Nov 29, 2016: A Purana is a Hindu religious text and is a part of the Vedas. According to the Hindu Mythology, Agni Purana is a preaching by Lord Agni to sage Vashishth. Vashishth narrated the text to Vyasaji, who later narrated it to Sutji. Finally, it was narrated by Sutji in Naiminsharanya to a gathering of sages.
The initial chapters of this text talk about the different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. On proceeding, we see descriptions of rituals especially those performed for Lord Shiva. Many chapters are also dedicated to earth, stars and constellations and the duties of kings.
The Agni Purana consists of 9 chapters:
The first chapter containing seven sections says about the avatars of Lord Vishnu. An avatar is an incarnation or a human form a deity assumes to be born on earth. Lord Vishnu being the preserver of the universe has the most of incarnations and is believed to be already taken up nine forms and the tenth avatar is due in the future.
Harivamsha and Mahabharata
The second chapter tells us about the Harivamsha and Hindu Epic Mahabharata. The Harivamsha section of this chapter is dedicated to the lineage of Krishna which is also its literal translation (Hari means Krishna and vamsha means lineage). This section summarises all the exploits of Krishna but some of them spill over to the next section dedicated to the Mahabharata. The Hindu Epic tells us about the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas over their kingdom with its capital in Hastinapura. Krishna with the help of the Pandavas gets rid of the world’s evil through war.
Buddha, Kalki and Creation
The following chapter consists the tales of Lord Vishnu’s eighth and ninth avatar, namely Buddha and Kalki. It says how towards the end of the Kali era, everyone will abandon their values and the value of people will be measured only by their wealth. It says that people will start robbing each other. It will be at that time when the tenth avatar, the Kalki avatar will be born to establish order again and bring the dawn of a new ‘Satya Yuga’, a fresh era of righteousness.
The next chapter has the narration by ‘Agni’ about the history of creation. It says how Vishnu is the lord of creation, preservation and destruction. It narrates how Lord Brahma was born and how he created the universe as we know it.
Praying, Temples and Deities
The next chapter has four sections and gives the believers directions on how to pray, build temples and idols of deities. This chapter mentions the different forms the various incarnations appear as and what their idols are supposed to look like. This section lists the different pilgrimages and sacred places where deities visit often and people go to get rid of all the sins they have committed.
This holy text also has extended narrations and instructions related to geography and astrology.
Manvataras, Varnashrama and Vratas
The next chapter has four sections. The first being about Manvantaras (eras), each of these are ruled over by a Manu. The next section gives us an overview of the hierarchy of classes (varna) and the precepts of Dharma or righteousness. This section consists of instructions of living people belonging to each class should follow. It also tells us the different stages of life, namely, brahmacharya, garhathya, vanaprastha, sannyasa.
The next chapter reveals the different sins committed by a person and ways for the atonement of their sins. The following sections talk about ‘vratas’ (religious rituals) and ceremonies that are performed according to specific occasions.
Narakas, Charity, Gayatri Mantra and the Duties of a king
The next chapter has four sections where the first one explains the different hellish planets or Narakas. The following sections describe the importance of charity, the power of the Gayatri Mantra, and the duties of a king.
Dreams, Omens and Battle
The following chapter has four sections. The first two talk about dreams and omens or signs. These chapters describe what different dreams and omens mean and how can they be treated with rituals. The third chapter lists the rituals and preparations needed before a king heads out to war. The last section compares these precepts to the teachings of Rama who taught Lakshmana about a king’s duties.
Dhanurveda, Property, Dynasties
The succeeding chapter containing six sections imparts knowledge on weapons, property and the benefits of donating the Puranas. The following chapters describe vamsha (dynasties), medicine and literature.
Pralaya, Yama and Hell, The Gita
The next chapter has five sections which talk about Pralaya (destruction), Yama and Hell, Yoga, the knowledge of a Brahmin and the Holy Text Gita. This text is believed to be the lessons that Lord Krishna taught Arjun when he was unwilling to wage war against the elderly in the opposition.
The Agni Purana is not only a part of Hindu mythology but also a part of the rich Hindu culture. The followers of this religion have been following the teachings of the Hindu text Vedas and the Puranas for ages now and it has become a part of their belief.
-by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker