agni and aTharvana

These passages contain one or more verses which allude to the episode of agni’s hiding, mostly found in hymns dedicated to agni which otherwise deal with other aspects of the god

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अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं

” He ( agni ) hides three times in three different places: first in the sea, then in the earth (in which he dissolves), then in the ocean. Agni’s presence is revealed or brought forth by three different means in each case. When he hides in the sea, the gods cannot find him, although they look for him. The fire then sees the sage aTharvana, and requests him to carry the oblations in his stead . Then the fire goes to some other place, but the fish betray him, and he curses them thus: “You shall be the food of creatures in your various modes of being”:  Then the fire again requests
aTharvana to carry the oblations for him. aTharvana tries to persuade him to resume his duties, but Agni refuses and abandons his body. He enters the earth, thereby producing various metals and precious stones out of different parts of his discarded body. There he remains fixed in the highest penance, but is again roused by the combined austerities of bhrgu, angirasa and other seers, and bursts into flames. Seeing the sages, he takes fright once more, and hides in the ocean, where he disappears. The whole world is afraid and turns to aTharvana for help. aTharvana sees the fire, and creates the worlds. Then he churns the great ocean and the fire reappears from the water, and henceforth always carries the oblations . aTharvana finds agni hiding in a lotus-leaf, thus being the only sage credited with finding the hidden agni. At times, aTharvana also seems to be a name of agni himself.”

Animesh’s blog

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