When Agathiyar asks that I have a bronze statue of him made and perform ablution or Abhisegam I was both delighted and confused. I was delighted that he had given me this rare privilege but I was questioning myself as to why he was bringing me back to the path of Devotion or Bakthi while Tavayogi Thangarasan Adigal wanted me to progress and move on to the path of Wisdom or Gnana.
When I was led to Supramania Swami on the last leg of my pilgrimage to India in 2003 and took him as my Guru and later met Tavayogi in Malaysia in 2005, I was in a similar dilemma. Supramania Swami frequented temples and wanted to build one for Lord Murugan. Tavayogi did not encourage temple worship but instead wanted us to come out of it. I was questioning myself as to why I was introduced to two gurus who were on the extreme end of their chosen paths.
But Agathiyar had his ways. Supramania Swami’s plan to construct a temple in Thiruvanamalai was halted by a sidha who questioned why he was moving a step back into the path of Devotion or Bakthi Margam when he was already in the path of Wisdom or Gnana Margam.
On the other hand Agathiyar made Tavayogi install a 6 ½ foot fibre statue of Agathiyar at his ashram the Sri Agathiyar Gnana Peedham at Kallar. Then another fibre statue of Tava Murugan was installed at his premises. Agathiyar instructed Tavayogi to place yet another granite statue of him in the hills of Kallar at the very spot where he had given a vision to Tavayogi, now known as Mulasthaanam. Tavayogi was instructed to conduct the Yagna or Yagam too. Since then he has been conducting the Sarva Dosa Nivaarana Maha Yagam in conjunction with the Annual Agathiyar's Jayanthi and Guru Puja celebrations. This years celebrations will be on 22 December 2013.
After Supramania Swami attained Samadhi in 2007, I was left with Tavayogi. On 2 January 2010, Agathiyar arrives on our shores and moves into my home in the form of a one foot bronze statue as he had directed in the Nadi. Agathiyar asks that Abhisegam by performed. Tavayogi ask that I perform a Homam. Later I learn to refine the procedures and rituals when Tavayogi performs the Abhisegam and Homam at my home in Malaysia.
Although I was confused and had my reservations about these rituals, I performed these to my best ability. But I prayed that I did not want to end up being a priest. I wanted more. I wanted to seek the kingdom of God. Then Agathiyar decides to reveal through the nadi the purpose as to why he wanted me to perform these rituals. Just as is mentioned in the ‘SIVAGNANA SIDDHIYAR SUPAKKAM’ and ‘SIVAGNANA SIDDHIYAR’ that performing Yagna and Abhisegam was the duty of the son, Agathiyar took me in as a his son and had me conduct the Homam for the benefit of humanity and all of creation. I was deeply grateful to Agathiyar then for giving me this rare opportunity to help my fellow beings. Just as he had given numerous task to other devotees of his like running homes for the poor and orphaned; running Ashrams and preaching his words; feeding the poor; caring for the old and sick; I realized that this was the Dharma he gave me. I could accept the reason for asking me to conduct the Homam and I accepted it as my mission.
Professor Anil Kumar on his webpage www.saiwisdom.com explains that there are three aspects to every spiritual activity that is the ritual aspect of it or Karma, its inner significance or Jnana and the third, devotion or Bhakti which forms the link between the two.
|Tavayogi performs the Homam at my home|
The ritual aspect or Karma.
The Professor says men who conduct the Yagna and the offerings form the Karma Kaandam, or the ritual aspect. I realized that when Tavayogi suggested I carry out the lighting of the sacrificial fire and when I took heed of his words, from that day forth I became the vessel to conduct this ritual.
The inner significance or Jnana.
Professor Anil Kumar writes that in order to experience joy and bliss in this activity the inner significance of the ritual or Jnana has to be understood.
Agathiyar instructed me to have his statue made and to perform ablution. Agathiyar made me understand through the nadi reading the purpose of engaging in these rituals. He tells me that I was not doing it for me or my family but for the good of all of mankind.
Tavayogi on his part started me performing the Homam that took me deeper into performing rituals. I had doubts if I could carry out such a responsibility. But when he told me to start small with the Homam, a smaller scale of the Yagam, I relented. He asked that I get a copper vessel or Homam Kundam and all the stuffs that go into the sacrificial pit, all available commercially and could be purchased off the shelf. Tavayogi mooted me to start a fresh and new journey and also gave me the confidence to get started.
Professor Anil Kumar and Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, just as Agathiyar and Tavayogi, say that the Yagna is never personal and is for the collective good of mankind.
When I was told the first time by Tavayogi that he was performing a Yagna (Sarva Dosa Nivaarana Maha Yagam), he told me that he was doing it to lessen the extend and force of the many natural calamities that where taking place during that period of time. Later he started lighting five Yagna pits which eventually became 108 Sarva Dosa Nivarana Maha Yagam on the instructions of Agathiyar. This Yagna was conducted annually at his ashram grounds to commemorate the Jayanthi and Guru Puja of Agathiyar. Devotees of Agathiyar are given the rare opportunity to conduct their own Yagna to appease the Dosas and to bring fortune and good health upon themselves besides performing this ritual for the welfare and good of all of creation.
