Agni and Chandra
Paintings from the collection of St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies
Jun 23, CANADA (SUN) A study of seventeen of the Lord's primary Administrators.
Agni, the Fire God, is in charge of the southeastern portion of the universe. In the sruti-mantras it is said, agnih sarva-devatah: "Fire is the aggregate of all demigods." Agni is the mouth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is through Agni, or fire, that the Lord accepts all sacrificial oblations.
Svaha, one of the daughters of Daksa and Prasuti, was given to be the wife of Agni. Svaha's name is uttered while offering oblations during the fire ceremony. Oblations offered in the sacrificial fire are meant for the demigods, and on behalf of the demigods the three sons of Agni and Svaha, namely Pavaka, Pavamana and Suci, accept the oblations.
From those three sons another forty-five descendants were generated, who are also fire-gods. The total number of fire-gods is therefore forty-nine, including the fathers and the grandfather. The grandfather is Agni, and the sons are Pavaka, Pavamana and Suci. Counting these four, plus forty-five grandsons, there are altogether forty-nine different fire-gods.
From Krttika, another wife of Agni, came the son named Skanda, Karttikeya, whose sons were headed by Visakha. The second Manu, whose name was Svarocisa, was the son of Agni, and His sons were headed by Dyumat, Susena and Rocismat. From Devadatta came a son known as Agnivesya, who was the fire-god Agni himself. This son, who was a celebrated saint, was well known as Kanina and Jatukarnya. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in his Anubhasya, gives a list of Manus and their fathers' names, including Svarocisa, the son of Svarocih, or Agni. Agnidhra, Idhmajihva, Yajnabahu, Mahavira, Hiranyareta, Ghrtaprstha, Savana, Medhatithi, Vitihotra and Kavi are also names of Agni, the fire-god.
When Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana. The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana, and in this way Ravana was cheated when he kidnapped the false Sita. The original Sita went to the abode of the fire-god. When Lord Ramacandra tested the body of Sita, it was the false, illusory Sita that entered the fire. At that time Agni brought the original Sita from his abode and delivered her to Lord Ramacandra.
Lord Brahma once ordered Maharaja Barhisat (Pracinabarhi) to marry the daughter of the ocean named Satadruti. Her bodily features were completely beautiful, and she was very young. She was decorated with the proper garments, and when she came into the marriage arena and began circumambulating it, the fire-god Agni became so attracted to her that he desired her company, exactly as he had formerly desired to enjoy Suki, the wife of Saptarsi. When the fire-god had been present long ago at the assembly of Saptarsi, he was attracted by the beauty of Suki when she was circumambulating in the same way. Agni's wife, named Svaha, took the form of Suki and enjoyed sex life with Agni.
Krsna, being engaged in the pastime of offering the Khandava forest which belonged to King Indra, wanted to give it to Agni, the fire-god. The Khandava forest contained many varieties of drugs, and Agni required to eat them for rejuvenation. Agni, however, did not touch the Khandava forest directly, but requested Krsna to help him. Agni knew that Krsna was very much pleased with him because he had formerly given Him the Sudarsana disc. So in order to satisfy Agni, Krsna became the chariot driver of Arjuna, and both went to the Khandava forest. After Agni had eaten up the Khandava forest, he was very much pleased. This time he offered a specific bow known as Gandiva, four white horses, one chariot, and an invincible quiver with two specific arrows considered to be talismans, which had so much power that no warrior could counteract them. The chariot was capable of conquering all sides, wherever it was drawn over the three worlds.
The King of heaven once took the shape of a pigeon-hunter bird (eagle), and Agni, the fire-god, took the shape of a pigeon. The pigeon, while being chased by the eagle, took shelter on the lap of Maharaja Sibi, and the hunter eagle wanted the pigeon back from the King. The King wanted to give it some other meat to eat and requested the bird not to kill the pigeon. The hunter bird refused to accept the King's offer, but it was settled later on that the eagle would accept flesh from the body of the King of the pigeon's equivalent weight. The King began to cut flesh from his body to weigh in the balance equivalent to the weight of the pigeon, but the mystic pigeon always remained heavier. The King then put himself on the balance to equate with the pigeon, and the demigods were pleased with him. The King of heaven and the fire-god disclosed their identity, and the King was blessed by them.
