God of the Day: Agni

After writing about Xiuhtecuhtli, the Aztec god of fire, I thought I would move on to Agni, the god of fire in India. Agni is one of the ancient gods, dating back to the Vedic period of Indian religion; you can find out more at Wikipedia. The name Agni is related to the Latin word for fire, ignis, which you can see at work in the English word "ignite" and "ignition."

Agni plays an important role in the Ramayana in the agnipariksha ("test by fire"), when Sita demonstrates her purity by entering into the fire. In the legend of the Maya Sita, the god Agni returns the true Sita to Rama in that moment.

In the Mahabharata, Agni has decided to burn the Khandava Forest, and asks for help from Arjuna and Krishna to keep the storm god, Indra, from putting out the fire before Agni has consumed the whole forest. Here's an amazing modern painting of that story by Parama Libralesso:

And here's a traditional depiction of Agni riding a ram (British Museum):

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.