I was asked by Tavayogi to conduct prayers for Agathiyar in Malaysia simultaneously while he performed them at his ashram in Kallar. Later during his visit to Malaysia he personally conducted the Homam and Abhisegam at my home. My family and I learned from watching him perform these procedures. Watching him perform them enabled us to fine tune and make good what was lacking.
|Tavayogi conducting the Yagam during the installation of the 6 1/2 feet tall fibre statue of Agathiyar at his Ashram. Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/50976763@N08/|
The element of Devotion or Bhakti
The Professor says one needs to have the element of Devotion or Bhakti in him to conduct these rituals ‘with sincerity, with steadfastness, with determination, with all its purity and with all the austerities that must go into it’. The path of Bhakti paves the way for Jnana, and in the words of the Professor, renders ‘wisdom in all humility, in all its reverence because Jnana requires humility, reverence, receptivity, and sensitivity.’
When Agathiyar came to my home in the form of a bronze statue that he had instructed me to prepare under strict conditions and to confirm to given specifications, and asked that I perform Nava Abhisegam, I carried them out all to my utmost ability although inside me I asked that I did not want to end up being a priest. I had already played that role in my past life according to Agathiyar’s revelation. Later I realized that I should appreciate the fact that Agathiyar has asked me to conduct the Abhisegam and Tavayogi the Homam for not everybody gets this privilege and opportunity to do so.
I realized conducting the Abhisegam and lighting the sacrificial fire Yagna too is a combination of all these three elements - the ritual aspect of it or Karma, its inner significance or Jnana and the third, devotion or Bhakti which forms the link between the two.
The Vedas & Yagna
The Professor says that the Vedas is both Yagna Siddhi and Yagna Sthithi which means ‘to realize the purpose or to fulfill the objectives of every Yagna and the procedural aspects respectively.’
The Yajur Veda speaks of the three important branches of science, the first being, Jyotish Sastra which relates to the time and the duration factor of every Yagna, the second, Vasthu Sastra speaks of the place; and the third Vyakarana Sastra relates to the mantra aspect of it.
The Professor explains the three categories of Yagna categorized accordingly to the recipients.
1. The first category of Yagna is for the intellectuals and priestly class, the Brahmins who are committed full time to it, having dedicated their lives to Yagna and whose job is to perform Yagna.
This category is further divided into three divisions,
i. Avihavirva Yagna
ii. Soma Yagna and
iii. Paaka Yagna.
2. The second category is for rulers and kings.
This category is further divided into three divisions,
i. Aswamedha Yagna
ii. Raja Sooya Yagna and
iii. Sarvamedha Yagna.
3. The third category is for the rest of us, the householders.
This category is further divided into five divisions,
i. Deva Yagna.
Deva Yagna is an expression of thanks to God for this beautiful gift of life, body, and health.
ii. Rishi Yagna.
Rishis gave us our scriptures. Rishi Yagna is performed to show ones gratefulness for the heritage and legacy, passed on to us through the scriptures.
iii. Pitru Yagna.
Pitru Yagna is done to express thanks to ones parents.
iv. Manushya Yagna.
Manushya Yagna implies two things,1. Acquiring good values and 2. Serving fellow men.
v. Bhutha Yagna.
Bhutha Yagna is showing concern for other beings and animals, trees and plants.
From an article on the net, the Author (I could not trace the source, but will name him the Author henceforth - editor) explains the Yagna based on his findings in the Vedas, the Puranas and from writings of the Rishis. He equates Yagna as the father of all material and divine or spiritual forces (Ridhi and Sidhi). Vedas mention Yagna as means to fulfil man’s needs and again means to keep away obstacles on the path of his material and spiritual progress.
P.V.R. Narasimha Rao in his ‘CHANDI HOMAM - LAGHU PADDHATI’ and www.VedicAstrologer.org too mentions the same,
Most Vedic rituals are symbolic of certain inner changes that you bring about within yourself, to remove obstacles within your Sookshma Sareera that are blocking self-knowledge. The purpose of Veda is the knowledge of self (Aatman) and all rituals are ultimately for that purpose.
The Rig Veda equates God as Divine Fire and fire as the Purohita. The Rig Veda recommends the form of fire as an image of God for meditation and devotion. Thus the person conducting the Yagna becomes divine.
"Such a person’s psyche becomes an unlimited vault of jewels represented by sacred qualities. The Havan doer finds the same in the form of a vault of rare jewels. These are divine jewels of divine wealth which follows us in innumerable incarnations/rebirths that we undergo. They fill us up with so many divine glories (Vibhootees)."
The Yajurveda says Yagna nurtures all and the very Vedas too that originated from the Yagna.
The Puranas & Yagna
The Author quotes from the Siva Purana that Yagna is the supreme means to please Lord Siva and as such the Rishis were instructed to come down to earth and perform Yagna for 1000 years.
In ancient India massive Yagna were conducted by Rishis, Kings and householders for both material and spiritual gains. Amongst them, the Kaareerishta Yajna was done to create monsoon seasons; Bhaishajya Yajna to eradicate germs and bacteria; Putreshti Yajna to bless childless couples with a child; Balivaishwa Yajna to bring good fortunes to the householder; Vaajpeya Yajna to awaken latent soul forces; and the Rajasuya Yajna to solve problems in politics and governance.
