Follow by Email

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Havan Significance

Agni (fire) is the deity that represents all the other deities. Agni is said to be the mouth of the gods. Agni is known as the messenger of the gods. Whatever man has to say to the gods, to the higher powers, he conveys it through Agni. All the gods are fed through Agni. Agni is the link with the Supreme Lord of all the worlds. Agnihotra or Havan is a primary and fundamental rite during the performance of which oblations to the Supreme are offered in the consecrated fire.
The rite is usually performed in the external fire in which the Supreme is invoked. In the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.7, Verse 9, the Lord says:
"I am the brilliance in the fire."
"The deities are said to have Agni for their mouth"
–The Mahabharata, Santi Parva  Section CCCXLII
"Agni is Vishnu. Entering all creatures,
he upholds their life-breaths."
-The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec. CCCXLIII.
Yajnas link human beings with the
hidden cosmic forces called DEVAS.
"The great elements starting from Space to Earth are grosser than the former ones. Of these five SPACE and AIR are formless and cannot be comprehended by eyes. The WATER and EARTH are grosser in that order and have form and shape. The element FIRE is formless when unmanifest and attains form while manifested. It is therefore a bridge (link) between the manifest world and the unmanifest world. Therefore fire is the conveyor of all the offerings to the formless manifestation of Pitris and gods and other deities. It is fire who accepts the offerings of forms from the world of mortals and conveys it to the world."
-Swami Anubhavananda, Mumbai.
"By pouring libations on the sacred fire, sin is burnt"
-The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CXCI
I am the kratu (a kind of Vedic sacrifice), I am Yajna, I am the offering (food) to the manes; I am the medicinal herb and all the plants; I am the mantra; I am also the ghee or the melted butter; I am the fire; I am the oblation.
-The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Verse 16
It is unto Krishna (the Supreme Lord) that the sacrificial priests pour their libations. It is unto Him that people dedicate diverse kinds of food. He is the soul of the deities and human beings, and Pitris. It is He who is the Sacrifice performed by those persons that are conversant with the rituals of sacrifices.
The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section CLVIII
The sacred fire waits for libations to be pourd
upon it when the hour for Homa arrives.
-The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Section CLXII
From The Mahabharata, Aswamadha Parva
Section 24 & 25:
"Restraining the senses and the mind, the objects of those senses and the mind should be poured as libations on the sacred fire of the Soul that is within the body."
The Aachman Mantra(sipping of water) and the
Angasparsha Mantra(touching of various limbs with water).
A small quantity of water is sipped with each of the three mantras. This is mantra snaan, ceremoniously cleansing or purifying within. Touching externally for external purification.
" By this oblation may my mind, speech, sight, hearing, taste,smell, seed, intellect, intention and aim become purified. May my seven bodily ingredients - outer and inner skin, flesh, blood, fat, marrow, sinew and bone- become purified. By this oblation may the qualities of sound , touch, sight, taste and smell, residing in the five elements constituting my body become purified."
-Mahanarayanopanisad-section 65-66.
"Whatever is thought of by the mind, whatever is uttered by speech, whatever is heard by the ear, whatever is seen by the eye, whatever is touched by the (sense of) touch, whatever is smelt by the nose, constitute oblations of ghee(clarified butter) which should all , after restraining the senses with the mind numbering the sixth, be poured into that fire of high merits which burns within the body, viz. the Soul."[Note: Restraining the senses and the mind, the objects of those senses and the mind should be poured as libations on the sacred fire of the Soulthat is within the body.]
-The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Section XXV
Whatever sinful deeds have been committed by me, all that and myself I offer as an oblation into the Self-luminous Truth (the Soul), the source of immortality. May the day efface completely whatever sin I have committed on this day by thought, word, hands, feet, stomach, and the procreative organ. " -Mahanarayanopanisad section 33-1.
From the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.4, Verses 24, 25& 33
Explanations by Swami Shivananda
Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the ghee (melted butter); by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action. 24
[Note:This is wisdom-sacrifice or jnana-yajna  wherein the idea of Brahman (God) is substituted for the ideas of instrument and other accessories of action, the idea of action itself and of its results.
By entertaining such an idea the whole action melts away, as stated in the previous verse (no.23) which reads:
"To one who is devoid of attachments, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who works for the sake of sacrifice (in the service of the Lord), the whole action is dissolved.
