If we want to live happily on the planet, there has to be a spirit of mutual cooperation amongst us. To help others and to serve society to the best extent possible, should be our motto. In this excerpt, we will look at what is yajna, the meaning of yajna and the importance of yajna.
According to the Hindu notion,’ world’ does not imply only human beings. It features the plant and animal kingdom, along with other facets of nature. It includes the earth, air, fire, water and ether. The world also includes cosmic energies and energies from other planets. There are sentient beings who control these aspects and powers of nature. They’re known as ‘Devatas’ or deities. Yajna and Yaga are rites where these deities began. The Shastras or sacred scriptures are the basic authority for this concept. Having said that, let’s look at the meaning of Yagna.
What is Yagna?
Lighting the flame according to the directions given in the holy books, Inviting the deities into that fire through proper Mantras or chants, and offering oblations to them for the fulfilment of one’s desires–that is the gist of the prescribed process of such sacrifices. Pleased by these rites, these deities grant us rain, food, health, wealth and progeny, and shield us from evil. So, when human beings and the deities appease and please one another, the entire world feels fulfilled. This is the simple idea behind the system of Vedic sacrifices.
Common wrong notions and objections by people Regarding Yajna
(1) The oblations offered into the sacrificial fire will not have any effect on the forces of nature even as the striking of an electric pole will not result in the falling of coconuts from their trees in the garden.
(2) Since we sacrifice animals in these Yajnas, it involves violence to life. Can we not stop the Yajna to satisfy the gross desire to eat meat?
(3) Is it not the height of foolishness to offer milk, curds, ghee, or cloth to the sacrificial fire and thus destroy them? Would it not be better to offer them to the poor and the needy?
Importance of Yajna
Though we offer the oblations in the sacrificial fire, it is God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe, that receives them. Since He is omniscient and omnipotent, fulfilling the desires and aspirations of those performing the Yajnas is in no way difficult for Him. After all, is nature not subservient to Him?
The importance of Yajna is for the goodwill and health of those participating. Also, there are several kinds of Yajnas, out of which those requiring the immolation of animals are only a small percentage. Again, scriptures permit eating meat as food. Hence, the allegation that Yajnas are an alibi for meat-eating is untenable. Nowadays, we use icons made of flour symbolically in such Yajnas in place of animals.
A question of sentiment and faith
This is a question of sentiments and faith. Beliefs of this type exist in all religions. Their basis is the respective scripture. It is not wise to evaluate acts of devotion and faith in terms of worldly goods. Even the wisest of savants like Sankara did not disapprove of them. Moreover, the votaries who offer these articles to the sacrificial fire, do it out of their own personal resources and not from public or government funds. It is customary, even compulsory, to offer gifts of food, cloth and money to the needy people during such religious occasions.
Lord Sri Krishna has expanded the concept of Yajna to such dimensions that there is almost unlimited scope to practise it in our daily life. Gifts of money by the affluent, knowledge by the wise or power by the saintly are in no way inferior to the sacrifices done in the fire. All can perform such a sacrifice by giving to others what they have, thus fulfilling their social obligations.