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Yagya-3 - A Vaidik Ritual
See also   Yagya

Vaidik Yagya are the rituals of many kinds. Mainly there are 21 types of these Yagya,
(1) Sapt Paak Yagya are 7;
(2) Sapt Havir Yagya are 7;
(3) Sapt Som Yagya are 7.

Apart from these rituals, there are rituals for the overall development of the society also at large, called Abhyudaayak Yagya and under them categorized are: (1) Ashwamedh Yagya, (2) Raajsooya Yagya, (3) Paundareek Yagya, (4) Brihaspati Sava, and some more are there. These grand scale rituals require a great patronage and support, not only of money but also of a variety of paraphernalia that go into the ritual. Hence only kings and emperors of yester years could conduct them.

The Yagya Shaalaa - The Hall of Vaidik rituals will be erected with platforms containing areas (1) Yoop Stambh - wooden posts to which the animals are tied. There will be 21 such posts, staked in the Vaidik ritual hall, along with a half post staked near at the main altar; (2) Uttar Vedee - posterior platform; (3) Dasha Pad - platform for scholars; (4) Havirdhaan - place for oblatory paraphernalia; (5) Sadas - place for assemblages; (6) Agnihotra Shaala - place of sacrificial fire; (7) Vedee - main Altar of Fire; (8) Patnee Shaalaa - place for the wife / wives of the performer and other females. The main activity of the ritual is around the Vedee. Alter of Fire will be constructed with bricks, where the brick laying and paving itself is a ritual, called Ishtikaa Chayan . All the oblations are poured into this Yagya Vedee only.

The Hindu temples will be built in accordance with the layout of Yagya Shaalaa, since the daily Poojaa, at home or in a temple, is a micro-Yagya, equable to Vaidik Ritual itself. The layout of the temple is comparable to the above layout of Yagya Shaalaa.

(1) Dhwaj Stambh - flag post; (2) Bali Grih - sacrificial house; (3) Bali Peeth - sacrificial platform, where usually the fruits, coconuts, Prasaad, food items etc., are presented to the deity firstly, before the devotee partakes them, as a kind of sacrifice; (4) Havirdhaan - preparatory places for Havishya, the food for sacrifice, usually in North-East or South-West corners; (5) Mandap - open hall, where Vaidik recitations are chanted; (6) Garbh Grih - sanctum sanctorum, in this there are two places one is, Pratishthaa, the place where the picturesque idol is installed, and the other is Shakti Sthaan, where the power of the installed deity will be installed, in the form of a Yantra, a geometrical layout or other form.

The next epitome of Yagya, is human body. It is said that "deho devaalayah proktah" means 'human body itself is a temple...’ The above places of Ritual Hall or a Temple are located on the body as this: (1) Sthoopi (kalash) - the top most golden pot of flag post of temple; (2)] Mahaa Nasi - the right nostril and Kshudra Nasi, left nostril; (3) Shikhar - temple tower; (4) Ghat - neck like structure; (5) Prastaaram - shoulder like structure of temple; (6) Paad - trunk of temple; (7) Aadi Sthaan - elevation; (8) Upa Peeth - secondary seating. This is compared with human body as: Item (1) to human pate with hair-locks; (2) eye - on right and nose on left, for humans have one-eyed vision of God, where God is Omniscient; (3) face; (4) neck; (5) shoulders; (6) arms; (7) leg and thigh; (8) foot.

A temple is not a home of god, but it is the form of the god... The temple layout is the extended form of the rhythm of the inner space of humans, called Dahar Aakaash similar to cosmos of the universe... Thus human body itself is identified with the temple, and the temple in turn with Vaidik Yagya Shaalaa, and therefore it is said to keep the body clean and mind pure... which again is a Vaidik import.

The grand scale Yagya, as described in these epics like Raamaayan and Mahaabhaarat are non-existent now-a-days. But in recent times, such types of Yagya were conducted on two occasions, once in 1975 and again in 1990. Here are some excerpts from The Indian Express, daily newspaper, published during May 1990: ‘Prof. Frits Staal, with financial assistance from several American funding agencies including the Smithsonian Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation, organized the Agni Chayan ritual in 1975. In spite of innumerable hurdles, Staal succeeded in persuading the elderly Namboodaree (scholarly priests of Vaidik lore) to put together a team of ritualists, old and young, give them through training, hold rehearsals for several months and finally put up performance for filming and documentation. Staal followed this up with the publication of his book called Agni ..."

Readers who are interested to know more about Yagya, the Vaidik ritual, may please look for the works of Prof Frits Staal, Indologist, at whose instance such rituals were conducted in Southern India. The two-volume book of Prof Frits Staal: "AGNI: The Vaidik Ritual of the Fire Altar", running over some 2,000 pages. Another book is "The Mantra", which is an attempt to analyze the Vaidik Hymns, published by State University of New York Press, State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246, also available with Indian Book Centre, Delhi

According to Staal, a Vaidik ritual is very different from a health cure, a psychoanalyst session, an anthropological meeting or a religious service. Staal maintains that a Vaidik ritual follows its own principles and leads a life of its own. He points out that a Vaidik ritual requires very detailed and specific knowledge. He estimates that the extent of specialized knowledge needed to put the sacrificial altar together ritually is on a par with the extent of technical knowledge required to build an airplane. "The bird shaped altar is in fact a kind of airplane…" says Stall "only it takes off in a different way…" Scientific evaluations were also made on the changes occurred on physical and metaphysical levels on the individuals who performed the ritual, by experts from Canada and in association with Prague Institute of Czechoslovakia. Kirlion photography was also undertook by Rose Mary Steel from London to record aura or the Electro-magnetic radiation around the human organism and hundreds of pictures of not only the performers but also of the visiting people and of their finger tips are recorded.

Usually at the end of any Vaidik ritual, the Hall of Ritual, normally a thatched shed, will be put to fire. This called Poorn Aahuti (the final oblation into fire). And then a rain occurs. It used to rain every time when the ritual is totally offered as an oblation into fire at the conclusion of such a ritual. "The association between the Yagya and rain is indelible. Did it rain on [the day of Poorn Aahuti] i.e., May 9, 1990? It did..." The Illustrated Weekly of India, May 27, 1990.
[From Valmiki Ramayan 1/14]


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/09/12