Meet Agni


One of the most frequent questions I hear about Sita Sings the Blues – from desis, no less – is “Who is that red dude on the goat? Is that Satan?”

This is Agni, people. The Vedic god of fire! God of priests and Priest of Gods! I know he’s not worshipped much these days, but he was a big deal back in Valmiki’s time. When Sita enters the fire, Agni carries her right back out, unscathed.

Agni’s vehicle is the ram. I screwed up by putting him on a male goat, rather than a male sheep, which I learned is what a ram is while researching this post. Oops. Although he’s sometimes depicted riding a chariot pulled by goats, so it’s sort of a compromise. But he’s still Agni. He’s got two heads, one for the creative, useful power of fire and one for its out-of-control destructiveness. He’s got multiple arms. He’s red.

He’s Agni.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

14 thoughts on “Meet Agni”

  1. Hi Nina
    I like comming to your site, always something going on.
    The God Angi, to me it looks like he has 3 heads. Or is that only because I’m wearing glasses.
    Somewhere else, on your site I read that you were a Fellow, and all this time I thought you were a lady.:) ( OK, ok, what is a Fellow??)
    And I noticed that you are hanging out with Brainy people,they can lead you astry….. For instance, they are studing plants in evolution, the answer to this was known from day one. 🙂
    I hope this comes across light hearted, thats the way it was meant.

  2. I think most desis dont know about this (agni “rescuing” sita), because most of the artwork we saw as kids doesn’t show this, and it isnt mentioned in many versions of the Ramayana.

    So we’ve all believed that even in her trial by fire, nobody came to rescue her.

    I wish Agni would’ve just slapped some sense into Rama while he was there.

  3. Well, even without Agni, the fire itself “rescues” Sita by not burning her – the fire “protects” her. Agni is just a personification of fire.

    The gods do kind of attempt to slap some sense into Rama during the Agni Pariksha scene in many Valmiki Ramayanas I’ve read. They give him kind of a dressing down – “Rama, don’t you know who you are? You’re a GOD. And Sita is a GODDESS. That ain’t no way to treat a lady, no way to treat your baby, your woman, your friend…” That lecture convinces Rama to take Sita back, and apologize to her. But I guess her forgets it all later.

  4. Glad that you believe in HINDUISM… the most ancient, divine and pure form of religion ever existed on the planet earth !!

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  7. I don’t think the goat is such an error. The goat looks perfect for him!
    I love how his faces are put together! When my mom first played “Sita Sings The Blues” for me I asked her if she knew who this figure was cause I didnt, her thought perhaps it was Indra, with a bit more looking some sources site Agni and Indra as twins?

    Anyway we’ve ordered dvds & soundtracks for both of us. I cant express how much we enjoy your film.

  8. The depiction is wrong. where are the vedas ? Wheres the ram ? sword? what? Agnir-devata carries a flaming spear not a sword… man! from where did you make this up ?

  9. Dear Nina,

    I am and Ayurvedic practitioner and I came across your depiction of Agni in an internet search. My next monthly newsletter is about balancing Agni from an Ayurvedic perspective. May I include your image of Agni in my newsletter and on my blog post. I will of course credit you as the artist.

    Thanks for considering!

  10. Hi Nina,

    Any chance I could use your Agni image in my collage piece “A Sacrifice to Agni.” A portion of the proceeds should it sell would go to you.

    If you want to do this, reply and I’ll send you a couple samples of my work.

    Artistically yours,
    Ashley West

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