VEDIC RITUALS

Yajna is a Vedic ritual that tends to create a relationship with Cosmic forces of which the earth and the individual are integrally connected. As Rigveda starts with a hymn to Lord Agni the yajna basically symbolises the whole cosmic process that comprises light and heat, or Creation itself.

IndeedYajna is a creative activity as the law that governs the cosmic operation is called Rita, or the central propelling forcethat brings cosmic and social order. Devatas (divine forces) adhering to Rita participate in the cosmic sacrifice as mentioned in Vedic hymns. The Yajurveda conceives the divine forces as active agents in the cosmic functioning akin to sacrificial rites performed by humans. Yajnika or Vedic rituals are described in the hymns of the Rigveda and other Samhitas (collection of verses) of gods participating in yajna.

Yajna can be said as fusion of the individual soul to the collective whole or the Universe which comprises divine cosmic forces beyond the ken of understanding of we humans. It is the link between the macrocosm to the microcosm symbolising every aspect of life. Even a tree is symbolic of life and can be said to be part of Yajna.

Vedic hymns are wonderful poetry with a limitless and timeless appeal in its scope and meaning. It has the underlying truths regarding the inner nature of the universe as well as human life as exemplified by various components of the rituals.

Vedic hymns relate to as much to the cosmological as to the individual who is integral to a society and what a state is all about. On macrocosmic level moon, sun, wind, fire, sky, space, earth, stars are all part of the ritual process as cosmic energyemanate from it.

Oblation to Fire is Agnihotra. Interestingly all the divine forces are within man himself. Fire in stomach to digest food,wind the vital breathwhich transforms as speech, Sun in the eye, Moon in the mind, the directions in the ears, water in the semen and so on. Oblation to fire in broader sense includes every element of the cosmos which are holistically related. The ritual of the oblation to fire is only a replica of the oblation to fire constantly seen in the cosmos at various levels. Kathaka Samhita (6:7) says: The creation is verily the oblation to fire. On the microcosmic level the vital energy is oblation to fire.

Our body temperature has to be steady or we turn cold and will be declared dead. We therefore invoke fire at every moment of our life. Fire is the physical and mental energy. It is what constitutes the human persona or the “Will.” This energy as manifest is seen in the entire cosmos. Rituals may be symbolic,but they have to be understood beyond their symbolic meanings.

Yajna or Sacrifice is derived from the root Yajor divine worship. The sacrifice is symbolic,yet the different rituals have eternal value with its universal appeal even among gods.

O Fire, you are called upon to come to this peaceful ritual for illuminating everything. Come with the stormy forces. (Rigveda, 1.19.1)This is the universal truth when different forces in Cosmos combine to create life as we know.In the end cosmic energy merges into the Supreme Soul. Similarly, at the microcosmic level Vedicsacrifice symbolises merger of the individual self with the Supreme Soul.Rituals have deeper significance.

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