Agni Purana / अग्नि पुराण
"Agni Purana" is a treasure of knowledge. Agnidev (God of fire) himself said to Vasishtha –Aagneye hi puranesmin serva vidyaah pradarshitah ---(Agni Purana 383-51)
Despite of its small size, the huge numbers of publications show the importance of this purana. It has 383 chapters in it. Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharat, Harivansha Puran etc are mentioned in this purana. Tales of Matsya, Kurm Purana etc are also told in it. Description of creation, bath, methods for worship (pooja), sacrifice method, mudra indications, initiation and coronation method, liberation methods, construction art, foundation method, symbols of god sculptures, vastu, knowledge of elements, geography, holy places, astrology, medicine science, monthly fasts, meaning of dreams, omen and bad omen, precious stones, art of archery, treatment for horse, grammar, yoga, economics, heaven and hell descriptions etc etc are in this purana.
The procedures for worship and descriptions of holy figures etc are also given in Agni Purana. The whole process of Shiva and Shakti worship is given here. All topics of Vedant are told. Apart from these, all the knowledge necessary for life is told here.
As it was told by Agnidev, it is named Agni Purana. It is a prehistoric purana. It tells about worshipping Shiva, Vishnu and Sun impartially and this depicts its prehistoric time as it is known that later, the devotees of Shiva (Shaiva) and Vishnu (Vaishnav Dharm) had conflicts. So. they even blamed each other, which is not seen in Agni Purana. Even the four holy places (matha) established by Shankaracharya – Badrinath, Jagannath, Dvarkapuri, Rameshwaram – are not mentioned in Agni Purana. Kashi’s Vishwanath and Dashashvamegh ghats are also not mentioned.
The five symbols of puranas – Sarga, Pratisarga, Rajvansh, Manvantar, Vanshanucharit are also referred but in few words. It is filled with guidelines for the day today life.
In Agni Purana, body and soul are described separately. Senses are said to be the device but parts of the body is not the spirit. It believes the spirit is placed in the heart. Earth is from water, water from fire, fire from air, air from sky and sky is from Brahma. The body has a micro and a macro part. Agni Purana accepts the knowledge path to be true. It states that only knowledge can achieve Brahma. The enlightenment of Brahma is different from mind, desire and pride. It does not have the birth, death, sorrow, love, hunger, thirst or dreams.
In this purana, the word “Bhagwan” is used for Vishnu. He is believed to be the provider and protector of the world. Bhagwan means the creator who protects and nourishes and Vishnu has all the qualities. Agni Purana says Yoga is when the heart and the mind absorb in Brahma. The aim of life should be the meeting of the soul with the almighty and so Varnashram Dharma is explained very nicely in this. Brahmachari should stay away from violence and blame or reprehension. Grahastaashram should help spend all the other three aashrams (stages) of life. That is why Grahastaashram is considered important. No discrimination, on the basis of Varna (colour or caste), should be done. Varnas are made on the basis of their Karma and not birth. A sense of equality and atonement with a pure heart is emphasized. A kind perspective is given towards women and is said :
"Nashte mrate pravrajite cleeve cha patite patau. Panchatswapastu naarinaam patiranyan vidhiyate"
Meaning a woman can remarry if her husband dies or becomes a saint or is infertile or is lost. But if a woman is raped, she is impure until her next menstrual period. She is considered pure after her period. A king should protect its people just like a pregnant woman protects her unborn child.
It says that the root cause for most of the diseases is because of food, either too much or too little. That is why everyone should eat a balanced diet . Source for most of the cures is from the roots and plants.
Agni Purana explains geography, fasts, holy places, importance of charity, Vaastu, astrology just like the other puranas. It gives a very elaborate description of all the fasts. Their lists are made according to days, months, seasons etc. Fasts are believed to be the route for upliftment. In other puranas, fasts are considered to be the means for charity but here they are considered as the way for the upliftment of life. A simple, decent and religious conduct is also emphasized during the fasts. Good and bad omens are also discussed. Male and female signs are also a very important part of the purana. The snakes are also well described in it. The power of Mantras is also told.