The curse upon Agni - Story from Adi Parva of Mahabharata

The curse upon Agni - Story from Adi Parva of Mahabharata

The curse upon Agni - Story from Adi Parva of Mahabharata

In early Adi Parva, when the beginnings are being described we come across a story of Agni, the fire god himself being cursed. It happened in this way. 
Bhrigu Muni, the son of Brahma, had a beautiful wife named Puloma.  He loved her dearly and was very careful not to let her be seen by rakshasas who wished to carry her away. The fact was that Puloma had earlier been promised to a Rakshasa but later married to Bhrigu and this rakshasa was still looking for her, so he could carry her away. 

Living in his hermitage, the rishi and Puloma were very happy. When Puloma was pregnant, one day the rakshasa arrived at the ashrama and promptly carried her away. Now how did he know who she was? The Rakshasa asked Agni, who was everywhere, who was also present in the ashrama in the form of the sacred fire, to identify the lady.

Agni could not lie. He told the rakshasa who she was. When the rakshasa asked him if she was the same woman who had been promised to him, Agni could not lie again and he confirmed that it was the same Puloma. Assured that this was the same woman, the rakshasa carried her away.

The baby in Puloma’s womb was so disturbed at this forced abduction that he dropped out of her womb. His name came to be Chyavana. The boy was so bright, like a sun, that the startled rakshasa dropped Puloma and promptly fell down and was burned to ashes.

When Bhrigu found out what had happened, he was furious with Agni because it was Agni who had identified Puloma to the rakshasa. He cursed Agni to be the devourer of everything- pure and impure, with no distinction. Now Agni was furious and he pulled away from all the places that he used to be, which meant there was no agni at sacrifices and ceremonies and homas. Since he was not present to carry what was offered in the sacrifices, the devas and pitrus also could not get their offerings.

The gods and rishis went to Brahma with their problem and Brahma called Agni to him. He asked Agni not to stay away from all the places where he was supposed to be. Now, Brahma blessed Agni that ANYTHING that he consumed or anything poured into him would automatically become pure so there was no question of him eating pure and impure things.

Happy now, Agni went back to the homas and sacrifices and rituals and yagas and anything that was poured into or offered to Agni was deemed pure because of Agni’s touch.