When one attains to the knowledge of the Self or Self-realisation, his whole life becomes a wisdom sacifice in which the oblation, the ghee (the melted butter) or the offering, the performer of the sacrifice, the action and the goal are all Brahman.]
Some Yogis perform to the gods alone; while others (who have realised the Self   offer the Self as sacrifice by the Self in the fire of Brahman alone. 25
[Note: Some Yogis who are devoted to Karma Yoga perform sacrificial rites to the shining ones or devas (gods). The second yajna is jnana-yajna or the wisdom sacrifice performed by those who are devoted to jnana Yoga. The oblation in this sacrifice is the Self. Yajna here means the Self. The limiting adjuncts (upadhis) such as the physical body, the mind, the intellect etc., which are superimposed on Brahman through ignorance are sublated and the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul or Brahman is realised. To sacrifice the self in Brahman is to know through direct cognition (aparoksha anubhuti) that the individual soul is identical with Brahman. This is the highest Yajna. Those who are established in Brahman, those who have realised their oneness with the Supreme Soul or Permatma perform this kind of sacrifice. This is superior to all other sacrifices.]
Superior is wisdom-sacrifice to the sacrifice with objects. All actions in their entirety culminate in knowledge.
[Sacrifices with material objects cause material effects and bring the sacrificer to this world for the enjoyment of the fruits, while wisdom-sacrifice leads to moksha(liberation). Therefore wisdom-sacrifice is superior to the sacrifice performed with material objects. Just as rivers join the ocean, so do all actions join knowledge, i.e., they culminate in knowledge. All actions purify the heart (seat of consciousness), and lead to the dawn of knowledge of the Self. All actions that are performed as offerings unto the Lord together with their fruits are contained in the knowledge of Brahman.]
From the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.5, Verse 29:
He who knows Me as the enjoyer of sacrifices and
austerities, the great Lord of all the worlds and the
friend of all beings, attains to peace.
The essential idea of sacrifice is the pouring out
of life for the benefit of others. Such pouring out
is the law by which life evolves.
Top < To top of this pageIndex Alphabetical [Index to Pages]
The following text is from The Mahabharata
Santi Parva Section XV
Arjun said: "I do not behold the creature in this world that
supports life without doing any act of injury to others. Animals live upon animals, the stronger upon the weaker. The mongooose devours mice; the cat devours the mongoose; the dog devours the cat; the dog is again devoured by the spotted leopard. Behold all things again  are devoured by the Destroyer when he comes!
This  mobile and immobile universe is food for living creatures.
This has been ordained by the gods.  The very ascetics cannot support their lives without killing creatures. In water, on earth, and fruits, there are innumerable creatures. It is not true that one does not slaughter them. What higher duty is there than supporting one's life?  There are many creatures that are so minute that their existence can only be inferred. With the falling of the the eyelids alone, they are destroyed."
The law of sacrifice operates at two levels:
1. The physical  2. The spiritual
At the physical level, the life in the mineral kingdom evolves
as the mineral forms are broken up to nourish plants of every kind.
The life in the vegetable kingdom evolves by the sacrifice of the lower plants to nourish the higher, the countless annual plants perishing to enrich the soil in which the trees grow.
Myriads of others are eaten by animals.
The life in part of the animal kingdom evolves by the sacrifice again of lower forms to the higher, and also to the maintenance  of the human kingdom. It is imposed on the lower creation by strife and continual combats; its voluntary acceptance by self-sacrifice is the crowning glory of man. Hence all man's higher evolution is marked out by self-sacrifice. By sacrificing himself and all his actions to the Supreme Lord, man obtains liberation.
At the spiritual level, with the development of conscience
and sympathy, man realises that the Divine nature in him develops by sacrifice of himself to others, and by the sacrifice of others to himself.
Outer sacrifices of wealth are less valuable than inner sacrifices of virtue. Better than the sacrifice of any objects is the sacrifice of wisdom.
When men in a community strive co-operatively without ego and egocentric desires, the cosmic forces that constitute the environment, shall cherish them in turn. In short, when man works in the Yagna spirit, the outer circumstances must miraculously change their pattern to be conducive to the common will of the selfless community striving for the good of all. When we cherish the outer cosmic forces (devas), they shall in return cherish us with the fulfillment of our welfare, or whatever is the common need of the total community striving together. This is a divine law - a universal truth - a scientific fact. Thus mutually cherishing each other, let man, with the grace of the devas, achieve the greatest prosperity.
From the Bhagavad Gita,Ch.3,
Verses 10-11-12 -13 -14 -15 -16
The Creator (Brahma), having in the beginning of creation
created mankind together with sacrifice>, said, "By this shall you propagate; let this be the milch cow of your desires (the cow that yields all the desired objects)." (10)
