The Shatapatha Brahmana 1.3.3 mentions the following interesting conversation between Agni and the other gods:

  1. He then lays the (three) enclosing-sticks (paridhi) around (the fire). The reason why he lays the enclosing-sticks around (is this). When at first the gods chose Agni for the office of Hotri, he said: 'Verily, I am not equal to this, that I should be your Hotri, and that I should carry your oblation. Already you have chosen three before, and they have passed away. Restore them to me: then I shall be equal to this, that I should be your Hotri and that I should carry your oblation!' They said, 'So be it!' and they restored to him those (three former Agnis): they are these enclosing-sticks.

The Section 1.2.3 also gives some details:

  1. Fourfold, namely, was Agni (fire) at first. Now that Agni whom they at first chose for the office of Hotri priest passed away. He also whom they chose the second time passed away. He also whom they chose the third time passed away. Thereupon the one who still constitutes the fire in our own time, concealed himself from fear. He entered into the waters. Him the gods discovered and brought forcibly away from the waters.

The earlier section also mentions their epithets:

  1. That which is spilt he touches, with the formulas (Vâg. S. II, 2), 'To the Lord of the Earth--svâhâ!' 'To the Lord of the World--svâhâ!' 'To the Lord of Beings--svâhâ!' These, indeed, are the names of those Agnis,--to wit, Lord of the Earth, Lord of the World, and Lord of Beings. Thus in like manner as that (oblation) which is accompanied by 'Vashat' is offered up (to the particular deity to which it is announced), so is this (offered up) on his (the sacrificer's) part to those Agnis.

I want to know what is the story of these three previous Agnis who served the gods but then passed away?

  • 1
    Very interesting question Sir it seems Agni is also a title then like Indra
    – Viraj
    Dec 27, 2019 at 4:34
  • 1
    Yes my friend seems like that for sure Dec 28, 2019 at 12:22

2 Answers 2


I found this in the Brhaddevata: extract from Brhaddevata

Deeply grateful for the wonderful questions and the intelligent queriers. It seems that there are 3 or 5 brothers.

I speculate, that the asuras had destroyed three principal Agni's in their continuous struggles between good and evil. The remaining brother fled and hid in the "waters". Till Yama and Varuna relocated him. I further speculate, that Yama and Varuna are the from the lower world's, possibly meaning they had to revive that family of priests and coax Agni to become the hotr of all devayagyas. If necessary I will remove speculatory material and retract to just the clip of the Brhaddevata. Further --- the (वषट्):—ind. ([according to] to some [from] √1. vah; cf. 2. vaṭ and vauṣaṭ) an exclamation uttered by the Hotṛ priest at the end of the sacrificial verse (on hearing which the Adhvaryu priest casts the oblation offered to the deity into the fire; it is joined with a [dative case] e.g. pūṣṇe vaṣaṭ; with √kṛ, ‘to utter the exclamation vaṣaṭ’), [Ṛg-veda; Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā; Brāhmaṇa; ???; Manu-smṛti; Mahābhārata; Purāṇa]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary Vaṣaṭ (वषट्):—interj. Exclamation on making an offering by fire

  • Thanks for the attempt would love to get some more details about these brothers! Sep 13, 2023 at 6:54
  • 1
    Sirji- You are welcome. will try my best too. Truly fascinating question, and how the scriptures and commentaries complement each other so well.
    – ajitdas
    Sep 13, 2023 at 7:02
  • I rollbacked that edit as only edits are for improvement and not for adding new information without consent of OP. See Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?
    – The Destroyer
    Sep 16, 2023 at 9:57
  • @TheDestroyer the edit was not mine but that of the OP only see the other deleted answer of the OP under this question only. I just added that here so that he can delete the other answer as mentioned in the comment section of that answer only. Anyways. 🤷‍♂️.. Nov 5, 2023 at 16:43

Answer from a different perspective.

There are 3 or 4 or 5 agnis.

The 1st 3 agnis are as follows.:

Atharva Sikha Upanishad.:

1.3 The first syllable Aa, indicates earth, the Rig Veda along with its holy chants, Brahma the creator among devas, Ashta Vasus among ganas, “Gayatri” among meters, and Garhapthya (the fire of the household) among fires.

1.4 The second syllable Uu denotes ether, the Yajur Veda, among devas is the Vishnu who looks after the worlds, the eleven Rudras among ganas, “Trishgup” among meters and dakshinagni (fire of the south - funeral pyre) among the fires.

1.5 The third syllable Ma indicates the heavens, Sama Veda with its musical sounds of Sama, among devas is the Rudra who is the God of destruction, the twelve Adityas (suns) among ganas, “jagathichanda” among meters and Ahavagni (the fire used in fire sacrifice) among the fires.

The Summary from Kalika Upa Purana.:

  • Sri Kalika Upa Purana describes about 3 sons of Lord Varaha and Maa Prithvi (Earth) named as Suvrtta, Kanaka and Ghora. As they all were creating mayhem, on request of the devas Bhagawan Shiva took the form of Sharabha Murti and killed all of them along with Lord Narsimha who came to help Lord Varaha.

  • From the body parts of the Varaha, the tridevas created various rituals and yagnas, etc. From the body parts of Narasimha i.e., From Nara (Man) part came Sage Nara and from Simha (Lion) part came Sage Narayana. And after Sharabha left his form due to the request of Lord Brahma, his 8 legs became the Ashta Murtis and the main body became Lord Samshana Bhairava (Veer Bhadra).

  • As for the 3 brothers Suvrtta, Kanaka and Ghora. After making their body into Pindas and giving Prana to them by the tridevas they became Garhapathyagni, Dakshinagni and Avahnagni respectively.

This incident is beautifully mentioned in this answer.

It's a different take on this topic.

I hope this helps. Prd..

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