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Agni is a Hindu and Vedic deity. The word agni is Sanskrit for "fire" (noun), cognate with Latin ignis (the root of English ignite), Russian ogon (fire), pronounced agon, and ogni, pronounced agni (fires). Agni has three forms: fire, lightning and the sun.
Agni is one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day, yet he is also immortal.
His cult survived the change of the ancient Vedic fire worship into modern Hinduism. The sacred fire-drill (agnimathana) for procuring the temple-fire by friction — symbolic of Agni's daily miraculous birth — is still used.
Additional recommended knowledge
In Hindu art, Agni is depicted with two or seven hands, two heads and three legs. In each head , he has seven fiery tongues with which he licks sacrificial butter. He rides a ram or in a chariot harnessed by fiery horses. His attributes are an axe, torch, prayer beads and a flaming spear. 
Agni is represented as red and two-faced, 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. One of his names is Saptajihva, "having seven tongues".
Agni in the Vedas
His name is the first word of the first hymn of the Rigveda:-
अग्नि॒म् ई॑ळे पुरो॒हि॑तं यज्ञ॒स्य॑ देव॒म् ऋत्वि॒ज॑म् । होता॑रं रत्नधा॒त॑मम् ॥
He is the supreme director of religious ceremonies and duties, and figures as messenger between mortals and gods. Vedic rituals concerned with Agni include the Agnicayana, that is, the piling of the fire altar, the Agnihotra, viz., invocation of Agni.
The Rigveda often says that Agni arises from water or dwells in the waters. He may have originally been the same as Apam Napat. This may have originally referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water, as in a fire temple at Surakhany near Baku in Azerbaijan . Other Rigvedic names, epitheta or aspects of Agni include Matarishvan, Bharata and the Apris.
Agni is a deva, second only to Indra in the power and importance attributed to him in Vedic mythology, with 218 out of 1,028 hymns of the Rigveda dedicated to him. He is Indra's twin, and therefore a son of Dyaus Pita and Prthivi. He is married to Svaha, "oblation" personified.
He is one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the southeast.
Agni in other faiths and religions
In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, he is a lokapāla guarding the Southeast. Jigten lugs kyi bstan bcos: which translates, "Make your hearth in the southeast corner of the house, which is the quarter of Agni". He also plays a central role in most Buddhist homa fire-puja rites.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Agni". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|