By Dr Manish Pandit
To read the first and second parts of this blog click here: https://mmpandit.wordpress.com/2021/07/12/homa-as-a-standalone-sadhana-part-1-and-2/
Let’s move further and see what else does the Rg Veda say about Agni.
वह्निं॑ य॒शसं॑ वि॒दथ॑स्य के॒तुं सु॑प्रा॒व्यं॑ दू॒तं स॒द्योअ॑र्थं ।द्वि॒जन्मा॑नं र॒यिमि॑व प्रश॒स्तं रा॒तिं भ॑र॒द्भृग॑वे मात॒रिश्वा॑ ॥
This verse is Sukta 60 of the 1st Mandala of the Rg Veda. It mentions the word “Vanhi”… whose meaning can be derived as a carrier of oblations to the Devatas…. says that Matarisvan brought as a friend to Bhrigu, the celebrated Vanhi (Agni), who is the illuminator of the sacrifice and the careful protector of those who worship as well as (described as the) swift moving messenger of the Devatas, the offspring of the parents as it were a precious treasure. (From Sayanacharya and others)
Thus we see that the Vedas actually give the Shabda Pramana to Agni as the one who actually protects those who worship as well as the Vanhi and the illuminator of the one who worships. (this meaning can be derived through Anumana from verses of the Vishnu Sahasranaam and other sources in the Veda itself)
There is also the connection of Agni and intuitive perception in Aurobindo’s research. The next verse of the same Sukta is even more profound.
अ॒स्य शासु॑रु॒भया॑सः सचंते ह॒विष्मं॑त उ॒शिजो॒ ये च॒ मर्ताः॑ ।दि॒वश्चि॒त्पूर्वो॒ न्य॑सादि॒ होता॒पृच्छ्यो॑ वि॒श्पति॑र्वि॒क्षु वे॒धाः ॥
I reproduce the translation of Sayanacharya and further illustrated by Arya. The Devatas and men are worshippers of this ruler (Agni is now referred to as a ruler), those who are to be desired (Devatas) and those who are mortal and bearing oblations, for this venerable Invoker of the Devatas (see part 1 of my essay to see why Agni is given this epithet), the lord of men and distributor of all benefits was placed by the priests BEFORE the Sun was in the sky.
This above verse tells us further the primacy given to Agni worship in the Vedas.
Now the question arises as to why Agni is given so much importance in the Vedas?
The answer is given by the third verse which points out that Agni is engendered in the heart. Here we come again to the Apratyaksha Jagat or that INNER SPACE and inner working of the human body which is hidden to most but is revealed to those who worship using Agni- here is the verse:
तं नव्य॑सी हृ॒द आ जाय॑मानम॒स्मत्सु॑की॒र्तिर्मधु॑जिह्वमश्याः । यमृ॒त्विजो॑ वृ॒जने॒ मानु॑षासः॒ प्रय॑स्वंत आ॒यवो॒ जीज॑नंत ॥
This verse then tells us of the time when these offerings were made to get success in battle too.
Now, having established that Agni is so vital to the entire internal and external Universe, the Rg Veda moves on further to a rather impossible but true proposition:m given in a verse from Sukta 68
श्री॒णन्नुप॑ स्था॒द्दिवं॑ भुर॒ण्युः स्था॒तुश्च॒रथ॑म॒क्तून्व्यू॑र्णोत् ॥परि॒ यदे॑षा॒मेको॒ विश्वे॑षां॒ भुव॑द्दे॒वो दे॒वानां॑ महि॒त्वा ॥
This verse above says that Agni who is the one who is offered all the oblations, then ascends to heaven and CLOTHES ALL THINGS, moveable and immovable and the nights themselves with its (ethereal) light …. is radiant among the Devatas abd in himself ALONE comprehending the virtues of all the substances. The Sukta then goes on to call Agni the LORD of all possessions of the sons of Manu (all mankind) who is worshipped to get the (procreative) vigour within the bodies of all mankind (to get excellent progeny) this is the verse.
होता॒ निष॑त्तो॒ मनो॒रप॑त्ये॒ स चि॒न्न्वा॑सां॒ पती॑ रयी॒णां ॥इ॒च्छंत॒ रेतो॑ मि॒थस्त॒नूषु॒ सं जा॑नत॒ स्वैर्दक्षै॒रमू॑राः ॥
Thus the benefits of Agni karya are being proclaimed again and again, verse after verse.
In the next part, I will come to why the Vedas by Anumana call Agni as the foundation upon which the Universe rests.