The Author, quotes from more Puranas.
The Brihad Narada Purana states that one who performs the Yagna tends to ‘transport’ twenty-one generations before him to Lord Vishnu’s temple.
The Matsya Puraana states that Yagna helps one to attain salvation or Mukti where he/she shall not take rebirth for thousands and millions of Kalpas.
He quotes Markandeya from the Kalikaa Puraana and also the Manu Smriti and Vedas too.
Demigods & Yagna
He says the soul in us which is subtle needs subtle food too. The fire in the stomach, Jatharaagni transforms the gross food that we consume into a subtle form which is then imbibed by the soul. Similarly when sacrifices are offered into the Yagna it is consumed by the fire and made subtle. He says the gross fire too becomes subtle in nature. With the aid of subtle wind this then enters the atmosphere and Diu Loka where the Demigods receive their food in subtle form. The Author writes extensively on Demigods that are pleased during the Yagna.
Although God is one, ‘yet his qualities and areas of activity are manifold’, says the Author. He says God initially manifests as Divine Powers seen as miracles or Sidhis that ‘create, propagate and nurture this world.’ The Author defines God’s subtle Divine Powers and the great men, realized souls and true saints who contributed towards a better world as Demigods.
He adds to the existing lists of Demigods, the many natural forces in nature which help create, propagate and annihilate the cosmos; the various radiations from galaxies, planets and the stars that affect all of creation; and the sun’s rays and its seven colors.
He refers to the Indian scriptures where there is mention of:
33 Koti Devas which comprise:
1 Ashwini Kumaaras,
8 types of Pitrus,
99 types of Asuras,
27 types of Gandharvas,
49 types of Pawan, etc.
The five elements water, heat, wind, earth and space – Varuna Devan, Agni Devan, Vaayu Devan, Booma Devi and Indran respectively are Demigods.
The Demigods like Agni, Chandra, Prithvi, Soorya, Aushadhi, and Vanaspati when appeased shower rain which sustains life on earth. In the words of the Author, ‘Therefore if we offer Demigods their subtle food via Yagna fire they will help augment various life forces in a wholesome manner.’ Pleasing them showers merits or Punya.
Maharishi Angiraas states fire is the medium through which prayers and offerings are channeled to the Demigods who in return bless the participants of the Yagna with power, joy and comfort.
The Kalikaa Puraana and Padma Puraana say Demigods and man alike experience contentment and fulfillment through the Yagna.
The Bhagawad Geeta states that man has to nurture Demigods through Yagna for his advancement.
The Author equates the performance of Yagna to giving full cooperation to these Demigods to help increase their powers and help in their missionary activities. Through Devotion to God, meditation and spiritual practices the bodily parts, Chakras, subtle nerves, subtle glands and Brahmarandhra’s magnetic center are awakened in the aspirant. These efforts simultaneously appease the Demigods and by a divine magnetic attraction they begin to manifest in the devotee’s psyche. Then a strong bond is forged between them.
The Author says, ‘In spiritual parlance this connotes pleasing Demigods or mastering them.’
He narrates from the Puranas where the great Shiva Bakta, Ravana who having unearthed these subtle forces, had total control over them, bid them to carry out his wishes akin to imprisoning the Demigods.
Man & Yagna
Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya in, ‘FORM AND SPIRIT OF VEDIC RITUAL WORSHIP - PROCEDURE OF YAGNA’ reveals that Prajapati or Parameswara created man in his own likeness through a Yagna and ordained that both man and the Yagna had to contribute to the growth of each other.
The Author quotes from the Bhagavadgita where Prajaapati created human beings and Yagna simultaneously and instructed that they worked together for mutual gain.
"Prajaapati or world creator is performing Yagna in the form of sun/moon sending rays to earth, sun sends heat and light, wind circulates life force and a group of Demigods join forces to obstruct ‘demons’ in the form of virus/germs/bacteria from making us ill or warding off imminent death by them."
The Author says that the spiritual seers and the great Indian Rishis through their subtle divine vision unearthed a science for their manifestation since these energies could not be contacted at the gross level. In his words, ‘they control virtually every aspect of Mother Nature/ Prakriti. Nature’s laws never obstruct their endeavors and hence they carry out acts which are beyond the ken of nature’s laws which seem to be against nature’s laws and impossible to execute.’
He adds that the great Rishis and Sidhas had succeeded in attaining this supreme spiritual state where man becomes God and the soul becomes Cosmic Soul. Warriors where known to perform Yagna before battle. Yogis performed Yagna as part of penance to attain Self Realization and God Realization.
Mantras & Yagna
During the Yagna the fire and the Mantras render the offerings and our thought respectively, subtle which then reach the higher subtle worlds. Chanting of the Mantra awakens certain energies and fire which acts as a vehicle transports these offerings the Demigods. Specific Mantras chanted for specific goals and endeavours result in the creation or manifestation of a specific sound vibration which in turn awakens the divine centres in those gathered at the Yagna establishing a strong bond with the subtle soul which attracts divine powers of the cosmos towards it hence attaining the eight Sidhis and nine Nidhis.
