What is Agni Purana?
The Agni Purana is one of the encyclopedias of the Vedas.
Agni Purana Part 3 – Agni Purana in English – Read Agni Purana Part 3 of 4
The Agni Purana is a mahapurana. It is usually mentioned as eighth in the list of eighteen Puranas. There are about fifteen and a half thousand shlokas in the Agni Purana.
The Agni Purana is one of the encyclopedias of the Vedas. In addition to being divided into parts, this part also consists of topics of diverse nature.
Agni Purana is the essence of Vedas and Upanishads. It underlines the concept of Advaita Brahma Gyana. In other words, the Human Soul and the Supreme Power are one and the same.
Also, the Purana emphasises the ritualistic aspects and religious practices related to temples.
The installation of deities, deity worship, Japa, Mantra, Homa and Yagnas’ procedure, visits to Thirthas (Holy Places including Rivers) and so on.
Spread over some 383 chapters & over twelve thousand slokas, Agni Purana contains the gist of the Ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu viz. Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, & Kalki.
It also gives a detailed account of the Great Hindu Epics of Ramayana and Maha Bharata as also of Harivamsa.
Geography is described in detail. Varnashrama & Ashrama Dharma, Temple Construction, Procedure of Pujas, Achaara Varnana, Tirtha Mahatmya, Power of Gayatri Mantra, Yoga Practice, Vedas & Puranas.
Dhanurveda & the principles of Battle, Duties of Kings, Brahma Gyana, Bhagavat Gita and Yama Gita. Shri Lakshmi Stotra, Vishnu Panjara Stotra and Paapa Naasha Stotra are other highlights.
Who wrote the Agni Purana?
Who narrated the Agni Purana?
The narrator of the Mahapurana, Agni Purana is the fire-god Agni.
Agni related the subject matter of the Purana to the sage Vashishtha, who in turn, passed on the knowledge to Vyasadeva who compiled it. Vyasadeva’s disciple Suta learnt the Purana from his teacher.
As to the date of this Purana, nothing can be said with certainty. It is a compilation of various works written in different periods, no single date can be assigned to the Purana as a whole.
Who published the Agni Purana?
Who are the publishers for Agni Purana?
The English Translation of Agni Purana was published in four parts by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi in 1954.
What are the Contents of Agni Purana Part 3?
Agni Purana was published in four (4) parts in New Delhi, India in 1954
The present Agnipurana volume contains the Agni Purana Part 3 (Chapters 252-311) in English Translation.
This Agnipurana, like most of the other Purãnas, is of encyclopedic character. Like the first part, this part of the Agni Purana contains topics of diverse nature. It describes the following:
The ninth avatar of Vishnu was Buddha. Many years ago, there was a war between the Devas and the Asuras in which the demons managed to defeat the gods.
The gods went running to Vishnu for protection and Vishnu told them that Mayamoha would be born as Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana.
Such were the illusions that Buddha created, that the asuras left the path indicated by the Vedas and became Buddhists.
Kalki The tenth avatar of Vishnu will be Kalki. Towards the end of the Kali era, all people will be dastardly. They will oppose the Vedas, become robbers and will be concerned only with wealth.
The disbelievers will then become kings and these kings will also be cannibals. Much later, Kalki will be born on earth as the son of Vishnuyasha. He will take up arms to destroy these disbelievers.
Kalki’s priest will be the sage Yajnavalkya. The norms of the four classes (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama) will be established yet again. People will honour the sacred texts and become righteous.
It will then be time for the dawn of a new Satya Yuga, a fresh period of righteousness. In every cycle (kalpa) and in every era (manuvantara) Vishnu is thus born in various forms.
It is a sacred duty to listen to the stories of the ten avatars. The listener attains his desires and goes to heaven.
History of Creation
Agni next told Vashishtha the history of creation. Vishnu is the Lord of creation, preservation and destruction. Before creation, it was only the Brahman that was everywhere. There was no day, night or sky.
