There are certain classical systems, the revival of whose pure form can bring about a spiritual revolution. Yajna is one such system. Yajna is a science as well as an act of faith. As a science, it is a precision-based series of rituals that have been part of the Indian psyche or over 4000 years through the medium of the Vedas. The classical literature, assiduously preserved, contains the methodology as well as the philosophy of yajnas. It also forms the basis of this book.
It is, however, faith that makes the experience of yajna spontaneous and elevating, and this is achieved only when we attempt to invoke and surrender to the divinity inherent in the practice of yajna, or when the experience descends to us from realized masters.
One such master is Swami Satyananda Saraswati, who inspired the yogic renaissance in the twentieth century. Since the early 1960s, Sri Swamiji has unveiled to the world many sciences from the ancient Indian scriptures, previously considered secret and esoteric.
As an exponent of yoga, Sri Swamiji integrated the different systems of yoga and showed how they could be adapted and applied to meet the needs of all. He also introduce recitation of Saundarya Lahari and chanting of the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishadic verses. In 1990, a landmark year, Sri Swamiji began Panchagni Sadhana. From an ardent proponent of yoga and a (supposedly) strict guru, he transformed into a soft, compassionate and serene person who now talked only of bhakti, the importance of surrender and the ecstasy of seva.
Since 1995, Sri Swamiji has taken us through yet another important aspect of Vedic lifestyle - yajna. He has presented the Rajasooya Yajna in a rediscovered from, with Sat Chandi Yajna as its base. As he says, "Yajna is a very powerful tool or inspiring and enlightening human consciousness. It includes the body, mind, faith, mantra, ritual as well as your entire life. This combination makes yajna a very potent tool or metamorphosis and transformation. The body, mind and mantras all unite to produce a special effect which changes your thinking and your life. When this total participation takes place, you can know yourself and converse with your inner being."
Every satsang by Sri Swamiji is a special experience of learning and bliss. But the happiest moment of my life came when he mentioned, in a satsang, that I should undertake a study of the yajna process contained in the Vedic literature.
As a physics student working on matters relating to atomic radiation protection, I had always been fascinated by the two approaches to understanding the structure of the universe: the matter-centric approach of scientists and the spirit-centric belie of philosophers - and the two approaches always seemed to run parallel!
Both approaches us the smallest entity to understand the largest. The scientific approach uses matter, particles. Atoms and the structure of matter to understand the universe. The other follows the subtle path, using the mind, intellect, senses, etc. to reach extrasensory perception. One employs research tools, systematic experiments, deductive logic, and the other prefers contemplation and meditation. The first school of thought postulates the 'Big Bang' theory or the creation of the universe, and the second believes that creation issued forth from Supreme's desire to become many from one.
In yajna, both approaches find congruence. As Sri Swamiji says, "Yajna is a scientific process which includes a most important thing-faith.
Furthermore, Sri Swamiji has also given a significant definition of yajna. Speaking about the importance of yajna in the life of a householder, he said, "Yajna does not just mean a ritual where pooja items are consigned to the flames and dedicated to God. The word yajna consists of three syllables - ya, ja and na, which refer to the three processes uparjana, i.e. production (ya), distribution (ja) and assimilation (na). There has to be a balance between these three components. Sharing one's wealth with other members of society is of topmost value."
With this understanding of combining the material with the spiritual, science with faith, the microcosmos with the macrocosmos, I have made an attempt to discover their meeting points through the medium of the most ancient ritual connecting human beings with the divine essence - yajna.
Back of the Book
Yajna is the most ancient ritual connecting human beings with the divine essence. It is not merely a ire sacrifice, but a combination of esoteric and exoteric elements to propitiate the cosmic energies. The spirit inherent in yajna is service and sacrifice as a way of life. In ancient Vedic society, yajna was an integral part of daily life, and played a vital role in providing communal prosperity, social peace and harmony with nature.
This book offers a comprehensive survey of yajna as embodied in the Vedic tradition, looking at the structure, source and significance of the rituals and their relevance in this century. Rediscovery of the classical methodology and purpose of yajna can be a powerful tool for the transformation of human consciousness.
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