Rig Veda II.4 is dedicated to Agni. RV II.4.2 says as follows:

इमं विधन्तो अपां सधस्थे दवितादधुर्भ्र्गवो विक्ष्वायोः | एष विश्वान्यभ्यस्तु भूमा देवानामग्निररतिर्जीराश्वः ||

Translation of H.H. Wilson is as follows:

The BHRIGUS. Worshipping AGNI, have twice made him manifest : (once) in the Abode of the waters, and (once) amongst the sons of men: may that AGNI, the sovereign of the Gods, mounted on a rapid courser, ever overcome all (our foes)

So far I am under the impression that incarnations of Vishnu or Shiva, etc, are the fabrication of poets of post Vedic literature and of part of Puranas.

However, Rig Veda Mandala II was accepted by many to be the oldest part of the Veda. And, it is speaking about manifestation of AGNI, the sovereign of the Gods, amongst the sons of men.

Can anyone explain whether we can take it as the incarnation of AGNI among men, in the ancient period or does it indicate something else?

  • 1
    The two manifestations of Agni here are 1. the divine manifestation and 2. the physical manifestation in the world. Agni is present among the world of men as physical fire. This has unlikely to do anything with incarnations, as far as I understand it.
    – user16581
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:32
  • @Iwillcloseyourquestion: Please read it carefully. It says once in the abode of the waters and once amongst the sons of men. These words carry something subtle meaning, in my view. Agni is available in the wood and below the Earth (volcano) and even in sky also (thunderstorm). However, the sage was silent on these issues. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:42
  • Jamison and Brereton in their introduction to the translation of RV write - "Agni also comes to be identified with a minor divinity going back to Indo-Iranian times, Apām Napāt “child of the waters,” who was probably originally separate—a glowing fiery being concealed and nurtured in the waters, probably configured in part as lightning." By the way, a sample of their translation can be downloaded free from kindle.
    – user16581
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:51
  • @TheLittleNaruto: Can you explain what is meant by Who is in your avatar? Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:56
  • 2
    Who is that person in your profile picture? @Sriman
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


Agni's incarnations as human:

Text 21: From Devadatta came a son known as Agniveśya, who was the fire-god Agni himself. This son, who was a celebrated saint, was well known as Kānīna and Jātūkarṇya. SB 9.2

At several places in Mahabharata, Dhrishtadyumna is also mentioned as an incarnation of Agni.

  • The Mantra is speaking about manifestation of AGNI, the sovereign of the Gods, amongst the sons of men, happened due to Bhrigus. Can you quote something from brAhmanas/aranyakAs/Upanishads? @Lakhi Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 3:24

If you use a better translation (Brererton and Jamison), there is no mystery - there is no avatar.

This one here—having done honor (to him) in the seat of the waters— once again the Bhrgus have installed among the clans of Āyu. Let him surmount all the worlds—Agni, the
spoked wheel of the gods whose horses are lively.

If the Bhrgu's "installed" him, then clearly Agni didn't manifest like an avatar - maybe the Bhrgus said prayers to make Agni the guardian spirit of the Ayus.

  • Do you have online version of Rig vedic translation of Brererton and Jamison? Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 1:11

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