The Author mentions the Sidhas who had attained the eight Sidhis and nine Nidhis which included the ability to become invincible, invisible, reducing their size to that of an atom or expanding beyond the world (Vishwarupa), walk on water, and conduct space travel. He says, all these amazing feats were performed using forces of subtle nature termed as Demigods.
Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya says all the rituals and practices, the mind set and feelings, determination and discipline that go into the invocation of the Gods through the Yagna generates a tremendous energy that burns the impurities of our lower nature and transmutes them into good virtues. The Pandit adds, in his words, ‘the collective chanting of Mantras in rhythm produces unique sound waves and vibrations which have an infinite radiant effect in the outer space.’
Just as the Pandit mentioned, Professor Joshi too states that the mantra that create specific vibrational patterns ‘penetrate the energy spheres at the subtle and cosmic levels.’
During the Yagna, heat and sound combine to render desired ‘physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.’ The mantra acquires even greater energy when chanted collectively due the combined vital, mental and causal energies of the masses.
Agathiyar instructed me to recite 100,000 times his Moola Mantra in the form of his Nama Japam on his arrival in Malaysia. I was figuring how my family and I are going to manage this endeavor of such magnitude. I started timing the number of chants that I could recite in a minute and realized I needed 10 days if I was to chant from 4 am to 10 pm and 6 days if I was to chant 24 hours a day. Then Mataji Sarojini Ammaiyaar, the able aid and assistant of Tavayogi Thangarasan Adigal drops in at my home. I asked her how I was supposed to cover the stipulated number of chants. She told me to gather some people and as an example, if one person could manage 10,000 mantras and if I have ten people with me, we could cover 100,000 easily.
My friends, siblings, family and I started the recitation of Agathiyar’s Mantra AUM AGATHEESAAYA NAMA on the day of his Jayanthi, 3rd January 2010, a day after his arrival on the shores of Malaysia. But we could only manage 45,000 that took us 1 hour 45 minutes. We surrendered for we were short of breath. Agathiyar in the subsequent nadi reading accepted our prayers and surprisingly told us the chanting was sufficient.
If a spiritually enlightened person recited the Mantras, he creates a spiritually charged atmosphere, which elevates the consciousness of all living beings and harmonizes nature besides awakening the four Vanis:
i. the first and most elementary Vaikhari, ii. the Madhyama type which works in the domain of thought waves, which if refined further, leads to the subtler sounds of iii. Para and iv. Pashyanti, which are described as the Vanis for spiritual communications and conversation with the Brahma.
The Author equates these Vanis to: the speech of man, Super Men, Rishis and God.
He explains that one who meditates on God has him come onto the aspirant and receives the mantras and prayers through the internal fire created within. However, this fire is weak in most. So the need for having an external fire arises in the form of the Homam which is a powerful tool for spiritual advancement, aiding and eventually strengthening the internal fire in him.
The Various Bodies & Yagna
Man is known to have five bodies according to Eastern thought and schools. Stoola Sareera or the gross body, made up of gross matter and Sookshma Sareera or the subtle body made up of subtle matter are two amongst the five.
The Dr. explains that Bhootaagni burns in the subtle body which is the very basis of one’s existence. It manifests in the gross body too in various forms of heat and fire. The furnace in the stomach that digest the food; the fire in the brain that makes one analyze and understand all experiences from the senses; and the ever vital body heat that keeps on alive are the result of Bhootaagni. It is weak in most people due to impurities and obstructions in their subtle energy channels or Nadis in the subtle body, thus unable to energize its existence and limiting the entry of the Divine.
The Dr says by overcoming the Malas which are desire (Kaama), anger (Krodha), greed (Lobha), ego (Ahangara), false prestige, wantonness (Mada) and jealousy (Maatsarya), and shedding all veils of delusion (Moha), and strengthening the good virtues, compassion, one-pointed devotion, detachment, eventually the impurities will be cleared and Bhootaagni will burn strong. The Dr adds that this is a very difficult tasks and time-consuming process. He suggests that one take advantage of an external fire to speed up the process.
As the deity of Homam enters the external fire on a regular basis, his divine presence clears the mind off its previous conditioning due to Vasanas where in the words of the Dr., ‘one’s consciousness sinks into the ocean of delusion; strengthens the physical body or gross body (Sthoola Sareera); burns all the impurities in the Nadis in the subtle body or Sookshma Sareera which blocks the free flow of energy; and the karmas in the causal body or Kaarana Sareera and his presence eventually leads to the strengthening of Bhootaagni. Just as the Gods come into the Yagna, the idea is to develop Bhootaagni to accommodate more of the Divine. Then spiritual practices or sadhanas become more effective and give immediate results.
The Dr says, "Homam facilitates this process quickly by burning various karmas that are creating various layers of conditioning and obstructing spiritual progress."
The Dr adds that of the five known elements, earth, water, fire, wind, and ether or space, the only elements that cannot be polluted are space (Aakaasa) and fire (Agni). Acknowledging that it is difficult to carry out Spiritual Sadhana through the medium of space he agrees that the best medium would be fire.
One of the Sanskrit words for “fire” is “Paavaka”, which means “the one that purifies”. Fire is by definition pure and purifies everything that it comes in touch with. Homam is the most apt Sadhana for most spiritual aspirants in this Yuga, especially as the Kali deepens.
