Angiras (अंगिरस्, pronounced [əŋɡirəs]) is a Vedic rishi (sage) of Hinduism. He is described in the Rigveda as a teacher of divine knowledge, a mediator between men and gods, as well as stated in other hymns to be the first of Agni-devas (fire gods). In some texts, he is considered to be one of the seven great sages or saptarishis, but in others he is mentioned but not counted in the list of seven great sages. In some manuscripts of Atharvaveda, the text is attributed to "Atharvangirasah", which is a compound of sage Atharvan and Angiras. The student family of Angiras are called "Angirasa", and they are credited to be the authors of some hymns in the first, second, fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth book of the Rigveda.
An 18th-century painting of the story of Queen Choladevi learning from the hermit-sage Angiras
|Children||Utathya, Samvartana and Brihaspati|
Angiras is common name, and the numerous mentions in ancient and medieval Indian texts may reflect different people with the same name. In the Hindu Epics and Puranas, his legends and mythologies are highly inconsistent.
Many hymns of the Rigveda credit Angiras and his students as their authors. For example:
- Hymns 1.101 through 1.115 dedicated to Agni, Indra, Ribhus, Asvins, Ushas, Rudra and Surya were authored by Kutsa Angirasa.
- Hymn 2.1 dedicated to Agni was originally authored by Angirasa Saunahotra.
- Hymns 5.35 and 5.36 dedicated to Indra were authored by Prabhuvasu Angirasa.
- Hymns 8.2 (first 40 verses) to Indra were authored by Priyamedha Angirasa.
- Hymns 9.97 (last 14 verses), 9.108, 9.112 to Soma were authored by Kutsa Angirasa, Uru Angirasa, Urdhvasadman Angirasa, Krtayasas Angirasa and Sisu Angirasa.
- Hymns in mandala 10, on Indra, Agni, Brihaspati, Wisdom, Surya, Vaisvanara, Horses, Ushas, ritual of Royal consecration, and others were authored by various Angirasas.
Other than crediting authorship, the Vedic texts mention sage Angiras in various roles such as a fire priest or a singer. For example, the allegorical hymn 3.31 of the Rigveda calls him a singer:
The most inspired one came, assuming a friendly attitude,
The rock made ripe (its) fruit for the one who performs the kind deed,
The young hero attained (his aim) with the youths, assuming a warlike attitude,
And here right away, the singing Angiras appeared.— Rigveda 3.31.7, Translator: Tatyana J. Elizarenkova
In the Vedic tradition linked to the Atharvaveda, sage Atharvan was more revered while sage Angiras was controversial. The auspicious practices, virtues and the pursuit of good for others were attributed to Atharvan, while the hostile sorcery and pursuit of harm unto others were attributed to Angiras. According to Max Muller – a professor of Sanskrit and Indology at the Oxford University, the sage Angiras in Vedic literature is different than the plural term Angirasa, and these terms refer to different people. The Angiras rishi is different than the group of sorcerers in Atharvaveda also named Angirasa, and according to Muller, the Vedic rishi is also different from a class of divine beings who too are called Angirasa in the Vedic texts and described as "sprung from coals (angara)".
In Buddhist Pali canonical texts such as Digha Nikaya, Tevijja Sutta describes a discussion between the Buddha and Vedic scholars of his time. The Buddha names ten rishis, calls them "early sages" and makers of ancient verses that have been collected and chanted in his era, and among those ten rishis is Angiras.[note 1]
The name Angirasas is applied generically to several Puranic individuals. Further, the Vedic sage Angiras appears in medieval Hindu texts with contradictory roles as well as many different versions of his birth, marriage and biography. In some, he is described to be the son of Brahma, in others he is one of many Prajapatis. Depending on the legend, he has one, two or four wives. In one myth, his wife is stated to be Surūpa and his sons are Utathya, Samvartana and Brahaspati. Other accounts say that he married Smriti (memory), the daughter of Daksha and later married Svadha (oblation). Yet other Puranic accounts state, he married Shubha and they had seven daughters named after aspects of "fire" and a son named Brihaspati. In some legends, sage Brihaspati is his son.
