Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Angiras at Wikipedia.

ANGIRAS . [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] A Rishi to whom many hymns of the Rigveda are attributed.

He was one of the seven Maharshis or great Rishis, and also one of the ten Prajapatis or progenitors of mankind. In later times Angiras was one of the inspired lawgivers and also a writer on astronomy.

As an astronomical personification he is Brihaspati, the regent of the planet Jupiter, or the planet itself. He was also called " the priest of the gods," and "the lord of sacrifice.

There is much ambiguity about the name. It comes from the same root as agni, ' fire,' and resembles that word in sound. This may be the reason why the name Angiras is used as an epithet or synonym of Agni The name is also employed as an epithet for the father of Agni, and it is found more especially connected with the hymns addressed to Agni, Indra, and the luminous deities.

According to one statement, Angiras was the son of Uru by Agneyi, the daughter of Agni, although, as above stated, the name is sometimes given to the father of Agni Another account represents that he was born from the mouth of Brahma. His wives were Smriti, `memory,' daughter of Daksha; Sraddha, 'faith,' daughter of Kardama; and Swadha 'oblation,' and Sati, `truth,' two other daughters of Daksha. His daughters were the Richas or Vaidik hymns, and his sons were the Manes called Havishmats. But he had other sons and daughters, and among the former were Utathya, Brihaspati, and Markandeya.

According to the Bhagavata Purana "he begot sons possessing Brahmanical glory on the wife of Rathitara, a Kshatriya who was childless, and these persons were afterwards called descendants of Angiras."

ANGIRASAS, ANGIRASES. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Descendants of Angiras. "They share in the nature of the legends attributed to Angiras. Angiras being the father of Agni, they are considered as descendants of Agni himself, who is also called the first of the Angirasas. Like Angiras, they occur in hymns addressed to the luminous deities, and, at a later period, they become for the most part personifications of light, of luminous bodies, of divisions of time, of celestial phenomena, and fires adapted to peculiar occasions, as the full and change of the moon, or to particular rites, as the Aswamedha, Rajasuya, etc." Goldstucker.

In the Satapatha Brahmana they and the Adityas are said to have descended from Prajapati, and that "they strove together for the priority in ascending to heaven." Some descendants of Angiras by the Kshatriya wife of a childless king are mentioned in the Puranas as two tribes of Angirasas who were Brahmans as well as Kshatriyas.

The hymns of the Atharvaveda are called Angirasas, and the descendants of Angiras were specially charged with the protection of sacrifices performed in accordance with the Atharvaveda. From this cause, or from their being associated with the descendants of Atharvan, they were called distinctively Atharvangirasas. 

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM