Yagya: a Vaidik ritual
A Yagya is a spiritual sacrifice.
In a common use of the word Yagya means - a fire ceremony commitment and
performance of worthy cause..
It is performed like this - a Vedee (an altar) is built, sacred fire is set
in it, and Aahuti (oblations) are offered in it along with Mantra. Otherwise
there are many kinds of Yagya. All the names of Yagya and their description
is not possible here, but some information about them is given here.
Yagya has another common meaning that is, when one sacrifices anything for the
welfare of others, such is Bhoomi Yagya, Gyaan Yagya, Shikshaa Yagya etc it is
called Yagya. Even our life is a Yagya, if we wish so, we can spend it for the
cause of others.
Two odd kinds of Yagya
are well-known in Hindu scriptures -
(1) Janamejaya's Sarp Yagya
(Snake sacrifice). which he did to take revenge from Takshak Naag because he bit his
father Pareekshit. According to
MBH, 0/9 his Yagya was stopped by Aasteek, the son of Vaasuki Naag's sister Jaratkaaru.
(2) Vashishth's grandson Paraashar's Raakshas Yagya which he did to take revenge from
Raakshas community because one Raakshas killed his father Shakti. His Yagya
was stopped by Pulastya Muni.
Bhavishya Puraan, p 246, says -
Whoever is without son and wife, has no right to do Yagya.
Mainly there are 21 types of Vaidik Yagya,
(1) Sapt Paak Yagya are 7;
(2) Sapt Havir Yagya are 7;
(3) Sapt Som Yagya are 7.
Parts of a Yagya
Setting Up -
In all kinds of Yagya, the Divinity for whom the Yagya is doene, is
invoked into a ritually purified and sanctified fire altar called a
“Hom Kund.” God is praised with powerful Mantra. Prayers are offered
to the Lord as ghee and special healing herbs are offered into the fire.
The subtle essence of these offerings is restructured by Gods and Devtaa.
The fragrant smoke becomes imbued with miraculous healing properties
that enrich and renew all they touch. Vaidik Yagya like the Aayush Yagya
(done specifically for healing and long life) have a unique ability to
transform / sanctify the people who participate and the places where
they are performed. The Yagya is the most complex and powerful ritual
the Vaidik tradition has to uplift peoples consciousness. Such rituals
actually install the Divine qualities (in this case the Divine capacity
of healing) into people and physical matter. The effects of such rituals
are extremely powerful to alter the history of whole geographical regions.
While medicines work on the physical body, Yagya heals the body, mind and
soul. It actually awakens the Divine capacity of healing within the body
at all levels. All diseases are destroyed by the faithful participation
and this sacred offering. Yagya is also called Hom and Havan.
Here, the nature of the Yagya being preformed is announced and described
in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a mystical language that is structured in a way
that the Mahadevas and devas can easily hear it (even in places where
the dense worldly vibrations usually make it difficult for the angels to
see and hear people). Sanskrit is a divinely revealed language. Its
nature is to inspire human consciousness toward divinity. To hear the
sacred sounds of Sanskrit is enough to transform human consciousness.
The Sankalp is preformed as an announcement for the Devtaa, and an
affirmation for the worshipper. Each person present will be offered an
opportunity to state their name and any specific prayers they may have
at this time. Once the Sankalp is made, the ritual described must be
Ganapati Poojaa –
Ganapati Poojaa is the worship of the beloved Mahaa Dev (Archangel) Ganesh.
Though there is only one formless Absolute, there are many Devta who act as
His representatives and servants. We as humans, come to know that Formless
One through their loving guidance. While God is manifest throughout the
universe, the Devtaa embody specific (limited) Divine qualities. They each
have unique abilities to help us with different obstacles we may encounter
in our spiritual practice. Ganapati (Ganesh) is always worshipped first to
remove obstacles the work is in habd. His worship (Poojaa) gives us the
wisdom that leads to attainment and success.
