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TALES OF AGNI

Agni was the Chief God of Fire from Vedic times. He purified all sacrificial materials put in the Fire. He
takes all these offerings to the Gods, Demigods and Manes. There was a sage named Angiras who
performed severe austerities. Agni was of divine origin and was born in the clouds. He comes to Earth in
form of lightning (heavenly fire). Sage Angiras became self glowing and effulgent as Agni himself. Agni
disliked it and had to suffer from a curse of Sage Bhrigu. The story goes as follows--Curse on Agni
It was time when the Creator Prajapati created Fire and stationed him in the heavenly regions. Sage
Matharishva recovered Agni from these regions through his intense penance and gave him to the clan of
sages called the Bhrigus who were ardent Fire-worshippers. Once, Sage Bhrigu put Agni on guard in his
hermitage where his wife Puloma stayed. As the sage went to take bath in a distant river, a demon called
Puloman arrived there and questioned Agni, O Fire God! I had earlier set my mind on Puloma. It was
later that Sage Bhrigu took her. As you were a witness to the wedding ceremonies, I wish to know if Sage
Bhrigu made Puloma as a wife with Agni as witness. Agni refused to tell a lie and revealed that the
marriage had not been solemnized by proper mantra rites. Puloman on hearing this transformed himself
into a boar and sped off with Puloma. Puloma who was pregnant gave birth to a child Chyavana whose
glory was tremendous that due to the brilliance, the demon abandoned Puloma and ran away. Sage Bhrigu
on returning from his bath learnt as to what had happened and cursed Agni, Let you become the one who
consumes everything. Agni who was partaking until then only the sacrificial offerings began to swallow
everything. He disappeared from the world. At the request of Gods, Lord Brahma blessed Agni stating
that The curse is a blessing in disguise. Everything you touch will become pure. Agni started to function
in the world.
Due to this curse of Sage Bhrigu, Agni hid himself in the ocean. During the same time, there was a fierce
battle between the Gods and Asuras. The Asuras led by their leader Taraka defeated the Devas. As all the
Gods sought out Lord Brahma for a solution, he asked them to arrange for the marriage of Lord Shiva and
Goddess Parvathi. After their marriage, Agnis presence was required during the birth of Lord Kartikeya
who was the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.
As all Gods seeked out Agni who had hid himself in ocean, a frog unable to bear out the heat revealed
Agnis presence to the Gods. Agni cursed the frogs to have no vision in the night but the Gods blessed her
that she will have the ability to travel in pitch darkness. Agni then hid himself in a Banyan leaf and
further in the Shami tree. The birds revealed Agnis presence to the Gods. Agni cursed them Let your
tongues be curved O birds. The Gods blessed the birds that they could make sounds despite the curving
of their tongues. Agni thus was present in Arani wood from which the sacrificial fire was obtained by
churning these sticks. It was Agni who took the ovum of Lord Shiva which was the result of union of
Lord Shiva and Parvathi to the womb of Ganga and caused birth of Kartikeya. Agnis wife was Svahadevi
and therefore all sacrificial offerings were pronounced stating Svaha in the end. They had 3 children who
are symbolically the three fires Dakshina Agni, Garhapatya Agni and Ahavaniya Agni. According to
other Puranas it is Paavaka (lightning fire), Pavamaana (produced from churning) and Suchi (fire shining
in sun). Their progeny gave rise to various other 49 sacrificial and other forms of Fire. Kavyavaahana was
son of Paavamana (and carries oblations to manes), Havyavaahana is son of Suchi and carries oblation to
Gods while Sahasrakshas being the son of Paavaka is the fire ignited by Asuras. Other progeny are known

by various names such as Vishwajit Agni (moves in the intelligence of creature), Sarvaruka Agni (Foods
are digested), Baadava Agni (sea fire or undersea volcanic fire) and other fires like Suchi, Vali,
Dasyuman, Dakshina, Agniman that were created for rectification of Agnihotra rites.
Agnis hunger
Once Lord Krishna visited Indraprastha the new capital of the Pandavas. Arjuna seeked the Lord and
asked him to come with him to a delightful spot in the nearby forests. As both of them amused themselves
with recollections of their past deeds, Agni approached them in guise of a Brahmana and stated My
hunger is not easily satisfied. I am Agni and require food for my needs. The Khandava forest is guarded
by Lord Indra to protect the Naga clans and hence I cannot devour it as my flames are extinguished by the
rains poured by the command of Indra. Therefore I seek your protection to consume the forest. Agni
sought the divine help of Varuna in providing divine weapons to Lord Krishna and Arjuna such as the
discus, a divine chariot with horses, the Gandeeva bow and so on. Equipped with these they set out to
protect the forest from Indra. As Agni began to satisfy his hunger by the scorching flames that arose and
burnt the entire forest, an enraged Indra poured torrents of rain that were stopped by the shower of sharp
arrows hurled by Arjunas bow. As the other celestials like Yama, Vayu and other Devas stormed to
protect Indra, all their efforts were thwarted by Krishna and Arjuna. Agni consumed the entire forest for a
whole fortnight and finally being pleased granted boons of knowledge of the divine weapons to Arjuna.