yellow waistcloth. He is depicted with two heads. One head symbolizes immortality and others as a symbol of life.
Agni is rarely represented in sculpture as a stand-alone figure. However, he is included in one of the most recognizable poses as Dancing Shiva Statues (Nataraja). He is also thought to exist as the fire in the soul of all of us. He is the heat energy that lights the stars and the sun. Shiva holds the burning flame in the palm of his left hand. The flame represents the Hindu god of Fire, Agni.
One of Agni’s epithets is Abhimani meaning dignified, proud, longing for, thinking. Agni is worshiped as a symbol of piety and purity. It is known as the expression of two kinds of energy called light and heat. He is the symbol of life and activity.
It is stated in the Agni Purana section that Agni is symbolism for the physiological aspects of life. There are three kinds of Agni inside every human being as “fire of anger”, “fire of passion and desire”, and the “fire of digestion”.
Agni means the natural element fire, the supernatural deity symbolized by fire, and the inner natural will aspiring for the topmost knowledge.
Agni, who is addressed as Atithi, is also called Jatavedasam meaning “the one who knows all things that are born, created or produced.” He symbolizes will-power united with wisdom.
Vedic rituals encompass Agni. He is a part of many Hindu rites-of-passage ceremonies such as celebrating a birth, prayers, and at death. It is said in Atharvaveda that Agni conveys the soul of the dead from the pyre to be reborn in the next world. Agni has been important in temple architecture and is typically present in the southeast corner of a Hindu temple.
In the Vedic literature, Agni is a major and often invoked god along with Indra, Vayu, and Soma. Agni is taken as the mouth of the gods and goddesses, and the intermediate that conveys offerings to them. He is intellectualized in ancient Hindu texts to exist at three levels, on earth as fire,
- In the atmosphere as lightning,
- In the sky as the sun.
- The triple presence unites him as the messenger between gods and human beings in the Vedic thought.
Hindus are expected to face fires in the proper direction for different purposes. When facing east and south, the fire is used to sacrifices to the gods and the spirits of the dead. Agni signifies the cultivated, cooked, and cultured aspects of the Vedic ritual.
Agni is also a significant entity in Ayurveda. It is considered to be the one which is responsible for the sustenance of life. Agni helps in the various physiological functions of the body. In Hindu dharma, Agni is present in many phases of life, such as honoring birth, birthdays, prayers, weddings, as well as death.(Last Updated On: June 18, 2020)