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AGNİ - Misc (Rigveda), A Vedic Reader for Students 
A Vedic Reader for Students, by Arthur Anthony MacDonnell. Containing Thirty Hymns of the Rigveda in the original Samhita and Pada Texts, with Transliteration, Translation, Explanatory Notes, Introduction, Vocabulary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917).
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As the personification of the sacrificial fire, Agni is second in importance to Indra (ii. 12) only, being addressed in at least 200 hymns. The anthropomorphism of his physical appearance is only rudimentary, and is connected chiefly with the sacrificial aspect of fire. Thus he is butter-backed, flame-haired, and has a tawny beard, sharp jaws, and golden teeth. Mention is often made of his tongue, with which the gods eat the oblation. With a burning head he faces in all directions.
He is compared with various animals: he resembles a bull that bellows, and has horns which he sharpens; when born he is often called a calf; he is kindled like a horse that brings the gods, and is yoked to convey the sacrifice to them. He is also a divine bird; he is the eagle of the sky; as dwelling in the waters he is like a goose; he is winged, and he takes possession of the wood as a bird perches on a tree.
Wood or ghee is his food, melted butter his beverage; and he is nourished three times a day. He is the mouth by which the gods eat the sacrifice; and his flames are spoons with which he besprinkles the gods; but he is also asked to consume the offerings himself. He is sometimes, though then nearly always with other gods, invited to drink the Soma juice.
His brightness is much dwelt upon: he shines like the sun; his lustre is like the rays of the dawn and the sun, and like the lightnings of the rain-cloud. He shines even at night, and dispels the darkness with his beams. On the other hand, his path is black when he invades the forests and shaves the earth as a barber a beard. His flames are like roaring waves, and his sound is like the thunder of heaven. His red smoke rises up to the firmament; like the erector of a post he supports the sky with his smoke. ‘Smoke-bannered’ (dhūmá-ketu) is his frequent and exclusive epithet.
He has a shining, golden, lightning car, drawn by two or more ruddy and tawny steeds. He is a charioteer of the sacrifice, and with his steeds he brings the gods on his car.
He is the child of Heaven (Dyáus), and is often called the son of Heaven and Earth (i. 160). He is also the offspring of the waters. The gods generated him as a light for the Āryan or for man, and placed him among men. Indra is called Agni’s twin brother, and is more closely associated with him than any other god.
The mythology of Agni, apart from his sacrificial activity, is mainly concerned with his various births, forms, and abodes. Mention is often made of his daily production from the two kindling sticks (aráṇīs), which are his parents or his mothers. From the dry wood Agni is born living; as soon as born the child devours his parents. By the ten maidens that produce him are meant the ten fingers of the kindler. Owing to the force required to kindle Agni he is often called ‘son of strength’ (sáhasaḥ sūnúḥ). Being produced every morning he is young; at the same time no sacrificer is older than Agni, for he conducted the first sacrifice. Again, Agni’s origin in the aerial waters is often referred to: he is an embryo of the waters; he is kindled in the waters; he is a bull that has grown in the lap of the waters. As the ‘son of Waters’ (ii. 35) he has become a separate deity. He is also sometimes conceived as latent in terrestrial waters. This notion of Agni in the waters is a prominent one in the RV. Thirdly, a celestial origin of Agni is often mentioned: he is born in the highest heaven, and was brought down from heaven by Mātariśvan, the Indian Prometheus; and the acquisition of fire by man is regarded as a gift of the gods as well as a production of Mātariśvan. The Sun (vii. 63) is further regarded as a form of Agni. Thus Agni is the light of heaven in the bright sky; he was born on the other side of the air and sees all things; he is born as the sun rising in the morning. Hence Agni comes to have a triple character. His births are three or threefold; the gods made him threefold; he is threefold light; he has three heads, three bodies, three stations. This threefold nature of Agni is clearly recognized in the RV., and represents the earliest Indian trinity.
The universe being also regarded as divided into the two divisions of heaven and earth, Agni is sometimes said to have two origins, and indeed exclusively bears the epithet dvi-jánman having two births. As being kindled in numerous dwellings Agni is also said to have many births.
Agni is more closely associated with human life than any other deity. He is the only god called gṛhá-pati lord of the house, and is constantly spoken of as a guest (átithi) in human dwellings. He is an immortal who has taken up his abode among mortals. Thus he comes to be termed the nearest kinsman of men. He is oftenest described as a father, sometimes also as a brother or even as a son of his worshippers. He both takes the offerings of men to the gods and brings the gods to the sacrifice. He is thus characteristically a messenger (dūtá) appointed by gods and by men to be an ‘oblation-bearer’.
