“Bravery will take you into the most dangerous of places. Overwhelming firepower will see you safely through them.”
” पृतनाजितँसहमानमुग्रमग्निँ हुवेम परमात्सधस्थात् ।
स नः पर्षदति दुर्गाणि विश्वा क्षामद्देवो अति दुरितात्यग्निः ॥ “
“We Invoke From The Highest Place The Ugran Agni [Powerful/Furious Fire], The SahaMana [‘Conquering/Overpowering/Powerful Spirit/Anger/Sentience’] Unvanquishable In Battle ;
May She Greatly Protect Us From The Universe’s Durgaani [‘Dangers’], Divinely Incinerating [‘Ksamad-Devo’] The Great Evils [‘Durita-Ati’ – also means ‘very difficult path’] [With Her] Living/Sacred Blaze [‘Agni’]”
‘Firepower’ is a particular favourite phrasing of mine for these circumstances – because it is virtually a ready-made Indo-European tautological pun. Proto-Indo-European knew two major words for ‘Fire’ – ‘Hngwnis’, for ‘Living Flame’, whence ‘Agni’ (and, of course, ‘Ignition’, etc.); and ‘Pehwr’ for the more conventional flame.
‘Power’ is not from ‘Pehwr’ – but rather from PIE ‘Potis’, which refers to a Lord (whence Sanskrit पति (‘Pati’), Greek ‘Potis’ (and ‘Despotis’), ‘Despoina’ [‘Lady of the House’, also a prominent epithet utilized to refer to a certain Goddess without invoking Her name], Russian Госпо́дь [‘Guest-Lord’; but actually meaning ‘God’ – recalling the Sacred Hospitality template for the Worship of the Gods as Guests], Lithuanian and Latvian ‘Pats’ [‘Self’], etc.), via Latin ‘Potis’ – which means an ability, a capability, a potential.
However, whilst ‘Fire’ may be etymologically derived from the PIE root for inanimate Flame – it is very evidently apparent that the Fire invoked here is quite different. The Living Flame, the Conduit to the Divine, and the active force of Piety, Faith, Life-supporting heat and light, Wisdom, and Illumination. PIE ‘Hngwnis’ – or, as we have seen, Sanskrit: ‘Agni’. The God of Priests, Priest of the Gods, recipient of the sacrifices, and Hallower of the Rites as one of the essential active essences engaged therein.
In this context, then, we may quite legitimately think of the Goddess as the ‘Flame-Thrower of Faith’!
The Sanskrit verse I have chosen is from the Durga Suktam which has itself been brought out from the Mahanarayana Upanishad.
Within that latter context, it is more overtly an Agni hymnal.
However, there is no contradiction with the presentation of this as a Durga Hymnal – as there is quite extensive expression in the Vedas for the Goddess Herself being the ultimate Power presiding over the bestowal (and, indeed, the Empowerment) of this Holy Flame.
We find in RV X 125 – the famed DeviSukta, dedicated to (and in the literal words of) Vak (akin to ‘Voice’ – The Goddess as (Sacred/Empowered) Speech) hailed for Her role in underpinning Agni and for enabling the Fire which consumes the offering to burn and devour it and gain nourishment therethrough.
We find in RV VIII 100 – Devi Vak being absolutely essential to the Divine War Effort against the Demon-Dragon of the water (Vritra); in a manner closely resonating with Athena’s guidance to Herakles and Iolaos to utilize the Flame to fight the Hydra.
And we find in the Vedic ritual commentaries, inter many alia, Vak hailed as being in the Sacrificial Blaze. To quote from the Shatapatha Brahmana [SB III 5 1 22-23]:
“She then said to the gods, ‘Whatsoever blessing Ye will invoke through Me, all that shall be accomplished unto You!’ So She went over to the Gods.
And, accordingly, when he pours ghee on the high altar, while the fire is held (over it) – since the Gods said to Her on that occasion, ‘The offering shall reach Thee even before Agni’ – then that offering does reach Her even before (it reaches) Agni; for this (high altar) is in reality Vâk. And when he raises the high altar, it is for the completeness of the sacrifice, for the sacrifice is Vâk (speech) and that (high altar) is Vâk.”
It is therefore, of course, utterly uncoincidental that when the Devi Mahatmyam describes the Arrival of Durga upon the field of war ‘gainst the erstwhile unvanquishable Mahishasura (who had bound himself with the conditional invulnerability that he could only be harmed by a woman, as he did not consider females to be any form of threat) – we find Her congealed from Fire.
For She Is the Overwhelming Fire-Power !
Jai Mata DI !