The word Yajna comes from the root- ‘yaj’ which means to worship. The English equivalent of the word is ‘sacrifice’. Although it has several implications, Yajna broadly includes three significant elements: worshipping gods as an act of gratitude, realizing a close proximity with God and, embracing daan or giving as a way of life.
We deeply owe the environment and nature our existence and sustenance in the sense that it is they who provide us with air to breathe, food to eat and water to drink. In return of these, we perform Yajna as an act of worship with reverence, gratitude and offerings.
It is good to see modern man and modern corporate seeking solutions through these traditional methods of Yajna for their day to day problems. Our mission is to take this entire activity globally very soon.
Our cultural Indian ritualistic tradition advocates the application of the science of Yajna to serve several purposes, predominantly, the fulfilment of specific desires.
Indra: The God of nourishment is invoked in order to gain power, prosperity and wealth. Prajapati is invoked for those in need of children. The Sun God replenishes cosmic energy. Mother Earth is invoked to provide nourishment to all. Goddess Aditi is invoked for good and heavenly bliss. Shankara confers knowledge.
A Yajna is performed for greater good rather than an individual desire.
Yajna & Classical Literature
Our scriptures have valued the Yajnas above all … be it the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Srimad Bhagavatam and other Mahapuranas. The Vedas, comprising Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva, maintain Yajna to be the ultimate spiritual act.
The Yajur Veda describes Yajna as the greatest benefactor of the human race, bestowing life, wealth, food, energy, prosperity and happiness. In Yajna lies the secret of achieving excellence in life, it says.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Yajna is related to the law of cause and effect.
The epic Mahabharata is replete with examples testifying that Yajna was an indispensable activity for kings and emperors. In the Shanti Parva, there are numerous stories of Ashvamedha Yajna being performed by virtuous kings and emperors. Dushyanta, son of Bharata, completed 100 Ashvamedha Yajnas, Bhagiratha performed several more, and King Dilip completed 1000 such rituals of fire. King Yudhishthira too conducted an Ashvamedha Yajna.
Kinds of Yajna
Yajnas can be broadly classified into Vedic or Tantric, depending on the rituals. The main kinds of Yajnas are:
Paka Yajna: In which food is offered as oblationary material
Havi Yajna: Oblation material is other than food
Pancha Maha Yajnas: This includes:
- Brahma Yajna: Where the body, wealth, mind and emotions are surrendered to the creator
- Deva Yajna: Where offerings are made to various deities.
- Pitri Yajna: Where obeisance is paid to our forefathers and superiors
- Manushya Yajna: Where the essence is service to humanity and,
- Bhoota Yajna: Meant for appeasing lower species.
Rajasooya Yajna: In ancient India Rajasooya Yajna was an integral part of the political and administrative system, as it was the deciding factor as to who was qualified to govern a state. State policies and activities of royal officers were evaluated and complaints were attended to rectify past errors. Rajasooya Yajnas brought together the ruler and the ruled.
Vajapeya Yajna: This Yajna was performed in earlier times with the objective of maintaining harmony within the state. It was an assemblage of learned scholars, enlightened sages and spiritual mendicants from different parts of the land. They exchanged views on various issues with the aim of formulating policies and implementing them.
Vishwajeet Yajna: This Yajna was performed with the objective of unifying the entire human race into one single world community. The most significant and unique message conveyed by this Yajna is that love, not war, is instrumental in achieving such a unity.
Ashvamedha Yajna: Only an undisputed sovereign was considered qualified to conduct this because it required almost two whole years. Before the Yajna, the royal horse, which signifies the power and sovereignty of the king, was sent to different kingdoms. Those who accepted the sovereignty allowed the horse to pass through. If the horse was captured, it was seen as a challenge for the king to prove his strength and power. When the horse came back unopposed, it was a clear sign of the sovereignty of the monarch. This enabled him to establish his empire on a firm basis.
The entire process of a Yajna, consisting of chanting mantras, lighting the sacrificial fire and offering Havi to gods in the form of Cow Ghee, Vanaspati and other objects, purifies the environment significantly.
Even today, Yajnas have been successfully performed to induce rainfall, to check the spread of epidemics, and so on.
Yajna is a process of give and take. Offerings are made to gods and they bestow blessings in turn.
This is how the cosmic balance and order is maintained.
Underlying all of this is the unity between all forms of creation and their essential relationship with the One who is above all, realized through the process of Yajna.
From full, the full is taken, the full has come.