Firmament Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from Firmament, in which most of the interpretation of myth is presented. Note that once the context is understood, every verse not only makes sense, but depicts the cosmic scene almost as graphically as a television documentary. (The insertions in square brackets are clarifications necessary because the reader is not privy to the discussions that preceded this section.)

The Birth of Agni

The first major aspect of proto-Venus, that is, as a god to which numerous hymns were completely devoted in the Rig Veda, came several years after the birth of Aditi, [Aditi was the earliest form of proto-Venus, so-named by the Vedic people just after it rebounded from a massive impact on Jupiter, when it was still quite far from Earth] when its orbit first brought proto-Venus close to the Earth. This was the great god Agni (fire). The flaming, proto-planet was literally a seething sphere of plasma as large as the Earth itself, at temperatures over 10,000 degrees, spewing enormous amounts of smoke out into space which formed two great tails similar to a comet, but much longer and black. Explosions in its interior repeatedly blasted huge clouds of flaming plasma into space, most of which fell back onto the surface. It raged into the inner portion of the solar system and, after relatively few orbits, came close enough to the Earth to cause devastation. The first devastating approach was described in the Rig Veda as the 'birth' of Agni, with no specific recognition that this was the same physical body which was born years before and called Aditi at that time. Actually the recognition is present in the Vedic hymns, because Agni is referred to as an Aditya, a son of Aditi. This was the only deity to be 'born in heaven'. Others, such as Indra (Mars), was described as being "released from his bonds", i.e. Mars orbit being changed, and "the wondrous child grows", i.e. as it approached the Earth, but Agni was unique and awesome to behold. The birth of Agni is described in the Rig Veda in quite cryptic terms:

In these old hymns Agni is spoken of as dwelling in the two pieces of wood, which being rubbed together, produce fire; and it is noticed as a remarkable thing that a living object should spring out of dry (dead) wood. A slightly different translation of this comes from the following verses by Dr. John Muir, author of the preeminent English translation of the Rig Veda, Original Sanskrit Texts.

In these old hymns Agni is spoken of as dwelling in the two pieces of wood, which being rubbed together, produce fire; and it is noticed as a remarkable thing that a living object should spring out of dry (dead) wood.

A slightly different translation of this comes from the following verses by Dr. John Muir, author of the preeminent English translation of the Rig Veda, Original Sanskrit Texts.


            1                      Great Agni, though this thine essence be but one,

              Thy forms are three; as fire thou blazest here,

              As lightning flashest in the atmosphere,

                  In heaven thou flamest as the golden sun.

            2                        It was in heaven thou hadst thy primal birth;

             By art of sages skilled in sacred lore.

             Thou wast drawn down to human hearths of yore,


  And thou abid'st a denizen of Earth.

3                         Sprung from the mystic pair, by priestly hands


          In wedlock joined, forth flashes Agni bright;

                                  But oh! ye heavens and Earth, I tell you right,


  The unnatural child devours the parent brands.


            4                       But Agni is a god; we must not deem

              That he can err, or dare to comprehend

              His acts, which far our reason's grasp transcend;

                 He best can judge what deeds a god beseem.


            5                        And yet this orphaned god himself survives:

              Although his hapless mother soon expires,

              And cannot nurse the babe as babe requires,

                Great Agni, wondrous infant, grows and thrives.


            6                       Smoke bannered Agni, god with crackling voice

            And flaming hair, when thou dost
                                                pierce the gloom

            At early dawn, and all the world illume,

                 Both heaven and Earth and gods and men rejoice.


            7                        In every home thou art a welcome guest,

              The household tutelary lord, a son,

              A father, mother, brother, all in one,

                 A friend by whom thy faithful friends are


            8                        A swift winged messenger, thou callest down

            From heaven to crowd our hearths the
                                                race divine,

            To taste our food, our hymns to hear,

                And all our fondest aspirations crown.