Universal Benefits of Yagna
Apart from the personal benefits, there are universal benefits of Homam. The gross material body of the burnt offerings reaches the gross material body of Sun. The subtle body of the burnt offerings reaches the subtle body of Sun. It is the subtle body of Sun that feeds the subtle bodies of all beings on earth. Thus, feeding it is very important for the smooth running of life on earth.
As we enter the Ghora Kali (terrible age of strife and disorderliness) phase, Adharma (un-righteous activities) will be on the rise in the world and as such the subtle body of Sun will become weaker. If more and more people perform Homam and strengthen the subtle body of Sun, it will balance the adharma and keep the world away from a total collapse.
The Dr says,"…Homam is ten times more powerful than Japam. If one does a mantra 1,000 in a Homam, it is equivalent to doing the mantra 10,000 in Japam."
The Dr advises that one take advantage of the Homam by meditating in front of the fire when the Poornaahuti burns because ‘the chances of losing consciousness of one’s body and immersing in the mantra fully are the maximum at this point of time than any other.’
The Sidhas, Rishis and Munis had dedicated their lives towards research and experimenting for the sake of and betterment of mankind and the world at large. Their wives were equally capable and knowledgeable in these related fields. They trained their students in these fields too so that these knowledge and practices would be passed on over the ages to help maintain, nourish and sustain the world and its inhabitants. They were all working for the welfare of the community and people at large.
The Author mentions the significance of lighting the Yagna to the Siddhas, Rishis and Munis.
Eternally lit fires in the form of pyres were reinstated in the Ashrams or hermitages of great Rishis of yore.
Rishis, through performing the Yagna attained, Sankalpa, resolve and eulogy to God considering fire as an image of God and medium of worship.
The Author quotes the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata where it is mentioned that Vaivamvat Manu and humanity was created at the beginning of Tretaa Yuga. Performing Yagna was the norm during this era.
The Author mentions that the Vedas talk of a fire within the material fire which was visual to the Divine Rishis.
Dr Pranav Pandya too explains why the Siddhas, Rishis and Munis, who according to him ‘dedicated all their endeavors and all their deeds for the noble mission of enlightening others’, extolled the Yagna. Yagna were given immense importance by great Rishis of yore simply because not only were they means to attain material forces/powers but that by making man’s body and psyche sacred, desire less and thought free he/she attained spiritual bliss and peace on an eternal basis.
Yagna in the past
He goes on to narrate the achievements of former kings from performing the Yagna,
i. King Dashrathan performed the Putreshti Yajna and thus fathered four sons,
ii. King Nriga entered heaven by performing Yajna and thus dethroned its King Indra,
iii. King Ashwapati performed a Yajna and thus fathered a son,
iv. King Indra of heaven attained all that he possessed via Yajna,
v. Lord Rama too had performed the Ashwamedha Yajna,
vi. Shri Krishna advised the Pandavas to perform the Rajasuya Yajna wherein the Lord himself welcomed guests and looked after their requirements.
Dr. Pranav Pandya in ‘YAGYA-SHALA – THE LABORATORY OF RISHIS’ from ‘SCIENTIFIC SPIRITUAL FRAGRANCE OF P.T. SRIRAM SHARMA ACHARYA’ writes that one of the foremost Rishis, Maharishi Yagnavalkya besides dwelling in the research of medicinal herbs, was foremost in conducting research and experimenting on the science of Yagna which he did at his ashram in the land of King Janak. The adjacent jungle too provided many sources of plants, scrubs, vegetation and woods for his intensive research. Neither did he stop at that but went on to cultivate various crops that went into the Yagna. He had the inmates of his ashram to participate in the rituals and Yagna for he knew that it would benefit not only them but all of mankind and the entire creation. There was also a place designated to perform Yagna conducted to subdue demonic elements that caused mischief and chose to disrupt the harmony in nature and cause destruction to people and property. Rishi Kathak was responsible for administering this Yagna. Other rishis like Dirghatama, Kutsa, and Grutsamada too joined Maharshi Yagyavalkya in his efforts to maintain law and order in the universe. The significance of the Yagna was explained to all gathered on his ashram grounds. God has created this world through conducting the Yagna and has inspired the rishis, Sidhas and Munis to continue the heritage of lighting the sacred fire. God is regarded as the personification of Yagna itself.
Dr. Pranav Pandya writes Maharishi Yagnavalkya reveals that there are twenty-one different forms of these Yagna mentioned in Rig-Veda and infinitely many more sub-forms too.
Wood from various trees and herbs with different qualities where used in the sacrificial fire pit to generate ‘different amounts of physical energies (heat)’. Yagna Kundam or kunds of various shapes and sizes were ‘used to conserve and enhance the power of Yagna.’
Recitation of the potentially powerful mantras by the equally elevated aspirant or sadhak and the auspicious moment selected for the Yagna that coincide to utilize fully the prevalent flow of energies of the universe, all three in its place, generate a perfect blend of physical and spiritual powers ‘making the experiments extremely potent and successful.’
Maharishi Yagnavalkya experimented on internal Yagna too just as he did the external Yagna. He says we are similar in form to the Yagna Kundam, having three steps:
i. Mekhlas in the form of mind, and Brahma being its deity,
ii. Prana or life-force, and Vishnu its deity, and
iii. the physical body through its actions represents the benevolent or the destructive form of Siva.
