Agni is a Hindu and Vedic deity. The word agni is Sanskrit for "fire" (noun), cognate with Latin ignis (the root of English ignite), Russian огонь (ogon), Polish "ogień," Lithuanian - ugnis - all with the meaning 'fire' -, with the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root being h₁égni-. Agni has three forms: fire, lightning and the sun.
Agni is one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day, yet he is also immortal.
His cult survived the change of the ancient fire worship into modern Hinduism. The sacred fire-drill (agnimathana) for procuring the temple-fire by friction – symbolic of Agni's daily miraculous birth – is still used.
In Hindu art, Agni is depicted with two or seven hands, two heads and three legs. He has seven fiery tongues with which he licks sacrificial butter. He rides a ram or in a chariot harnessed by fiery horses. His attributes are an axe, torch, prayer beads and a flaming spear.
Agni is represented as red
and two-faced, suggesting both his destructive and beneficent qualities, and with black eyes
, three legs
and seven arms. He rides a ram
, or a chariot pulled by goats or, more rarely, parrots. Seven rays
of light emanate from his body. One of his names is Saptajihva
, "having seven tongues".
In other faiths and religions
In Indo-Tibetan Buddhism
, he is a lokapāla
guarding the Southeast. Jigten lugs kyi bstan bcos:
which translates, "Make your hearth in the southeast corner of the house, which is the quarter of Agni". He also plays a seizurish role in most Buddhist homa
rites. A typical praise to Agni starts "Son of Brahma, Lord of the World, King of fire gods empowered by Takki, Whose supreme wisdom burns all delusion [...]"
In modern fiction
- Agni appears alongside Rudra as a set of twin swords in Devil May Cry 3 with Agni and Rudra possessing fire and wind elements respectively. A notable running gag is that the two demons frequently converse with each other, much to Dante's dismay.
- In Digital Devil Saga, Agni is the Atma avatar form of the character, Heat. The deity is portrayed as a two headed monster with red skin.
- In , an Agni-Kai is the name of a duel between two firebenders.
- Agni appears as one of Sam's adversaries in the science fiction/fantasy novel Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.
- In Digimon, Agnimon is the Japanese name of Agunimon, the Human Spirit of Flame.