Angira, also known as Angiras, was described in the prominent Rigveda as an ancient Indian Vedic sage of the Hindu culture. He is known for his various facets throughout his life including being a teacher of the divine and untouched knowledge, a medium and a mediator between the prime gods and human beings. Not just this but he is also known as the foremost fire god or Agni Dev as regarded in spoken language. The reason why he is regarded by two names is that his mention in the old scriptures is Angira at some places and Angiras at the other. Apart from his name, there is a disputed mention about him being a Saptarishi in some texts and not be counted in that list in the other texts.
Puranic Individuals are most commonly denoted by the name Angirasas. Like his name and his inclusion in Saptarishi, there are various other aspects of his life that have a conflicting history. His name appears in various Hindu texts based in the medieval period with roles almost divergent and various narratives about his origin. These narratives are contrary and pose great questions on his birth, biography and marriage as well.
He is described as the son of Lord Brahma and also a part of the many Prajapati. According to the texts he has somewhere between one to four wives. Surupa being the first one to be mentioned in correlation to Rishi Angiras. She and the rishi have three sons namely Brahaspati, Samvartana and Utathya. He is also said to have married Smriti. Smriti means memory. She was the daughter of Daksha. He went to marry Svadha. Another puranic text mentions that he married Shubha with whom he has seven daughters. He named them on the aspect of fire and had a son who was called Brihaspati. Some legends describe Rishi Brihaspati.
There is a manuscript of Atharvaveda in which a part of the text is attributed to “Atharvaginrasah”. It is the consolidation of work by Rishi Angira and Rishi Atharvan. Angira is the name given to the students of Angiras. They have contributed and worked on the hymns in the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 9th and 10th books of Rigveda. Their work on these hymns is crucial to the text. Angirasas had become an old and ancient clan by the time the Rigveda was composed, this led to their participation in several myths.
According to a legend, sage Angiras was said to have achieved full control over his senses and turned them inwards to meditate on Para-Brahman. He is the ultimate creator and destroyer. Angiras was said to be born with a certain “Tej ” (light/radiance). When he started praying and performing penance, his tej multiplied infinite times. He attained power and quality which was divine amongst all. He was so powerful that he could control many worlds at once. However, he was oblivious to all the worldly pleasures and did not care enough to hinder or stop his penance.
He soon became a Para-Brahman due to his undisturbed and pure penance and attained the state and title of “Brahmarishi”. Brahmarishi is said to be very powerful and has special respect in the world. He had a vision of bringing Vedic mantras to the earth and teaching them to human beings. As mentioned earlier, he is the undisputed source of the number of Vedic hymns and mantras. He is also believed to have introduced the term and concept of worship to Agni (fire) with Rishi Bhrigu.