Agni is one of the most popular gods from the Vedic era. Agni is an all preceding deity with his presence everywhere. He is present in the sky as the Sun. He is present in the atmosphere as lighting. He is present on Earth as fire. He also is a part of the Panchabhuta – the five key elements all living beings are made of. He resides inside us as the digestive fire in our stomach.
Agni is the son of sage Kashyap and Aditi. Agni works as a messenger between humans and gods. All the rituals, worship, sacrifices, and ceremonies are conducted in the presence of Agni. He acts as a mouth for all the gods. All the offerings made to deities during a ritual have to go through Agni. Only when Agni consumes the offerings, the other Gods get the essence of it. Agni was married to Swaha who was the daughter of Daksha. Agni was immensely attracted to the wives of Saptarishis. However, he knew that he could never have them as they were married. Sasha who was attracted to Agni got to know about this. She secretly disguised herself as the wives of the Saptarishis and approached Agni. However, when Swaha decided to disguise herself as Arundhati, Agni caught her. Agni was impressed by her and hence decided to marry her. All the rituals are incomplete without uttering Swaha ‘s name.
Initially, Agni was the consumer of all pious things. He was known as the mouth of all Gods. However, Agni was cursed by sage Bhrigu and Goddess Parvati which made him the devourer of everything.
Bhrigu was in relation to Puloma and they stayed together. They were not married according to the Hindu rituals. One day when Bhrigu was out of his house, a demon happened to see Puloma. Puloma was pregnant with Brighu's child at that time. The demon wanted to abduct her as she was strikingly beautiful. However, he knew that he could not do that to a woman who was married. Agni being the householder God was present there. The demon asked Agni whether Puloma was married to Bhrigu as per the sacred Vedic rites. Agni told him that they weren’t married. The demon now got an opportunity to kidnap Puloma. While trying to abduct her, Puloma gave birth to a son as she was fear-stricken. The demon got scared and ran away. When Bhrigu came to know about all this he became angry with Agni and cursed him that he shall become the devourer of everything on this planet and that his hunger shall never subside.
Agni became upset with this. He was the consumer of all pious things. But now because of this curse, he would have to consume all bad things as well. He decided to call upon a strike and refrained from his duties. Soon Brahma modified the curse and said that even though Agni will consume everything his inner body will always remain pure. After this Agni resumed his duties again
In another story, Agni had swallowed Shiva's golden seed which carried Kartikeya. The seed had a fire that could destroy the Universe. Hence Agni had consumed it. This act of Agni infuriated Parvati as the seed should have been rightfully placed in her womb. Parvati cursed Agni that he will become the devourer of everything. This is why Kartikeya is also known as the son of Agni.
Once there was a king named Shibi who was known for elaborate Yagnas and rituals. Once Shibi decided to conduct a ritual that would give him the position of a demi-God. Indra and Agni decided to test Shibi. Agni disguised himself as a pigeon and Indra disguised himself as a hawk. The pigeon ran to Shibi and asked for protection as the hawk was trying to eat it. Shibi assured protection. When the hawk came and saw this he pleaded to Shibi that his family was hungry and needed food. Shibi being the noble king decided to take out his own flesh and give it to the hawk so that he could feed his family. Pleased with this Indra and Agni bestowed boons upon Shibi.
Once Agni's stomach had become upset because of overfeeding. All the rituals made him consume a lot and hence his brightness vanished. He approached Brahma for help. Brahma suggested he ate the entire Khandava forest. Khandava forest was home to the serpent clan. The head of the serpent clan was a dear friend of Indra. Hence no matter how hard Agni tried to devour the forest he failed as Indra would immediately summon the rains and fire would cease. Disappointed with this Agni again went to Brahma for help. Brahma suggested Agni should wait until Krishna and Arjun arrived for his help. Agni patiently waited until the day Arjuna and Krishna entered the forests. The forests were a part of the Kuru region. Arjuna and Krishna agreed to help. Arjuna formed a canopy over the forests with his arrows and Agni set the forest on fire. He finally succeeded and was his stomach was healed.
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