Aṅgiras

One of the sages we come across, not infrequently, in the Hindu religious literature, is Aṅgiras. A number of Vedic hymns are attributed to him. Associated with the fire cult, he is regarded as the first sacrificer and initiator of sacred ritual. In fact, he is said to have discharged the duties of Agni (the fire-god) once when the latter had absconded, and thus saved the world. The mythological works describe him sometimes as a mānasaputra (mind-born son) of Brahmā, the Creator and sometimes as having sprung from the sacrificial fire of god Varuṇa. Vasudhā, Śraddhā, Svadhā and Satī were his wives. Bṛhaspati was one of his sons. The pitṛ-devatās (manes) are also described as his offsprings. The well-known lunar deities Rākā, Sinīvālī and Kuhū (which are actually phases of the moon) are consi-dered as his daughters.

Extolled for his great virtues, Aṅgiras was also a teacher of Brahmavidyā, know-ledge of Brahman (the Absolute). This explains his constant association with light, fire and luminous objects, including his identification with the planet Jupiter and a star in the constellation Ursa Major.

He is listed among the Saptarṣis (the seven sages) of the first Manvantara (the period or age of Manu). He is one of the originators of the gotra system. The Āṅgirases, descendants of Aṅgiras are stated to be kṣattriyas by birth and brāhmaṇas by profession. They were highly skilled in sacerdotal law, magic and traditional rites.

He is credited with the authorship of a treatise on law (Āṅgirasa Smṛti) as also on astronomy.