As the centre of the sacrifice he comes to be celebrated as the divine counterpart of the earthly priesthood. Hence he is often called priest (ṛtvíj, vípra), domestic priest (puróhita), and more often than by any other name invoking priest (hótṛ), also officiating priest (adhvaryú) and praying priest (brahmán). His priesthood is the most salient feature of his character; he is in fact the great priest, as Indra is the great warrior.
Agni’s wisdom is often dwelt upon. As knowing all the details of sacrifice, he is wise and all-knowing, and is exclusively called jātá-vedas he who knows all created beings.
He is a great benefactor of his worshippers, protecting and delivering them, and bestowing on them all kinds of boons, but pre-eminently domestic welfare, offspring, and prosperity.
His greatness is often lauded, and is once even said to surpass that of the other gods. His cosmic and creative powers are also frequently praised.
From the ordinary sacrificial Agni who conveys the offering (havya-vá̄hana) is distinguished his corpse-devouring (kravyá̄d) form that burns the body on the funeral pyre (x. 14). Another function of Agni is to burn and dispel evil spirits and hostile magic.
The sacrificial fire was already in the Indo-Iranian period the centre of a developed ritual, and was personified and worshipped as a mighty, wise, and beneficent god. It seems to have been an Indo-European institution also, since the Italians and Greeks, as well as the Indians and Iranians, had the custom of offering gifts to the gods in fire. But whether it was already personified in that remote period is a matter of conjecture.
The name of Agni (Lat. igni-s, Slavonic ogni) is Indo-European, and may originally have meant the ‘agile’ as derived from the root ag to drive (Lat. ago, Gk. ἄγω, Skt. ájāmi).
Rigveda i. 1.
The metre of this hymn is Gāyatrī (p. 438) in which nearly one-fourth of the RV. is composed. It consists of three octosyllabic verses identical in construction, each of which, when normal, ends with two iambics (ᴗ–ᴗ). The first two verses are in the Saṃhitā treated as a hemistich; but there is no reason to suppose that in the original text the second verse was more sharply divided from the third than from the first.
See Page Number 3, Hymn Number 1 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
I magnify Agni the domestic priest, the divine ministrant of the sacrifice, the invoker, best bestower of treasure.
On the marking of the accent in the RV. see p. 448, 2. The verb īḷe (1. s. pr. Ā. of īḍ: ḷ for ḍ between vowels, p. 3, f. n. 2) has no Udātta because it is in a principal sentence and does not begin a sentence or Pāda (p. 466, 19 A.); its first syllable bears the dependent Svarita which follows the Udātta of the preceding syllable (p. 448, 1). puró-hitam has the accent of a Karmadhāraya when the last member is a pp. (p. 456, top). yajñásya is to be taken with ṛtvíjam (not with puróhitam according to Sāyaṇa), both because the genitive normally precedes the noun that governs it (p. 285 e), and because it is in the same Pāda; cp. RV. viii. 38, 1; yajñásya hí sthá ṛtvíjā ye two (Indra-Agni) are ministrants of the sacrifice. The dependent Svarita which the first syllable of ṛtvíjam would otherwise bear (like īḷe), disappears because this syllable must be marked with the Anudātta that precedes an Udātta. ṛtv-íj though etymologically a compound (ṛtu + ij = yaj) is not analysed in the Pada text, because the second member does not occur as an independent word; cp. x. 2, 5: agnír devá̄ṁ̆ ṛtuśó yajāti may Agni sacrifice to the gods according to the seasons. ratna-dhá̄-tama (with the ordinary Tp. accent: p. 456, 2): the Pada text never divides a cd. into more than two members. The suffix tama, which the Pada treats as equivalent to a final member of a cd., is here regarded as forming a unit with dhā; cp. on the other hand virá-vat + tama in 3 c and citrá-śravas + tama in 5 b. rátna never means jewel in the RV.
See Page Number 4, Hymn Number 2 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
Agni to be magnified by past and present seers, may he conduct the gods here.
ṛ́ṣibhis: The declensional endings bhyām, bhis, bhyas, su are in the Pada text treated like final members of compounds and separated, but not when the pure stem, as in the a dec., is modified in the preceding member; hence pú̄rvebhis (p. 77, note 9) is not analysed. í̄ḍyas: to be read as í̄ḷias (p. 16, 2 d). nú̄tanais: note that the two forms of the inst. pl. of the a dec. in ais and ebhis constantly occur in the same stanza. sá (49) being unmarked at the beginning of a Pāda, has the Udātta; the dependent Svarita of the following syllable disappears before the Anudātta required to indicate the following Udātta of vá̄ṁ̆ (Sandhi, see 39). This Anudātta and the Svarita of vàkṣati show that all the intervening unmarked syllables vá̄ṁ̆ éhá have the Udātta. All the unaccented syllables following a Svarita (till the Anudātta preceding an Udātta) remain unmarked; hence the last two syllables of vàkṣati are unmarked; but in the Pada text every syllable of a word which has no Udātta is marked with the Anudātta; thus vākṣātī. The latter word is the s ao. sb. of vah carry for vah-s-a-ti (143, 2; 69 a). In á̄ ihá vakṣati, the prp. because it is in a principal sentence is uncompounded and accented (p. 468, 20), besides as very often being separated from the verb by another word. The verb vah is constantly connected with Agni, who conveys the sacrifice and brings the gods. Syntactically the first hemistich is equivalent to a rel. clause, sá being the correlative (cp. p. 294 a). The gerundive í̄ḍyas strictly speaking belongs in sense to nú̄tanais, but is loosely construed with pú̄rvebhis also, meaning ‘is to be magnified by present seers and (was) to be magnified by past seers’. The pcl. utá and(p. 222) is always significant in the RV.
