34 Names of Agni, Fire God!

agni staue in OZ

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Research article No.1353; Dated 17th October 2014.

Agni is the god of sacrificial fire. Hindus worship him from the Vedic days till this day. All the household festivals and temple festivals begin with the worship of fire/Agni. Brahmins were worshipping him twice a day in the morning and evening and slowly it is disappearing now. But yet he is worshipped in the daily ritual- Sandhya Vandhana.

Agni is the son of Kasyapa and Aditi or Dyaus and Prithvi. Dyaus is heaven and Prithvi is earth. His Vahana/vehicle is a goat. He is the guardian deity of South East. Agni is shown riding a chariot drawn by red horses or parrots in later iconography.

His consort is Svaha and his son is Skanda. This is symbolic. All the offerings are put into fire with the mantra ‘Svaha’ and Agni is worshipped without fire in the form of Skanda or Muruga. So all the Subrahmanya (Skanda) worshippers are worshipers of Agni.

Agni is fire and also Priest, Father, Brother, Friend, Guest and finally the Light of lights, the Soul within our soul and the Deva who is identified with every other Deva or Devi and with the ultimate reality. The Vedic sage’s poetic mind most enthusiastically contemplates every one of these aspects of Agni.

As simple fire Agni is the child of two mothers (the two sticks that produce it by concussion ) and is lifted by Ten Young Virgins — the priest’s fingers ‘’anguli’’ and by another analogy he is the Banner/ketu of the people.

We also need to know the style of mystic expression to understand what significance the Vedic sage intends to convey by describing the domestic fire – Gargapatya Agni – as the ‘’Lord of the Household’’, the ‘’Husband of Wives’’, the ‘’Lover of Maidens’’ as the ‘’Household Friend ‘’(damunas) and the loved and the respected guest at home (athithir durone).

agni, guimet
Agni in Guimet Museum, France

We learn two important things from the worship of Agni:
1.Vedic poets’ imagination fly sky high when they praise Agni. They are great poets and they are great intellectuals. From ordinary light (Fire) they take us to the Supreme Light. When we compare this with other ancient poems such as Babylonian Gilgamesh, we can estimate their level of intelligence!!

2. Agni is not worshipped anywhere except India (Parsees in Iran went from India) and only the cognate words are in other languages. This shows that India is the original home of the Hindus and those who went outside spread it or observed it to some extent and it petered out in course of time. The original home of the Hindus still keeps it glowing. Sri Satya Sai Baba and other great saints of India performed Adi Rudra Yajnas (recitation of the long Rudra hymn 14641 times along with the fire offering) in our own time.

34 Names of Agni
Amarakosa, ancient Sanskrit thesaurus gives 34 names for the Vedic fire god Agni. English words such as ignite, ignition, igneous rocks came from this Sanskrit word Agni. The oldest religious book and the oldest record of the human beings, the Rig Veda, begin with a hymn to Agni and ends with a hymn to Agni. That is the beauty of the Veda. It shows the importance the Hindus give to Agni. Next to Indra, Agni has the highest number of hymns. His name is mentioned in other hymns as well. If we take them into account, he tops the list of all deities.

Fire god is the witness of all rituals in Hinduism. From birth to death all Hindu rituals include fire worship. They celebrate the first anniversary of the child with a Havan/Homa or fire sacrifice and end a person’s life journey by consuming the body to fire. Even the wedding is celebrated in front of fire or Agni. He is the witness for all good and bad things.

losangelese
Agni in Losanjalese Museum

The fire god Agni is extremely important in the Vedic religion. He is the messenger of the gods. He takes all the offerings poured into the fire to the gods. He is everywhere. He is in the sun and moon and as ‘jataragni’ in the stomach, says Sayana in his commentary. Jataragni is the metabolic activities in the body that produce heat. He is in the sea as Badava Agni. All the girls are possessed by him before the marriage. This means that all the girls must be married in front of him (sacrificial fire) as he gives them like a father gives his daughter to the bridegroom. The couple have to walk around the fire. It is called
Saptapadi.