With this do you nourish the gods and may those gods nourish you; thus nourishing one another, you shall attain to the highest good. (11)
The gods, nourished by the sacrifice, will give you the desired objects. So, he who enjoys the objects given by the gods without offering in return to them, is verily a thief. (12)
The righteous who eat the remnants of the sacrifice are freed from all sins; but those sinful ones who cook food only for their own sake verily eat sin. (13)
From food come forth beings; from rain food is produced; from sacrifice arises rain and sacrifice is born of action. (14)
Know thou that action comes from Brahma and Brahma comes from the Imperishable. Therefore, the all pervading Brahma ever rests in sacrifice. (15)
He who does not follow here the wheel thus set revolving, who is of  sinful life, rejoicing in the senses, he lives in vain, O Arjuna. (16)
"All deeds other than those performed in a spirit of yagna
(sacrifice) result in bondage."- Gita Ch 3 -Verse 9.
In the Aitreya Brahmana Lord Yagna-Narayana Himself explains the meaning of sacrifice:
"What are you doing in the name of yagna? You kill an animal and offer it to the Divine? And in this yagna you propose to kill a human being?... Now when you perform, do not kill poor animals but burn away your own selfish, foolish and cruel animal instincts in the holy fire. And remember, fire does burn, fire can burn anything, but at the same time fire brings light in the darkness. Darkness is ignorance and light is knowledge. Let your ignorance disappear in the light of your knowledge. Use your strength and riches for the well being of the world. That will be real yagna."
In the Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLXV
Bhishma said: Only those that are transgressors of defined limits, that are destitute of intelligence, that are atheists and sceptics, and that desire the acquisition of celebrity through sacrifices and religious rites speak highly of the slaughter of animals in sacrifices. The righteous-souled Manu has applauded the observance of harmlessness in all religious acts. Indeed, men slaughter animals in sacrifices, urged by only the desire of fruit. Hence, guided by authority (in respect of slaughter and abstention from slaughter or harmlessness) one conversant with the scriptures should practise the true course of duty which is exceedingly subtile. Harmlessness to all creatures is the highest of all duties.
Wine, fish, honey, meat, alcohol, and preparations of rice and sesame seeds, have been introduced by knaves. The use of these in sacrifices is not laid down in the Vedas. The hankering after these arises from pride, error of judgment, and cupidity. They that are true Brahmanas realise the presence of Vishnu in every sacrifice. His worship, it has been laid down, should be made with agreeable Payasa. The leaves and flowers of such trees as has been indicated in the Vedas, whatever act is regarded as worthy and whatever else is held as pure (by persons of pure heart and cleansed natures and those eminent for knowledge and holiness), are all worthy of being offered to the Supreme Deity and not unworthy of His acceptance.
From The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Section XCI
Vaisampayana said: Animals have not been ordained to be
slaughtered in sacrifices. Animal sacrifice is not consistent
with righteousness. The destruction of creatures can never
be said to be an act of righteousness. If you wish it, let your
priests perform your sacrifice according to the Agama. By
performing sacrifice according to the true import of the
scriptural ordinances, great will be the merit achieved by you.
"The term YAJNA (Yagna) is derived from the root YAJ, meaning sacrifice or worship." - Panini 6-40, 120
So long as man identifies himself with his body, he is always trying to take, to absorb, because the body continues only by such taking and absorbing. When he identifies himself as the Self (Atman) he is always trying to give, to pour out, because the joy of the Self is in the forthpouring. On the Pravritti marg he takes; on the Nivrtti marg he gives.
[Related articles: "Pravritti- Nivritti" See pages on the left]
Cows are sacred    < Click here for more details
Ghee or clarified butter (or, the cow from which it is produced) is regarded as the very root of sacrifice.
Top < To top of this pageIndex Alphabetical [Index to Pages]
From The Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 17, Verses 11,12 & 13
That sacrifice which is offered by men without desire for reward as enjoined by the ordinance (scripture), with a firm faith that to do so is a duty, is Sattwic  or pure.
The sacrifice which is offered seeking a reward and for ostentation, know thou that to be a Rajasic yajna.
They declare that sacrifice to be Tamasic which is contrary
to the ordinances of the scriptures, in which no food is distributed, which is devoid of mantras and gifts, and which is devoid of faith.
Five great daily sacrifices
Explanations by Swami Sivananda
Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
There are five great daily sacrifices that are to be
performed by every householder. They are:
1. Brahma Yajna or Veda Yajna.
Sacrifice to Brahman or the Vedas or the sages.
Teaching and studying scriptures is Brahma Yajna)
2. Deva Yajna.
Sacrifice to the celestials.
(Homa or oblations into the sacred fire is Deva Yajna)
3. Pitri Yajna.
