Mantra to Idol - The 2 face, 3 leg, 7 armed Agni



Vedas, especially the Rig Veda celebrates Agni as the foremost. One of the eighteen main Puranas is named after Agni. Yet a very few iconic forms for Agni are found in temples. The Dancing Shiva in the temple of Chidambaram holds Agni in one of his hands. The Shivalinga in the famous temple of Arunachalam is considered to hold Agni's energy.  The aura of Devi and Bhairava in many temples contains Agni. If temple culture was a replacement for the Yagya traditions from the earlier times we should see prolific number of temples for Agni.

The Gavipuram cave temple in the midst of the bustling city of Bangalore is a rare case with a statue of Agni. Agni here is represented with four horns, two faces, seven hands and three legs based on the literal translations of one of the famous mantras from the Rig Veda. 

"catvari srnga trayo asya pada dvesirse sapta hastaso asya
tridha baddho vrsabho roraviti maho devo martyan avivesa"

This mantra is used during the Purnahuti, the concluding offering in a fire ritual conducted as per Rig Vedic tradition. The importance of this mantra is evident from the divergent commentaries written by such famous folk as Patanjali (250 BCE), Kumarilla Bhatta (50 BCE), Bhatta Bhaskara (800 CE) and Sayanacharya (1400 CE). The verse is also a part of the Dahara Vidya section of the Mahanarayana Upanishad. Gavipuram temple contains structures to make astronomical observations. It is therefore likely that the idol of Agni denotes his form as the Sun. This interpretation of the idol's form coincides with the view expressed in Kumarilla Bhatt's commentary.

Though Gavipuram temple has been dated to be 900 years old, it is likely that the idol of Agni dates further back.

Here is a short video on why Rishis assigned the sky region by the name Krittika to Agni. For more videos go to this link