Most of the rituals of Brahmanism, the main religion at the time of the Buddha, centered around fire. Agni, the god of fire, sometimes also called Jàtadeva (Ja.I,286; IV,51), is invoked in the èg Veda more than any of the other deity. The Vedic sacrifice consisted of three fires, the àhavanãya, the gàrhapatya and the dakùãõagni. There were also the three fires of the household, the primary one being the birth fire (jàtaggi, Ja.II,43) which was ignited when a person was born and from which his or her funeral pyre was lit. It was essential that these fires be kept burning throughout a person's life. Walking seven times around the nuptial fire, also lit from the birth fire, sealed the marriage. Apart from these sacred fires, brahmins who renounced the world to become ascetics worshipped Agni by tending a sacred fire in the jungle. This fire was likewise lit from the birth fire (Ja.I,494). It seems that the Buddha chose to itemize the three main mental defilements (greed, lobha; hatred, dosa; and ignorance, moha) and call them fires, to parallel and contrast with the sacred fires of Brahmanism (Vin.I,35). Brahmanism required that the three fires be tended and kept burning, the Buddha taught that one attained enlightenment only by extinguishing the three fires. Of the several names he gave to the state of complete liberation the most common was nirvana, meaning `to blow out', i.e. to blow out the burning mental defilements. He commented that a monk should not make offerings to the sacred fire (D.I,9) and dismissed it as `an outlet to failure'(apàyamukhànã, D.I,101). In the Dhammapada he said: `If one were to attend the sacred fire for a hundred years in the forest or were to honour even for a moment one who had developed himself, that honour would be better than the hundred years of sacrifice'(Dhp.107). For the early Buddhists fire worship considered to be of no spiritual value and several stories in the Jàtaka pokes fun at it (e.g. Ja.II,43-40; VI,206-7). In one of these, an ascetic decided to offer an ox he had been given to Agni. Not having salt for the meat he went off to get it, tethering the animal near the sacred fire before going. While he was away a band of robbers came to his hermitage, slaughtered the ox, cooked the meat, eat their fill, and left nothing but the hide, tail and bones. When the ascetic returned and saw what had happened he said; `If Jàtadeva the cannot protect what is his how can he protect me?' He dumped what the remains of the ox into the sacred fire and then threw a bucket of water over it (Ja.I,494).
After the 7th century CE the fire ritual was one of many Brahmanical rites incorporated into Vajrayàna Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism it is called sbyin-sreg and in Japanese Shingon Buddhism goma. See Waste Land and Vedas.