VEDIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
[In the last chapter we have given the Vishesha Yajna Paddhati based on the instructions of Maharshi Dayanand detailed in the Saamaanya PrakaraNam of Sanskaaravidhi. Here in this chapter we are giving answers to a few questions generally asked by the people regarding Yajna-Paddhati as well as the aspects of the Yajna. Dr. Swami Satyam, Vice chancellor, Vedic University of America will be pleased to receive further questions from the devoted Aryan brothers and sisters and answer them. He can be contacted over phone (91-80-6643478 or 230-2122730). The questions received will be incorporated in the book "Change your life into a Yajna" being brought out by the University very shortly. The University wants to create a forum on the internet for discussing these and other things regarding Vedic Dharma. We are sure that what Maharshi has said in his books is correct. We shall welcome the arguments from the people who think that Maharshi has committed mistakes and shall try to clear their doubts. Thanks.]
Special Note: Some people have started telling the devotees not to add OM with the Mantras given in the beginning of Sanskaaravidhi. That is wrong. Maharshi Dayanand has stated in an answer to the question that no Mantra should be uttered without adding OM. Please refer to the book Change your life into a Yajna where we have discussed this matter in full detail.
Q.1.Why have you brought out this Yajna Paddhati?
Answer: There are three reasons:
1) Unfortunately there are numerous Satsanga Paddhatis in the market written or published by different scholars in different ways that have added to the already existing confusions. Maharshi Dayanand advised us to go back to the Vedas and I want to advise my Aryan brothers and sisters to go back to Maharshi. I see that in the process of presenting the most correct (?) Yajna Paddhati our scholars have awfully deviated from the path of Maharshi and created confusion among the devoted members of Aryasamaj thus dividing the organization which was strongly united and moving vigorously for the last 100 years.
2) Maharshi has not given Dainik Yajna in Saamaanya PrakaraNam and has asked us to give PoorNaahuti immediately after the last 8 Mantras. The performer is caught in dilemma with regard to when one should do the Dinika Yajna. Actually, Maharshi presumed that every Arya would do Yajna daily and perform Vishesha Yajna only after having finished the daily one. With this logic the Paddhati explains that first we must do daily Yajna, then Pradhaana Homa (Sanskaras, etc.) and lastly we should start PoorNaahuti PrakaraNam that starts from Aaghaaraa-vaajyabhaagaahuti and ends with PoorNaahuti.
3) Maharshi has not suggested any other rituals after PoorNaahuti. Therefore, we should not chant Mantras like "Vasoh Pavitramasi, etc." or pour ghee in streams as suggested by a few scholars. They have mistaken the words Shatadhaaram and Sahasradhaaram for in hundred and thousand streams while actually they mean the Yajna that supports and protects hundreds and thousands of creatures. Maharshi has very kindly freed us from the complications of rituals by giving a simple Yajna Paddhati that even a common man can perform easily and so we should not add new dimensions to it and make it more complicated. We should give more importance to the substance of Yajna that helps us to improve our life and elevate our souls and the meanings of Mantras chanted in it than to the mere routine rituals and outward practices in them. The advice given by Maharshi in Sandhyaa that one need not sip water if not required, he must, though, pronounce the Aachamana Mantra confirms this dogma. The same has been strongly reaffirmed in Upanishad where the Rishi concludes the debate by saying that in the absence of the material offerings one should perform Yajna by giving oblations of Shraddhaa in the fire of Truth (Shrddhaam Satye Juhuyaat). The ritual part is like a gross body while the substance is the soul.
Besides, what Maharshi Dayanand has prescribed is the simple and correct method of Vishesha Yajna and every Pundit and member of Aryasamaj should follow that Paddhati alone. Though Maharshi has asked us to right the wrongs wherever we find, yet we should not just start correcting him outright. Before we try to correct him we must question ourselves whether or not we are able and entitled to do so? Are we more knowledgeable than he was? He had studied 3000 books during the short period of 6 years and wrote after having thoroughly checked and compared a number of Paddhatis. How many books have we studied? Have we, the ordinary worldly people, the ability to correct him who was a NeishThika-Brahmacharee and the wisest disciple of a great austere and enlightened Guru like Shree Virajanand? Were we fortunate enough to have such a Guru? Have we gone through great austerity Maharshi went through? How do we think that we are superior to him and can correct him? Have we tried and succeeded to SEE his soul, mind, heart and logic on which he has based his opinion? Therefore, let us first put our heads together and do some deep research work in the Paddhati given by Maharshi but, until then let us follow the Paddhati he has enunciated in Sanskaaravidhi. Let us not speak in different voices and confuse the innocent Aryan brothers and sisters living in various countries. Unity and Uniformity among the members of Aryasamaj is the most essential thing at the moment that can be brought only when we follow Maharshi with full faith. I have experienced how dangerously these differences in ritualistic exercises have affected the Aryasamaj movement in the whole world. It wont be a sin to follow Maharshi in rituals. Actually, Maharshi is like a powerhouse for us, for him other Rishis and God were the powerhouse. When we follow Maharshi we link ourselves with that Great Powerhouse through Rishis. Therefore, it will be better if we base our thoughts on the principles Maharshi has laid down. We shall, then, have a very little chance of going astray.
Q.2.Was not Maharshi Dayanand a human being? Can he not commit Mistakes as we do?