See Page Number 5, Hymn Number 3 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
Through Agni may one obtain wealth day by day (and) prosperity, glorious (and) most abounding in heroes.
aśnav-a-t: sb. pr. of aṃś attain, 3. s. ind. pr. aśnóti (cp. p. 134); the prn. ‘he’ inherent in the 3. s. of the vb. is here used in the indefinite sense of ‘one’, as so often in the 3. s. op. in classical Sanskrit. rayím, póṣam: co-ordinate nouns are constantly used in the RV. without the conjunction ca. divé-dive: this is one of the numerous itv. compounds found in the RV., which are always accented on the first member only, and are analysed in the Pada text like other compounds (189 C a). yaśásam: this is one of the few adjectives ending in -ás that occur in the RV.; the corresponding n. substantives are accented on the first syllable, as yáś-as fame(83, 2 a; 182, p. 256). vīrá-vat-tamam: both the suffix vant (p. 264, cp. 185 a) and the superlative suffix tama are treated in the Pada text like final members of a cd.; ví̄rávant being here regarded as a unit, it is treated as the first member in the analysis (cp. note on ratna-dhá̄tama in 1 c). In these two adjectives we again have co-ordination without the connecting pcl. ca. Their exact meaning is ‘causing fame’ and ‘produced by many heroic sons’, fame and brave fighters being constantly prayed for in the hymns.
See Page Number 6, Hymn Number 4 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
O Agni, the worship and sacrifice that thou encompassest on every side, that same goes to the gods.
yajñám adhvarám: again co-ordination without ca; the former has a wider sense = worship (prayer and offering); the latter = sacrificial act. viśvá-tas: the prn. adj. víśva usually shifts its accent to the second syllable before adv. suffixes and as first member of a cd. (p. 454, 10). ási is accented as the vb. of a subordinate clause (p. 467, B). sá íd: all successively unmarked syllables at the beginning of a hemistich have the Udātta (p. 449, 2). On the particle íd see p. 218. devéṣu: the loc. of the goal reached (p. 325, 1 b); the acc., which might be used, would rather express the goal to which the motion is directed. gachati: as the vb. of a principal sentence has no Udātta (19 A); nor has it any accent mark in the Saṃhitā text because all unaccented syllables following a dependent Svarita remain unmarked; on the other hand, all the syllables of an unaccented word are marked with the Anudātta in the Pada text (cp. note on 2 d). The first syllable of gachati is long by position (p. 437, a 3).
See Page Number 7, Hymn Number 5 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
May Agni the invoker, of wise intelligence, the true, of most brilliant fame, the god come with the gods.
Both kaví-kratus and citrá-śravas have the regular Bv. accent (p. 455 c); the latter cd. is not analysed in the Pada text because it forms a unit as first member, from which tama is separated as the second; cp. notes on tama in 1 c and 3 c. devébhis: the inst. often expresses a sociative sense without a prp. (like saha in Skt.): see 199 A 1. devó devébhiḥ: the juxtaposition of forms of the same word, to express a contrast, is common in the RV. gam-a-t: root ao. sb. of gam (p. 171); on the accentuation of á̄ gamat see p. 468, 20 A a.
See Page Number 7, Hymn Number 6 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
Just what good thou, O Agni, wilt do for the worshipper, that (purpose) of thee (comes) true, O Aṅgiras.
aṅgá: on this pcl. see 180 (p. 213). dāśúṣe: dat. of dāś-vá̄ṃs, one of the few pf. pt. stems in the RV. formed without red. (140, 5; 157 b), of which only vid-vá̄ṃs survives in Skt. tvám: here, as nearly everywhere in the RV., to be read as tuám on account of the metre. Though the Pādas forming a hemistich constitute a metrical unit, that is, are not divided from each other either in Sandhi or in the marking of the accent, the second Pāda is syntactically separated from the first inasmuch as it is treated as a new sentence, a voc. or a vb. at its beginning being always accented (p. 465, 18 a; 19 b). Hence Agne is accented (the Udātta being, as always, on the first syllable, p. 465, 18), while Aṅgíras is not (p. 466, 18 b). kariṣyási (ft. of kṛ do): that is, whatever good thou intendest to do to the worshipper will certainly be realized. táva ít tát: that intention of thee.