Another Rishi who contributed much was Maharishi Atharvana who possessed “multifaceted talents of a scientist, philosopher, spiritualist, scholar, poet and a master mystic” according to Dr. Pranav Pandya. His area of research was unique, says the Dr., as ‘it delved into the subliminal relationship between matter and energy fields of consciousness force.’ Maharishi Atharvana experimented on transformation and extraction of consciousness-energy vibrations in matter and energy in subtle particles of material elements respectively.
The Dr says, "Accomplished experts of his time advised him against this peculiar line of investigation considering that a Rishi of his level, who had realized higher realms of spirituality, should not spend time and efforts in researching material elements."
But he stood fast in his research says the Dr. Altruistic service appeared more important than soul evolution and salvation to this great rishi.
The Dr gives a beautiful description of the Maharishi Atharvana’s hermitage and surroundings. His Atharva Ashram spanned across a thick forest along side the river Madhumati, and included small huts; cottages and Yagna Shalas nestled in between the forest and were easily accessible to the villagers. Under the watchful eyes of the Maharishi himself, his daughter Vatika, an ascetic too, with other disciples like Kratu, Kautsa, and Bhragari carried out experiments including identifying the Siddha Muhurta or astrological timings for optimal gains ‘as the level of vital spiritual energy is extraordinarily higher than its normal flow in any substance, plant or creature during these time.’
Miraculous achievements are possible by execution of spiritual experiments, empowered with suitable mantra-sadhanas during these special phases. For example, during these special muhurtas, expert spiritual scientists may awaken sharp intelligence in a dullard brain; may heal an otherwise incurable patient and relieve him of the dreaded disease; may bless poorest of the poor with a fortune that will make him affluent in a short time.
With successful expansion of this altruistic ‘spiritual science research-cum-social welfare’ mission, not only the Atharva Ashram but also the entire forest region around it became like a healing–centre, a temple, a pilgrimage, for the masses in the villages and towns spread across almost the entire Aryavarta (the land of the Aryans - ancient India).
The Dr praises the Rishi, "It was the spiritually evolved vision of Maharishi Atharvan that made all this possible. His devout sadhanas and illumined wisdom enabled him to realize the transcendental knowledge of the Atharva Veda. More than half of the nearly six thousand hymns in this Veda are grasped and elucidated by him."
Another personality of ancient India, Maharishi Vishvamitra too just like Maharishi Atharvan was engrossed in experiments towards the uplifting humanity and sustaining nature. Maharishi Vishvamitra, once the mighty King Vishwarath, upon realizing the ‘the grandeur of spiritual energy and prowess attained through spiritual disciplines during his association with Brahmarshi Vasishtha, renounced his kingdom and all his worldly responsibilities and devoted himself to spiritual experiments’, with his disciple Jabali, son Madhuchchhanda, and grand sons Jeta and Aghamarshan.
The Dr narrates, "… he told them that the challenges they were facing now were much more daunting and serious than the earlier ones. The focus was no more on terror perpetrated by the likes of Marich, Subahu and Tadka (the demons who had been killed by Ram-Lakshman under the guidance of Vishwamitra earlier) or the protection and security of a particular region, but that the existence of the whole world was in danger this time.
All the demonic powers were carrying out deadly and destructive experiments everywhere. All of them needed to be defeated together. Not only that to create the right circumstances for ushering in Satyug in future, large-scale changes will have to be brought about in the entire animate and inanimate Nature. This would happen only when kundalini (the dormant vitality) of the entire world got awakened.
Maharishi Vishvamitra speaks further,
“For this we need to agitate, stir up and alter, using the power of the sun, kundalini of the earth which exists in the form of geomagnetic flows between its North and South poles. What is essential for this is collecting and harnessing of huge amounts of Sun’s subtle power and then channelizing and transmitting it. This is an extremely difficult task but not impossible. For this purpose, I will use the Savitri aspect of this great science of Gayatri. Madhuchchhanda would maintain subtle contact with Brahmarshi Vasishtha who is doing tapa at Ayodhya, with Brahmarshi Atri who is doing tapa at Chitrakut and with Maharishi Agastya who is performing his deep penance at Vedpuri in far south, and would keep providing me with their guidance and indications from time to time. Brahmarshi Vasishtha is currently preparing a group of 100 great sadhaks who would facilitate in the world the descent of the atmosphere of Satyug and Savitri power. Maharishi Atri, who is at Chitrakut, has the responsibility to make Ram, Sita and Lakshman capable of holding and assimilating the great power of this experiment. The next person in this sequence is Maharishi Agastya who would create several extraordinary and divine weapons using the power generated by Savitri experiment and provide them to Ram at appropriate time. All these activities will be carried out at the same level simultaneously.”
Surya Puran, Akshunyopanishad, Aditya Hriday and others explain the various capabilities of Sun and specific practices are hinted which can bestow upon the body, mind and emotions such benefits from this power of Sun.