I do not say that he was Omniscient like God. He, too, has never declared himself like that. Aryasamaj does not support blind faith. My only point is that a person who is not even a school graduate in Spirituality cannot judge the one who has graduated from the highest Spiritual University? First let us become great scholars, celibate and austere men of great character, have sharp brains and mental power, be great Yogi like Dayanand and then, go deep and do research in his writings and find out the reason for his writing so and then criticize him for his mistake. Better, if we discuss our points first with other scholars. In that case it will be a decision taken by a group of scholars not by any single individual. It is very easy to break an organization but very difficult to keep it united. If we want that the Aryasamaj should progress as one united organization we should follow one man (Maharshi) in explaining Vedic Philosophy or Yajna-Paddhati. The Atharvaveda indicts, "Sadhuraah Charantah i.e., have one axis and move around it like a wheel." No one will doubt if I say that only Maharshi Dayanand, who followed all other Maharshis, is the single and strong axis of Aryasamaj now and of the whole world in the future.
Q.3.Why have you written this Vishesha Yajna Paddhati in English?
For benefiting the Aryan brothers and sisters that are unable to read the Sanskrit script. Now they will be able to chant the Mantras with the help of English spellings and know the meanings given in English.
Q.4.Are you not committing a sin by transliterating these Mantras in English? You should first teach Sanskrit to the people and then ask them to perform Yajnas and Sanskaras. Are you not harming the Divine language?
You are right when you say that the people should first learn Sanskrit and then perform Yajnas. Maharshi, too, wanted that. The Vedas say that do not utter a Mantra without knowing its meaning. But how many are there who know the meanings of all Mantras they chant? Should they be barred from chanting Mantras or doing Sandhyaa or Yajna? Will you be able to teach Sanskrit to everyone in the world? Will you be able to propagate Vedic Dharma and fulfill the aim of "Krinvanto Vishvamaaryam"? Do you want that the Hindu children, youth and adults who are in foreign countries and speak mostly English should be left helpless to embrace Christianity and other religions? Is it not our duty to introduce our Dharma in their language? If you think that I am committing a sin I shall be glad to go to hell rather than leaving our brothers, sisters, children and youth uneducated in our culture and Dharma. There are a number of languages in the world and you declare that You are here to make everyone Arya. How? Can you do so without transliterating and translating our literature in their languages? Please give up such narrow-mindedness. Give more importance to introducing Vedic Dharma to as many people as you can. They themselves will come to you then, to learn the language that has such a great treasure. Be a positive and practical man. Do not be conservative or negative. Similarly, there are a few people who advise me to speak always in Hindi. How can I propagate Vedic Dharma in the places like Trinidad and America where the people do not know that language? When Keshavachandra Sen advised Maharshi to give his speeches in Hindi instead of Sanskrit (like he was doing then) if he wanted to convey his beautiful ideas to the common men that did not know Sanskrit, Maharshi, who was very liberal and wise, gladly accepted his intelligent advice and started speaking in Hindi. He also wrote Satyarthaprakash in Hindi, not in Sanskrit. Why? So that he could reach as many people as possible with his great torch of Truth which he could not have done had he written his book in Sanskrit. Was he wrong in doing so? If not, how am I wrong who is following the same criteria i.e., reach as many people as you can and enlighten them with the truth. I can say that Maharshi was very liberal and wise. That is why I say "please follow the footsteps of Maharshi if you want to promote Vedic Dharma and Aryasamaj movement." I intend to bring out shortly a book "What can we learn from the life of Maharshi" that, I am sure, will help a lot in removing a number of confusions and doubts in the minds of devoted Arayasamj members.
Q.5.What is the role of Saamaanya Prakaranam in Sanskaravidhi? Some scholars say that it is meant only for reference. Is it just a collection of rituals and Mantras that are to be referred to during various Sanskaras?
No. Maharshi has very clearly expressed the purpose of the Saamaanya Prakaranam in the introduction to Sanskaravidhi. He says "It will serve mainly two purposes 1. It will give you the sequence in which you have to perform a Saamaanya Yajna, and 2. It will help you in referring to particular Mantras in particular Sanskaras." I would draw your kind attention toward the first purpose and say that the sequence given by Maharshi must be strictly followed by each and every Pundit of Aryasamaj. "Bhanum Anvihi", "Jyotishmatah Patho Raksha Dhiyaakritaan" advises the Almighty in Rigveda that means "follow the Sun, and protect the paths created by the ancestors with their unparalleled wisdom that are full of light (do not try to create your own path with your small Buddhi). If you have any doubt regarding that sequence go into the depth, find out the reason, discuss with others, organize seminars, workshops and debates and come to a genuine conclusion.
Q.6.When should we do Aacamanam, before we chant the eight Mantras ofEashvara-stuti-praarthano-paasanaa etc., or after, before starting Yajna?
Please tell me why the Aacamanam is done.
- By sipping water we clear the throat so we can chant Mantras well.
- Then, why only a spoon- full of water? Why dont you drink a glass of water? Also why should you chant the Mantras? Do the Mantras help you in clearing your throat?
- I dont know .
- Well Where has Maharshi asked us to do Aacamanam in the beginning of the Veda-paaTha or before starting Yajna?
- Before starting Yajna.
- Right. Then, follow what Maharshi says.
- Are these all other scholars wrong who ask us to do Aacamanam before starting Veda-PaaTha?
