The opening hymn of Rig Veda is for Agni , the god of fire I am assuming . And then there are many more hymns , but then there're ones for Vayu, Mitra, Indra, and so on for the other deities.

The verses indicate Agni is grand and divine.

However , we see in the Kenopanishad, after having a victory over the demons, the gods rejoiced in ego and the Brahman assumed a Yaksha form to break their ego .

Brahman, according to the story, obtained a victory for the gods; and by that victory of Brahman the gods became elated. They said to themselves: "Verily, this victory is ours; verily, this glory is ours only."

Brahman, to be sure, understood it all and appeared before them. But they did not know who that adorable Spirit was. 3—6 They said to Agni (Fire): "O Agni! Find out who this great Spirit is." "Yes," he said and hastened to It. Brahman asked him: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am known as Agni; I am also called Jataveda."

Brahman said: "What power is in you, who are so well known?" Fire replied: "I can burn all— whatever there is on earth." Brahman put a straw before him and said: "Burn this." He rushed toward it with all his ardour but could not burn it. Then he returned from the Spirit and said to the gods: "I could not find out who this Spirit is," (from Chapter 3 of Kenopanishad)

Thus, we can see Agni who was very egoistic about power to burn all earth is unable to reduce a single piece of straw . Next to be humbled is Vayu who couldn't blow away the same straw.

Indra is made of this realization. Note that indra doesn't see or question the yaksha which is a hidden metaphor of the fact that senses (indriya) can't see the lord.

So , the question is Is Agni and Vayu great because they're eulogized in mandala 1 of Rigveda or are they not so great because they are subject to ego and got their egos broken down by supreme deity.

PS : On a humorous note, one can add I may not be sitting and typing this if it were not for agni (temperature) in my body. :P

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    You also would not be writing this question without Vayu in you :P The Vedas glorify almost all of the devas whom we consider today as subordinates of the lord. That does not in any way deprive them of ego or any other such qualities because ultimately the Vedas praise each of these gods more like manifestations of the divine rather than established individual divinities.
    – Surya
    Jan 26, 2018 at 14:57
  • all vedic gods are higher Jan 27, 2018 at 0:29
  • Subjected to ego is not enough argument not to consider one great. Agni and Vayu are great deities, that Upanishad verse is preaching at the absolute level that nothing is higher than Brahman. Refer Katha Upanishad 2.2.15
    – Pandya
    Jan 27, 2018 at 3:11
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    Brahman, or more precisely Brahm (not BrahmA) or Parbrahm . it refers to the supreme deity , the god of gods, known in various religions as god, allah, yahweh , bhagwan , waheguru , etc Jan 27, 2018 at 15:26
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    @Elfinforest Brahman is used to refer Supreme God Brahman. Actually Brahmaa (creator god) is often written as Brahma (as writing extra a in Brahmaa is often avoided). So to remove confusion we write Brahman (also as per sanskrit too, Brahman is root word, so it is not a mind woven convention to write Brahma(supreme) as Brahman).
    – user12826
    Jan 27, 2018 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


Agni is central in all vedic rituals. All the offerings in the Vedic sacrifices are invariably offered to Agni and through him to other gods. Agni is thus the primary recipient of all Vedic sacrifices.So he is also Divine messenger of the gods. You can read more about Agni in this Answer.

The Rigveda itself indicates that Truth is one - "ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti agnim yamam matariswanam ahuh" (meaning Truth is one, but the learned refer to it in different names like agni, yama, Varuna , Vayu etc. But the concept that there is a single Parabrahman and that all Gods are Its forms, is more clearly visible towards the Vedanta (Upanishads).

इन्द्रं मित्रं वरुणमग्निमाहुरथो दिव्यः स सुपर्णो गरुत्मान |
एकं सद विप्रा बहुधा वदन्त्यग्निं यमं मातरिश्वानमाहुः ||RV 1.164.46 ||

46 They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān. To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

The core concepts of Upanishads is Brahman-Atman. Brahman is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists. Brahman is "the infinite" source, fabric, core and destiny of all existence, both manifested and unmanifested.

Now let's look at the mantras of Kena- Upanishad and Shankara’s Commentary on the "Yakshopakhyan" part which you mentioned in question.

The Brahman won a victory for the Devas and in that victory of the Brahman the Devas attained glory. They thought ‘the victory is ours and this glory is ours alone.’

TheBrahman evidently knew this false notion of theirs. Brahman being omniscient and director of the senses of all living beings knew of the false idea of the Devas and in order that the Devas might not be disgraced like the Asuras by this false notion, out of pity for them and intending to bless them hy dispelling their false notion, appeared before them.

So from the above lets try to construct answers of your two questions.

Is agni-and-vayu-great-because-rigveda-eulogized-them ?

Yes they are great gods of vedic as well as current time , and both as well as others will be greatly reveared in the rest of the coming time as well. But they are not just great because only Rig-Veda says so. The Vedic people also realised the importance of Agni not only for earth but for entire universe including bodies of living beings. So Agni and vayu are great in Rig-Veda because they are part of infinite Brahman. And that is the reason why the deities sometimes are called as Brahman and they are also Blessing people , supporting life on earth , and bringing prosperity to all.

or are they not great because they're subject to ego in Kenopanishad?

As described above the Brahman just taking pity on gods and just for preventing them turning like Asuras , tried to to bless them hy dispelling their false notion. And appeared before them just to show them this fact that " He is the Director of the Show" . This does not anyhow lowers their importance in Vedic or later litraturre. They did not express their ego anywhere But they were under false notion (Avidya /ignorance) Since they are the devas who are just extension of Brahman itself , they still are great.

conclusion - According to me none of your statements are right in the sense of either vedas or vedanta. They are just general interpretations drawn at Vyavaharika level.

  • so deities dont exist as at absolute level ? Jan 27, 2018 at 0:30
  • @RakeshJoshi they don't Jan 27, 2018 at 15:26
  • @Sikhandyeshallfind i.e as per sankara vedanta but vedas dont mention such things Jan 27, 2018 at 15:28
  • @RakeshJoshi, as per upanishads, all deities are creation of Parbrahm , and hence in the absolute, all these deities don't exist. न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः । तमेव भान्तमनुभाति सर्वं तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति ॥ १५ ॥ 15. The sun does not shine there; nor do the moon and the stars, nor do these lightnings shine. How could this FIRE? Him shining, all shine after. All this shines by his light. (Kathopanisad) Jan 27, 2018 at 15:36
  • @Sikhandyeshallfind There is no vyavaharika or paramartha levels in Upanishad. If so show me. But in chat room. Cos this is not place for extended comments. Jan 27, 2018 at 15:37

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