First Vishnu created the waters. And in the waters, he sowed the seeds of brahmanda, the great egg. From this seed there developed a golden egg which began to float on the waters. From the egg Brahma created himself.
Since he created himself (svayam sambhuta), Brahma is also known as Svayambhu. Having created himself, Brahma stayed inside the egg for an entire year. And at the end of the year, he split the egg into two.
One part of the egg formed the heaven, the other the earth. And in between the two parts of the egg, Brahma created the sky.
Brahma next established the earth on the waters and made the ten directions. He created time, lightning, thunder, clouds, rainbows, words and anger.
To ensure that yajnas could be performed, texts of the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda emerged from his body. Holy people use the Vedas to perform Ceremonies meant for the gods.
From the powers of his mind, Brahma created seven sons. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha Kratu and Vashishtha.
Prithu is recognised as the first king Prithu was descended from Dhruva. And Prithu’s father Vena was also a king. But Vena was an evil king; he was simply not interested in protecting his subjects.
The sages therefore killed Vena with a straw and after Vena had died, they began to knead the dead body’s right hand and it was thus that Prithu emerged. He wore armour & carried a bow & arrows when he was born.
He ruled well, as per the dictates of dharma. He looked upon all his subjects as his own sons. From Prithu the earth came to be known as Prithivi.
How To Pray? | How To Build Temples and Idols?
The Agni Purana next has several chapters on how to pray and how to build temples and idols.
The techniques of praying to Vishnu, Shiva, Surya and the other gods and goddesses are described.
This includes the special mantras (incantations) that must be used so as to please specific gods and there are prescribed forms for such bathing as well.
A person who builds temples is blessed. Even if one merely thinks of building temples, the sins of a hundred lives are forgiven. A builder of a single temple goes to heaven (svarga).
A builder of five to shivaloka, a builder of eight vishnuloka and a builder of sixteen temples is freed from
the shackles of being born again and again.
What is the point of earning money if one does not build temples?
Money is also meant to be donated as alms to Brahmanas, but the punya or merit earned from building a temple is greater than the punya earned from donating alms.
The merit earned by the builder of temples is greatest for a golden temple, lesser for a stone temple, still lesser for a wooden temple and least for the earthen temple.
More punya is acquired from building an idol than from building a temple. Idols of gods and goddesses should always be set up so that they face the city; they should not face away from the city.
Vishnu idol can be set up anywhere at all.
Different idols of Vishnu must have different forms. Consider, for example, idols or images of the ten incarnations of Vishnu.
The Matsya (fish) avatar must naturally look like a fish and the Kurma (turtle) avatar must look like a turtle.
But the Varaha (boar) avatar will have four arms like a man and will hold a gada (mace), a Padma (lotus flower), a shankha (conch shell) and a chakra (bladed discuss) in these four arms.
The Narasimha avatar should have two arms holding a chakra and a gada and should wear a garland. The Vamana (dwarf) avatar should hold an umbrella and a stick in his two hands.
Parashurama will have four hands with a bow. arrows, a sword and an axe in these hands.
Rama’s image can have either two arms or four. If there are four arms, the four hands will hold a bow, arrows, a conch shell and a chakra.
Balarama’s image may also have either four arms or two. If there are two arms, the four arms the hands will hold a plough, a conch shell, a club and a chakra.
Buddha’s image should have a calm appearance. It should be seated on a lotus. The ears should be elongated.
Kalki’s image is that of a brahmana, seated on a horse and holding a bow and arrows, a conch shell, a sword and a chakra.
Krishna’s image may be either two-armed or four-armed. Three of the four arms will hold a gada, a chakra and a shankha. The fourth palm will be opened out in the act of granting a boon.
On either side of Krishna’s image, there will be images of Brahma and Shiva. Brahma has four faces and four arms and the image should have a pronounced ride on a swan.
On either side of Brahma’s image, there will be images of Sarasvati and Savitri.
Vishnu’s image has eight arms. Seven of the arms hold a sword, a mace, an arrow, a bow, a shield, a chakra and a conch shell. The eighth palm is spread out as if Vishnu is granting a boon.
