A-AS Level (CIE) Hinduism: Specimen Questions with Answers 11 - 11 of 41

Question 11

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Explain the role of Agni in Hinduism.

Explanation

  • Agni or Fire holds a very important role in Hinduism. Agni deva is the one who took charge of the Agni. Agni is considered as auspicious in Hinduism. It represents purity, refreshment, knowledge and so on. That is why in each and every Hindu ceremonies (marriage, homa, Yagna, sacred thread wearing/Upanayana etc. ), people ensures the presence of Agni and use to make Agni as witness (sakshi). And this process is called as ‘Agnisakshi’.

  • One of the mantra in Rigveda is- ‘Agne Naya, supata raye, asman viswani deva. This mantra is invoking the Agni by calling him as “Viswani deva”, that is- the lord of world and requesting to lead through the right path.

  • In Ramayana, we can see that- as per the order of lord Rama, mata Sita proves her purity, chastity and innocence as well by passing the Agni Pariksha (fire test) in front of everybody. Here, Agni symbolises Purity.

  • In another incident, Lord Shiva burnt down Kamadev (lust god) and turned into ashes by opening the third eye, when he tried to awake lord Shiva from the deep meditation by shooting the arrow. When we look into other perspective, it is said that the third eye represents Gyana chakshu (the eye of divine knowledge) and Ashes (vibhooti) represents the oneness. So when we are able to open our third eye of knowledge, all the dualities (dvaita) will get burnt and will get the idea of oneness (Advaita). That is why Agni is considered as knowledge.

  • While performing Yagna (worship with altar), all the priests pour ghee in the alter fire (yagagni) by chanting a small mantra, that is- ‘idam na mama’, meaning- this is not mine. This is all about giving up the ownership of everything to get detached from the material world and materialistic desire as well.

  • In the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Gita, lord Krishna says- “aham vaishva naro bhutva, praninam deham ashrita, prana apana samayukta, pachamanyam chatur vidham”. Here lord Krishna as a supreme soul clearly says that, ‘I am residing in every creature as digestive fire and putting together both prana and apana by digesting the four types of food’. So it says that, when we feed the hunger will get the same result as we offer in the alter fire.

  • One of the slogan of Sri Rudram of Taittariya Upanishad says- Agnischa me, indrascha me, arkascha me and so on. Here, while offering to all Devas, first portion of the offering goes to the Agni then- Indra, Surya and so on.

  • Almost every house hold starts cooking only after the offering of a pinch of food into the fire in kitchen.

  • All the auspicious rituals or customs in Hinduism begins with the invoking of Agni deva.

  • From all these above mentioned statements we can conclude that the Agni plays an important role in Hinduism as part of the daily life.

Agni in Hinduism

Agni in Hinduism

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