Agni

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by bodhi_mindisfree, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. bodhi_mindisfree

    bodhi_mindisfree New Member

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    Hello, I am a current Buddhist with Sanatana-dharma aspirations. I'm quite confused over an event that happened to me last night. Last night I was meditating on a burning candle, and something wierd happened. I really can't explain it, how does Agni fall into the Hindu pantheon of Gods and Avataras. I understand Brahman=Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. Who in turn break into many avatara's as all equal the powers of the one. In the Vedas, Agni is quite prominent behind Indra. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    SABBE SATTA SUKHITO HONTU!
     
  2. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Bodhi,


    Yours is an interesting question. Agni is extremely important in the Sanātana Dharma belief and practice. However, you will find that Agni is more important as a concept rather than as a Deity. Agni is never represented iconically or worshipped as such in temple, nor has He ever had such a place, to my knowledge. However, Agni is present in Hindu homes and temples in the form of oil lamps, and in every vedic ritual in the fire alter.

    To understand fully the importance and relevance of Agni in Sanātana Dharma, we must first understand the meaning of Agni. Agni represents fire or energy (tejas). In a very old teaching, Agni is said to be ever-present: Agni is present up in the heavens as the Sun, who heats up the Earth and enables life; Agni is present on the Earth as the medium for cooking food and keeping us warm; and Agni is present within us, as the vaishvanara fire, which metabolizes the consumed food and provides energy for bodily function. As Agni is ever-present, He is considered the mediator between the worlds, the priest of the vedic ritual, the witness, and the acceptor of the oblations. There are, as you’ve noted, many hymns to Agni in the Vedas. The Rigveda, in fact, begins with the word Agni, and the first hymn is in praise of Agni:

    I laud Thee, O Agni,
    The Divine, the Priest,
    The Minister of the sacrifice,
    The Offerer, the supreme Giver of treasure.
    (Rigveda I.1.1)

    Every Vedic ritual of the old involved a fire altar, into which offerings were made, as mantras were chanted. This rite is called a yajña, which is sometimes translated as a sacrifice. This tradition continues even today. Agni is also present in Hindu home and temple altars in the form of oil lamps. Most significantly, temple ceremonies called pujās involve the clockwise waving of a lamp called ārati around the iconic representation of Deity. Whether in Vedic or temple ritual, Agni is the mediator, the go-in-between, the one who takes up prayers and brings down blessings.

    There is, however, more to be said about Agni. The idea that Agni is simply a god of fire is only partially true. The Veda, actually, has three layers of meaning: materialistic, ritualistic, and spiritual. The materialistic and ritualistic meanings are well known, but the spiritual meanings are quite esoteric. At the materialistic level, Agni is the flame, the physical fire. At the ritualistic level, Agni is the being or god that rules over fire. At the esoteric level, Agni is the fire of consciousness within us all. Therefore, Agni is also called Jātavedas, the knower of all births, as birth is associated with consciousness. It is really this fire of consciousness that mediates between the worlds in outward worship, and inward contemplation. Meditation, in Hindu teaching, is associated with the rising of consciousness to higher levels, to higher chakras, and this rising of inner Agni associated with meditative practices is called tapas (spiritual ardor). It may be interesting for you to know that one of the beginning stages in Hindu meditation involves calming the mind, and imagining a single burning flame. Once you see the flame within your mind, you realize that that flame has no other existence but in your mind. Esoterically, Indra of the Vedas is the mind, and Agni, the consciousness that permeates it.

    You may benefit from these two articles written by Dr. David Frawley:
    Agni and the Fire of Self-Inquiry
    The Secret of Agni


    A Sanskrit equivalent of the same: Sarve Janah Sukhino Bhavantu! :)

    AUM Shanti,
    Agnideva.
     
  3. bodhi_mindisfree

    bodhi_mindisfree New Member

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    Thank you very much.
     

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