Sacrifice to the manes.
(Tarpan or offering of water to the ancestors,
and Sraddha, form Pitri Yajna)
4. Bhuta Yajna.
Sacrifice to all the creatures.
(Offering of food to all creatures is Bhuta Yajna)
5. Manushya Yajna.
Sacrifice to man.
(Hospitality to guests is Manushya Yajna or Atithi Yajna)
Agnihotra is generally known as the havan or yagna (yajna)
ceremony or the sacred fire ceremony. Some researchers in Baltimore, Maryland. USA have published literature from which the following points are taken.
Agnihotra is a gift to humanity from the ancient Vedic traditions to the present age.
A tremendous field of energy is created around the havan kund (the pyramid shaped metal container). A magnetic type field is created which neutralises negative energy or vibrations and reinforces positive energy or vibrations. This extends to the persons who perform the agnihotra ceremony. The positive influence penetrates the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual planes. Subtle energies are created by the rhythmical chanting of the Vedic mantras during the havan ceremony which spread the purifying as well as healing energies far and wide beyond the horizons.
Plants placed in a room where vibrations of agnihotra ceremony are maintained, such plants receive nutrition from agnihotra atmosphere and seem to be happy and grow well. They seem to thrive better than those plants not under the agnihotra sphere of influence. Just as agnihotra gives nourishment to plants, it provides the same for human life and also for animal life.
Many people on all continents belonging to different races,
languages, religions and spiritual groups who practice
agnihotra have observed that simply by performing daily homa (i.e. agnihotra at sunrise/sunset) they feel as if a protective film surrounds them.
The ashes from the agnihotra fire are charged with special
potencies. Sprinkling of the ashes on the perimeter of your
property affords protective influences.
The agnihotra ash is the basic substance used for the preparation of all agnihotra medicines, for external as well as for internal use.
Agnihotra medical preparations include agnihotra powder,
capsules, ointment, cream, eyedrops, suppositories and inhalation.
Top < To top of this pageIndex Alphabetical [Index to Pages]
"No libations can be poured into sacrificial fire without uttering Mantras"
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCCXLIII
"None of these, viz., a maiden, a youthful woman, a person unacquainted with mantras, an ignorant person, or one that is impure is competent to pour libations on the sacrificial fire"
-Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CLXV
"The Sudra has no competence for performing a sacrifice."
-Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CLXV
"The Vedas declare that sacrifices cannot be performed by an unmarried man"  The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLXIII
"The deities do not accept the libations (poured upon the fire) on the occasion of Sraddhas and the rites in their honour or on the occasion of those rites that are performable on ordinary lunar days or on the especially sacred days of the full moon and the new moon, if they behold a woman in her season of impurity." The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Sec.CXXVII
"They that are conversant with the scriptures say that the man who, having kindled the sacrificial fire, does not give away the dedicated food as Dakshina, is not the kindler of a sacrificial fire. One should never worship the deities in sacrifices in which no Dakshina is given. A sacrifice not completed with Dakshina, instead of producing merit, brings about the destruction of one's children, animals, and heaven. Such a sacrifice destroys also the senses, the fame, the achievements, and the very span of life that one has".
The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec.CLXV
The ultimate Dakshina:
"The renunciation of everything is the excellent Dakshina of that sacrifice. Consciousness, mind and understanding - these becoming Brahma, are its Hotri, Adhwaryu, and Udgatri. Cessation of separate existence (or Emancipation) is the Dakshina."
-The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Sec.XXV
"That person of little intelligence who, from desire of acquiring merit performs sacrifices with wealth acquired by unrighteous means, never succeeds in earning merit."
The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Section XCI
Man`s body is filled with innate intelligence. Through speaking words of confidence and power over and over, man gains conscious attention of the intelligence within the organs of the body.. as he continues speaking words of power, that innate intelligence is tapped and it releases increased life and substance into the mind, body and affairs of man.
James Newton Powell, a graduate in religious studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, is the author of the book `Mandalas, the Dynamics of Vedic Symbolism'.
The following extracts are taken from his book:
Modern metaphysicians are rediscovering the fantastic powers released through spoken words. By certain arrangements of words, such as in Veda mantras, a tremendous vibratory force could be set upon in the invisible which profoundly affects physical and metaphysical substance in the body of man.