            9                        Thou, Agni, art our priest: divinely wise,

              In holy science versed, thy skill detects

              The faults that mar our rites, mistakes corrects,

                 And all our acts completes and sanctifies.


            10                     Thou art the cord that stretches to the skies,

                         The bridge that spans the chasm, profound and vast,

              Dividing Earth from heaven, o'er which at last

                 The good shalt safely pass to Paradise.


            11                     But when, great god, thine awful anger glows,

              And thou revealest thy destroying force,

              All creatures flee before thy furious course,

                 As hosts are chased by overpowering foes.


            12                     Thou levellest all thou touchest; forests vast

            Thou shear'st, like beards which barber's
            razor shaves.

             Thy wind-driven flames roar loud as ocean waves,

                 And all thy track is black when thou hast past.


            13                     But thou, great Agni, dost not always wear

              That direful form; thou rather lov'st to

              Upon our hearths, with milder flame

              And cheer the homes where thou art nursed
                          with care.


            14                     Yes! thou delightest all those men to bless

              Who toil unwearied to supply the food

              Which thou so lovest-logs of well dried

                 And heaps of butter bring, thy favorite mess.


            15                     Though I no cow possess, and have no store

              Of butter, nor an axe fresh wood to cleave,

              Thou, gracious god, wilt my poor gift receive:

                 These few dry sticks I bring ‑ I have no more.


            16                     Preserve us, lord; thy faithful servants save

              From all the ills by which our bliss is marred;

              Tower like an iron wall our homes to guard,

                And all the boons bestow our hearts can crave.


            17                     And when away our brief existence wanes,

              When at length our earthly homes must quit,

              And our freed souls to worlds unknown shall flit,

                 Do thou deal gently with our cold remains.


            18                     And then, thy gracious form assuming, guide

                                                  Our unborn part across the dark abyss

                                                Aloft to realms serene of light and bliss

                                      Where righteous men among the gods abide.

This lyrically translated hymn is rife with images, which, when we are armed with the general scenario uncovered by Velikovsky and a knowledge of physics, give us a picture of those ancient events almost as clear as a television documentary. This was the intent of the rishis(priests), who composed them. It also gives profound insights into the thinking of the people, and shows the very origin of religious thought arising out of awe and fear - fear of immense and uncompromising power.

Verses 2, 3, 4 and 5 detail Agni's primal birth, that is, Agni's (proto-Venus') approach to the Earth, as opposed to the birth of Aditi [a few years earlier], termed his 'mother' in the style of the Rig Veda. It was witnessed by everyone on Earth. The descriptions used here are a bit cryptic, but they yield their information, if begrudgingly. As proto-Venus, recently blasted out of Jupiter, still incandescent and out-gassing enormous amounts of smoke and gases, approached the Earth from the sun side, it was largely hidden by the two 'smoke' tails which streamed ahead of it toward the Earth. Just as the tails of comets, the smoke streamed in the direction away from the sun, regardless of the direction of motion, due to the pressure of solar radiation. The two smoke trails are described here as ' the mystic pair,' ' priestly hands joined’ and ' the parent brands '.

We know from comets and man-made experiments that at least two streams of particles result when an object exudes gas or smoke in space. This is due to the fact that some of the particles are ionized (have an electric charge), while others are electrically neutral. Due to the very high temperature of proto-Venus at this time a larger fraction of the smoke or gas particles were ionized than would be true with ordinary comets, which are primarily ice; therefore the second tail was as prominent as the first. The interplanetary magnetic field caused the (singly) ionized particles to move in a different direction than the neutral particles. Doubly ionized particles explain the presence of a third leg, which is sometimes used in descriptions of Agni:

In pictures he is represented as a red man, having three legs, seven arms, dark eyes, eyebrows and hair.

