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Sunday, October 4, 2020

Agni: The Offspring of the Waters

The Rigveda contains several verses in which Agni (the fire god) is identified as Apām Napāt, the son of waters—who is born from the womb of the water laden clouds as lightening. Here’s an excerpt from 35th hymn in the Second Mandala of the Rigveda (Ralph T.H. Griffith’s translation, 1896): “The Waters' Son hath risen, and clothed in lightning ascended up unto the curled cloud's bosom; And bearing with them his supremest glory the Youthful Ones, gold-colored, move around him.” “Golden in form is he, like gold to look on, his color is like gold, the Son of Waters. When he is seated fresh from golden birthplace those who present their gold give food to feed him.”

In the above verse, Agni (Apām Napāt) is being described emerging from the waters as golden lightning. Writing more than 2500 years after the Rigveda was composed, Sayana (also known as Sāyaṇācārya), the fourteenth century Hindu philosopher who has authored more than hundred books on the Vedas, and has exercised heavy influence on the later Vedic scholars, including the European commentators and translators, has remarked that the name Apām Napāt designates Agni as the grandson and not the son of the waters—this is because the herbs and trees are born of the waters and Agni (the fire god) is born from the herbs and trees. 

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