Agni – Primordial Light of Creation
To understand Agni, we look to the Astral level of creation where cords of consciousness rule, where the subtle life forms are akin to threads of consciousness, the Nagas. Agni is fundamental to this field.
Agni can be found at every level of density in the body, with its roots stationed in the gap between Silence resting (Nirguna Brahm) and Silence awake (Saguna Brahm.)
Agni emerges from the gap between Nirguna Brahm and Saguna Brahm. In the relationship between Nirguna Brahm and Saguna Brahm there is a continual collapse of infinite silence to infinite dynamism and vice versa. This collapse creates a friction which hums in the form of Agnim.
Agni is the first form which emerges from the hum of Agnim. So, even though the birthplace of Agni is in the gap between Nirguna Brahm and Saguna Brahm, it first appears as the primordial light of creation in the gap between Divine Being and causal body (finest relative level of manifestation). For this reason we think of the first moments of our universe as an expression of light. However this light is still with us, still initiating the manifestation of all form.
Ayurveda Describes the Manifestation of Agni in Great Detail
Ayurveda recognizes and addresses the manifestation of agni in the body as the fire which supports metabolism and absorption of food.
1. Jatharagni is the digestive fire in the body responsible for metabolizing food.
Jatharagni resides in the alimentary canal and is responsible for sorting the food we consume into nourishment and waste. This form of agni allows the body to break food down before absorbing its nutritive value.
There are four classifications of Jatharagni according to body type.
- Sama-agni– Balanced application of digestive process based upon a balanced habit of taking appropriate foods, in appropriate quantities, at appropriate times. Any of the three body types (listed in points 2, 3, and 4 below) can create and maintain Sama-agni if one consistently exercises healthy eating habits.
- Manda-agni– This is a weak or slow agni, which takes a long time to metabolize food or leaves food undigested. This agni manifests within a predominantly kapha physiology. Kapha constitution tends toward heavier, denser and slower, with a cheerful nature, smooth skin, thick hair and long memory. Kapha types tend toward sleeping deeply, learning slowly, but they have long memory retention and they like to save and store and keep.
- Tikshna-agni– This agni is stronger than required for the amount of food consumed. It manifests most commonly in bodies with a predominantly pitta constitution. The experience is quick digestion of food and sharp hunger. Pitta constitution is moderate in build but muscular, with warmer temperature, sharp intellect, clear speech, strong digestion and reddish hair and skin. Pitta types enjoy possessions of quality, learn at a moderate pace and have a moderate memory, etc.
- Vishama-agni– This agni is irregular. It tends to be either too strong or not strong enough and manifests unpredictably. It surfaces in bodies which are primarily vata constitution. Vata constitution is quick and light, with thin hair and skin. Vata types learn quickly, sleep lightly, forget quickly, speak and move quickly, tend to worry, spend money quickly and aren’t attached to things.
2. Bhutagni is a form of Agni resides in the liver in five forms.
These five forms of Bhutagni are associated with the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space) and their correlated five senses (smell, taste, sight, touch and hearing.)
Nutrient rich blood comes to the liver from the intestines after the most valuable aspects of the food have been retained and that which is non-useful has been eliminated. In the liver, the nutrients are sorted into the five elements, and these elements are used to enhance their respective senses of perception.
The nutrients, which manifest as the five elements, pair up to create the three doshas in the body (Kapha, Pitta, and Vata – see above.) So the end result of the journey of nutrients through the liver is material which contributes to the constitution of the body, thus affecting Jatharagni, as described above.
- Earth and water combine to make Kapha
- Fire makes Pitta
- Air and space combine to make Vata
3. Dhatvagni is a form of Agni present in all tissues of the body.
Dhatvagni comes in seven forms which convert the nutrients of the food to the various tissues of the body. Each of the seven agnis are more refined that the previous, and each creates a tissue which is more refined than the previous. So at this level of digestion, agni is acting to refine the nutritional value of the food within the body.
At each stage of transformation, three products are recognized by body intelligence:
- A product, not sufficiently refined enough to form the tissue at hand. This material is eliminated as waste.
- A product fine enough for perfect creation of a particular tissue.
- A product too fine to contribute to the formation of the present tissue. This last product interacts with the next agni more refined agni, and is used to create the next finer tissue of the body.
The Seven Agnis and the tissues created from them:
- Rasa-agni: converts the original food material into plasma.
- Rakta-agni: converts finest plasma into blood.
- Mamsa-agni: converts finest blood into muscle.
- Meda-agni: converts finest muscle into fat.
- Asthi-agni: converts finest fat into bone.
- Majja-agni: converts finest bone into nerve tissue.
- Shukra-agni: converts finest nerve tissue into reproductive fluid.
After this the next finest product is Ojas.