Yagna is in the essence of vedic culture that evolved in our country four millenniums ago.
Yagna ceremonies have played an impeccable role in conservation and proliferation of our material and spiritual heritage. With growing uneasiness over adherence to ritualism, it is important for us to develop a deeeper understanding of the process.
Yagna is a symbolic sacrifice offered to God. Usually, It is an elaborate ritual accompanied with the chanting of vedic mantras to various deities. It is aimed to please the deities either to give thanks or to accomplish a task or fulfill a desire. The ancient Indians heavily relied on yagna as a means to accomplish things. When there were no rains in the kingdom, the emperors along with their priests conducted the yagna to please Varuna deva, the presiding deity of water, to bless the kingdom and shower his blessings in the form of rain. The purpose of performing a yagna can be anything, right from a personal desire to beget a son to a selfless one to attain world peace.
The forms of Yagna can be many. Tharpanam, (libation with water) is one such example, which is also a type of offering and a yagna. The most conventional form of yagna involves the invocation of Agni, the presiding deity of fire, into the fire pit and the substance used as offering along with ghee, is offered in the name of God. The mantras usually end with “Swaha” when the offering is given in the name of a deity that belongs to heaven, and with “Swadha” when the offering is given to a deity of the manes (from the Pithru loka). The fire sublimates the physical essence of the material and converts it into the havis, which is the spiritual essence of the offering and the agni deva, being the carrier, submits it to the addressed deity. This is why the agni deva is also called with the name yagna vahana.
There is a quote from Bhagavad Geetha regarding the same,
Brahmaarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam
which means that,
The act of offering, the offering itself (food), the one who offers and the one who receives the offering (fire), is all God. God is That which is to be attained by him who performs action pertaining to God.
The example quoted pertains to the simple task of eating food but the internal meaning can be extended (in the right spirit) to every other task as well. When one performs a deed, selflessly offering the fruits of the karma to God, that task becomes a yagna. This is the internal meaning of it, as quoted from the Bhagavad Geetha.
Mahadeo Shahra Sukrat Trust recently organized the highly elaborate ‘Atirudra MahaYagna’ with a vision to conserve our cultural and spiritual heritage. Offering to Lord Shiva in Atirudram Anushthan are meant to invoke positive reaction not just for personal but social welfare.
Some glimpses of Atirudra Anusthan.