Vishnu should be shown riding on Garuda. Garuda will also have eight arms.
To the right of Vishnu’s image, there should be images of Lakshmi and Sarasvati, Lakshmi holding a lotus and Sarasvati holding a veena (a musical instrument).
There has also got to be an image of Vishnu exhibiting his universal form (Vishvarupa). The Vishavrupa image has four heads and twenty arms
Chandi’s image has twenty arms. The ten arms on the right hold a spear, a sword, a shakti (a small spear), a chakra, a pasha (noose), a shield, a drum and any two other weapons.
The ten arms on the left hold snakes, a rod, an axe, an ankusha (used for driving elephants), a bow, a bell, a flag, a mace, a mirror & a cub. In front of Chandi’s image, there will be the image of a buffalo with its head cut off.
The image of an asura will be shown emerging from the body of the buffalo. The demon’s hair, eyes and garland will be red in colour. It will be shown to be vomiting blood and it will hold weapons in its hand.
The demon’s neck will be on the lion and her left leg will be on the demon’s back Images of Chandi may sometimes also have ten sixteen or eighteen arms.
Shiva’s image (linga) may be made out of earth, wood, iron, jewels, gold, silver, copper, bronze or mercury.
Places Of Pilgrimage
A visit to a place of pilgrimage (tirtha) brings the same punya that is obtained from performing a yajna.
It is because people had not gone on pilgrimages or donated gold and cows in their earlier lives that they were born poor in their next lives.
The best place of pilgrimage is Pushkara, Brahma, other gods and sages who wish to go to heaven live there. The best time to go to Pushkara is in the month of Kartika.
In Pushkara itself there are two other places of pilgrimage known as Jambumarga and Tandulik Ashrama.
It is difficult to go to Pushkara. But there are several other tirthas as well. One such is Kurukshetra, where Vishnu and the other gods keep on coming.
The river Sarasvati flows near Kurukshetra. If one bathes in the Sarasvati, one attains Brahmaloka.
Any region through which the river Ganga flows also becomes a tirtha. Even if one sees the Ganga, the punya of performing yajnas is attained.
A person who bears earth from the bed of the Ganga on his head is freed of all sins.
Prayaga is another famous place of pilgrimage. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods, Gandharvas, apsaras and the sages are always there in Prayaga.
This is because the two holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, come together in Prayaga.
There are many tirthas inside Prayaga itself. The sages have said that, in the month of Magha, if one bathes for three days in Prayaga, that is better than donating crores and crores of cows.
If one donates alms in Prayaga, one goes to Svarga and is born as a king in one’s next life. If one dies in Prayaga, one goes straight to Vishnuloka.
Shiva himself had told Parvati that Varanasi was a very holy tirtha and that Shiva never left the city. Varanasi is so named because it is located at the junction of two rivers, Varana and Asi.
Varanasi is also known as Kashi. The river Narmada is also sacred.
There may be several holy tirthas, but Gaya is the holiest of them all. A demon named Gayasura once started to perform and such were the powers of his tapasya that the gods began to suffer.
They went to Vishnu and asked him to save them Vishnu agreed & appeared before Gayasura. “Accept a boon,” said Vishnu. “Grant me the boon that I may become the most sacred of all tirthas,” replied the daitya.
The boon was granted and Gayasura disappeared. The gods returned to Svarga but felt that the earth seemed to be deserted now that Gayasura had disappeared.
Vishnu then instructed Brahma and the other gods to perform a sacrifice. He also asked them to go to Gayasura and ask for his body so that the sacrifice might be performed on it.
Gayasura readily agreed, and as soon as he agreed, his head fell off from the body. Brahma then proceeded to perform the sacrifice on Gayasura’s headless body.
But as soon as the sacrifice started, the body began to shake. This meant that the sacrifice could not be properly performed and a solution had to be found.