All this goes only to show that great Indian Rishis had attained knowledge of the subtle most form of fire element.
|Devotees lighting the sacrificial fire at Kallar|
Present Day Benefits of Yagna
On the physical plane we gather much knowledge too on the relevance of lighting the sacrificial fire.We gather much scientific findings on the Yagna from Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya’s book, ‘THE INTEGRATED SCIENCE OF YAGNA’ and http://yagya.awgp.org/purificationofenvironmentbyyagya/.
The Pandit summarizes the Yagna in the following words, "Heal the atmosphere and the healed atmosphere will heal you is the Modus Operandi of a Yagna. In physical terms, Yagna is a process aimed at the refinement of the subtle energy existing in matter with the help of thermal energy of the Mantras."
The Pandit has mentioned findings by some renowned scientists related to the Yagna and provides an extensive list of benefits derived from conducting the Yagna amongst them are:
i. Sublime showers of streams of vital energy from the cosmic layers known as Parjanya, generated by the Yagna, augments the level of Prana in the air,
ii. The Yagna reduces atomic radiation, and
iii. Significant changes is observed in the brain waves and the Anahata Chakra (cardiac plexus) exhibits conditions similar to that which exists after psychic and spiritual healings.
Cle Latouf in his book ‘AGNIHOTRA – AN ANCIENT SOLUTION FOR AGRICULTURE OF THE 21ST CENTURY’ too lists similar benefits of performing the Yagna or Agnihotra and mentions that the ash is used in cleansing drinking water, in irrigation systems, and as a fertilizer.
Cle Latouf and Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya mention that the smoke from the Yagna is medicinal in value and antibiotic in nature thus eradicating bacteria and microorganisms providing for a cleaner, purer, healthier environment. Since the offerings placed in the Yagna pit have medicinal properties, they attest that the Yagna is the most effective method of administering these medicines so as to reach every single cell in the body.
Procedure for conducting Yagna
For those keen to conduct a Homam, a Yagna on a smaller scale in their homes, may need to purchase the following elements that are offered into a Yagna pit.
Sandalwood (Santalum Album), Mango (Mangifera Indica), Bilva (Aegle Marmelos), Pipal (Ficus Religiosa)
ii. Odoriferous Substances.
Saffron, musk and camphor.
Clarified butter (ghee), milk, fruits and cereals.
iv. Food of a sweet nature.
Sugar, raisins, honey.
v. Medicinal Herbs (Names in Tamil).
Kunkuma Poo, Aavaaram Poo, Aavaaram Elai, Saaranathi Ver, Vishnu Kranthi, Kasturi Manjal, Valampuri, Yelanthai Palam, Karungkaali, Athimathuram, Nellikaai, Mugil, Ven Kadagu, Thiraviya Pathai, Kadukai, Vilamicha Ver, Korai Kilangu, Vasambu, Kaar pooga Arisi, and Theyvathaaram.
One needs a Yagna Kund/ Kundam to hold the fire and the offerings. A small inverted pyramid shaped copper vessel which is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat is sufficient for performing daily Homam conducted on a personal basis or in a small group.
Cle Latouf states, "The word ‘pyramid’ means ‘fire in the middle’. Because of its inverted pyramid shape, the copper vessel and the Homam performed there in, links are established to the cosmic energy fields. This vessel receives, generates and decentralizes electro sphere besides being an effective antimicrobial reactor. The inverted pyramid shape allows controlled generation and multidirectional dissipation of energy. It acts as a generator of unusual energy fields and spreads them in its surrounding atmosphere.
Aspirations of the learned in Yagna
The Author ends his article beautifully with a wish that, "The tradition of Agnihotra must recommence in every household the world over. There was a time when this did happen in ancient India and hence it was a period of heavenly comforts and inner bliss too. The fruit of Yajna is not comfort but it is attaining more opportunities to serve the world."
P.V.R. Narasimha Rao in his ‘CHANDI HOMAM - LAGHU PADDHATI’ and www.VedicAstrologer.org writes,
"My spiritual master Dr Manish Pandit hails from Pune, India and lives in Manchester, UK. The idea of spreading Homam in the world was revealed to him in a dream a few years ago. He saw eight elevated beings in a dream. They transported him across blue skies to Chennai, India, where he was shown the big fire that was to be lighted in future. They told him to start the work. They assured him that Homam as a spiritual sadhana was very appropriate in Kali Yuga. As spiritually inclined people have fewer and fewer hours to spend on spiritual Sadhana everyday with the progressing Kali Yuga, Sadhanas that work fast are more relevant. Homam works much faster than Japam and other spiritual Sadhanas. They told him that the practice of Homam would transform into a movement that would reach across caste, class and race barriers."
According to Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, it would be ideal if one could conduct a Yagna or Agnihotra twice a day, once at sunrise and again at sunset.
"The beneficial effect of sunrise Agnihotra sustains the atmosphere till sunset and the sunset Agnihotra sustains the atmosphere till the sunrise. Synchronising performance of Agnihotra with these activated moments results in attracting a stream of vital, life sustaining energies of the solar system. Hence the process of Agnihotra which coincides with them plays an important role in harmonizing the natural functioning of human mind and body. In this manner, an unending and active healing cycle is established in the houses where this Agnihotra is performed every day."
Cle Latouf too writes that the Yagna be performed at sunrise and sunset and ‘if coordinated correctly the vital, life sustaining energies of the solar system will be attracted.’