- Yes. They are wrong. Maharshi has instructed to do Aacamanam just before starting Yajna, after having welcomed the priest and completed Sankalpa. They have misunderstood the purpose of Aacamanam and have ignorantly declared Maharshi wrong. The Aacamanam is concerned with Yajna. Veda-paaTha is meant for creating an amicable and peaceful atmosphere filled with spiritual vibrations before starting Yajna. Yes, you can just sip some water to clear your throat before starting the Veda-PaaTha without chanting any Mantras. Also Angasparsha should be done only where Maharshi has prescribed. Yajamaans should, however, do Aacamanam before, as Maharshi has prescribed in Upanayana Sanskaara, if they are going to wear a new Yajnopaveetam. Please refer to the special notes in the previous chapter.
- How is Aacamanam concerned with Yajna?
- What is the purpose of Yajna?
- Clearing the atmosphere.
- Is that all? Then, why should you sit for hours together and keep chanting Mantras? Clearing atmosphere is just a physical purpose. The meaning of the Mantras uttered during Yajna implies that the main purpose is to change a person into Yajna, to elevate the soul, purify the mind and thoughts. God is Yajna. The soul should join Him. He cannot do so until he, too, becomes Yajna. "Yajnena Yajnamayajanta Devaah" says the Yajurveda. The soul can become Yajna only when it is beyond the grip of senses and mind, and the Yajna helps a soul in its elevation. If a Yajna does not change a person and his life-style and push him toward spirituality, it is useless. Now, you go through the meanings of these Aacamana-Mantras given in chapter 1. The Mantras explain that a person who wants to elevate his soul and change himself into Yajna should have "Dharma as the base of his life, God as his Shelter and should spend his life in achieving 4 valuable things Truth, fame, material wealth and spiritual prosperity". While doing Aacamanam we should pledge everyday to follow the instructions of God and put them into practice. Please refer to "Change the life into a Yajna".
Q.7.Some people say that you can do Aacamanam frequently during Yajna. Is it right?
No. Aacamanam along with uttering Mantras should be done only when it has been told. It is not right to utter Aacamana-Mantras and sip water frequently. Yes, you can, however, just sip water to clear your throat now and then without chanting any Mantra.
- What is Angasparsha for?
- It says that "a person who wants to elevate his soul and change himself into Yajna should first of all care for his physical, mental and spiritual health, purity and power". While doing Angasparsha one should concentrate his mind on these objects.
Q.8.What is Sankalpa? Some people say that Maharshi has not asked to take Sankalpa. Are they right?
Ask them why Maharshi has given the sentence "Aham Adya Uktakarma- KaraNaaya Bhavantam VriNe" what does he mean by Adya? Had they understood the Sanskrit grammar or the way the Rishis explain various aspects of Dharma they would never have said so. The word Adya here stands for the whole of Sankalpa, and asks Yajamaana to repeat Sankalpa after the priest giving the details of the present day since the beginning of the creation. It has been clearly explained by Maharshi in his book Rigvedaadi-Bhaashya-Bhoomikaa in the very beginning. He has praised the people who have been chanting the Sankalpa in the beginning of every auspicious performance, thus keeping the correct account of the start of the creation. Vedic Dharma gives importance to remembering the period from the beginning of the creation, when the Vedas were revealed by God, to the present date. This practice of uttering Sankalpa keeps the Vedic people acquainted with the date of revelation of the Vedas and makes them proud of their most ancient Dharma. Maharshis sentences there imply that every Arya should take Sankalpa and keep this heritage alive so that we never forget the exact time when God gave his first and foremost Message to the Humanity through the Vedas. It is even more important now when the leaders of Christianity are telling the innocent Hindus that the Bible was the first and foremost book revealed by God and the Vedas came to light only after it. Uttering Sankalpa is a Vedic Paddhati and it must be observed at all costs.
Q.9.But, for Sankalpa we must use the Pancaanga and the Aryasamaj does not believe in Pancaanga.
Who told you that the Aryasamaj does not believe in Pancaanga?
Pancaanga is a Vedic Calendar that gives you a number of informations regarding the four Yugas, Manvantaras, the past years of Kaliyuga, the movements of sun, moon and various planets and stars, their actual period everyday etc., that are well calculated by the Vedic scholars on the basis of Vedic astronomy. Maharshi has asked us to believe in the things that belong to Ganita Jyotisha. You can leave predictions, etc. given in that calendar. It does not mean that the whole book is wrong. Maharshi has asked the Vedic priests to pronounce Tithi, Tithi-Devataa, Nakshatra and Nakshatra-Devataa of the new born child during NamakaraNa-Sanskaara and give oblations. How will you calculate all these things without the help of Pancaanga? Those who do not have Pancaanga just say, "Om, Tithaye Svaahaa, Tithi-devataayei Svaahaa..etc." that is nothing but cheating on the Yajamaana.
Q.10.What is a Pancaanga? Why should the names of Nakshatras, Tithis and their Devatas be pronounced in the Sanskaara? Do these stars and planets have any effect on a child?
Pancaanga means the Vedic Calendar that gives you information about five things of Ganita Jyotisha, i.e., Tithi, Vaara, Nakshatra, Yoga and KaraNa. Maharshi has instructed to pronounce Tithi, etc. on the basis of the Grihyasootras. We must do some research work in this regard. Nothing in the Rishis books is useless or meaningless. Yes, the time when a soul comes in the world gives the detail of his qualities and nature. That is indicated by these Tithis and Nakshatras. Their Devatas explain those qualities. We shall explain all these things when we explain Sanskaaras in detail.
Q.11.Talking of Aacamanam again, you have explained the word Amrita as immortal Dharma. What is Dharma? How is it immortal? How can a person have it as the base of his life? Is it not right to say O God You are the base and You are the shelter etc.?