According to the rishis (seers) the mantras are the living body of the luminous inner truth of which they sing, a truth which does not reveal itself to the busy conceptual mind as readily as to the more receptive inner audience of unbounded awareness unfolded through meditation.There are four different levels of languages describing four domains of Vedic experience.
1. Language of communication or everyday speech. The gross physical level of articulate speech (Vaikhari).
2. Language of ritual, the rhythmic sacrificial language of chant.Language as `thought', which is not yet spoken (Madhyama).
3. Language of illumination, of vision. The level of luminous, `flashlike' intuitive' `seeing' speech (Pasyanti)
4. Language of eternity, of imperishable silence. The silent, unbounded, absolute level of speech (Para).
Speech reveals herself only to the seer, the one she loves.
Speech is born of tapas (austerity) and throughout the Vedic literature is related to Agni (fire). Mystics of all ages have discovered the relationship between the repetition of sound and an inner fire, and these take the mind to profound depths and eventually spiritual illumination. The rhythmically formulated word, with its tendency towards rhyme, its alliteration, assonance and other types of repetition make it an instrument of power. The sound of such words is often of greater importance than their meaning, which has often been lost. Intoned speech becomes experienced as inner light.
The Veda is eternal and of non-human origin. The transcendance of the seer might give birth to an entirely new utterance, a new mantra, finite and localised when heard by the mundane sense of hearing, but with its origins in the infinite, and capable of again revealing the Infinite to the seer.
The function of the Vedic mantras is to reveal their own inner being.
The entire body of Vedic knowledge is Vac-(goddess of speech, Sarasvati)- with combinations and permutations of sound- in all its various degrees of manifestation. The meaning of the mantra is known not by attending to the semantic meaning, but by attending to the tendencies- the dynamics of sound. One of the Vedic or Yogic method of gaining knowledge is organised on the level of sound. Within the tendencies of the sounds of the mantras lie the method of gaining knowledge of the 'object' the mantra describes.
The Vedic mantras possess the impulses or tendencies which constitute the knowledge of these 'objects'. Thus there is a close relationship between sound and form. This knowledge is on the level of pulsating consciousness. The Veda is a supreme example of a type of poetry in which the life of the symbol corresponds so intimately with the truth it clothes that it is indeed the living form of that truth. There are, residing within the language of the Veda, a hierarchy of potencies, indwelling powers of speech which inspire by means of sound and a transcendental logic.
Image, sound and sense were indissolubly united to forge luminous language- symbols capable of conveying the most orient hues of the imperishable. The mantras are secret words, seer wisdoms, which utter their indwelling meaning to the seer prepared by tapas. The uncanny longevity of these hhymns (mantras) can be attributed to the fact that they are in such intimate contact with the eternal. The mantras are self- revealing, preserved by the imperishable for those who would seek their indwelling dimensions. The mantras exist in a supreme, imperishable location, in which all the gods are seated.
By the friction between the worshipper and the mantra
(mind instrument), Om, the inner fire is the kindled and the highest Truth is seen.
Top < To top of this pageIndex Alphabetical [Index to Pages]
In praise of Agni
Agni(sacred fire)
From Samveda, translated by Dr. B.R.Kishore
From Samveda, Book four, chapter two:
Agni created in the beginning, kindled in Yajna is the envoy of Earth, the guest of men, effulgent and the mouth of Gods. O Agni, eternal, Gods praise and sing for joy at thy coming, as parents do at the birth of a child.
O all-pervading, the Gods attain immortality by thy powers following the path of righteous actions preached by thee. They all praise Agni, the centre of sacrifice, the abode of riches, conveyor of oblations, embodiment of worship and Lord of all.
Samveda, book two, chapter one:
We choose Agni, the envoy, the skilled performer of the holy rite and instrumental in producing various things. We invoke Agni, the Lord of subjects, the giver of all objects and much beloved. O adorable God, bring the Gods hither. Thou art revealed to those who perform Yajna.
Thou giveth all desirable things and happiness.
Samveda, book six, chapters one & two:
O well kindled Agni, thou bringest the Gods to him, who offers oblations and gifts to thee. I ever worship thee as thou art giver of beatitude.
O sage, the preserver of our body, make the Yajna beneficial to the enlightened persons. I invoke Agni to this our sacrifice, him who is benevolent, sweet-tongued and to whom oblations are offered. Agni, come on thy most easy moving chariot, bringing the Gods, and accomplish our sacrificial rites.
Let us chant a Vedic verse to Agni, to him who bears from afar! The eternal Agni preserves the life of charitably disposed men. May that most blissful Agni guard our wealth and family, and keep us safe from grief and sin.
Samveda, Book nine, chapter one:
O Agni, eternal, radiant, gift of dawn, give thou this day ample wealth to him who rises early in the morning to pay oblations to the Gods. Thou art indeed the envoy of Gods, their beloved offering-bearer and carrier of holy rites. Thou grant us manly strength and high fame.