We end this study on the greatness of the Yagna with a quote from the Author,
"The seemingly ordinary fire of our material world was looked upon them as so extraordinary that great Rishis authored a separate Veda for it in the form of Yajurveda. Yajna is called the manifest image of the formless Lord Almighty."
|The Mystical Rudraksham at Kallar|
We understand from the above study that the Yagam and Homam was conducted by the Rishis, Munis and Sidhas to fulfill certain wishes of individuals and also to maintain the harmony and equilibrium in nature. This practice started since time immemorial. I came to realize that the Sidhas are continually performing prayers/bathing rituals abhisegam and Yagams till this day through revelations by Agathiyar in the Jeeva Nadi to Amarar Hanumathdasan.
Sidhas in the present age
Once the Jeeva Nadi Guru was called to a hill temple in a village 40 km from Erode with urgency. As in those days there were no present day vehicles to travel, the Jeeva Nadi Guru had to hitch a ride on a bullock-cart. Once on arrival at the village at dawn and making his intentions known, the villagers did not allow the Jeeva Nadi Guru to stay overnight at the temple as anyone who attempts to do that mysteriously turns up as a corpse the next day. How was he going to explain to the village folks that he was directed by Agathiyar in the Jeeva Nadi to stay overnight for three consecutive nights at the temple? Yet Agathiyar consoles him, "Do not fear. You shall go up the hill without hindrance. You shall witness a miracle at midnight for three consecutive nights."
The Jeeva Nadi Guru unnoticed to the villagers heads for the temple as dusk falls. True to Agathiyar, he witnesses three miracles over the three nights he spent at the temple. On the first night, slightly after 12.00 he hears Vedic chanting (Veda Kosham) in the inner sanctum or Karuvarai of the temple. 18 persons were seated and chanting the mantras.The temple bells rang; Abhisegam was done for the Shivalingam; Dupa and Deepa Aarathi was done; and percussion were played. All the aromas escaped through the gaps in the door to the closed inner sanctum. All this ended after half an hour. It was back to complete silence.
Agathiyar goes on to reveal what took place, "The 18 Siddhas under my patronage will conduct an abhisegam for Lord Shiva at midnight once in 120 years at this temple. Since you are my son (the Jeeva Nadi Guru) deciding to show you this sight, I called you over. Although you cannot see us, but you will feel our presence (Suksma). This sight will continue for the next two nights too. Do not reveal to anyone as yet."
The next night at 11pm, the Jeeva Nadi Guru sensed as if people walked past him and entered the inner sanctum.In the next few moments, Veda chants (Veda Kosham), Shiva Nama chants (Siva Nama Archanai), Rudram Samakam, Purusha Suktham, and Sri Suktham were heard. The temple bells were heard; percussions sounded: all came from within the inner sanctum. All these stopped within 10 minutes. The Jeeva Nadi Guru could see in his 'hearts eye" (Mana Kann) 16 kinds of Abhisegams being done, flowers offered to/showered on Lord Shiva followed by the chant "Puspavaan Samarpayaami" and Aarati shown.
Agathiyar in the Nadi reveals that Lord Shiva had accepted the prayers and that the Devas will join in the prayers the next day. Agathiyar had instructions for the Jeeva Nadi Guru to carry out the next night. He was to be seated near the Nandhi, looking towards Lord Shiva, close his eyes in prayer and keep on chanting all night through. Agathiyar tells him that humans cannot see God directly. Vision of God is only possible if one closes his eyes. "If you open your eyes you shall not get God's Darshan", adds Agathiyar. He goes on to reveal why he chose to show Sri Raghavendra's Darshan, Hanuman's Darshan and now this Darshan to the Jeeva Nadi Guru. Agathiyar reveals that in the last birth the Jeeva Nadi Guru had continuously thought about Agathiyar, had built a temple for him and worshipped him.
On the third and final night after the temple priest had locked up the inner sanctum and left, the Jeeva Nadi Guru took his place next to Nandhi as directed by Agathiyar. Much to his disappointment, a sudden gust of wind blew the Jeeva Nadi Guru's Jeeva Nadi away. All his search in the dark went in vain. He could not find the Nadi. He took his place back at Nandhi. The cool breeze eventually turned to warm air. As the Jeeva Nadi Guru sat in meditation, he heard the sound of "Metti". He opened his eye. The sound was not heard. As he closed his eyes again, he heard more Metti sounds. A beautiful aroma lingered in the air; percussions were heard; temple bells rang; and the Veda chanting started. As Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi sat alongside, the Sidhas and Devas were seen conducting Abhisegam and Aaraati to them. Lord Vishnu in his Man-Lion Avatar (Narasimma) and Goddess Lakshni joined in on the Abhisegam to Lord Shiva and Parvathi. They were followed by Lord Brahma and Goddess Saraswathy too. And finally the Indras, Munis and Sidhas performed Abhisegam and Aarathanai.
All this ended in 10 minutes when a sudden gust of wind emerged from behind the closed doors of the inner sanctum and everything settled down. The Jeeva Nadi Guru opened his eyes again to meet the night sky gazing back at him through its numerous eyes (stars).
The next day when the temple priest opened the inner sanctum, he discovered the Jeeva Nadi in there!