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Thread: Why Is Shrī Agni Called "Agni Vaishvānara"?

  1. #1

    Why Is Shrī Agni Called "Agni Vaishvānara"?

    Namaste dear friends,could anyone tell me why Agni is called as Vaisvanara(universal man) in Vedic era texts?

    Is this Vaisvanara same as the Purusha concept,which is also considered as a universal cosmic man?

    A.
    Last edited by Sudas Paijavana; 09 January 2014 at 03:18 AM.
    "Only one is the fire,which is inflamed in numerous ways.Only one is the sun, which pervades the whole universe.Only one is the dawn,which illuminates all things. Similarly,all that exists is The One and it has manifested into everything here.”

    ~ Rg Veda 8.58.2

  2. #2

    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aryavartian View Post
    Namaste dear friends,could anyone tell me why Agni is called as Vaisvanara(universal man) in Vedic era texts?

    Is this Vaisvanara same as the Purusha concept,which is also considered as a universal cosmic man?

    A.
    Pranam-s,

    In its most basic sense, "VaishvAnara" denotes three noble ideas:

    • The fire that is in all humans or all living beings.
    • The fire of all mankind.
    • The fire [altar] that is kept by those that abide by Vrata.


    "[O' Shri Agni!!!] The universe depends upon thy power and might [that is] within the sea, within the heart, within all life...." (R.V.4.58.11)

    Shri Agni has invincible power that is unlimited, that which has no beginning and no end; he is in the aerial ocean which is the eternal firmament of his all-pervading abode, and he presents himself in duality with Shri Indra as lightning (Shri Agni is known as Born of Thunder and Born of Rain for this very reason); Shri Agni belongs to all man/womankind, due to being VaishvAnara, and therefore he is within all life as the vital principle and heat of our desire, our waking and sleeping, and being indirectly represented in us as our spiritual dharma. This is why Shri Agni is known as VaishvAnara.

    Another reason, which is currently of minute importance, is that Shri Agni was the common God of all those of ārya-dharma (Indic & pre-Zoroastrian Iranic tribes that were Yagna-centric/Yagna-oriented, hence the epithet: Vaishvānara - the Fire of the Men of Vedic Rites). In fact, Shri Agni was also an important God of the Paktha-s, who were Hindu/Vedic before becoming Zoroastrian, later Buddhist, now presently Muslim. One might say that Agni was important to the Zoroastrians, but this is misleading, because the Zoraostrians, though they venerated a fire, did not worship the proper fire. In Vedic Dharma, properness, specifics, and precision & accuracy are of utmost importance. Therefore, one can keep a fire and venerate a fire in the most of intensity for various religious preferences, but if it is not the proper Vedic fire, it is not Agni VaishvAnara in the socio-religio-historical sense, for Shri Agni is summoned through the correct and precise utterances of the Holy Rica-s:

    "Unsatisfied, with speech devoid of vigor, scanty and frivolous and inconclusive, wherefore do they[1] address thee here, O' Shri Agni? Let these who have no weapons[2] suffer sorrow." (R.V.4.5.14)

    1. They: those that do not abide by the Dharma of Yagya/Yagna; those that abide by different rites (a-vrata; e.g., Jains & Zoroastrians, etc.).

    2. These who have no weapons: those that do not have the necessities or instruments to start nor conduct the Yagya to give oblations and please Shri Agni (e.g., the proper fire altar, the appropriate ladles, the correct Ghee).

    However, this historical attitude by the Hindu Forefathers was selective, but at present understandable since those times had a different ethos and social atmosphere. The everlasting truth, though, is that Shri Agni as VaishvAnara is universal in the sense that he is to be praised by any devoted Hindu of any background, not just Indic and Iranic.

    Agni, as per the Vedic VaishvAnara Hymns, is the same as the Upanishadic concept of BrahmAn. Shri Agni is the Universal Cosmic "man".

    The following, as per my honest assessment, is the "Gayatri Mantra" of Shri Agni, though obviously not of gāyatri meter:

    "...for our every thought, O' Agni, you are the ruler: you forever increase the wisdom of the pious/devoted [that come to seek you out]." (R.V.4.6.1)
    Last edited by Sudas Paijavana; 10 January 2014 at 08:06 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Namste,

    Sudas has given good unique explanation. A few inputs from me.