From The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Section XXIV:
Agni (fire) is all the deities. Even this is the teaching of the Vedas. The knowledge of Agni arises in a Brahmana with intelligence. The smoke of that fire is of the form of the attribute called Darkness (Tamas).
The attribute that is known by the name of Passion (Rajas) is in its ashes. The quality of Goodness (Sattwa) arises from that portion of the fire onto which the oblation is poured.
Top < To top of this pageIndex Alphabetical [Index to Pages]
More about Agni
Compiled by Dr.Urmila Rani Trikha
From The Mahabharata and other scriptures
Agni is called Jvalana (which burns) and Dhumaketu (who has smoke as his banner). Agni is called the mouth of the gods. All the oblations are poured into Agni's mouth. He eats oblations and hence is called Havyavahana. He is called Pavaka, the purifier.
Agni has got seven flames. The seven flames of the fire are mentioned in the Mundakopanisad: The Black, Fierce, Mind-swift, Smoke-coloured, Scintillating, Bright, All-shining- these are the seven moving tongues of fire.
Agni is called Jatveda i.e. omnicient. He is the witness of the worlds, a priest and guest of all creatures. He drives away demons and evil spirits. Agni destroys sins.
In the Isavasyopanisad Agni is described as the witness of all deeds of the people and the destroyer of all sins.
Agni is the son of Anila i.e.wind. His wife is Swaha and his son is Skanda. Agni is described as the lord of gold.
Agni is one of the most important deities of the Vedas. Nearly two hundred hymns are addressed to Agni. Agni is the deity associated with sacrifice. Hence Agni occupies an important place in the Brahmanas. In the Upanisads too he is mentioned with reverence.
In the Grhya Sutras, Agni is the witness of all sacraments. Agni is the chief witness of sacraments such as the marriage of Hindus.
An excessive Muscular growth in my right arm, was operated  (excision) and biopsy done at Mennakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai, on 16th July, 1999. ( In medical terms it is known as Lipoma in right arm.) The stitches were removed on 26th July, 1999 at the same hospital. The Doctor who removed the stitches told that a part of the wound ( about 2cm in length) has not healed, therefore he applied medicine did dressing, and advised me to show to a Doctor after reaching Ahmedabad.
I reached Ahmedabad on 31st July, 1999. I showed the operation wound to Dr. Mahesh B. Shah, Ahmedabad,on 2nd August, 1999. After examining its condition he dressed it after applying medicine. He advised me to get dressing done on alternate days at his clinic. When I went for the 9th dressing on 18th August, 99, Dr. Shah told that the wound is not healing as per expectations, and told that this is known as 'Non-healing ulcer' in Medical parlance. He therefore suggested that he may refer me to a General Surgeon, (as this is a post-surgery wound). However, I told him that I may intimate my decision later.
On 19.8.1999 morning I contacted Sri. K.S.Gajender Rao
(Agnihotri for over 24 years) at Secunderabad, over phone, and sought his advise for applying Agnihotra ashes for my non-healing wound. He told me that I can apply the Agnihotra ashes by mixing with cow's ghee. He also advised me to show to Doctor after some days. From 20th to 23rd August, my wife Smt. Thilagam did daily dressing for my wound with Agnihotra ashes + cow's ghee as medicine. The gauze with cotton and plaster were used for dressing just as the Doctor had done.
From 24th August, my wife applied only the Agnihotra ashes, as medicine and dressed-up the wound, after we read some literature about such treatment. On 25th August morning as blood was coming out of the wound, we thought that the wound was not healing. I therefore went to the clinic of Dr. Mahesh B. Shah. He examined the wound very carefully and informed me that 30% of the wound had healed, and that the blood will come from any wound. Therefore, the Doctor advised me to continue the same treatment. We were pleased to hear this expert opinion of the Doctor. The Doctor inquired as to what was being applied to the wound. I told him about Agnihotra and its ashes.
We continued applying the Agnihotra ashes only, and my wife did the dressing as usual. I was careful to avoid wetting the wound during my bath. On 30.8.99 dressing was not done as I had gone to Junagadh for official works.
On 31st August evening I went to the clinic of Dr. Shah. He examined the wound very carefully and told me that only a pin-head size of the wound has to heal. He advised me to apply the Agnihotra ashes even without dressing. He again inquired about Agnihotra. I told him briefly and gave a Gujarathi pamphlet on Agnihotra.
From 1st to 4th September we applied the Agnihotra ashes daily and did not cover the wound ( No dressing). On 5th September, 1999 I and my wife could observe that the wound has healed completely. Therefore, from 5th September I washed the operated part of my right arm with water during bath. I showed to Dr. Mahesh B. Shah, and he also confirmed the complete healing of my post-operation wound, and issued a certificate about my applying the Agnihotra ashes for this treatment.
-R. Chandrasekhar
Related articles:
Shanti Mantras
Cows are Sacred
Silent  Teachings and Satsang
Top  <To top of this pag