The definition of Dharma is "DhaaraNaat Dharma ityaahuh Yasmaat Dhaarayati Prajaah" (Manu). the substantial element that sustains the entity of a thing or person it exists in, is called Dharma." For example, the heat is Dharma of the fire, coldness is Dharma of water, incessant motion is Dharma of Vaayu (air), etc. Similarly, Humanity is Dharma of a human being. A person devoid of humanity loses his entity and becomes an animal. According to Rishis such a person loses his human rights. The basic principles of humanity have been explained by Manu as ten commandments. Maharshi Patanjali has enumerated them as Yamas and Niyamas (please refer to the book Vedic meditation for details.) In Vedic philosophy Dharma has been defined as a thing that enables a person to accomplish the targets of Abhyudaya (worldly progress) and Nihshreyasa (Spiritual progress) "Yatah Abhyuadaya-Nihshreyasa-Siddhih Sa Dharmah".
Yes, Dharma is immortal, because it belongs to the immortal soul. Just like soul, Dharma, too, never dies. When a soul becomes slave to the body, mind and senses it forgets Dharma and eventually the base of a persons life becomes Adharma that changes him into an animal. That is why Manu says, "Dharmam Shaneih Sanshchinuyaat Valmeekamiva Puttikaah while dealing in the world a person should keep collecting Dharma every moment bit by bit just as a white ant collects grains of sands. Eventually, those small collections will form into a great Dharma just as the small grains of sands collected by the ants with their small mouths build a strong and big anthill." In Africa we have so strong anthills that even the dynamites cannot destroy them. Again Manu says, "Eka eva Suhriddharmo Nidhanepyanuyaati Yah. ShareereNa Samam Naasham Sarvamanyaddhi Gacchhati Dharma is the only friend of soul that follows it even after death of a person. Otherwise, everything else is destroyed along with the body." What is implied is that Dharma is like a lamp. Everyone should light this lamp while he is still alive. Once a person does so his soul does not get lost in darkness after death, because the lamp of Dharma kindled by him guides the soul toward Spiritual Prosperity and Peace. But, one thing must be clearly understood that the light of Dharma should burn during the whole life. The person who thinks that he will light it some day before his death is totally wrong. Here is another beautiful Sanskrit poem that says, "Naaree Grihadvaari Janaah Shmashaane. Dehashcitaayaam Paralokamaarge Dharmaanugo Gacchhati Jeeva Ekah the wife sends off her husband at the doorstep of the house, the friends and others see him off in the crematorium. Even the body sends it off and burns in the pyre. The soul proceeds alone on the path of spirituality only accompanied by Dharma." Just as a dog does never leave his owner Dharma never leaves the soul. That is why in the Vedas it is called "Saarameyah". Saarameyah means a dog as well as Dharma, the child of the Saramaa - the Mother Veda. Mahabhaarata describes that when Yudhishthira went to Svarga along with a Saarameya, the guard there said, "you cannot get in Svarga with this dog. Leave it out." Yudhishthira said, "I am sorry. If my dog, that has always accompanied me in pains and pleasures, is not allowed to get in here along with me I, too, will stay out with my dog. I do not want a Svarga that does not allow my dog. The dog here is none else than Dharma. So, my dear, if a person wants to be happy in this world as well as in the next one he should have Dharma as the base of life. It also implies that once Dharma becomes the base of life, God, automatically, takes that person under His Shelter and once God supports a soul it possesses all the four things described in the third Mantra. Just praying to God please do this or do that wont suffice and it is not the meaning of the Mantras at all. Yajna is a formula for making a person Yajna, the elements of which have been explained in the Mantras.
Q.12.Do you mean that everything used in Yajna is the part of that formula?
Yes, I certainly mean that.
Q.13.Will you please elaborate what you have said?
See, how the following things explain various aspects of our lives:
A: The Havan-Kund (the holy bowl) is four times larger at the top than it is at the
bottom. Bottom represents self while the top represents society. It means that
a person who wants to be Yajna should care for the society at least four times
more than he cares for his own self.
B: The utensils used in a Yajna are called Paatra. The word Paatra in Sanskrit stands for deserving as well as an actor in a drama. It explains that the participants in a Yajna should get seats and honors they deserve; a person should donate to a person or society that deserves; a person who wants to have blessings or friendship of God should come up as a deserving devotee and therefore should transform his life into a practical Yajna. Secondly, the word Paatra implies that the life is like a drama of which the Yajna is a symbol. Just as one should learn good things from a drama, a person should learn good lessons from the Gods Rule the world as well as from the Yajna and those lessons become the part of soul in the form of Dharma.
C: The fire burning in the bowl advises us as follows:
- be selfless and distribute the things one earns or receives from others for the
benefit of the society;
- move higher and higher with every act of receiving and giving;
- be so pure mentally and spiritually that a person is never affected by any kind of impure situation or atmosphere but, instead, burns out the impurities of the people and society with his Divine power and strength. It is wrong to say that a man is the result of circumstances, it should be otherwise;
- be spirited and bright from within and without;
- be able to form yourself, your children, family and society as you think the best; and
- be a person of strong will power.