See Page Number 8, Hymn Number 7 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
To thee, O Agni, day by day, O illuminer of gloom, we come with thought bringing homage;
tvā as the enc. form of tvá̄m (109 a) and Agne as a voc. in the middle of a Pāda (p. 466 b) are unaccented. The acc. tvā is most naturally to be taken as governed by the preposition úpa (p. 209), though it might otherwise be quite well dependent on the cd. vb. úpa á̄-imasi (a common combination of úpa and á̄ with verbs meaning to go), as the first prp. is often widely separated from the verb (191 f;p. 468, 20 a). dóṣā-vastar: Sāyaṇa explains this cd. (which occurs here only) as by night and day, but vastar never occurs as an adv. and the accent of doṣá̄ is shifted (which is not otherwise the case in such cds., as sāyáṃ-prātar evening and morning, from sāyám); the explanation as O illuminer (from 1. vas shine) of darkness (with voc. accent on the first syllable) is much more probable, being supported by the description of Indra (iii. 49, 4) as kṣapá̄ṃ vastá̄ janitá̄ sú̄ryasya illuminer of nights, generator of the Sun. dhiyá̄ inst. of dhí̄ thought (accent, p. 458, 1), used in the sense of mental prayer. námas, lit. bow, implies a gesture of adoration. bhárantas: N. pl. pr. pt. of bhṛ bear. á̄-imasi: the ending masi is five times as common as mas in the RV. (p. 125, f. n. 2).
See Page Number 8, Hymn Number 8 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
(to thee) ruling over sacrifices, the shining guardian of order, growing in thine own house.
rá̄jantam: this and the other accusatives in this stanza are in agreement with tvā in the preceding one. adhvará̄ṇã̄m: governed by the preceding word, because verbs of ruling take the gen. (202 A a); the final syllable ām must be pronounced with a slur equivalent to two syllables (like a vowel sung in music). go-pá̄m: one of the many m. stems in final radical ā (p. 78), which in Skt. is always shortened to a (as go-pa). ṛtá means the regular order of nature, such as the unvarying course of the sun and moon, and of the seasons; then, on one hand, the regular course of sacrifice (rite); on the other, moral order (right), a sense replaced in Skt. by dharma. Agni is specially the guardian of ṛtá in the ritual sense, because the sacrificial fire is regularly kindled every day; Varuṇa (vii. 86) is specially the guardian of ṛtá in the moral sense. várdhamānam: growing in thine own house, because the sacrificial fire after being kindled flames up in its receptacle on the altar. své: to be read as sué; this prn. meaning own refers to all three persons and numbers in the RV., my own, thy own, his own, &c. (cp. p. 112 c). dáme: this word (= Lat. domu-s) is common in the RV., but has disappeared in Skt.
See Page Number 9, Hymn Number 9 in PDF for Sanskrit Version
So, O Agni, be easy of access to us, as a father to his son; abide with us for our well-being.
sá is here used in its frequent anaphoric sense of as such, thus(p. 294 b). nas enc. dat. (109 a) parallel to sūnáve. pitá̄ iva: the enc. pcl. iva is regularly treated by the Pada text as the second member of a cd.; in the RV. pitṛ́ is usually coupled with sūnú, mātṛ́ with putrá. sūnávé: this word as written in the Saṃhitā text appears with two Udāttas, because the Udātta of the elided á is thrown back on the preceding syllable (p. 465, 3); but this á must be restored, as the metre shows, and sūnáve Ágne read. Though a is elided in about 75 per cent. of its occurrences in the written Saṃhitā text, it remains in the rest; it must be pronounced in about 99 per cent. (cp. p. 23, f. n. 4 and 5). The vowel Sandhi which is invariably applied between the final and initial sounds of the two Pādas of a hemistich, must always be resolved to restore the metre. This is another indication (see note on Ágne in 6 b) that the second and the first Pāda were originally as independent of each other as the second and the third. On the accentuation of sūpāyaná as a Bv. see p. 455, c α. sácasvā: this verb (which is exclusively Vedic) is construed with the acc. (here nas) or the inst.; the vowel of sva, the ending of the 2. s. ipv. Ā., is here (like many other final vowels) lengthened in the Saṃhitā, but is regularly short in the Pada text. svastáye must be read as su-astáye; it has the sense of a final dat. (200 B 2). It is not analysed in the Pada text because asti does not occur as an independent nominal stem.