    Vedic Yagya perspective:

    Agni is the first God to be invoked. No Yagya can begin without Agnidev. Agnidev is the only deva who has access to all the planes, to all the loka-s. It is Agnideva who takes our offerings (havis - that which is offered in havan (Sudas correct me if I am wrong) including tridev.

    Other perspective.

    Agni (fire) is present in everything, in wood also, else it cannot burn, but in latent form. Hence Agni is said to be present everywhere. So Agnidev is also present everywhere, that is why Agnidev can take our offering to all Deva-s

    Since the definition of Brahman is all-pervading, and Brahman cannot be described, hence it can only be given an approximation with equating it with something that is has similar characteristic e.g. akash and agni,

    While AkASa represents the subtleness and omnipresence, agni too represents omnipresence. Hence Agnideva is called as VaiSnAvara.

    Note: Agni is present everywhere is said by SureSvarAcArya in one of his vArtika-s.

    OM Tat Sat.
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  4. #4

    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Thanks Sri Sudas and Sri Amrut for the informative replies

    I just did a search and came across this passage from Satapatha Brahmana:

    This Agni Vaisvânara is no other than the Purusha; and, verily, whosoever thus knows that Agni Vaisvânara as Purusha-like, as established within the Purusha,
    Satapatha Brahmana 10.6.1.11
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbr/sbe43/sbe4371.htm

    So i got my answer,Agni is indeed identified with Purusha.He is also identified with Prajapati(who is same as Purusha) or the self of Prajapati born from his mouth.

    I think Agni was by far the most important Deva along with Indra during the Vedic age.

    Even during Upanishadic era,we find verses like this claiming importance of Agni:

    Among the Devas that Brahman existed as Agni
    Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.15
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe15/sbe15055.htm

    Btw,Sri Sudas,

    Quote Originally Posted by Sudas Paijavana View Post
    One might say that Agni was important to the Zoroastrians, but this is misleading, because the Zoraostrians, though they venerated a fire, did not worship the proper fire.
    Zoroastrians view fire as a Yazata(divinity) see : http://www.avesta.org/angels.html

    Search for "Atar".

    Also,it is worth noting that the Zoroastrian fire priests are known as Athravans,very similar to Vedic Atharavana Rishi who was also specialized in fire cult.Perhaps the Zoroastrian priesthood derives from Rishi Atharvana.
    "Only one is the fire,which is inflamed in numerous ways.Only one is the sun, which pervades the whole universe.Only one is the dawn,which illuminates all things. Similarly,all that exists is The One and it has manifested into everything here.”

    ~ Rg Veda 8.58.2

  5. #5

    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    As of the Zoroastrians in regard to fire , they were fire worshipers and made no qualms about it .

    Yazata is not angel , as Zoroastrians would want us believe but a god worthy of worship. Even Ahuramazda was called 'yazata' .Yazatas are not angels(This is a modern Zoroastrian concept-see below)

    In avestan scriptures, all the holy fires were worshiped .


    " We worship thee, the Fire, O Ahura Mazda's son! We worship the fire Berezi-savangha (of the lofty use), and the fire Vohu-fryana (the good and friendly), and the fire Urvazishta (the most beneficial and most helpful), and the fire Vazishta (the most supporting), and the fire Spenishta (the most bountiful), and Nairya-sangha the Yazad of the royal lineage, and that fire which is the house-lord of all houses and Mazda-made, even the son of Ahura Mazda, the holy lord of the ritual order, with all the fires. "

    Yasna 17.11


    Fire was called "Son of Mazda" . (Waters are his wives) Confer the worship of 7(or 3-ahavaniya/garhapatya/ Dakshinagni) fires in Vedic India. 7 rigvedic priests and 7 avestan zoatars.

    When Zoroastrians came to India , they wrote a letter to chalukya king likening themselves to fire worshipers

    सुर्यँ ध्यायंति ये वै हुतवहमनिलं भुमिमाकाशमाद्यं
    तोयो सम्पंचतत्वं त्रिभुवनसदनं न्यासमंत्रैस्त्रिसन्ध्यं
    श्री होरमिज्दं बहुगुणगरिमाणं तमेवम् कृपालुं
    गौराः धीराः सुवीरा बहुबलनिलयास्ते वयं पारसीकं 1
    [Those who meditate on the Sun, and make offerings to the Fire, Wind, Earth, Space and Water,
    that is, to the five elements of the three-Worlds, through the nyAsa sandhyA-s thrice a day;
    Who adore the merciful shrI ahuramAzdAh, the Lord of the Gods, of many virtues;
    Those, (O rAjan,) we are, the pArasIka-s, bold, valiant, strong, and fair



    Muslims called them atash-parest=fire worshipers.


