Agni is a hot topic (pun intended) these days. Two instances of agni rocked conversations last week.

The first was the trailer of Brahmastra – nine years and a marriage in the making. Not a superhero movie they said – but an “astraverse”. Fair enough. Marvel has infinity stones – we have Astras.

Actually, it’s good that someone thought of finally dipping into our rich heritage and making something that can transcend language and give the world audience a superhero universe of our own. Never mind the ‘cop universe’ that Rohit Shetty has embarked on – that is a parallel universe not many want to visit.

But the trailer didn’t seem to have much depth in it. A topic of this magnitude has to be handled spectacularly, yet in a way that audiences identify with the characters. Here, nothing in the trailer remotely suggested an audience connection. Dialogues like “kaun ho tum” and “kya ho tum” didn’t help. And the special effects seemed tacky in comparison to what we have seen from down South. Just use Robot 2.0 as a benchmark.

That Karan Johar is associated with the project is warning enough. This Agni may just not have enough fire.

The second Agni was also connected with the title of a movie – Agnipath. The radical new way of recruitment into the Indian Army. Great idea – very poor communication. And even worse reception. Somehow, we Indians have come to understand that public property means “baap ka maal” and so we merrily go about vandalizing it as a sign of protest. Well, if you want to make a spectacle, why not burn your own vehicle or house for a change? Burning trains and tyres and destroying public property are literally the worst auditions for an ‘aspirant” to the Indian army!

ॐ अग्निमीले पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम्। होतारं रत्नधातमम्। ॥१॥

Om ‘Agni’meele purohitam. Yagyasya devamritwijam. Hotaram ratnadhaatmam.

अग्नि:  – अग्नि अग्रणि है, अर्थात, ईश्वर के सब गुणों में अग्नि प्रथम है। The ‘tattva’ of Parmatma which starts all creation, that which consumes everything to create new, that which is the property of Parmatma, the very source of everything we know as cosmos and nature, is ‘Agni’.

ईले: – स्तुति करते हैं / I pray to you

पुरः हितम् = पुरोहितम्  – सम्पूर्ण स्रिष्टि से पूर्व / before it all appeared; before the nature became manifest from non-manifest (सूक्ष्म से स्थूल); before the atoms appeared from ‘aakash’

यज्ञः – हवन पूजन युक्त श्रेष्ठ वैदिक कृत्य / Yagya, Vedic way of performing prayers 

यज्ञस्य – इस यज्ञ के / of this Yagya, you are

देवम् – देने वाला देवता हैं और ईश्वर के दिव्य गुणों में श्रेष्ठ है / you are ‘Devta’

ऋत्विजम् – जो सब समय एवं ऋतुऒं में पूज्य है, अर्थात ईश्वर स्वरूप है / ‘Agni’, the attribute of Parmatma, must be worshipped in every time and season

होतारम् – जो जगत् के सब जीवों को सब पदार्थ देने वाला है, जो वर्तमान और प्रलय में सबको समाहित करने वाला है / you are the giver of all bounties and good things in life. In the present and in the end, everything resides in you.

रत्नः – सब उत्तम पदार्थों एवं स्वर्ण रत्नादि को / all good things in life including precious jewels and gold etc.

धातमम् – धारण करने एवं कराने वाला है / you hold all and give them to us

“I pray to you, ‘Agni’, the prime ‘tattva’ of ‘Parmatma’ by performing this Vedic Yagya. You, ‘Agni’, were there before there was anything. With you, ‘Agni’, the creation started. You are the giver of everything. I pray to you ‘Agni’, in all days, in every season. You, ‘Agni’, sustain all creation and will consume it when the end comes. It is because of you, ‘Agni’, that we get all the beautiful things of life. You are the source of everything beautiful”.

That is the first pada of the Rig Veda, which is the first attribute of the Paramātma. Reducing it to a tacky movie, or a baseless protest is not the way to go…

See you tomorrow!