Yagya Shaalaa Punya Vachan –
This is the ritual purification of the Yagya Shaalaa (the place of the
fire sacrificee). It is done by blessing water in special Kalash (water
pots) with Mantra and then sprinkling that water around the place. Also
the offerings are made for the Guardians of the 10 directions and for
ghosts and malefic spirits that might otherwise seek to harm the effects
of the ritual.
Yagya Shaalaa Pratishthaa –
Yagya Shaalaa Pratishthaa is the consecration of the place by rituals of
Yantra Pratishthaa –
Yantra is a mystical diagram used in worship and meditation. It is the
visual form of the Mantra and the Deity. It is like the Tibetan Mandal.
A special Yantra and Mantra has been revealed to the Swaamee for use in
healing rituals, for example in Aayush Yagya, it is the Yantra / Mantra
of Baal Vaidyanaath (the divine strength of healing) is used. The Yantra
has been carefully constructed with colored cream of wheat. Yantra Pratishthaa
is the ritual consecration of the diagram. Divine Shakti (Power) is installed
into the Yantra by various Mantra used to energize the various parts of the
diagram. After this ritual the Yantra is respected as a manifestation of God
Himself until it is deconsecrated. The consecrated Yantra is extremely powerful
to bless the people who have its sight).
Yantra Poojaa –
Yantra Poojaa is the worship of the God of the Yantra by
Shodashopachaar (the 16 traditional offerings).
Kalash Sthaapanaa –
Kalash Sthaapanaa is the invocation of God’s Shakti (power) into special
water pots (Kalash). These are simple an-iconic images of God. The water
is blessed by the process to add power and auspiciousness to the Yagya.
There will also be Kalash filled with Akshat (raw whole colored rice).
These are sacred to Lakshmee Jee, the Goddess of wealth. This ritual will
be abbreviated to make time for other events.
Agni Pratishthaa –
The fire is a symbol of the Divine power of transformation, transmutation,
digestion and consumption. The fire is the spiritual fire of awareness burning
at the third eye, and it is the fire of spiritual austerity that burns away our
faults and impurities. Divine consciousness pervades all the universe. The Ved
teach us to literally worship God in natural things throughout the universe as
a means bringing consciousness into union with the Divine. God is invoked into
the fire after rituals of purification and consecration of the Agni Kund (the
fire altar). God in the fire, consumes the offerings , carrying their subtle
essences to the inner worlds where the offerings are received by the Devtaa.
These offerings are restructured by the angels and used to fill the atmosphere
of the Yagya Shaalaa with Divine Shakti (Power or Energy). In the Agni Pratishthaa
(this means literally enlivening of the fire; or awakening of the Divine in the
fire) Lord Agni (God of Fire or Transformation) is invoked and worshipped.
Ganapati Hom –
After Agni Ptatishthaa, the next, offerings are made to the fire for Lord Ganesh.
LakShmee Hom –
Then Lakshmee the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Hom is performed. Her
Hom ensures a prosperous Yagya.
Rudra Hom –
After Lakshmee Hom, Rudra Hom is performed. It is the Vaidik form of
Lord Shiv (God of Peace and Transcendental consciousness). His Hom
destroys our obstacles and faults, binding us with the highest Bliss.
His Hom is praised by the scriptures as the highest form of worship.
There is no attainment that cannot be had by the proper worship of
Aayushya Hom –
If one is doing Aayush Hom, then Aayush Hom is done. This is the Vaidik
Prayer for Health. It is an ancient and powerful rite.
Dhanvantari Hom –
Dhanvantari is the Name of the Lord of Healing. The Lord’s healing
nectar empowers every act of healing throughout the world. This offering
helps bring the Divine power of healing into those who chant or hear the
Mantra. For this ritual emphasis will be on Jap (repetition) of His Mool
Mantra (Root Mantra). Also, the Bala Vaidyanaath Moolaa (this powerful
Mantra has been revealed to the Swaamee Jee and it relates to the Yantra
used in this ceremony). The Mantra will be repeated. People are encouraged
to chant along and make offerings to the fire.
