(Last Updated on : 15/01/2011)
Lord Agni is one of the supreme Gods in Rig Veda
. Agni is associated with Vedic sacrifice and takes offerings to the other world in the fire. He is the chief of religious ceremonies and duties and acts as a messenger between human and gods. Agnicayana and Agnihotra are the Vedic rituals concerned with Lord Agni. Agni stands second to Lord Indra. Lord Agni is two faced and they suggest his destructive and beneficial qualities.
Agni is one of the guardians who represent southeast direction. The light Lord Agni emits is the light of knowledge so he is also called the illuminator of knowledge who lights up the path that leads to truth. According to Rig Veda Agni have two parents. As the divine personification of the fire of sacrifice, Agni is the mouth of the gods, the carrier of the oblation and the messenger between the human and the divine orders.
Agni has been worshipped by the Hindus since the Vedic period. Agni is one of the three supreme deities of the Rig Veda, i.e. Agni, Vayu and Surya. These three Gods preside over earth, air and sky respectively. In Rig Veda, largest numbers of hymns are addressed to Agni. Agni is known to be the son of Angiras and the grandson of Sandila. His wife is Swaha and has three sons - Pavak, Pavman and Suchi. He is known by various names like Jivalana, Dhananjaya and Vahni and so on.
Agni is described in the scriptures as red-hued. In Hari Vans, Agni is clothed in black and has smoke as his standard. He has four hands and rides in a chariot drawn by red horses. It is said that Agni Purana
has been recited by Agni himself to sage Vashist. Agni is the innermost light that shines brightly in all animate and inanimate objects. He is the divine personification of the fire of sacrifice.
As per custom Agni has ten forms. They are: lightning, fire, sun, absorbing fire, destructive fire, fire yielded through sticks used for sacrifices and rituals, fire given to a student during his Upanayana ceremony, domestic fire used for household uses, southern fire of ancestors used for some types of rituals and funeral fire in cremation rituals.