Hymns to Agni

(‘Rig Veda’, I, II, III, VII, selections)

I praise Agni, domestic priest, divine minister of sacrifice, Invoker, greatest bestower of wealth.

Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as ancient seers:
He shall bring hitherward the gods.

To thee, dispeller of the night, O Agni, day-by-day with prayer, Bringing thee reverence, we come;

Ruler of sacrifices, guard of law eternal, radiant one,
Increasing in thine own abode.

Be to us easy of approach, even as a father to his son:
Agni, be with us for our weal.

Thou, Agni, shinning in thy glory through the days, art brought
To life from out the waters from the stone;
From out the forest trees and herbs that grow on ground, thou,
Sovereign lord of men, art gathered pure.

Thine is the Herald’s task and Cleanser’s duly timed:
Leader art thou, and Kindler for the pious man.
Thou art Director, thou the ministering priest: thou
Art the Brahman, lord and master in our home.

Agni, men seek thee as a father with their prayers, win thee,
Bright-formed, to brotherhood with holy act.
Thou art a son to him who daily worships thee, and as a trusty
Friend thou guardest from attack.

By thee, O Agni, all the immortal guileless gods eat with thy
Mouth the oblation that is offered them.
By thee do mortal men give sweetness to their drink.
Pure art thou born, the embryo of the plants of earth. (II, I, 1-2, 9, 14-)

That light Of thine in heaven and earth,
O Agni, in plants,
O holy one, and in the waters,
Wherewith thouhast spread wide
The air’s mid-region
Bright is that splendor, wavy man-beholding. (III, 22, 2.)

I have begotten this new hymn for Agni, falcon of the sky:
Will he not give us of his wealth?

Shine forth at night and morn: through thee
With fires are we provided well.
Thou, rich in heroes, art our friend.

Bright, purifier, meet for praise,
Immortal with refulgent glow,
Agni drives Rakshasas away.

Agni, preserve us from distress:
Consume our enemies, O God,
Eternal, with thy hottest flames.

And, irresistible, be thou a mighty iron fort to us,
With hundred walls for man’s defense.

Do thou preserve us, eve and morn, from sorrow,
From the wicked man,
Infallible by day and night. (VII, 15, 4, 8, 10, 13-15-)

Translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, in his The Hymns of the Rigveda, I-III (Benaras, 1889-91)

Hymn I Agni.
(Rig Veda I)

I laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,
The hotar, lavishest of wealth.

Worthy is Agni to be praised by living as by ancient seers.
He shall bring hitherward the Gods.

Through Agni man obtaineth wealth, yea, plenty waxing day by day,
Most rich in heroes, glorious.

Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompasset about
Verily goeth to the Gods.

May Agni, sapient-minded Priest, truthful, most gloriously great,
The God, come hither with the Gods.

Whatever blessing, Agni, thou wilt grant unto thy worshipper,
That, Angiras, is indeed thy truth.

To thee, dispeller of the night, O Agni, day by day with prayer
Bringing thee reverence, we come

Ruler of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One,
Increasing in thine own abode.

Be to us easy of approach, even as a father to his son:
Agni, be with us for our weal.

(Rig Veda I, 12)

We choose Agni the messenger, the herald, master of all wealth,
Well skilled in this our sacrifice.

With callings ever they invoke Agni, Agni, Lord of the House,
Oblation-bearer, much beloved.

Bring the Gods hither, Agni, born for him who strews the sacred grass:
Thou art our herald, meet for praise.

Wake up the willing Gods, since thou, Agni, performest embassage:
Sit on the sacred grass with Gods.

O Agni, radiant One, to whom the holy oil is poured, burn up
Our enemies whom fiends protect.

By Agni Agni is inflamed, Lord of the House, wise, young, who bears
The gift: the ladle is his mouth.

Praise Agni in the sacrifice, the Sage whose ways are ever true,
The God who driveth grief away.

God, Agni, be his strong defense who lord of sacrificial gifts,
Worshippeth thee the messenger.
Whoso with sacred gift would fain call Agni to the feast of Gods,
O Purifier, favor him.

Such, Agni, Purifier, bright, bring hither to our sacrifice,
To our oblation bring the Gods.

So lauded by our newest song of praise bring opulence to us,
And food, with heroes for our sons.

O Agni, by effulgent flame, by all invokings of the Gods,
Show pleasure in this land of ours.