D: The smoke that, sometimes, spews and blinds the people sitting around represents the smoke rising in the body and mind in the form of diseases, depression, tension, worries and other passions that blind the people. Just as the outer smoke brings tears in the eyes of the people, the smoke detailed above rising within us brings tears in our eyes. The smoke spewing from the bowl complains that either 1) the persons sitting around are childish and have dumped the wood sticks while they should have arranged them systematically; or 2) the Yajamaan and priest have no Shraddhaa and have fed the fire with all raw wood; or 3) the people who are giving oblations are uncivilized and have put out the fire instead of intensifying it. Similarly, the smoke detailed above rises in a person who either 1) does not plan his life, dumps all kinds of thoughts in such a way that he is dangerously confounded and does not see a way to come out of the confusion; or 2) is mentally and spiritually immature, his mind is very weak and is, therefore, unable to face the adverse situation or control his passions and desires; or 3) has put out his fire inside by taking all kinds of unsuitable food, or by eating, working, and making fun too much. The smoke advises us
- have a well planned life;
- arrange your thoughts systematically so that you are never bewildered;
- do not have a weak mind, study good books and store good knowledge that assists you in critical situations. Have a strong soul that counsels you at difficult times, you need not go to the professional counselors for advice as they are unable to understand your problems;
- do pray to God daily, meditate everyday, make your soul subservient to your Father. He will transfer His Power to your soul and you will never have smoke rising in you;
- it is not enough to say that I do a lot of social work, am benevolent to the poor people or engaged in doing Gods work. Even then one should pray to and meditate on God. To do social work or Gods job one needs a lot of spiritual power otherwise he may lose his spirits when he faces problems and difficulties. Prayer and meditation helps a lot in achieving and maintaining those high spirits. The services do not substitute prayers, but both of them supplement each other. Even Maharshi, who was selflessly serving God, did pray and meditate without fail. What about Shri Krishna? Even being a Muktaatmaa emancipated soul, he regularly prayed to God, meditated on Him and perform daily Yajna. We should learn from their lives.
- do not beg everyone to advise you. Sometimes, even those who are unable to cure their own mental problems act as doctors and you suffer more in their hands. Do not try different treatments for your ailment, they will increase the ailment and put out your fire of spirit.
E: The priest sits facing North which explains that a priest should be firm like pole star or the needle of the compass that always stays in the north. Only a person of principles should accept priesthood. An opportunist or a person who is overcome by the worldly temptations does not make a good priest. The Yajamaana sits facing East. It indicates that the host who performs Yajna should try to rise like the sun facing him. Ordinarily, the wife of Yajamaana should sit to his right (except 2-3 Sanskaras connected with the bedroom) that tells that the husband should treat his wife as the right hand in all the worldly dealings and give her importance, honor and respect.
Spiritually, the soul is the Yajamaana of the Yajna of life, Shraddhaa is his wife, Praanas are Udgaataa (one who chants Mantras), mind is Adhvaryu (one who manages the Yajna) and God is Brahmaa or Priest. The Yajna of life culminates when the soul becomes Havi (thing for offering) and God becomes the Hotaa the performer of Yajna. The Saamaveda says, "Tvamagne Yajnaanaam Hotaa Vishveshaam Hitah. Devebhir Maanushe Jane when a soul accepts God as Hotaa (the performer) and himself as Havi God is so pleased that He gives Aahuti of that soul for the benefit of the human beings and thus the soul reaches the state of Deva." Did you understand now the climax of Yajna? One must keep changing his life to make it a Yajna (pure, peaceful, powerful and Divine) then only he is able to reach this highest stage. Please refer to the book "Change your life into a Yajna for detailed explanation of Yajna.
Q.14.Is it essential to light a lamp before starting Yajna?
Certainly, unless he finds an ever burning fire in any house to fetch from. The lamp represents God and advises the Yajamaana to get power from that Great Powerhouse for keeping his fire of spirit ever burning. Also the lamp explains that one should have his mind always drenched in Bhakti just as the wick of a lamp is drenched in oil or ghee. Then, just as the fire in the lamp consumes only the oil and does not harm the wick, the crises in the world will not eat out the mind of the devotee but consume merely the power collected by him through Bhakti and faith. Thus a person having Bhakti in God is always saved. Also as explained earlier the lamp reminds a person to continue collecting Dharma that as a lamp will lead the soul after death. It also explains that as you take the help of the lamp to burn the fire in Havankund, get the fire from the Powerhouse God to light the fire in your life.
Q.15.Should we have Mangala Kalasham as some scholars advise?
Maharshi has instructed to have a water pot only in the marriage ceremony because it is to be carried through during the Laajaa-Homa. Therefore, we should not have any Mangala-Kalasham as a spiritual part of Yajna, because the Yajna itself represents Mangalam.. Yes, Maharshi has ordained to decorate the Yajnavedi. We can use water pots with cocoanuts and flowers as the things of decoration. Chanting Mantras and establishing Mangala-Kalasham etc. is not necessary.
Q.16.Is it necessary for Hotaa and others to stand while placing the burning camphor inside the holy bowl.?
No, it is not a compulsory ritual. Yes, in big Yajnas the people can stand for placing the fire in the big Havan-Kund. It is just a thing of facility. The word Seedata in the next Mantra does not mean that the people should stand earlier. It is just an ordinary statement saying that all scholars as well as Yajamaana should sit together on the same stage around the Havankund built on a higher level. That is why Maharshi has not told us to stand necessarily at the time of Agnyaadhaanam..
Q.17.Is it necessary to move hands like fans while chanting the Mantra "Om Udbudhyasvaagne " after having placed the burning sticks in Havan-Kund as the people in some countries are seen doing?