    When Christianity attacked z'ism , the English speaking z'ian elite from Bombay redefined their religion as monotheism(Much like Sikhism, arya samaj , brahma samaj did around the same time) .Hence the sudden denial of fire worship

  6. #6

    Exclamation Yajnas and Pashubandha

    Namaste everyone,i would like to discuss another aspect of Agni which is associated with rituals(Yajna).As we all know Agni is the most important deity in Yajna.As Amrut earlier said,no Yajna can be conducted without the use of Agni.

    I specifically want to discuss about pashubandha or animal sacrifice, which is part of some Vedic Yajnas,described in various ritualistic Vedic texts.

    My query is,are the pashus(animals) really killed and offered in Agni during Yajnas?As far as i know,the ritual procedures are as the following:


    1)Binding the pashu to the sacrificial pillar(yupa).

    2)Cleansing the pashu and anointing it with ghee or other ingredients.

    3) Suffocating(not butchering!) the pashu with a noose and "quieting" it.

    4) Purifying & cutting the "quieted" pashu up and offering various parts to the Gods through Agni.

    Now,from the sources that i am aware of,there are five kind of pashus which are mainly used in Yajnas viz man,bull,horse,ram and he-goat....could these five pashus symbolize something esoteric?I have also read that vapa or omentum offering is important in pashubandha,could this also be symbolical?


    I have came across certain enigmatic passages in Satapatha,Taittiriya,Aitareya and Panchavimsha Brahmanas,which states that the offering of cakes made up of grains(purodasha) is equal to the animal offering.Certain Yajnas conducted today involves symbolical animal sacrifices with cake baked in form of animals.See this image for example:





    But i don't know how do we tie the cake-animal to the yupa pillar, nor do i know how do we get the internal organs and vapa from it !!


    Could someone please clarify my doubts?



    With regards,
    A.
    "Only one is the fire,which is inflamed in numerous ways.Only one is the sun, which pervades the whole universe.Only one is the dawn,which illuminates all things. Similarly,all that exists is The One and it has manifested into everything here.”

    ~ Rg Veda 8.58.2

  7. #7
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    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Namaste,

    I am not well versed with Veda-s. From my little knowledge I can share some of my views. The reply may not clarify your doubt, but they might be helpful.

    Madhvacharya felt compassion for animals and hence he substituted Wheat floor for flesh. Hence there was decline in animal sacrifice. Of course Lord Buddha also opposed violence.

    So the cake would mean something made up of floor. Yet the intention is what matters. You think of it as a pasu and then kill it, so in the mind there is hinsA.

    Veda-s are for everybody. They cover people of all types of temperaments. Some say that vedic sacrifices are allowed to suit one type of people. Smiritis have 8 types of different marriages, that includes bAlavivAha, as Brahma VivAha. (refer Marriage --> Eight Forms of Marriage )

    Another thing is that whatever is offered in Yagna is called as havis (havan) and whatever is directly offered is called as balI. Directly offered means that which is not offered in Yagna fire, but sprinkled in four directions like water or uncooked rice. They are also called balI

    Another important factor is quantity. It is not that animal sacrifices should be done on a large scale.

    Only a small part of flesh (vApa), which is not greater than the size of thumb, is taken as prasad, that too without adding any mAsAlA-s (spieces). Also the soma rasa is taken only in minimal qty. Prasad is generally not taken in large quantity. More you distribute, the more people can have it.

    Regarding animal sacrifices, we give too much importance to this physical world, hence we feel sad for animal sacrifices. But insects, that harm us like cockroaches, etc, are often killed.

    Animals, taht are sacrificed are blessed. Their souls may bypass some life forms and enter into the body of something that is closer to human birth. Yes they do undergo pain, but for devata-s who accept only a particular form and with whose blessings the whole ecosystems work properly, little sacrifices has to be done. In Kali yuga it is said that horse sacrifice is banned.