Chandra is also known as Soma, predominating deity of the moon. He is represented as a copper colored man riding on a chariot that is drawn by an antelope. Chandra normally has two hands, one carrying a mace and the other in boon giving position.
Soma is responsible for the living entity's ability to relish the taste of food through the tongue. Soma is the maintainer of all the trees and plants throughout the universe, and it is due to the moonshine that trees and plants grow very luxuriantly.
As the source of food grains, Soma is the source of strength and longevity for all the demigods.
Lord Brahma was born from the lotus that sprouted from the navel of Garbhodakasayi Visnu. Brahma had a son named Atri, and Atri's son was Soma. Lord Brahma appointed him the director of the brahmanas, drugs and luminaries (stars)
Soma, the moon-god, was born from the mind of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (candrama manaso jatah). But here we [also] find that Soma was born from the tears in the eyes of Atri. This appears contradictory to the Vedic information, but actually it is not, for this birth of the moon is understood to have taken place in another millennium. When tears appear in the eyes because of jubilation, the tears are soothing. Anasuya, the wife of Atri Rsi, bore three sons--Soma, Durvasa and Dattatreya. It is said that at the time of conception Anasuya was impregnated by the tears of Atri.
Elsewhere, it is said that Prsni, the wife of Savita (Aditi's fifth son), had three daughters--Savitri, Vyahrti and Trayi--and very exalted sons named Agnihotra, Pasu, Soma, Caturmasya and the five Mahayajnas.
In another pastime, Soma was born of Anasuya, with his brothers Dattatreya and Durvasa. Dattatreya was directly part and parcel of Visnu, whereas Durvasa and Soma were parts and parcels of Lord Siva and Lord Brahma.
The Yadu dynasty belonged to the family descending from Soma, the moon-god. Although the planetary systems are so arranged that the sun comes first, before the moon, Pariksit Maharaja gave more respect to the dynasty of the moon-god, the soma-vamsa, because in the Yadava dynasty, descending from the moon, Krsna had appeared.
There are two different ksatriya families of the royal order, one descending from the king of the moon planet and the other descending from the king of the sun planet. Whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, He generally appears in a ksatriya family because He has to establish religious principles or the life of righteousness.
Soma became the conqueror of the entire universe, and, being inflated with pride, he kidnapped Tara, who was the wife of Brhaspati, the spiritual master of the demigods. A great fight ensued between the demigods and the asuras, but Brahma rescued Brhaspati's wife from the clutches of Soma and returned her to her husband, thus stopping the fighting. In the womb of Tara, Soma begot a son named Budha, who later begot in the womb of Ila a son named Aila, or Pururava.
The inhabitants of the island Salmalidvipa worship the demigod of the moon in the following words. By his own rays, the moon-god has divided the month into two fortnights, known as sukla and krsna, for the distribution of food grains to the pitas and the demigods. The demigod of the moon is he who divides time, and he is the king of all the residents of the universe. We therefore pray that he may remain our king and guide, and we offer him our respectful obeisances.
When the Pracetas, the ten sons of Pracinabarhi, entered the sea to execute austerities, the planet earth was neglected because of the absence of a king. Naturally many weeds and unnecessary trees grew, and no food grains were produced. Indeed, all the land became like a forest. When the ten Pracetas came out of the sea and saw the entire world full of trees, they were very angry with the trees and decided to destroy them all to rectify the situation. Thus the Pracetas created wind and fire to burn the trees to ashes. Soma, however, the king of the moon and the king of all vegetation, forbade the Pracetas to destroy the trees, since the trees are the source of fruit and flowers for all living beings. Just to satisfy the Pracetas, Soma gave them a beautiful girl born of Pramloca Apsara. By the semen of all the Pracetas, Daksa was born of that girl.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Excerpted from various sources, including text and Purport of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.