The solution was that the gods should all enter a stone which would be placed on Gayasura’s body so that the body would not shake. The sacrifice could then be performed.
Vishnu himself also entered the stone. It is because the gods and Vishnu are always there in Gaya that Gaya is sacred.
In fact, there is a story behind this stone as well. The sage Marichi was Brahma’s son and had married Dharmavrata.
One day, Marichi went to the forest to collect wood and flowers and returned extremely tired. He called Dharmavrata and said, “I am very tired. Today you must wash my feet for me.”
Dharmavrata began to wash Marichi’s feet when Brahma suddenly arrived. Dharmavrata did not know what to do. Should she finish washing her husband’s feet?
Or should she first attend to Brahma, since Brahma was Marichi’s father? She decided to attend to Brahma first.
At this, Marichi became very angry and cursed Dharmavrata that she would turn into a stone. Dharmavrata was greatly distressed at being cursed for what she thought had not been a fault at all.
So she performed tapasya for many years. When Vishnu and the other gods were pleased with Dharmavrata’s meditation, they appeared and offered to grant her a boon.
Dharmavrata wished that the curse imposed on her by Marichi might be waived. The gods explained that this was impossible since Marichi was a very powerful sage.
What they would, however, do was to make Dharmavrata a very holy stone desired even by the gods.
The gods promised to be always inside this stone. It was this stone that was placed on Gayasura’s body.
Once the sacrifice was over, Gayasura himself desired a boon from the gods and the gods granted him that Gaya would become the most sacred of all tirthas. It was in Gaya that the Pandavas had prayed to Vishnu.
The World’s Geography
The world is divided into seven regions (dvipas. Their names are Jambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Krouncha, Shaka, and Pushkara.
The seven dvipas are surrounded by seven oceans and the names of these oceans are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpih, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.
Right in the centre of Jambudvipa is Mount Meru. Mountains named Himavana, Hemakuta and Nishada are to the south of Meru and mountains named Nila, Shveta and Sringi are to the north of Meru.
Jambudvipa is known by that name as there are a large number of jambu (jamun) trees in this area. On the top of Mount Meru is Brahma’s famous city.
Under the earth is the underworld. This too, consists of seven regions and their names are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatsala and Patala. The daityas and the danavas live in the underworld.
Vishnu is also there in the underworld, in the form of the great snake Shesha. The snake Shesha holds up the earth on its hood.
That part of the sky which is lit up by sun rays is known as Nabha.
Above the earth is the sun, above the sun the moon, above the moon the stars, above the stars Mercury, above Mercury Venus, above Venus Jupiter and above Jupiter the constellation of the Great Bear (saptarshimandala).
Beyond this constellation is the world of Dhruva.
Information on Astrology
The Agni Purana next gives a lot of information on astrology. It states when marriages should take place and when they should not.
For example, marriages are never to be held in the months of Chaitra and Pousha or under the signs of Libra or Gemini. If one is going on a trip, then Friday is the best day to start.
Medicine should not be taken if one of the nakshatras (stars) Pushya, Hasta, Jyeshtha, Shravana or Ashvini is not in the sky. If one wishes to have a bath after recovering from an illness, then Saturday is the best day for such a bath.
The first time a child’s head is shaved should never be on Tuesday or Saturday. The ears should be pierced on Wednesday or Thursday. New clothes should not first be worn on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
A new house should not be entered into the months of Chaitra, Jyeshtha, Bhadra, Ashvina, Pousha or Magha. It is best to reap grain on a Wednesday.
FInally! To Sum It Up
The Agni Purana is one of the encyclopedias of the Vedas. This is Part 3 of Agni Purana.
The Agni Purana is a mahapurana. It usually figures eighth in the list of eighteen Puranas. There are about fifteen and a half thousand shlokas in the Agni Purana.
The Agni Purana is one of the encyclopedias of the Vedas. In addition to being divided into parts, this Agni Purana Part 3 also consists of topics of diverse nature.
This Agni Purana was published by Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi in 1954. This the third part out of four parts.
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