    Out of 40 sanskar-s only a few have animal sacrifices that too they are not compulsory for every body. Certain things are optional. In ancient times, people were aware of their other subtle bodies and other loka-s. Hence they had a borader picture and a better understanding than us, who only have awareness of physical body.

    Please find some links that may be useful

    Is Sacrificial Killing Justified?

    Hindu Dharma, Part 5 - This contains some related topics like

    Yajna or Sacrifice , The Threefold Purpose of Yajna , The Celestials and Mortals Help Each Other , The Capacity to Work and the Capacity to Protect , Rites for Celestials and Rites for Fathers , The Purpose of Sacrifices , Is Sacrificial Killing Justified? , Animal Sacrifice in the Age of Kali , The One Goal , Those who conduct Sacrifces ... To name a few

    OM
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  8. #8

    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Namaste Amrut,interesting reply.However,let me discuss a few points from your post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Indiaspirituality Amrut View Post

    So the cake would mean something made up of floor. Yet the intention is what matters. You think of it as a pasu and then kill it, so in the mind there is hinsA.
    Well,the cake which is "killed" doesn't have any life.So how is that Himsa?We are only doing it symbolically.Even the pressing of Soma plants are referred as "killing" in Taittiriya Samhita 6.6.9.2



    Another important factor is quantity. It is not that animal sacrifices should be done on a large scale.
    I think it depends on what kind of Yajnas we are doing.Ashvamedha is the "king of sacrifices" which requires over 100 animals.

    Only a small part of flesh (vApa), which is not greater than the size of thumb, is taken as prasad,
    Vapa is not flesh Vapa is omentum,a yellow cheese like substance:





    Regarding animal sacrifices, we give too much importance to this physical world, hence we feel sad for animal sacrifices. But insects, that harm us like cockroaches, etc, are often killed.
    Yes,exactly.We kill many tiny living beings like ants and mosquitoes knowingly or unknowingly everyday! I think absolute Ahimsa is impossible,if we try to practice absolute Ahimsa,we might end up as a Digambara Jaina.




    Yes they do undergo pain,
    I think the suffocation process involves no pain to the animal.Satapatha Brahmana says the breath of the victim should be united with the wind.There is no butchering or bloodshed during the Vedic sacrificial method(although,the animal would be cut up AFTER the suffocation).



    Thanks for the links

    I have already read the first link.

    I still can't figure out how we tie up the baked animal cake into the yupa in symbolical sacrifices....
    "Only one is the fire,which is inflamed in numerous ways.Only one is the sun, which pervades the whole universe.Only one is the dawn,which illuminates all things. Similarly,all that exists is The One and it has manifested into everything here.”

    ~ Rg Veda 8.58.2

  9. #9
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    Re: Agni Vaisvanara.

    Namaste A,

    Thanks for clarification. What matters is the intention. When the intention is dropped i.e. ahimsA should be within the mind. No matter how much external purity you try to have, it does not mean that mind is free of desires.

    ahimsA is the absence of violent thoughts. Symbolic interpretations help one drop external karma and enter into the realm of mind. Even in Tantra, first there are external rituals, then mixed, later only internal. you cannot expect people to simply give up what they are doing and completely change life style.
    and ashvamega sacrifice is not a common thing.

    When mind is free from ahimsA, Patanjali Yoga sutra says that in presence of such a saint, even hinsaka prANI carnivorious animals (temporarily) renounce their violent (killing) tendencies.

    If you have desire and you are not allowed to fulfil it and you are not capable to renounce it, then what is to be done.

    Sacrifices is not the final goal of veda-s. Mentioning them does not mean that it is compulsory to all. It only covers certain class of people.

    Different instructions are given to people with different level of inner purity and mental make-up. thoughts itself are violence and are burden on Self. Without thoughts one experiences freedom. Seriously, mind remains fresh. thoughts drain energy and we experience fatigue.

    If hari name is the only way out, then veda-s are not needed right? see we have to take things in a proper way.

    One statement is not applicable to all throughout the life.

    We are told that it is better to chant mantra-s and cook food for ourselves. This is to retain purity. Then there are sattvik foods, that help increase sattva guna.