Orthodox Hindus keep fire in a pot from the birth to death and use it for all occasions. The ‘aupasana’ pot contains paddy husk burning forever. It is never extinguished. When a baby is born it is lighted and the same fire is used to light the funeral pyre when the person dies at an old age.

Agni has got cognate words ignis in Latin ogni in Old Slavic and ugnis in Lithuanian . He is worshipped in the houses in three forms by the Brahmins and they are Garhapatya, Dhakshinagni and Ahavaneeyam.

Tamils have separate words for fire: Thii, Neruppu, Kanal. It proves Tamil is an independent language.

34 names of Agni in the Amarakosa and the commentaries on them give lot of interesting information:

bm_agni_goat_
Agni in British Museum, London

1.Agni
Meaning:– Going forward
2.Vaisvanara
Relative of the people; Relative of Visva Nara:
3.Vahni
Travels with wind
4.Vitihotra
Place where many Ahutis are offered
5.Dananjaya
Helps to earn wealth; also name of Arjuna and a snake
6.Krupeetayoni
Source of water; vice verse Water produces Agni
‘’Agner apa:’’
7.Jwalana:
Glittering, glowing

fritstal book

8.Jataveda:
He who knows all; Heat creates everything e.g. sun, body heat
9.Tanunapath
He never allows the body to fall; one who does not protect his own shape; becoming dry or one who eats ghee
10.Barhi:
Creeping, crawling
11.Sushma
One who shortens or dries everything
12.Krsnvartma
One who produces black smoke
13.Sochiskesa
One who has flame as his hair

14.Usharbuh
Bright in the morning; Brahmins make him bright in the morning.
15.Asrasya:
One who burns everything associated with him
16.Brhatbanu
One who creates light

agni

17.Krshanu:
emaciating
18.Pavaka:
One who purifies
19.Anala:
One of the Eight Vasus
20.Rohitasva
One who has a red horse
21.Vayusaka:
Friend of the wind
22.Shikavan
One who has flames of tuft

havan
23.Asusukshani:
Dries anything at once or shortens
24.Hiranyareta:
Golden shakti or veeryam
25.Hutabuk
Whatever offered is eaten by him
26.Dahana:
One who makes everyone feels hot

27.Havyavahana:
One who has wind as a vehicle
28.Saptarchi
One who has got seven flames.
Kali, Karala, Manojawa, Sulohita, Sudumravarna, Spulingini, Visvadara are his seven tongues/ flames.

homam chandru
Birmingham Chandru Kurukkal doing Homam/Havan

29.Damuna:
One who subdue, quietens
30.Sukra:
Colour of Sukra – Venus –Bright White
31.Chitrabanu
Colourful light
32.Vivavasu
Light is his wealth
33.Suchi;
One who purifies everything
34.Apapitta:
He is the embodiment of pitta in the water

colour of horses
Agni = red horse – rohitaswa
Varun = white horse
Kuberan = horse of Kumuda (water lily) flower colour
Vayu = babru/ brown colour horse
(Amarakosa commentary gives these details of colour horses)

homam2

Agni has got other names as well:
Abja hasta = lotus in hand
Dhuma-ketu = whose sign is smoke
Chhaga-ratha =ram rider
Sapta jihva = seven tongued
Tomara dhara = javelin bearer

Number Seven and Agni
Agni is associated with Number7 for some unknown reasons. He is called Saptaarchi and Saptajihva (Sapta is 7). His seven tongues have separate names (given above).in the Vishnu Purana he is called Abhimani, and the eldest son of Brahma. He had three sons by Swaha. Their names were Pavaka, Pavamana and Suchi. They had 45 sons- altogether 49 persons (7X7). Agni’s chariot had seven wheels representing seven winds. In the Rig Vedic hymns on Agni, we come across number 7 often.

yaga mylai

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