The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes the race of agni which is Chapter 12 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 12 - The race of Agni

Notes: This chapter presents the forty-nine ritualistic functions of the Fire as so many different Agni gods and gives their arrangement or correlations in a genealogical form. As a matter of fact, it is a Vedic concept as can be seen from the notes. This section concerning Agnivaṃśa must have been possibly a part of the original (Ur-) purāṇa as many verses hereof are textually identical with those in Vā.P. 29, Mt.P.51. The Mbh. Vana Chs. 217-22 (Āṅgirasa upākhyāna) give a detailed description of the ritualistic functions of fire.

l-2a. A mental son of Brahmā is remembered as the deity identifying itself with fire in the Svāyambhuva Manvantara. Svāhā bore to him three sons,[1] viz.: Pavamāna and Śuci who is remembered as Agni also.

2b-3. The Pavamāna fire is that which is obtained by churning (the Araṇi), Pāvaka is the fire originating from lightning. Śuci should be known as the solar fire. These are the three sons of Svāhā. [(Repetition)[2] the Pavamāna fire is that which is obtained by churning (the Araṇi), and Śuci is remembered as solar fire.]

4-6. The Pāvaka fire has water as the source of origin and it originates from the lightning. They are their respective abodes (viz.: Araṇi, the sun and the lightning). Kavyavāhana is said to be the son of Pavamāna. Saharakṣa was the son of Pāvaka and Havyavāha was the son of Śuci.

Havyavāha is the fire of the Devas; Kavyavāhana is the fire of the Pitṛs; Saharakṣa is the fire of the Asuras. There are (thus) three fires pertaining to the three (i.e. the Devas, the Pitṛs and the Asuras). The sons and grandsons of these are forty-nine in number.

7. I shall mention their divisions separately along with their names. The secular fire is well known as the first son of Brahmā.

8. The good son of Brahmadattāgni[3] (the fire handed over by Brahmā) is well known by the name Bharata. Vaiśvānara was his son, and he carried Havya for a hundred years.

9-10. Formerly the fire Edhiti was gathered by Atharvan in the ocean Puṣkara.[4] Hence that secular fire is Ātharvaṇa. Darpahā is remembered as the son of Atharvan. Bhṛgu was born as Atharvan and Fire is remembered as Ātharvaṇa (son of Atharvan). Hence the secular fire is considered Dadhyaṅ,[5] the son of Atharvaṇa.

11. Pavamāna, the son of Atharvan, is remembered by the wise as one that should be generated by churning. It should be known as Gārhapatya fire. His two sons are remembered as follows:

12. (They are Śaṃsya and Śuka[6] (śukra in Vā.P. 9-11) Śaṃsya is Āhavanīya fire who is remembered as Havyavāhana. The second son is Śuka (śukra in Vā.P.) and he is said to be the fire that is gathered and carried.

13. Savya and Apasavya[7] were the two sons of Śaṃsya. Śaṃsya, the Havyavāhana, loved sixteen rivers.

14-18. The fire Śaṃsya who is remembered as Āhavanīya fire as well as one who is identified with fire (Abhimānin, one who takes pride) by the Brāhmaṇas loved these sixteen rivers:[8] viz.: Kāverī, Kṛṣṇaveṇā, Narmadā, Yamunā, Godāvarī, Vitastā, Canḍrabhāgā, Irāvatī, Vipāśā, Kauśikī, Śatadru, Sarayū, Sītā, Sarasvatī, Hrādinī and Pāvanī. He divided himself into sixteen Dhāmans (abodes) and in those abodes he deposited himself. The Dhiṣṇīs (abodes i.e. fire-places) were caused to move by vehicles (Kṛttikas) (?) and the sons were born in those Dhiṣṇīs. Hence those sons are called “Dhiṣṇis”. Thus these sons of the rivers were born in the Dhiṣṇis and they are glorified as Dhiṣṇis.

19. Some of these fires are Viharaṇīyas, (portable, those that should be carried or removed), and others are Upastheyas[9] (those that should be made to sit, deposited (?). They shall be briefly but factually recounted.

20. The following are the sons of Śaṃsya. All of them are remembered by Brāhmaṇas as Upastheyas. Vibhu, Pravahaṇa and Āgnīdhra and others, Dhiṣṇis (already deposited fires) are serially laid down in their proper places in a Savana (Soma sacrifice) on the day when the Soma-juice is extracted.

21-22. Listen to the due order of the fires that are to be laid down Anuddeśya[10] (without being given any particular direction). Brāhmaṇas[11] worship the eight fires beginning with Samrāḍagni. They are Samrāḍagni etc. The second one is Kṛśānu and it is inside the Altar. The third one is Pariṣatpavamāna. It is laid down as directed (anudiśyate).[12]

23. Another fire is Pratalka, (otherwise) named Nabhas. It is manifested in the Catvara (levelled spot of ground specially prepared for the sacrifice), Havya that is not besmeared (with ghee) is deposited in the fire in the Śāmitra vessel (particular vessel used in the sacrifice).