    But to a parivrajaka sanyAsin, this is not applicable. How knows he may receive his bhikshA from a prostitute. who knows if the food is cooked with chanting of mantra-s and that the oil used is not fish liver oil or maybe some non-veg is added in veg food. It is unrecognised and people ma not know that they are eating actually non-veg.

    What a sanyAsin is supposed to do? will he fall from his spiritual heights?

    He will simple surrender food to the Lord and his faith is so strong that the food will become sattvik. OR he may be able to overcome tamasik food and rise above it. He must have this capacity.

    So rules are not applicable to all through the life. It all depends. therefore, we have guru-sishya parampara, one is to one face-t-face teaching.

    When mind is at peace, you wont do any animal sacrifices, as the intention is gone and you wont also not substitute flesh with floor. You will focus on God that is in your heart.

    Hari OM
    Only God Is Truth, Everything Else Is Illusion - Ramakrishna
    Total Surrender of Ego to SELF is Real Bhakti - Ramana Maharshi

    Silence is the study of the scruptures. Meditation is the continuous thinking of Brahman which is to be meditated upon. The complete negation of both by knowledge is the vision of truth – sadAcAra-14 of Adi SankarAcArya

    namah SivAya vishnurUpAya viShNave SivarUpiNe, MBh, vanaparva, 3.39.76

    Sanskrit Dict | MW Dict | Gita Super Site | Hindu Dharma

  10. #10
    Namaste dear Amrut,


    Quote Originally Posted by Indiaspirituality Amrut View Post
    Namaste A,

    Thanks for clarification. What matters is the intention. When the intention is dropped i.e. ahimsA should be within the mind. No matter how much external purity you try to have, it does not mean that mind is free of desires.

    ahimsA is the absence of violent thoughts. Symbolic interpretations help one drop external karma and enter into the realm of mind. Even in Tantra, first there are external rituals, then mixed, later only internal. you cannot expect people to simply give up what they are doing and completely change life style.
    and ashvamega sacrifice is not a common thing.

    When mind is free from ahimsA, Patanjali Yoga sutra says that in presence of such a saint, even hinsaka prANI carnivorious animals (temporarily) renounce their violent (killing) tendencies.

    If you have desire and you are not allowed to fulfil it and you are not capable to renounce it, then what is to be done.

    Sacrifices is not the final goal of veda-s. Mentioning them does not mean that it is compulsory to all. It only covers certain class of people.

    Different instructions are given to people with different level of inner purity and mental make-up. thoughts itself are violence and are burden on Self. Without thoughts one experiences freedom. Seriously, mind remains fresh. thoughts drain energy and we experience fatigue.

    If hari name is the only way out, then veda-s are not needed right? see we have to take things in a proper way.

    One statement is not applicable to all throughout the life.

    We are told that it is better to chant mantra-s and cook food for ourselves. This is to retain purity. Then there are sattvik foods, that help increase sattva guna.

    But to a parivrajaka sanyAsin, this is not applicable. How knows he may receive his bhikshA from a prostitute. who knows if the food is cooked with chanting of mantra-s and that the oil used is not fish liver oil or maybe some non-veg is added in veg food. It is unrecognised and people ma not know that they are eating actually non-veg.

    What a sanyAsin is supposed to do? will he fall from his spiritual heights?

    He will simple surrender food to the Lord and his faith is so strong that the food will become sattvik. OR he may be able to overcome tamasik food and rise above it. He must have this capacity.

    So rules are not applicable to all through the life. It all depends. therefore, we have guru-sishya parampara, one is to one face-t-face teaching.

    When mind is at peace, you wont do any animal sacrifices, as the intention is gone and you wont also not substitute flesh with floor. You will focus on God that is in your heart.

    Hari OM
    What you said is applicable to the ones who follow jnana khanda and jnana marga.But there are extreme ritualists like Mimamsakas who follow karma khanda and karma marga,for them sacrifice is everything and they believe only way to attain Moksha is through sacrifices.
    Last edited by Aryavartian; 08 January 2014 at 03:37 PM.
    "Only one is the fire,which is inflamed in numerous ways.Only one is the sun, which pervades the whole universe.Only one is the dawn,which illuminates all things. Similarly,all that exists is The One and it has manifested into everything here.”

    ~ Rg Veda 8.58.2

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