No. What Maharshi says is that in case the fire does not burn well a fan can be used (and only by Adhvaryu who is responsible to keep the fire burning all the time ) to intensify the fire. Someone has mistaken it as a necessary ritual and instructed them to move their hands. It looks awkward. They should discontinue it forthwith.
Q.18.Why should we use only the middle and ring fingers while doing Angasparsha or holding the spoon for offering ghee?
The question has been answered in detail in the book Vedic Sandhyaa that is on the internet. Please refer to it.
Q.19.Some people keep a pot filled with water and put the drops of ghee in it after offering every Aahuti in fire which, in the end of Yajna, they offer to the fire uttering a Mantra. Is it right to do so?
No. It is wrong to do like that. Maharshi has prescribed this procedure only for Garbhaadhaana Sanskaara (nuptial ceremony) where the ghee so collected is used by the pregnant lady for massaging her body before taking shower. A thing prescribed in a particular Sanskaara is meant for that Sanskaara only. One should not generalize and apply those things in every Yajna.
Q.20.Should we pronounce Svaahaa and Idamagnaye - Idanna Mamawith the Mantra Samidhaagnim Duvasyata . though we do not give any Aahuti or place any wood stick (Samidhaa) in the holy fire?
What does Maharshi say?
- He has, no doubt, added the words Svaahaa -. Idamagnaye Idanna Mama."
- Then, do as Maharshi has said. He is the authority. Please do not doubt his wisdom.
- But . we do not give any Aahuti and there is no need to add Svaahaa when no Aahuti is to be given. The original Mantra does not have it.
- So what? Do you give any Aahuti in fire when you utter Svaahaa
in Aachamana Mantras?
- Though we do not give any Aahuti in fire there but we do give Aahuti of water in our mouths, and that is why Svaahaa is there.
- Sorry. We do not give any Aahuti of water in our mouths. This is a wrong way of reasoning. Take another example. There are a number of Mantras in Yajurveda that have the word Svaahaa a number of times and we pronounce them though we do not give any Aahuti. It means that the word Svaahaa does not necessarily mean giving Aahuti. Right? Now, we offer three Samidhas and chant four Mantras. The first Mantra stands for I. Second and third Mantras stand for you and the fourth Mantra stands for we. The whole process explains how a person should behave in the society. Whatever one desires to advise others to do, he should do it first by himself. As for instance, before asking others to observe strict discipline in Yajna one should first discipline himself. When I and you both are disciplined automatically we get disciplined. The family and society have three components I, you and we. The three Samidhas represent them. The Mantras, too, explain the same aspect. The two Mantras have the verbs in second person (Madhyama Purusha) i.e. Duvasyata, Bodhayata and Juhotana. Both the Mantras are closely strung together and make one Aahuti. In such cases, according to Maharshi, the first Mantra that is subordinate to the next one should also have Savaahaa and Idanna Mama. In the first Mantra there is no word in dative case (Caturthee Vibhakti) so Svaahaa means it is well said Su Aaha and Idanna Mama means I am not asking you to do so for my benefit but only for the good of your own soul (Agni). In the second Mantra it means Aahuti, because it follows the word Jaatavedase that is in dative case. Those who know Sanskrit grammar will understand it easily. Therefore, we must utter Svaahaa Idamagnaye Idanna Mama in the first Mantra. Let us not think that Maharshi did not go into detail before prescribing these things.
Q.21.Generally we chant each Mantra only once but the Mantra Ayanta Idhma.. (for Ghritaahuti) is chanted 5 times. Why?
There are two reasons: 1) The five Aahutis of ghee so given frequently help in intensifying the fire. 2) The Yajamaana is advised to concentrate his mind separately on each of the 5 things detailed in the Mantra and give Aahuti. They are Prajayaa (good progeny), Pashubhih (good domestic animals), Brahmavarchasena (good character and knowledge), Annaadyena (plenty of food, etc.) and Samedhaya (spiritual elevation). The first four constitute worldly prosperity and the fifth one is the spiritual progress. The Mantra advises a householder that if he wants that his family should be blessed by God with all happiness, peace and prosperity, he should not concentrate his mind only on the worldly progress, but should supplement it with spirituality (at least in the proportion of 1/5). Spirituality is like cement and worldly progress is like sands. If a mason does not mix the cement or adds it less than required, the house will not be built strong. Similarly, 1/5th portion of spirituality must be mixed with the worldly prosperity. The Vedas do not call the world Mithyaa (false) or illusion nor do they deny the people to enjoy the world. They do not say leave this world, it is all useless, and totally immerse yourself in God alone. It is nothing but hypocrisy. Even a Sannyaasi, according to Maharshi, cannot and should not leave the world completely. Please refer to Satyarthaprakash chapter 5. Answering a question he says, "how can he leave the world completely? He eats, drinks, sleeps, visits various places, talks to the people and stays at homes. The difference is that he does all these things for benefiting the human beings not for enjoying the world." How practical Maharshi is! An Arya does not become a Sannyasi to have rest at home but to keep ever moving like sun around the world conveying the Message of God and removing the darkness from the minds of the people until he is able to do so. That is why he is called ParivraaT and wears robes of the color of the rising sun. How can God (the Father) ask His own children not to enjoy the world? It is He Who created it for them. Otherwise, His children may ask Him, then, why did you create it if it is not to be enjoyed at all? When a Christian priest explains from the Bible that God created the Tree of Knowledge but warned Adam and Eve not to eat the apple of that tree the people ask, why did then, God create that tree if it was not to be enjoyed? The Vedas on the other hand say, "Tyaktena Bhunjeethaah " enjoy this world but do not develop attachment with it." Spirituality, if observed from the very beginning keeps a person always on right track.
