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Agni or Agnidev is one of the most important of the Vedic gods, who holds the second position in Hindu mythology after Indra. The word 'Agni' means fire in Sanskrit. Agni is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifice. He was born from a lotus created by Brahma.
He holds a flaming javelin and rides in a chariot whose wheels are the seven winds and which is drawn by red horses. Hindu mythology and Vedic scriptures describe Lord Agni as red hued, having three legs, seven tongues, seven hands and two faces. Seven rays of light emanate from him. Lord Agni is the creator of a fire weapon called 'Agneyastra'. He is the guardian of the Southeast direction. According to Hindu myths, Agnidev is the son of Angiras, one of the seven sages as well as being one of the ten Prajapatis or the progenitors of mankind. As a Prajapati Angiras became king of the Pitris, and Agni in due course inherited the title. Agni equally passed his earlier attributes to his father, who became known as priest of the gods and lord of sacrifices. Agni is now worshipped less as fire than as the purifier of sacrificial offerings and as such he is honoured at all solemn ceremonies, such as those of marriage and death.
Agni’s seven tongues are ceaselessly employed in licking up the butter used in sacrificial ritual; just as Indra has an insatiable appetite for soma, so Agni devours quantities of oblations and like Indra he is weakened by his greed. On one occasion, according to the Mahabharata, he ate so much sacrificial offerings that he became exhausted. Thinking to recover his strength by consuming a forest, he set about his destructive work, but was thwarted by Indra; later, however, he accomplished his design with the help of Krishna and Arjuna. In his role as fire (Agni) is still generally represented as a red man with three flaming heads, riding on or accompanied by a ram.
As king of the Pitris, Agni merely extended the old role of smoothing the path of sacrifice and of conveying to his abode the pure aspects of the mortal soul. Confusion over the nature of Agni first arose from his association with Indra, who robbed him of some of his power but lent him aspects of an atmospheric god; and then with Shiva, who because of his association with Rudra robbed him of other attributes, such as that of slayer of the demons of disease. As well as being king of the Pitris and consumer of sacrifice, Agni is sometimes considered to be a sage; sometimes identified with a star; and frequently said to be a Marut. In this last capacity he is represented as a man with four arms.