Mrityunjaya Hom –
The Mrityunjaya Mantra is the Mantra of Lord Shiv as the conqueror of
Death. For this Hom, special Beej Mantra (sacred syllables) enact the
healing properties of this Mantra. This Mantra is very powerful practice
for all who seek Moksh (liberation) from any form of suffering or worldly
Bhaishajya Guru Hom –
Bhaishajya Guru is the Sanskrit name of the medicine Buddha. Because we
are at the sight of a weekly Buddhist Satsang where the Tibetan Moola
Mantra of the Medicine Buddha is chanted, we will make offerings with
this sacred Buddhist Mantra. The word “Soha” at the end is equivalent to
the Sanskrit “Swaahaa”. It means “I offer this” and also “I am one with
God.” It is used specifically for making offerings to the sacred fire.
Dravya Aahuti –
Dravya Aahuti is the offering of herbs and other substances to the sacred fire.
Hundreds of powerful Aayurvedic and Chinese herbs have been specially prepared
for this ritual. Also many local herbs have been selected and gathered to help
connect this ritual to the natural surroundings. The Swaamee has used his extensive
knowledge of Herbs and Aayurved to prepare thousands of dollars worth of medical
quality botanicals. The Devtaa have guided him at every step, so that he may
choose only those herbs best for this ritual and the people participating. Even
though the ritual has not been preformed yet, there have been reports of miraculous
healing from those participating (including a strange “incurable” bone condition
in the hand of a participant).
Poorn Aahuti –
The Poorn Aahuti is the final offering made in all Yagya. It is made
after all the other offerings have been successfully completed. The
Swami will not make the purnahuti until the other offerings have been
made to the satisfaction of the Devtaa. This ensures that the best
results possible are achieved. Its effects are powerful, and that he
does not have any hesitation to continue throughout the night or even
for several days, if he feels it is necessary. He expects that the Yagya
will be fulfilled by early evening, but will listen to the inner guidance
of His Guru and Devtaa to make any useful adjustments to this schedule.
The Poorn Aahuti is the pinnacle of the Hom. It is very auspicious to be
present when this offering is made. It is said to bestow the effects of
being present for the duration of the Yagya. The only way to ensure best
personal gain, though is to participate as completely as possible. Only
when the Saadhak completely surrenders the ego and offers all the desires
of the separate self into the sacred fire will the highest benefit be had.
That Saadhak verily becomes the God he worships.
Vasor Dhaaraa –
“The stream of excellence” ritual is done for feeding the fire after (or
sometimes before) the Poorn Aahuti. A stream of ghee is poured into the
fire while chanting the Chamakam
of the Vaidik Rudra hymn. For this Hom, sesame, coconut, and mustard oil
will also be poured for the Aayurvedic constitutions (Vaat, Pitta, Kaph).
This ritual increases the benefits of the Hom. Usually the Purush Sookt
and other Vaidic Mantra are chanted at this time… this sacred Mantra
describing how God in the ritual and God in the universe are the same,
while be chanted later.
This is a powerful ritual of empowerment for places of worship. The images
of the deities are ritually bathed with the water from the Kalash after the
Hom. This is the highest of Vaidik or Aagamik temple worship.
Mantra Pushpam –
Is prayer with flowers, symbolizing the flowering of spiritual consciousness.
Ved Parayanam –
This is the chanting from the Ved. Mantra from all four Ved are chanted along
with special other Mantra. The Priest will chant a Mantra of healing from each
of the four Ved and then he will chant the Purush Sooktam (described above) and
a Mantra from the Saam Ved.
Archanaa is praise of the Lord with sacred names.
Aaratee is prayer with light symbolizing the Light of Divine illumination. Then
blessings are received through the flames by wave the hands before the light and
touching the hands to the closed eyes.
Prasaad / Aasheervaad –
Prasaad will be distributed and people attending the Yagya will have the opportunity
to take the Aashiravaad (blessings) of the Priest conducting Poojaa.