Q.22.Why do we sprinkle water around the holy bowl?
It is not for preventing the insects from getting into the fire and burnt, like some people think. It has spiritual significance. It says, have the fire inside you but enclose it from all around with peaceful speech, action and behavior. Water is the symbol of peace. A Yajniya person is very spirited but does never spit fire, never gets angry or irritated. His behavior with others is always very sweet, tender and full of humility. He begins every talk and action with a peaceful mind. That is what the Mantras "Agnaye Svaahaa" and "Somaaya Svaahaa mean. A person should have the quality of sun and moon or fire and water both.
Q.23.How should we sprinkle it?
The Grihyasootras say that the Yajamaan should get up from the seat, go to the North-East corner where the water pot and lamp are kept, pick up the water pot, take some water in his right hand and start sprinkling water in the East from that very corner. Then, he should come all the way to the West and start sprinkling water in the West from South-West corner to the North-West. Then he should go to the North and sprinkle in the North from North-West corner to North-East. It is all just clock-wise. Then, he should stand for a while until the fourth Mantra is completed and then start sprinkling water clock-wise all around the bowl starting from the very North-East corner. He should come around and stop at the North-East corner, place the pot there and move on towards his seat from South. Thus, not only he sprinkles water in all directions, he goes round the bowl doing Parikramaa 3 times. This practice inspires the Yajamaan to move on and on. He should never step back, or go anti clock-wise. This is all very briefly explained here. You may have the details along with the meanings of the Mantras and their relationship with different directions in the book Change your life into a Yajna.
Q.24.Why is the water not sprinkled particularly in the south as it is done in other three directions?
South in Sanskrit is called "Dakshinaa". Dakshinaa also means money or wealth. The procedure implies that one should not give too much importance to the worldly wealth. He should work in the world keeping in the mind the ideas the other 3 directions convey i.e., keep rising like the sun does from the East, do not get upset when you have to leave the world because the death does not destroy you but promotes you to the next better life (the sun, too, is not finished when it sets in the West but is just transferred from one field of work to another), and have a firm and strong mind and do not do anything at the cost of your principles. If he follows these principles in his life, automatically he will have all the riches he deserves to possess, without any obstruction. Those who, on the contrary, leave everything else and concentrate on money, fail in their lives and grope in darkness not only here in this life but also after death. That is what Eashopanishad declares, "Asuryaa Naama Te Lokaa Andhena Tamasaavritaah. Taanste Pretyaapi Gachchhanti Ye ke Chaatmahano Janaah the people who are enveloped with blinding darkness belong to the category of Asuras. Even after death they are born again in the same dark atmosphere, because, those are the people who commit Spiritual suicide by foolishly indulging in the worldly passions at the cost of Spiritual progress." .
Q.25.Why do we give one Aahuti in the North and other in the South? What is the meaning of Aaghaarou?
When we prepare some vegetable we bring flavor in it by frying it in a little bit ghee along with some spices. This is called Aaghaara in Sanskrit and baghaarnaa or chhonknaa in Hindi. The life, too, is to be flavored. How can we do that? What should we use? Use North (ghee) and South (spices). Let me explain it to you. The globe is moving on an invisible axis that goes through inside the earth from North to South. The one end of that axis is called North Pole and the other one South Pole. North Pole is positive while the South Pole is negative. Even the electricity must have two wires i.e. positive and negative, then only that gives us light. Similarly, we should have two powers positive and negative for enlightening ourselves. Positive brings good in us (Bhadram Aasuva) and negative removes bad things from us (Duritaani Paraasuva). In other words Bhadram is brought with the help of positive power while Duritam is prevented with the negative power. Positive power is I will (Sankalpa = Samyak Kalpate) and negative is I will not (Vikalpa = Viruddhatayaa Kalpate). We should develop the habit of saying no for bad things and yes for good things. Reward is positive while punishment is negative. What is controlling or disciplining oneself? It is nothing but the intelligent use of yes and no. Before we start using these two weapons we must be able to tell bad from good and have very clear vision. Otherwise we shall face failure in our life. This ability for differentiating comes through knowledge that is earned by studying good books. The person who earns wisdom and uses these two weapons wisely has a beautiful life that is full of sweet spiritual fragrance.
Physically, too, we must care for both North and South poles in our body. The head is our North Pole while the feet are the South Pole. We should keep our feet always warm and head always cool then we shall be able to prevent all the diseases. The hot headed people cannot think and behave properly while those who develop cold feet fear to face problems in their lives.
Q.26.Why are we told to chant the third Mantra Agnirjyoti.. in mind?
The morning Mantras belong to the sun while evening Mantras are related to the fire. Spiritually God is Sun and the soul is fire. Why? Because the sun does never have any smoke while the fire has. God is ever pure. He has no smoke because He is never caught in any problems, doubts or confusions (Shukram, Akaayam, AvraNam, Asnaaviram, Shuddham, Apaapaviddham is ever bright, does not possess a body, is never inflicted with injuries, does not have the webs of nerves and veins, is completely pure and does not commit any sins). On the other hand the soul is caught in them if it becomes slave to the body, senses and mind and that raises smoke inside his mind every now then. These 5 Mantras come together as one Mantra in Yajurveda and there we have 3 Mantras concerned with Soorya 2 related to Agni, because God (Soorya) has three qualities He is SAT (Existent), CHIT (Conscious) and AANANDA (Blissful), while the soul (Agni) is only Sat and Chit. Nobody should add even one extra word to the original Veda Mantras, but we must utter the third one to remind ourselves that we, the souls, lack one quality (Bliss) that we must earn through Yajna and Yoga. Therefore, we are asked to repeat the very first Mantra of Agni in silence. Also, by repeating silently we pledge within our mind to achieve the Bliss the aim of our life.