As the flaming proto-Venus (Agni) approached the Earth from the Sun side it was barely visible since these streams of smoke were dark and extended in the general direction of the Earth. They appeared as dark sticks, as opposed to the tails of comets, which are made up of ice particles which, when viewed at night, appear light. Thus the 'mystic pair' are the two 'sticks' which converge to a common point at which the fire (Agni) is found. These same dark forms are also imagined as two irons of the type used in branding cattle, with their ends resting in the fire. As proto-Venus closed with the Earth, and perspective increased, it was pictured as two priestly hands joined in prayer. The very idea of placing the hands together in prayer came from this sky-image.

Then verse 3 states 'the child devours the parent brands,= characterizing the smoke columns as Agni's parents, and imagining that, as the brightness of the planet itself begins to dominate due to its increasing proximity to Earth and the smoke tails become disbursed due to the magnetic field of the Earth, the planet is consuming its own parents.

Note in verses 1 and 2 how Agni is first in heaven then close to Earth. This intercession between the Earth and the heavens suggests the 'religious' metaphor for the observed action of Agni, of delivering the souls of departed humans to the gods in verses 10 and 18. The obvious interpretation of this is that the orbit of the newborn proto-Venus brings it closer and closer to Earth, for example, in verse 5 ' Great Agni, wondrous infant grows and thrives'. Then after a close encounter with the Earth it gradually moves back to a more star-like aspect 'with the gods'. Only when it was close enough to appear bright and glorious, was it praised, worshiped, and offered sacrifices as in verses 7 and 13.

However, the raw destructive power of proto-Venus was unleashed when it approached closer to the Earth. This is expressed very graphically in verses 11 and 12. The translation can hardly be misinterpreted. According to our theory, the entire proto-planet Venus was actually a a highly radiant shpere. It was cooling by radiation, and emitting prodigious amounts of ultra-violet, visible and infrared radiation. "Thou levellest all thou touchest, the forests vast thou shearest, like beards which barber's razor shaves... and all thy track is black when thou hast passed."

Mixed in the remaining verses are worshipful expressions which attempt to appease this menacing 'god,= through praise and sacrifices. The sacrifices were of burning wood, since when Agni came really close to the Earth, he consumed even the green forests. The other offering, the hom, was butter, because when proto-Venus approached the Earth, glowing masses of hot plasma were shot out of it into space with explosive force, only to be drawn back again, by the planet's gravity. These >oblations= appeared golden to observers on Earth, and as they fell back to the surface, it appeared that melted butter was being consumed by the god.

This was a 'god' no one ignored, because he approached the Earth menacingly, becoming larger and larger, causing continuous groaning and quaking of the Earth, to the point that, according to verse 6, "with crackling voice" he slaughtered every one and every thing in his path. It was only by an apparent miracle that he did not collide with the Earth. Although a collision did not occur, the Earth was changed in an irreversible way.

The fact that sound was actually heard from Agni during one or more of its encounters with the Earth, implies that an 'atmospheric bridge' was formed temporarily between the two planets, since sound waves cannot propagate across the vacuum of space. This is consistent with passages from other cultures cited by Velikovsky indicating that the crackling of flames could be heard on Earth. Professor Williams gives the following account of Agni:

            Bright, seven-rayed god, how manifold thy shapes
          Revealed to us thy votaries: now we see thee

With body all of gold; and radiant hair

Flaming from three terrific heads, and mouths,

Whose burning jaws and teeth devour all things.

Now with a thousand glowing horns, and now

Flashing thy lustre from a thousand eyes,

Thou'rt borne towards us in a golden chariot,

Impelled by winds, and drawn by ruddy steeds,

Marking thy car's destructive course with blackness.  

The 'seven' rays, 'three heads' and 'glowing horns' were plumes from explosions on the seething proto-Venus, which also inspired the Mexican name Quetzal-Cohautl, the feathered serpent.

