By Swami Harshananda
One of the sages frequently mentioned in shastra is Aṅgiras. A number of Vedic hymns are attributed to him. Associated with the fire sacrifice, he is regarded as the first sacrificer and initiator of sacred ritual. In fact, he is said to have discharged the duties of Agni once when the Agni had absconded, and thus saved the world. The mythological works describe him sometimes as a mānasaputra (mind-born son) of Brahmā, the Creator and sometimes as having sprung from the sacrificial fire of god Varuṇa.
Vasudhā, Sraddhā, Svadhā and Satī were his wives. Bṛhaspati was one of his sons. The pitṛdevatās are also described as his offspring. The well-known lunar deities Rākā, Sinivāli and Kuhū (which are actually phases of the moon) are considered as his daughters.
Extolled for his great virtues, Aṅgiras was also a teacher of Brahmavidyā, knowledge of Brahman (the Absolute). This explains his constant association with light, fire and luminous objects, including his identification with the planet Jupiter and a star in the constellation Ursa Major.
He is listed among the Saptarṣis (the seven sages) of the first Manvantara (the period or age of Manu). He is one of the originators of the gotra system. The Āṅgirases, descendants of Aṅgiras, are stated to be kṣattriyas by birth and brāhmaṇas by profession. They were highly skilled in sacerdotal law, magic and traditional rites. He is also credited with the authorship of a treatise on law (Angirasa Smrti) and also on astronomy.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore