Wednesday 26 October 2016

What happens during a Yagya ( Fire Sacrifice ): Sathya Sai Explains

Ati Rudra Maha Yagya in August 2006 :

''This yagya is not merely for a few individuals, it is for the entire world.The mantras chanted here have mixed in the air and spread to the entire universe.These sacred sounds have entered our hearts and purified them.Hence,do no think that the mantras chanted in this yagya are confined to only this place.They have spread to the entire world''

- Sai Baba

Yagya and Yaagas are vedic rituals or sacrifices.The word yagya is also used to indicate any great effort that needs the active cooperation of many people.

The Yajur Veda elaborates the importance of yagyas.These promote the peace and prosperity of the world-as that is the primary aim of all the Vedas.The yagya is centred on the adoration of Fire.

Man is bound intimately with fire all through his life. Fire is present everywhere. The Ocean too has fire latent within it. Man has within him the latent fire which performs eight functions : 

(1) It hardens and strengthens the muscles.
(2) It develops energy
(3) It ensures healthy progeny
(4) It digests food
(5) It makes one patient and therefore a better instrument
(6) It increases the duration of life
(7) It sharpens and deepens memory
(8) It confers boldness of thought and action.

In order to light the fire in the sacrificial enclosure, a churning rod of hardwood is used on a block of similar hardness. The timber has to be from the banyan or peepul trees. The block is the mother and the churner is the father. Fire is the child.


The Yajur Veda describes the flames of the Sacred Fire as the tongues of God.

When the offering is dropped into the Fire, in the name of God, the proper name and address have to be uttered at the same time. It is like a postbox. When a letter is properly addressed and dropped into the box at your post office, it will reach any place- even as far as Japan or Russia. If the address indicates Russia, it will be delivered to the person in Russia. The address has to be full and correct - that is all. And the stamp has to be of the correct value.

There are people who observe only the outer acts of yagya and blame Brahmins for 'wastefully pouring ghee into fire, while men are underfed and starving'', and accuse that ' they are foolishly spending money over profitless pursuits''.Even educated persons join in this ignorant condemnation.

The farmer ploughs the field, prepares the plots, lets water into them, and makes them fit to receive the seeds. Then he scatters four bags of paddy on the land. An ignoramus who does not know agriculture laughs at him.'' You have gone mad. When people are starving, you throw the paddy they would gladly eat into the soil ! ''.But, in return for the four bags lost, the 'madman' will bring home forty bags after harvest. When two tins of ghee are poured ritually into the sanctified Fire the world will gain two hundred tins of ghee.

Every offering made into this sacrificial fire, will contribute to the health and happiness of mankind. The vehicle of Vaayu or air will convey the finer particles, the purifying particles of these offerings to the farthest reaches of the world. The vibrations of the Vedic mantras that these pundits recite will have their impact on the hearts of all men and affect adversely the lower instincts and passions they are now burdened with.

It is for this very reason that the sages of the past ages designed and prescribed these Yagyas. The rituals that we perform through objective means are therefore only reflections and representatives of the inner struggles by which we hope to win inner peace and victory.

The particles carried by smoke and air from the Yagya is mixed with the powerful Veda mantras chanted.

This will add to the cloud formation. The cloud will shower pure rain. This rainwater sustains food growth and water supply - which is digested by people.

As a result of this pure water, the food ingested is pure and will create pure humans - with divine qualities.

Whatever is dedicated and offered to God can never be lost. People can gain enormous  benefit by offering even a little to God.''A leaf or a flower, a fruit or a little water''- that is enough if offered with devotion. Draupadi gave Lord Krishna the fraction of a leaf sticking to the side of a vessel and God granted her endless good fortune. Kuchela gave a handful of parched rice and received from the Lord awareness of His endless Glory. The yagyaa bears witness to this inner significance.

At the time of purnaahuti ( completion of the Yagya ), many sacred and fragrant articles are offered in the sacrificial fire. Precious gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc are also put into the fire. Even pure silk is offered. The significance of this is that man should offer to the Divine his pure unselfish heart and such noble qualities like truth, righteousness, peace, love, non-violence, compassion, and kindness for all beings alike.

Purpose of uttering svaahaa 

Svaaha is a sacred call to the deities. Svaahaa has three meanings : 

(1) the offering made with the utterance of that mantra - I offer wholeheartedly without any reservations.

(2) The Vedic statement which conveys praise or glorification and...

(3) The close or the end or ' so be it '.