PanchAyatana Puja
In the thread about the role of Ishwara it was noted that an exclusive approach to God can end up in fanaticism. Yet the opposite extreme, to just lump everything together into one insipid mess is not good either. In the Smarta sampradaya we have a practice that attempts to eliminate both problems--the panchayatana puja. We believe it was established by Shankaracharya himself.

According to the Digvijayas the situation was not good at that time. There were many sects and philosophies that misinterpreted or were completely against the Vedas. Amongst the astikas much energy was misspent in arguing over whether Shiva Bhagawan was superior to Vishnu Bhagawan or both were inferior to Mataji etc. To alleviate this and to get people thinking of the Advaita bhava, this puja was started. 
In this puja all the five major deities of Sanatana Dharma are worshipped:
Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya and Ganesh Bhagawans. 
There are five forms of arranging Them:
Shiva panchayata

Vishnu                Surya


Devi                    Ganesh

Vishnu panchayata

Shiva                 Ganesh


Devi                 Surya

Surya panchayata

Shiva                 Ganesh


Devi                 Vishnu

Devi panchayata

Vishnu                 Shiva


Surya                 Ganesh

Ganesh panchayata

Vishnu                 Shiva


Devi                     Surya
This way the sadhaka can put his own belowed form of God in center stage but he never forgets that He has other forms too.

The important purpose of doing the panchAyatana pUjA is to overcome the bheda-bhAva among the different deities of various sects. Among the different sects of shaivas, vaiShNavas, etc., each views its own deity as the Supreme and makes the others inferior to its main deity. This creates a bheda-bhAva among the deities and this is simply a trick played by mAyA. Says the mAyA-panchaka:

bata virachayya budhAnapi prakAmam.h |
bhramayati hariharabhedabhAvA-
naghaTitaghaTanApaTIyasI mAyA ||

Alas! Even in the indivisible Brahman, it (mAyA) creates differences called BrahmA, ViShNu, and Shiva and deludes or tricks exceedingly even the intelligent into feeling differences of Hari and Hara. mAyA is an expert in making incompatible things compatible!

As advaitins, we should understand that this bheda-bhAva is due to mAyA only. Therefore, we should always view all the deities of the panchAyatana or the shhaNmata as being equivalent to each other. We should worship all of them as equals, not as a hierarchy, as some sects do. The panchAyatana system, however, recognizes that there may be some personal preferences among people and there should be enough freedom to worship one's ishhTa-devatA in a special way. We should not confuse personal preference of a deity with a systematic and deliberate elevation of a deity over others by sects. It is after all human nature to choose a favorite among several good things. If there are some delicacies, such as bisi-beLe-bhAt, hoLige, and, pAyasa, one person may like pAyasa more than the other two, another person may prefer hoLige, and so on. We cannot ask why a person should like pAyasa more than the other two dishes. We cannot blame a person for making a deity his or her favorite as long as the person acknowledges that all deities are in fact the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment