1.Our ancient texts are full of legends wherein ancient sages performed Yagyas and the demons (asuras) tried to destroy them. The demons then had to pay a hefty price as the godly, valiant prince used to guard the Holy fire and eliminate the nuisance. Whether these are just folklores, myths, legends or history is a debate for some other day, but there is no denying the fact that Yagya was related to slaying negativity since the Vedic times. Let’s explore how and why…
2.How it works
There are two basic energy systems in the physical world: heat and sound. In performing Yagya, these two energies, namely, the heat from Yagya’s fire and the sound of the chanting of the Gayatri and other Vedic Mantras, are blended together to achieve the desired physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.
3.The aroma of Yagya
The surroundings and the smell of a Yagya can be smelt even at a huge distance. In addition to steam, smoke is also given out in plentiful quantities and solid particles existing in a highly divided state offer adequate surface for mechanical diffusion. Thus smoke also functions as a medium for circulation of aromatic substances depending on temperature and direction of the wind.
4.The science behind using fatty substances (Ghee)
Ghee helps in rapid combustion of cellulose of wood and keeps the fire alight. When all the volatile substances are diffused in the surrounding atmosphere, these are further subjected to photochemical reactions in the sunlight. This may be the reason why it has been recommended that Yagya should be performed in the presence of strong sunlight.
5.The shape of the Agni Kunda
The word ‘pyramid’ means the fire in the middle’. This ancient-word meaning for pyramid is closely connected with the enigmatic energies springing from its central shape. The pyramid shape is generally thought to generate and store a special energy field, which possess bacteriostatic properties. The inverted pyramid shape allows controlled generation and multidirectional dissipation of energy. It acts as an initiator of unusual energy fields and spreads them in its surrounding atmosphere
6.Chanting of Sanskrit
The power of sound vibrations is long since acknowledged in the field of science. These vibrations can penetrate the energy spheres at the subtle and cosmic levels. All the alphabets of the Sanskrit language are endowed with special vibrational powers, which set out harmonious wave patterns when pronounced. It is interesting to note that an American Scientist has established that recitation of Gayatri Mantra produces 110,000 sound waves per second.
7.Purification of environment
Till recently it was accepted that research into science can furnish answer to all of man’s problems. Today we find increasing number of diseases including malfunctioning of body organs due to increasing severity of pollution in the atmosphere. Experimental studies show that the incidence of physical ailments, sickness and disease are reduced in the houses, where the Yagya is regularly performed.
8.The Hindu fire ritual is a healing process
Yagya creates a pure, nutritional and medicinal atmosphere. It renews the brain cells, revitalizes the skin, purifies blood and prevents growth of pathogenic organisms. Agnihotra is basically a healing process. ‘Heal the atmosphere and the healed atmosphere will heal you’. Purification of environment through the constituent electrons of the substances fumigated in the Yagya is an obvious effect of this process.
According to Dr. Shirowich, a Russian scientist, (i) Cow’s milk contains great power of protection from atomic radiation; (ii) Houses having cow-dung covered floors enjoy complete protection from atomic radiation; (iii) If cow’s ghee is put into Yagya fire, its fumes lessen the effect of atomic radiation to a great extent. The medicinal fumes emanating from Yagya have been observed by researchers in the field of microbiology to be clearly bacteriolethal in nature.
10.Removal of foul odors
While performing Yagya, volatile oils get diffused in the surrounding atmosphere along with steam and smoke. Since these oils have distinct good smell, the foul odors are automatically replaced. This aroma can be experienced easily in the surroundings when Yagya is performed due to diffusion of substances like pine, terpinol and oils of sandal-wood, camphor and clove.
11.Removal of Bacteria
As stated under products of combustion, the partial oxidation of hydrocarbons and decomposition of complex organic substances produce formal aldehyde which is a powerful antiseptic. It is also interesting to note that germicidal action of formaldehyde is only effective in the presence of water vapor which is also produced in large quantities during Yagya. The use of formaldehyde spray for disinfecting of walls, ceiling etc., is common and such a spray is automatically produced when Yagya is performed.
12.Disinfectants and antibiotics
The oxidation of hydrocarbons also produces formic acid and acetic acid both of which are good disinfectants. Use of formic acid for preservation of fruits and that of acetic acid in preserving vinegar is a common practice. The antiseptic and antibiotic effects of fumes of Yagya have also been examined by conducting suitable experiments and it has been established that fumes emitted in Yagya are powerful antibiotic.
13.Removal of insects
There are non-bacterial parasites like flies, ringworm, dice, fleas etc., which are immune to bactericides, which are also harmful to other living beings. Such insects, which are generally immune to ordinary reagents either get killed or are driven away, when they come in contact with the fumes of volatile oils like camphor diffused in the environment.
14.Spiritual significance of Yagya
The heat endowed in yagya is a source of immense energy. As this fire inflames, melts or sublimates all the gross substances inside, we too should burn out all our vices, ill-tendencies, lethargy, dullness and despair and energize our personality with the warmth of new zeal, alacrity, awareness and hope. The heat and energy of the yagya should be reflected in the active flow of our blood, our industriousness and our nimble and vigilant courage to fight against all evils.
The ash produced by fire reminds us of the ephemeral and transient nature of life. We tend to forget this eternal fact and continue on the path of cravings and attachments…adding to our mistakes, infirmities and sins too. While putting the Yagya – bhasm on our head after the Yagya, we should ponder over the end of our present life and realize the importance of the time and breaths available to us now.
16.The sacred texts
The Yajur-Veda contains the knowledge of the principles and methods of performing yagyas as part of spiritual and scientific experiments for global welfare. The Sam-Veda focuses on the musical chanting patterns of the mantras that deal with the subtle forms of yagya pertaining to mental oblation in the deeper core of emotions.
The hymns nos. 1 to 29 in chapter 18 of the Yajur Veda describe Yagya as the basis of good agriculture, physical, mental and spiritual and intellectual progress, prosperity in the botanical kingdom of the earth, prosperity in food and cereals produce, good health and pure environment through removal of pollution.
18.Four hundred types of Yagyas
Four hundred yagyas are described in the Vedas, of which 21 are deemed compulsory. These compulsory Yagyas are also called nityakarmas. The rest of the yagyas are optional and are performed for kamyakarma (particular wishes and benefits). The Aupasana Yagya, though not a part of these 21, is still compulsory .
19.Rules of Yagya
Out of the 21 nityakarmas, only the Agnihotra and the Aupasana are to be performed twice daily, at dawn and at dusk. The remaining Yagyas are performed over the course of the year. The more complicated the Yagya, the less frequently it is performed. The most complex ones need to be performed only once in a lifetime.
20.Kinds of Yagyas
The first seven Yagyas are called Paka-Yagyas or cooked sacrifices. The next seven are called Havir-Yagyas or oblations (burnt offerings) related Yagyas and the remaining seven are called Soma-Yagyas.