Stele with Agni Timeline


The Stele is a form of religious art used by the indians by carving an image out of slabs of rock or wood. This particular stele is composed of an image of Agni, the god of fire. Agni holds a very unique position in the Vedic Pantheon as he consumes sacrifices from the mortal world through flame and brings them to the gods intended in the spiritual world. Thus, any flame bears the power of Agni and must be treated with nothing short of reverence, giving justification to the martial fire ceremony and the household flame practices that are still honored today. He is also believed to be the god of energy as it is believed that a flame of Agni lives inside the human stomach and processes the strict diet consumed as a form of sacrifice in itself.

In this particular image, Agni is standing in the center of the slab with figures all around him. On his sides are three tiers of beings with mortals at the bottom, mythical beings on in the middle, and gods or spirits on the top. He is depicted large enough to stand in all three planes at once to further demonstrate his being the link from the spiritual and physical realms. His headdress, while ornate, also bears his trademark of flaming hair to preserve his identity as the god of fire, and reaches up to the level of Brahma on his right and Shiva on his left. The goat on the bottom left of the Stele is Agni’s goat which he rides throughout the Vedas and helps further identify this image as Agni rather than another god. Agni is shown to rather portly in this image because he made a habit of consuming part of the every sacrifice that passed through his flames before giving the rest to the majority of the pantheon. This indulgence caused him not only to lose his slim figure, but is also a factor in his decline of station amongst the rest of the Vedic Pantheon.IMG_1319IMG_1318IMG_1320IMG_1317


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