The Aryans who composed the early Vedic hymns probably lived in what is now the Punjab, in northern India or Pakistan, in the foothills of the Himalayas, although they may have migrated to this area after the devastating encounters with proto-Venus. The reason for their movement toward the Himalayas will become clearer as we discuss subsequent events of the Vedic period. They did not actually go up into the Himalayas because they were highly unstable at that time. The reason for this is implied by the following quote:

The mountains are the eldest children of Prajapati (the Creator).  They were winged (birds).  They kept flying forth and settling wherever they liked.  At that time the Earth was unstable.  (God) Indra cut off their wings.  By means of the mountains he made firm the Earth.  The wings became clouds.  Therefore these clouds ever hover about the mountains.  For this is their place of origin.

Our interpretation is that proto-Venus, because of its great mass, exerted tremendous tidal forces on the Earth during the close encounters, and even during not-so-close encounters, because of its great mass. Early in the Vedic period entire mountain ranges were uplifted and the crust of the Earth was unstable. Thus, during the early Vedic period when the massive proto-Venus still came fairly close to the Earth the lithosphere was in chaos. The mention of Indra's effect refers to later interactions at which time Mars became the dominant god.

The orbit of proto-Venus evolved rapidly due to a combination of factors which will be discussed below. After two destructive encounters in which it incinerated a significant portion of the Earth's surface and caused tidal waves that swept across entire continents, its eccentricity decreased rapidly to the point that its orbit no longer crossed that of the Earth. Mythology implies that this took the surprisingly short time of less than fifty years. Although astronomers and astrophysicists will undoubtedly dispute that such a reduction in eccentricity could occur is this short a time, they have no concept of the extraordinary forces exerted on proto-Venus by the Sun, due to its high temperature and ionized state.

After that date it no longer came close enough to cause the complete devastation of the Earth that it had on the two earliest encounters. However, its influence on the Earth and Mars was still great at times when its aphelion corresponded to its inferior conjunctions with the Earth. This took the form of almost continuous earthquakes and effected interactions between Mars and the Earth. The Vedic people called the mysterious power of the Agni deity his 'maya.= They recognized that the gravitational force of proto-Venus was much greater than that of Mars because the earthquakes that it caused were stronger, even when at considerable distance from the Earth. Mars had to come much closer to the Earth to cause a comparable level of disturbance.

Agniwas the first major (life threatening) deity. The hymns devoted to him are not as numerous as are those devoted to some of the later 'gods'. Nevertheless, he was the most destructive of the deities. He destroyed most of the people and animals on the Earth, and therefore much of the memory of those devastations was lost. The Aryans were one of the few cultures which survived and so were able to relate the story of Aditi and Agni. The legends of the proto-Venus destructions were undoubtedly overshadowed by the many cosmic events of similar nature which occurred later due to Indra (Mars), to which many millions of people in the eastern hemisphere were witnesses. The following verses are from a Rig Veda hymn entitled 'To the Fathers (Funeral Hymn)@:

Now let us pay homage to the Fathers, to those who passed of old and those who followed,


Those who have rested in the earthly region, and those who dwell among the mighty races...           


Fathers whom Agni's flames have tasted, come ye nigh: ye kindly leaders, take ye each your proper place.


Eat sacrificial food presented on the grass: grant riches with a multitude of hero sons

Epithets for Agni

There is a subtle difference in Sanskrit between the actual name given a deity and a so-called epithet. The latter are descriptive 'pronouns= which refer to a deity by means of one of his physical characteristics, or some action he is known to be involved in. For example, in English, we sometimes refer to Mars as the 'red planet'. In Sanskrit translations these are combined into single words and capitalized in translation, thus appearing exactly as names in the English versions. The more important a deity is, the more epithets he accrues throughout his 'lifetime'. Some scholars compile lists of the epithets associated with the popular deities, and these are helpful as sort of a summary, or an additional corroboration of the physical theory in the case at hand. For example the following list of epithets for Agni appears in one reference:

Vitihotra,                      'He who sanctifies the worshipper'

Dhananjaya,                'He who conquers (destroys) riches"

Jivalana,                      ‘He who burns’

Dhmketu,                     'He whose sign is smoke'

Chhgaratha,                'He who rides on a ram'

Saptajihva,                  'He who has seven tongues'

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  © John Ackerman