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The Agni Purana, (Sanskrit: अग्नि पुराण, Agni Purāṇa) one of the 18 Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts, contains descriptions and details of various incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu. It also has details account about Rama, Krishna, Prithvi, and the stars. It has a number of verses dealing with ritual worship, cosmology and astrology, history, warfare, sections on grammar and meter, law, medicine, and martial arts. Tradition has it that it was originally recited by Agni to the sage Vasishta.
The text is divided into 383 chapters. The athāgnipurāṇa pariśiṣṭam is an appendix of another six chapters.
Editions and translations
The first printed edition of the text was edited by Rajendralal Mitra in the 1870s (Calcutta : Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1870–1879, 3 volumes; Bibliotheca Indica, 65, 1–3). The entire text extends to slightly below one million characters.
An English translation was published in two volumes by Manmatha Nath Dutt in 1903–04.
The extant text comprisess 383 chapters. The last chapter of the text gives a list of 50 topics discussed in the text. The following is a brief description of the subjects narrated in the text:
After the customary opening (Chapter 1), the text describes the 10 avatars of Vishnu in detail. Chapters 2–4 deal with the Matsya, the Kurma and the Varaha avataras respectively. The next seven chapters (5–11) summarise the seven Kandas of the Ramayana. Chapter 12 summarises Harivamsha. Chapters 13–15 narrate the story of the Mahabharata. Chapter 16 describes Kalki as the avatar of Vishnu. Chapters 17–20 describe the five essential characteristics of a Purana. Chapters 21–70 consist a discussion between Narada, Agni, Hayagriva, and Bhagavan. These chapters deal with the religious bathing, construction of a Kunda (sacrificial pit), the Mudras (the positions of fingers during worship), the mode of worship of Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha, consecration of an image, architecture of a temple, iconography of the images, the worship of Salagrama, the rules for the installation of the images and repair of a temple.
The subject of chapter 71 is the worship of Ganesha. Chapters 72–105 relate to the worship of the Lingam and the several manifestations of Devi. These chapters also contain discussions on the method of establishing Agni (sacrificial fire), Canda worship, Kapila worship and consecration of a temple. Chapter 106 discusses Vastu related to the cities. Chapter 107 is devoted to the creation of Svayambhuva Manu. Chapter 108 is the Bhuvana-Kosha (description of the universe). Chapters 109–116 describe a number of Tirthas. Chapter 117 deals with the ancestral rites. Chapters 118–120 describe the Puranic concepts on the geography of India and other parts of the world as well as the Puranic perceptions about the distances between various regions of the world. Chapters 121–149 deal with various aspects of astronomy and astrology. Chapter 150 deals with the periods of the Manvantaras and the names of the Manus.
Chapters 151–167 deal with the duties associated the different varnas. Chapters 168–174 discuss about the expiations for various kinds of sins. Chapter 175–207 describe about the performances of a number of Vratas. Chapters 208–217 describe various religious gifts and vows. Chapters 218–248 deal with various aspects of statecraft. Chapters 249–252 discuss in detail Dhanurveda or archery, and weapons associated with it. Chapters 254–258 expound on the Vyavahara (judicature and law). This part of the text is literally same as the Mitakshara. The next chapters (259–271) deal with miscellaneous topics regarding the perusal of the Vedas. Chapter 272 deals with the gifts to be made when the Puranas are read. This chapter contains a list of the Puranas and the number of verses each Purana contains. Chapters 273–278 deal with the genealogy of the Puranic dynasties.
Chapters 279–300 deal with the various branches of medicine. Chapters 301–316 deal with the worship of Surya and various mantras (chants), out of which chapters 309–314 deal with mantras for worshipping of the goddess Tvarita. In Chapters 317–326 Ishvara speaks to Skanda regarding the worship of Shiva's ganas: Vagishvari, Aghora, Pashupata, Rudra, and Gauri. Chapter 327 instructs on the glorification of establishing a linga in a temple. Chapters 328–335 summarise Pingala sutras on metrics and an unknown commentary on it. Chapter 336 has rudimentary discussion about Vedic phonetics.
The subject of the next two chapters (337–337) is poetics and rhetoric. Chapter 338 contains a list of the different types of Sanskrit drama. Chapters 339–340 deal with the four ritis or styles of displaying sentiments and emotions during acting. Chapters 341–342 expound on the actions and movements of the limbs of an actor and definitions of the dramatic representations. Discussions regarding the various figures of speech are found in chapters 343-45. The definitions found in these chapters are same as those of the Kavyadarsha of Dandin. The merits and demerits of a composition are discussed in chapters 346–347.
Chapter 348 consists of a list of monosyllabic words. The following chapters (349–359) deal with the rules of Sanskrit grammar, which is an abstract of the Chandra Vyakarana. Chapters 360–367 are basically a lexicon on the pattern of the Amarakosha. Chapters 369–370 consist of discussions on human anatomy. Chapter 371 describes various types of Narakas. Chapters 372–376 deal with both Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga. The subject of the chapters 377–380 is the philosophy of Vedanta and knowledge of Brahma. Chapter 381 gives the gist of the Bhagavad Gita. Chapter 382 is a version of the Yama Gita. Chapter 383's verses glorify the Agni Purana.
- Shastri, P. (1995) Introduction to the Puranas, New Delhi: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, pp.98–115
- Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.