24. (Thereafter is the fire) Ṛtudhāman that is glorified as Sujyoti and Audumbarya Viśvavyacas is the ocean fire[13]? and is glorified in the abode of Brahmā.

25-26. (The fire) Vasurdhāman that is Brahmajyoti is mentioned in the abode of Brahmā. Ajaikapāt that is an Upastheya is also Śālāsukhīyaka. Ahirbudhnya is an Anuddeśya fire. That fire is remembered as Gṛhapati.

27-28. Thereafter, I shall enumerate his eight sons who are called Viharaṇīyas.[14] [Here there is a repetition of verse No. 20]. The fire Havyavāhana is declared as Hotrīya fire (i.e. fire used by the Hotṛ).

29-30. The second fire here is named Pracetas that is a subdued fire. Thereafter is the fire Vaiśvadeva. It is called śaṃsi[15] by the Brāhmaṇas. The fire Uśik that is Kavi is conceived as Pota fire. It is also conceived as Āvāri fire, Vābhāri and Vaiṣṭhīya.

31. The fire Avasphūrja is also called Vivasvān and Āsthān. The eighth one which is fire Sudhyu is also called Mārjālīya.

32. Those Dhiṣṇyas, the Viharaṇīyas, are being worshipped on the Sautya day (that is the day on which Soma juice is extracted) by the Brāhmaṇas. It (i.e. Sudhyu) is remembered as the source of origin of the waters. Indeed it is conceived in waters.

33. The fire by name Pāvaka that is born of waters and that is called Abgarbha (Having the waters as the womb) should be known as the fire at the Avabhṛtha (the holy ablution at the end of a sacrifice). It is worshipped along with Varuṇa.

34. Hṛcchaya (Abiding within the heart) is the fire that is his (Pāvaka’s) son.[16] It is the fire that digests (food-stuffs) in the stomach of men. Mṛtyumān is remembered as the scholarly son of the Jaṭhara-fire (Gastric fire).

35-36. That fire born mutually may burn all the living beings here. The terrible Saṃvartaka fire is remembered as the son of the fire Manyumān (? Mṛtyumān). It drinks water and lives in the ocean and has the face of a mare. Saharakṣa is conceived as the son of Samudravāsin (residing within the ocean).

37. Kṣāma, the son of Saharakṣa, burns the houses of men. His son is the fire Kravyād and it consumes dead persons.

38. Thus the sons of Pāvaka fire have been described here. Thereafter is the solar fire Śuci.[17] It is called Āyus by the Gandharvas.

39. This fire generates other fires on being churned in the Araṇi; this fire is taken from one place to another; this lord is known by the name Āyus.

40. Mahiṣa was the son of Āyus. His son is named Sahasa. That fire Sahasa is remembered as the Abhimānin (Identifying itself with it) in the Yajñas of Pāka (cooking).

41. The son of the fire Sahasa was Adbhuta of great fame. Vividhi is remembered as the great son of the fire Adbhuta.

42. (This fire) is one that identifies itself with expiatory rites. It always consumes the Havis-offering that is consigned into the fire. Arkka was the son of Vividhi. The following were the sons of that fire (Arkka).

43. They are—Anīkavān, Vājasṛk, Rakṣohā, Yaṣṭikṛt. Surabhi, Vasu, Annāda, Apraviṣṭa and Rukmarāṭ.

44. These fourteen fires are the Progeny of the fire Śuci. These fires are said to be those that are consecrated in the sacrifices.

45. In the Manvantara of Svāyambhuva in the first Sarga (creation), these fires that are Abhimānins (those that identify themselves) had passed away along with the Yāmas, the excellent Devas.

46. Formerly in the world, these Havyavāhanas (fires) were those that identified themselves with the abodes called Viharaṇīyas, both sentient and insentient.

47. These fires were stationed in the holy rites and Yajñas. They were (both) Kāmyas (those with the fruit desired) and Naimittikas occasional ones or that are utilised when cause arises). They had passed away in the previous Manvantara along with those Śukras and Yāgas (?)

48. In the Manvantara of the first Manu, they had passed away along with the holy noble-souled Devas. Thus the abodes of these Sthānins (those that identify themselves with the abodes) have been enumerated by me.

49. The characteristics of Jātavedas (fires) in the Manvantaras of the past and future are enumerated through them.

50. All of them are remembered as ascetics and Brahmabhṛts (those that sustain the knowledge of Brahman). All of them were lords of subjects. They are remembered as Luminous.

51. These are to be known (as present) in all the seven Manvaṇtaras beginning with Svārociṣa and ending with the Sāvarṇya Manvantara in regard to their names, forms and purposes.

52. The present fires exist along with the current Yāma Devas. The future fires (lit. those that have not yet come) shall exist along with the future Devas.

