The Mahabharata Home
"Markandeya continued, 'The fire called Bharata was bound by severe rules of asceticism. Pushtimati is another name of his fire; for when he is satisfied he vouchsafes pushti (development) to all creatures, and for this reason he is called Bharata (or the Cherisher). And that other fire, by name Siva, is devoted to the worship of Sakti (the forces of the presiding deity of the forces of Nature), and because he always relieves the sufferings of all creatures afflicted with misery, he is called Siva (the giver of good). And on the acquisition of great ascetic wealth by Tapa, an intelligent son named Puranda was born to inherit the same. Another son named Ushma was also born. This fire is observed in the vapour of all matter. A third son Manu was born. He officiated as Prajapati. The Brahmanas who are learned in the Vedas, then speak of the exploits of the fire Sambhu. And after that the bright Avasathya fire of great refulgence is spoken of by the Brahmanas. Tapa thus created the five Urjaskara fires, all bright as gold. These all share the Soma drink in sacrifices. The great sun-god when fatigued (after his day's labours) is known as the Prasanta fire. He created the terrible Asuras and various other creatures of the earth. Angiras, too created the Prajapati Bhanu, the son of Tapa. He is also called Vrihadbhanu (the great Bhanu) by Brahmanas learned in the Vedas. Bhanu married Supraja, and Brihadbhanu the daughter of Surya (the sun-god). They gave birth to six sons; do thou hear of their progeny. The fire who gives strength to the weak is called Valada (or the giver of strength). He is the first son of Bhanu, and that other fire who looks terrible when all the elements are in a tranquil state is called the Manjuman fire; he is the second son of Bhanu. And the fire in whose honour oblations of clarified butter are enjoined to be made here at the Darsa and Paurnamasya sacrifices and who is known as Vishnu in this world, is (the third son of Bhanu) called Angiras, or Dhritiman. And the fire to whom with Indra, the Agrayana oblation is enjoined to be made is called the
[paragraph continues] Agrayana fire. He is the (fourth) son of Bhanu. The fifth son of Bhanu is Agraha who is the source of the oblations which are daily made for the performance of the Chaturmasya (four-monthly) rites. And Stuva is the sixth son of Bhanu. Nisa was the name of another wife of that Manu who is known by the name of Bhanu. She gave birth to one daughter, the two Agnishomas, and also five other fire-gods. The resplendent fire-god who is honoured with the first oblations in company with the presiding deity of the clouds is called Vaiswanara. And that other fire who is called the lord of all the worlds is Viswapati, the second son of Manu. And the daughter of Manu is called Swistakrit, because by oblations unto her one acquires great merit. Though she was the daughter of Hiranyakasipu, she yet became his wife for her evil deeds. She is, however, one of the Prajapatis. And that other fire which has its seats in the vital airs of all creatures and animates their bodies, is called Sannihita. It is the cause of our perceptions of sound and form. That divine spirit whose course is marked with black and white stains, who is the supporter of fire, and who, though free from sin, is the accomplisher of desired karma, whom the wise regard as a great Rishi, is the fire Kapila, the propounder of the Yoga system called Sankhya. The fire through whom the elementary spirits always receive the offerings called Agra made by other creatures at the performance of all the peculiar rites in this world is called Agrani. And these other bright fires famous in the world, were created for the rectification of the Agnihotra rites when marred by any defects. If the fires interlap each other by the action of the wind, then the rectification must be made with the Ashtakapala rites in honour of the fire Suchi. And if the southern fire comes in contact with the two other fires, then rectification must be made by the performance of the Ashtakapala rites in honour of the fire Viti. If the fires in their place called Nivesa come in contact with the fire called Devagni, then the Ashtakapala rites must be performed in honour of the fire Suchi for rectification. And if the perpetual fire is touched by a woman in her monthly course, then for rectification the Ashtakapala rites must be performed in honour of the fire called Dasyuman. If at the time of the performance of this Agnihotra rites the death of any creature is spoken of, or if animals die, then rectification must be made with the performance of the Ashtakapala rites in honour of the Suraman fire. The Brahmana, who while suffering from a disease is unable to offer oblations to the sacred fire for three nights, must make amends for the same by performing the Ashtakapala rites in honour of the northern fire. He who has performed the Darsa and the Paurnamasya rites must make the rectification with the performance of the Ashtakapala rites in honour of the Patikrit fire. If the fire of a lying-in room comes in contact with the perpetual sacred fire, then rectification must be made with the performance of Ashtakapala rites in honour of the Agniman fire.'"
Next: Section CCXXI