Yajna-Homam

Yajna Demystified

Thousands of years back, when people were living in small pods and clans, there were chiefs and medicinal men who ruled them. Before fire was known, there was also Fire Chief or Fire Gods (modern day chemists) who commanded the chiefs, since they mastered the art of Fire – how to make them and control them. Hence they were called Gods referred in our Hindu Scriptures as “Agni Deva” or “Agni Putra” meaning Fire God or Sons of Fire. These people kept their trade secret and survived mostly on their knowledge of Chemical Elements and their reactions. Even today, people of Fire Clans live and I have seen such people in Fiji.
As the civilization grew to cities and kingdoms, Fire became a modern day house-hold and the services of these men diminished. Most of them with no other knowledge except for making fire and control them, retired to forests, shying away from civilization. The old Chiefs however were very thankful to them and started making huge fires and smokes to summon to them. (Similar to American Native Indians who used Smoke signals). Seeing these signals the “Agni Devas” came to the villages and the Chiefs adorned them with Gifts, Ornaments, Clothes and food. This was how the original “Homam” or “Yajna” were started. This was even before the Vedic Period before our scriptures were written.
Later the Kings as a token of respect to these Agni Devas, continued the tradition. Most of the Yajnas will be conducted on open grounds, big pits dug and huge fires were created sending a smoke signal that can be seen 100s of miles away. Seeing these signals, the “Agni Devas” used to come to the city and collect Gifts from the King. (Note, the gifts are not thrown into fires, but given to normal human beings, who once mastered Fire as an appreciation of their service).
We can also argue that these Agni Devas mastered the art of medicines and chemicals, that they knew the right potion for fertility, seeding clouds for rain, and even medicines to cure epidemic diseases. (Ramayana has a chapter on this where “Agni Deva” was beckoned by King Dasaratha, to provide Fertility Potions to his three wives). As these people were specialised, signalling them also required special technique – probably different colours of smoke. Hence many different forms of “Yajnas” were practised, which used various items to change the colour of smoke.
If you look at various puranas and vedas (Upanishads) you will find various method of conducting these “Yajnas” especially through Brahmins, which has become pseudo modus-operandi today. Many Kings that followed from BC to AD, followed this tradition, only to preserve the livelihood of these professionals and Individuals. The requirement of Agni Devas diminished as their knowledge had become obsolete.
Today the only remainder of this is a token sacrifice of doing these rituals to thank our ancestors for the knowledge they bestowed on us. However, modern day “Yajnas” as become a big business in India. Thousands and thousands of Rupees had been poured into this, with the only benefactor being the “Brahmins”, priests self-styled “Gurus” who demand tonnes and tonnes of flowers, pulses, coconuts, oil and ghee and other items for their benefits. (They are even sold back to the seller, in some cases). The original scripture which is convoluted in itself, has been translated to one’s own advantage. The old scriptures had animal sacrifices and in some cases even human sacrifices! We do not follow them these days due to our own common-sense. So let us understand the religion much better and learn the history that it preaches through tradition.
What we do currently do is utter blasphemy, by throwing huge quantities of grains, pulses, food, clothes, ornaments, animals into fire and calling it “Fire Sacrifice” as it benefits no one, though channelling these to the most needy would be great advantageous. I know, I will be contradicted by the Hindus and criticised. But if you sit and think you will be able to find some truth in this. We live in a modern society and as our Poet Thiruvalluvar said,
“எப்பொருள் எத்தன்மைத் தாயினும் அப்பொருள்
மெய்ப்பொருள் காண்பது அறிவு”.
(Translation: No matter who said, trying to find truth in it is common-sense)
Let us try to find the truth behind our tradition and develop Hinduism.
This is a religion to practise, not a cult to blindly follow!

Ref:
A cultural history of India by Basham
A South Indian Histroy by Sastry
And various Google resources.

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 8:22am

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