53. Thus the group of fires has been duly described in the proper order.

Now henceforth the race of the Pitṛs will be narrated in detail and in the due order.

Footnotes and references:


The text repeats this, hence included here.


VV.1-6: The following genealogical tree will clarify the relation of these fires:


Pavamāna (=Gārhapatya)
Born of or source: Araṇi (cf. Rv. III.29.2)
Functions: kavya-vāhana (pertains to Pitṛs)

Pāvaka (=Dakṣiṇāgni)
Born of or source: Water or Lightening
Functions: (Vaidyuta) Saharakṣa (belongs to Asuras)

Śuci (=Āhavanīya)
Born of or source: The Sun
Functions: Havya-vāhana (pertains to Devas)


Vā.P. 29.7 reads Brahmaudanāgni instead of Brahmadattāgni of BD. P. That reading is supported by Mt. P. The genealogy is: Brahmadatta or Brahma-udana Bharata Vaiśvānara who carried Havya to gods. ŚBr. (Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa) I.4.2.2 explains that Agni is called Bharata as he supplies Havya to gods:

eṣa agnir hi devebhyo bharati tasmād
bharatognir ityāhuḥ /

In other words this genealogy becomes an equation thus:

Brahmadatta=Bharata=Vaiśvānara, the carrier of food to gods.


The concept of Saptarṣis (seven sages) ursa major


It is probably the same as Dakṣiṇāgni.


kṛtttike cāriṇī dhiṣṇī—the fireplace movable in a carriage (Kṛttikā). The idea is obscure. The Vā.P. 29.16a. reads differently as follows:

dhiṣṇyād avyabhicāriṇyas tāsūtpannās tu dhiṣṇayaḥ //


This is a wrong reading as ‘savya’ and ‘apasavya’ are no fires at all. ‘Sabhya’ and ‘āvasathya’ are the names of the fire. Vā.P.29.12 correctly reads:

tathā sabhyāvasathyau vai Śaṃsasyāgneḥ sutāvubhau.


This is a poetic way of describing the spread of the Vedic Yajña-cult. This portable fire was carried from the Sītā (The Oxus—V.S. Agrawala; the Jaxartes—N. L. De) in the Central Asia down to the Kāverī in the South India. Modern political maps of India blind us to the vast geographical area which was India to the Purāṇa-writers. It was on the Sītā that Nārada met his brothers Sanatkumāra etc. and where probably the N.P. was presumed to have been narrated.

For the ancient names of the rivers hereof modern names are given in brackets: Vitastā (The Jhelum), Candrabhāgā (The Chinab), Irāvatī (The Ravi), Vipāśā (The Bias), Kauśikī (The Kosī), Śatadru (The Sutlej), Sītā (the Oxus or the Jaxartes or the Tarim—Yarkand), Hrādinī or Hlādinī (The Brahmaputra?), Pāvani (The Ghaggar?).

The list of rivers shows that the spread of the Yajña-cult covered parts of Central Asia, the Panjab and Kashmir, the Uttar Pradesh (and probably Bihar), the Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and part of Southern Karnatak.

‘The sons of the rivers’ is obviously the riperian population which followed the Yajña cult.


The Purāṇa classifies Dhiṣṇya fires into Viharaṇīyas and Upastheyas. The translation gives only the literal interpretations of the terms. The Dhiṣṇya was a side-altar of a heap of earth covered with sand. On that altar fire was placed. In the Soma-sacrifice, these fires were placed between the altar (Vedī) of the Śrauta Yajña and the Uttara Vedi meant for the Soma sacrifice. The designation Upastheya is given to those fires as they were to be approached at their fixed place in the Uttara-Vedi. The Viharaṇīya fires are so called as they could be taken to any spot considered necessary on the day of the Yajña.


For anuddeśya nivāsyānām here cf. Vā.P.29.19a. anirdeśyānyavācyānām, ‘undefinable or indescribable’.


The printed text shows some confusion, verse 21A should be followed by 22a after which 21b should be taken. The translation is of the rearranged lines.


Vā.P.29.20 atra dṛśyate, ‘is seen here’.


In Vā.P.29.22 viśvasyāyasamudra seems to be the name of the fire.


It is not known why there should be a different list of such fires as this list differs from that in Mt.P.


Vā.P.28a—brahma-sthāne sa ucyate.

“is spoken of as being in the abode of Brahmā”.


VV.34-38 give the list of Pāvaka’s sons. But actually they are given here in the genealogical order as follows:

Pāvaka—Hṛcchaya—Mṛtyumān (Manyumān)—Saṃvartaka (Vaḍavānala)—Saharakṣa—kṣāma—Kravyādagni.


The fires under group of Śuci are given in a genealogical order as follows:

Śuci or Āyus, Mahiṣa, Sahasa, Aḍbhuta, Vividhi, Arka—nine sons of Arka as enumerated in V.43.

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