Q.27. Where should we chant the SvishTakrit Aahuti Mantra? In the end, before PoorNaahuti as some scholars insist or after Vyaahrityaahuti as Maharshi has prescribed?
Do you doubt the wisdom of Maharshi? Did he not know that the words Atyareericham and Akaram were in Past tense?
- No. I do not doubt the ability of Maharshi. I just want to know why Maharshi did prescribe here, and not in the end as the scholars think it right.
- What is the Svishtakrit Aahuti meant for?
- For Praayashchittam.
- What is Praayashchittam?
- Praayashchittam is totally different from confession. In confession a sinner accepts his sin but does not promise that he will not repeat that mistake. But Praayashchittam is the combination of confession, reconciliation and pledge. As I have explained earlier it has both Positive and Negative powers. I accept that I have committed sin and I am sorry for the same bring Positive power in the mind while I shall not repeat it in future infuses Negative power in it. Both these powers combined produce light in that person. It is this light that carries a person towards perfection. PoorNaahuti reminds the Yajamaan that he must aim at achieving perfection. How can he have it? Through Praayashchittam. PoorNaahuti PrakaraNam starts with this Mantra. The word Asya KarmaNah in the Mantra stands for Pradhaana Homa that has been already performed. What Yajamaana says is that " God, being Antaryaamee, knows well what all I have overdone or done less than required (in Pradhaana Homa that I have completed just now). He is the One Who rights every wrong. May that Father accomplish this Yajna with all success and provide me with the mental and intellectual power so that I do not repeat those mistakes. May He fulfill all my desires and make me spiritually prosperous."
The next 4 Mantras of Ghritaahuti and 8 Mantras of Aajyaahuti explain how the Yajamaan can attain purity and perfection. Secondly, Asya KarmaNah also stands for the Yajna of life the soul is performing and it prays to God to correct it and enable to keep away from sins. Thirdly, the Past forms of the Vedic verbs do not mean past alone. Otherwise, how will you explain the phrases like "Patireka Aaseet", "Sa Daadhaara", "Raajaa Babhoova", and "Pari Taa Babhoova" etc. coming in Eashvarastuti-Praarthano-paasanaa Mantras? Do they mean that He was so in the Past and is no more like that now? Kaala in the Vedas has no particular meaning, because God Himself is beyond Kaala. Therefore, Maharshi is right. He who wants to be perfect should first start with Praayashchittam.
Q.28.Why should we utter Prajaapataye in silence?
Answer: Because, it is the soul that does Praayashchittam and talks to God. They always talk in silence because they do not have mouths to blurt out. Actually, here the Yajamaana should observe silence and meditate on God.
Q.29.By the way, why are we asked to use Samidhaa of 8 Anguls?
Samidhaa represents the soul. When we offer Samidhaa in Agni we mean to say that we are offering our soul to God. The soul to be offered like that should possess 8 qualities Aapah, Jyotih, Rasah, Amritam, Brahma, Bhooh, Bhuvah, and Svah (Aapo Jyoteerasomritam Brahma Bhoorbhuvahsvarom Svaaha). But it should not stop there. It should move further and become one with God Yajna should be one with Yajna. That is the climax of Yajna. That is why it is said that Yajna is Yoga and Yoga is Yajna. When 8 combines with 1 it is 9. Nine is the perfect number. There is no original number after 9. All other numbers are just repetition. With God soul becomes PoorNa and is ready for PoorNaahuti. Even mathematically when we multiply any number the total of which is 9 with any other number, the result is a number the total of which is 9 only. Multiply any one with PoorNa the result will be PoorNa (PoorNasya PoorNamaadaaya PorNamevaavashishyate). Only PoorNa (soul) can join PoorNa.
Q.30.What is the meaning of PoorNaahuti Mantra?
Answer: The meaning of the Mantra is: " everything in the Universe is perfect, because they are all maintained, disciplined and controlled by God. Let us all be disciplined and controlled by that One Father so that we, too, become perfect.
Q.31.Why should we pronounce this Mantra 3 times?
Answer: It is the same game of I, You and We. The Yajamaana,takes pledge, "first I shall try to make myself perfect, then I shall try to bring perfection in my family and then we shall all try to bring perfection in the society. This is the way to bring happiness and Peace in the world.
Q.32.What is the meaning of ShaantipaaTha? Do we pray in this Mantra to God and ask Him to keep peace in all the things enumerated here?
I am sorry to say that the meaning of this Mantra in the books is wrong. If you want to have the correct meaning of this Mantra please read the explanation given by Maharshi in chapter 36 of Yajurveda. There he says, "O God ! there is peace in the celestial region, in the space, earth and other things of the world created by you. Please enable me, too, have the same peace. This Mantra has been explained by us in the book "How to bring Peace in the world ?" (the explanation of ShaantikaraNa Mantras).
Note: We have dealt with important questions very briefly. The meanings of the Mantras and other aspects of Yajna have been explained in detail in the book Change your life into a Yajna the first part of which is available with the University. The second part is under preparation and will be published soon.