Svaaha is generally taken to indicate only an expression used while offering oblations in a ceremonially-lit fire. People imagine that it is not a Vedic word. They argue that it is a technical expression applicable to rituals only. This is not so. There is a deity named Svaaha Devi, invoked by that word. Since the word is full of potency, it is revered as the manifestation of Vaak Devi, the Deity presiding over the speech.

When Havis or other offerings are made to Divinity under its various forms and in its various names,t his word - svaaha is used. The rites prescribed as unavoidable for daily life and those that are laid down as optional for the observance of certain holy days, all have to begin with svaahaa.

When, however, one invokes one's forefathers and invites them to accept the ritual offerings, the expression used is svadhaa, not svaahaa.

There are no ritual offerings in the sacred fire without svaahaa or svadhaa. Vashatkaara is another Vedic word that complements the effect of svaaha mantra.

svaaha is a name applied to Sarasvati, the Deity of the Vedic Word. The Devi Bhagavatam declares that the Supreme Deity is both Gayatri and svaahaa.The Lalitha Sahasranama declares svaahaa and svadhaa as Her Names.

People involved in performing a Yagya 

These are : 

(1) Yajamaana is the one who performs the sacrifice. He is the chief person in the yagya. He is the master of the whole ceremony. He meets all expenses and claims the fruits of the same. The wife of the yajamaana, also has an important role to play

(2) The Ritviks or the priests are there to assist the yajamanaa in performing the yagyaa. They perform all the rituals. There are four main priests, each representing the four Vedas. Depending on the size of the yagya, each of these four main priests may have assistants to help them. The four main priests are :

   i . Rig Veda - hotr
   ii. Yajur Veda - adhvaryu
   iii. Saama Veda - udgaatir
    iv . Atharva Veda - brahmaa

Whatever is dropped into the fire gets burnt totally, even when no mantra is uttered by us. So what is the special process that takes place when svaahaa is uttered?

Sai Baba : From the worldly point of view, only this much is observed. However the Vedas concede that Fire has a Divine form and function besides the commonly known material form and function.

The Divine forms or Gods are beyond the reach of the senses. Therefore the Vedas recommend that the Gods be worshiped through rites and rituals. When oblations are offered in the fire, lit and fed as prescribed, these oblations or offerings are called aahuti. This means that God is invited ( avaahana ) to accept the oblations. The word convey this special meaning. The Gods receive only offerings for which they have been invited ( aahuti )

Classifications of Yagyas

Generally, there are four different classifications of yagyas : 

- Study and recollection of the Vedas learned as a student (svaadhyaaya yagya)

- Repetition of certain Veda mantras over and over again ( japa yagya )

-  Actual physical performance of the yagya ( karma yagya )

- Symbolical meditations, both on the ritual as well as the mantras chanted during the ritual ( maanasa yagya ). This last type is also referred to as the internal yagya.

Each succeeding yagya gives ten times the result of the previous one. Thus, the internal yagya is the best form of yagya. However, one has to systematically proceed from kindergarten to college education. Very, very few can jump directly to college education. So too, each of the above four yagyas paves the way for the next one.

The internal yagya is the striving to realise the Divinity within. The external yagya is only a reflection of the internal yagya. Through the performance of the external yagyas by rituas, the inner self is purified. Divinity is within everyone and can be realised only through meditation. The mind is the sacrificial altar. On this altar, one has to offer all of one's bad qualities as offerings.

The sole purpose of an internal yagya is to see that the mind does not run after the whims and fancies of the senses. Unfortunately, instead of performing the sacrifices of this kind, people sacrifice goats and fowls as offerings. As a result,the bad qualities continue to grow in man. - Baba

The internal yagya has to be performed at all times, in all places and under all circumstances. The sacrificial altar for this is within each one of us. Whenever an evil thought or desire arises, it should be mercilessly scorched.

It is only by constant vigilance and continuous endeavour that Divine grace can be earned. Only when evil traits are banished can Divinity manifest in all its glory. This is the real purpose of yagyas- to enable man to achieve purity in order to realise Divinity - Baba

Really speaking, the heart is the ceremonial altar ; the body is the fireplace ; the hair is the holy grass - darbha; wishes are the fuel sticks with which the fire is fed ; desire is the ghee that is poured into the fire to make it burst into a flame; anger is the sacrificial animal and the fire is the penance ( tapas ) we accomplish.

People sometimes interpret penance as ascetic practices like standing on one leg or on the head.No ! Penance is not a physical coordination of thought,word and deed. When this is achieved,the splendour of fire will manifest - Baba.

From Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba 

Adapted from : Vedic Chants,Vols. 1-6 Lalitha Vaitilingam , Nirmala Sekhar

Also Read :

(1) Origin of Vedas - the mantras used in Yagyas

1 comment:

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