According to one legend, Angirasa turned his senses inwards and meditated on Para-Brahman, the creator of the creator, for several years. The great Tejas he got by birth had multiplied infinitely by his penance. He attained many divine qualities, powers, and riches, and control over many worlds. But he was oblivious of all the worldly attainments and did not stop his penance. Due to this penance he became one with the Para-Brahman and thus attained the state of “Brahmarshi”. He had visions of many Vedic Mantras and brought them to this earthly world. He is credited as being the source of great number of Vedic Hymns and mantras and also believed to have introduced fire-worship along with sage Bhrigu.
He is one of Saptarishis in the Puranic mythologies.
- The Buddha names the following as "early sages" of Vedic verses, "Atthaka (either Ashtavakra or Atri), Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta (Visvamitra), Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha (Vashistha), Kassapa (Kashyapa) and Bhagu (Bhrigu)".
- Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
- George M. Williams (2008). Handbook of Hindu Mythology. Oxford University Press. pp. 55–56. ISBN 978-0-19-533261-2.
- John Brough (2013). The Early Brahmanical System of Gotra and Pravara: A Translation of the Gotra-Pravara-Manjari of Purusottama-Pandita. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-107-62398-9.
- Maurice Bloomfield (1899). Atharvaveda. K.J. Trübner. pp. 7–11.
- Moriz Winternitz; V. Srinivasa Sarma (1996). A History of Indian Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 109–111. ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3.
- Wilkins, W.J. (2003). Hindu Mythology. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld (P) Limited. pp. 369–70. ISBN 81-246-0234-4.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. pp. 1673, 1675, 1679, 1684, 1689–1693. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. p. 1673. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. p. 1675. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. p. 1679. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. p. 1684. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. p. 1689. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Stephanie Jamison; Joel Brereton (2014). The Rigveda: 3-Volume Set. Oxford University Press. pp. 1690–1693. ISBN 978-0-19-972078-1.
- Tatyana J. Elizarenkova (1995). Language and Style of the Vedic Rsis. State University of New York Press. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-7914-1668-6.
- Charles Rockwell Lanman (1904). Atharva-veda Saṁhitā. Harvard University. pp. 1039–1040.
- F. Max Muller (2004). The Sacred Books of the East: Index, Volume 50. Routledge. pp. 45–46. ISBN 1-135-79045-0.
- Maurice Walshe (2005). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Simon and Schuster. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-0-86171-979-2.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 67.
- Inhabitants of the Worlds Mahanirvana Tantra, translated by Arthur Avalon, (Sir John Woodroffe), 1913, Introduction and Preface. The Rishi are seers who know, and by their knowledge are the makers of shastra and "see" all mantras. The word comes from the root rish Rishati-prapnoti sarvvang mantrang jnanena pashyati sangsaraparangva, etc. The seven great Rishi or saptarshi of the first manvantara are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha. In other manvantara there are other sapta-rshi. In the present manvantara the seven are Kashyapa, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Bharadvaja. To the Rishi the Vedas were revealed. Vyasa taught the Rigveda so revealed to Paila, the Yajurveda to Vaishampayana, the Samaveda to Jaimini, Atharvaveda to Samantu, and Itihasa and Purana to Suta. The three chief classes of Rishi are the Brah-marshi, born of the mind of Brahma, the Devarshi of lower rank, and Rajarshi or Kings who became Rishis through their knowledge and austerities, such as Janaka, Ritaparna, etc. Thc Shrutarshi are makers of Shastras, as Sushruta. The Kandarshi are of the Karmakanda, such as Jaimini.
- The First Maṇḍala of the Ṛig-Veda, Frederic Pincott (see discussion on Angiras)