Importance of Yajna (July 2005)
Yajna and Agni have special place in lives of Hindus. We perform Yajna at all the auspicious events of our lives– be it birth of child, marriage ceremony, or house warming. Despite such a significant role, Yajna, perhaps, is one of least understood rituals. Some dismiss it calling it wastage of ghee, samagri and money. There is a need to understand the principle behind this ritual that our sages recommended performing it twice a day. It is one of the oldest and sacred rituals of India.
Yajna means “To Give”. Nature is performing non-stop Yajna; nature continuously gives. Sun gives light and energy. Trees provide fruits and shade. Likewise, we perform Yajna to purify the environment. It is our way of giving back to “Nature”. When we perform yajna, we offer samagri (dry herbs) to fire, which fire spreads in the atmosphere and purifies it.
The matter under fire does not get destroyed – it only expands. Fire enhances the character of matter. A smell of a tiny scented stick goes far when it is burnt. Similarly, the smell of a touch of chilles if put in fire will be unbearable.
Yajna performed with herbs purifies the environment and benefits health. The physicians recommend respiratory therapy of eucalyptus oil to patients of cough and cold. It is because oil when comes in contact with hot water – fire – its impact is enhanced many time over.
Performing Yajna at home purifies air. Homes generally have polluted air. Performing Yajna removes germs and bacteria. Also, because of fire’s nature, the benefits are not limited to the house where Hawan is performed, but rather felt by neighboring houses. So, performing this act helps the society as a whole.
When the mantras are chanted and offerings are made in the fire to the Lord, the grace of the Lord is showered on the people in the form of peace and plenty. There is a saying: “As is the fire, so is the smoke.” As is the smoke, so are the clouds. As are the clouds, so is the rain. As is the rain, so are the crops. As are the crops, so is the food. As is the food, so is the intellect. As the clouds these days are not formed by the smoke coming from yajnas, the food consumed by the people is not conducive to the growth of intelligence. When the smoke going up from the yajna-kunda enters the clouds, you have sacred rain, which helps to purify the crops and sanctify the food that is consumed. As a result, the people are sanctified.