Yajna: A Comprehensive Survey

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Item Code: IDJ276
Author: Sannyasi Gyanshruti, Sannyasi Srividyananda
Publisher: Yoga Publications Trust
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 978818633647
Pages: 385 (B/W Illus: 15)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.3" X 5.3"
Weight 450 gm
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Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description


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.


Preface xiii
1. Yajna-A Celebration of Life 1
2. Introduction to the Yajna Tradition 4
Genesis of yajna 4
Rig Veda  
Yajur Veda  
Shatapatha Brahmana  
Bhagavad Gita  
Vedas, Vedic dharma and yajna 8
Purushartha and kratvartha  
Birth of Vedic Concept of yajna  
Etymology of the term 'yajna' 11
Universal principle of give and take 12
Relevance of yajna today 15
Vastness of yajna 15
Yajna-foundation of life 16
3. Vedic Foundations of Yajna 18
Foundation of the concept of yajna  
Culture 19
Culture and civilization 21
Culture and religion 23
Culture and literature 25
Plinth of the yajna structure 26
The Vedas collectively  
Parts of the Vedas  
What are the Vedas?  
Why study the Vedas?  
Subjects of the Vedas  
Original form of the Vedas  
Origin of the Vedas  
The Vedas individually 34
Rig Veda  
Yajur Veda  
Sama Veda  
Arthava Veda  
Usage of the work 'brahman'  
Brahmana Granthas  
Supportive articles of the yajna structure 41
Mantras 41
Devatas 41
Dravya 43
4. Devata -the Luminary in a Yajna 46
The concept of devata 46
Etymology of the term 'devata' 47
Characteristics of devatas 48
Importance of devata dhyanam 49
Yoga and devata dhyanam 51
Number of devatas 52
Devatas in Vedic verses 54
Forms of devatas 56
Functions of devatas from the three lokas 57
Description of devatas 57
1. Prithivi based devatas  
2. Antariksha based devatas  
3. Dyu loka-based devatas  
4. Vishvedeva  
5. Devatas in smarta yajna  
6. Tantra and tantric devatas  
7. Other devatas  
5. Tripolar Interpretations of Yajna 72
Three debts 72
Three meanings of yajna 74
Three parts of dravya yajna 79
Spiritual aspect of yajna 79
Process of spiritualization  
Yogic understanding  
Yajna as the first step in  
Individual effort  
Yajna in the universe 84
Principle of sacrifice in universal yajna  
Metaphoric expression of rishis  
6. Classifications of Yajna 89
Role of Agni in dravya yajna 89
Classification by type of sacrifice 91
Classification of dravya yajna 91
Classification by Vedic text 92
Classification by purpose 93
Classification by havi dravya 94
Classification by yajna samstha 94
Classification by procedure 96
7. Mechanics of Yajna 97
Shulba Sutras 98
Principal structures at a yajnashala 100
Significance of the areas of a yajnashala 103
Important entities of a yajnashala 104
Agni kundas 104
Utkara 105
Dhishnya 105
Vedi 105
8. Ingredients and Implements of Yajna 108
Yajna ingredients 108
Havi dravya 109
Classification of havi dravya  
Preparing the havi  
Arhaniya dravya 112
Dakshina dravya 112
Yajna implements 112
Yajna trees 113
Implements and utensils 115
Important yajna implements 116
9. External Yajna-Procedures and Performance 124
Yajnic terminology 125
Karma and Vedic karma  
Yogic and Vedic samskara  
Vedic karma and the journey of the soul 127
Understanding samskaras 129
Vedic karmas: an overview 130
Vedic karma:  
samskara-oriented 131
Purifying samskaras 131
Cultivating samskaras 133
Augmenting samskaras 134
Vedic karma: yajna-oriented 135
Shrauta yajna:  
general information 135
The main process 137
The host (yajamana) 137
The priests (ritvij) 139
Role and responsibility of priests 141
Hotri group  
Adhvaryu group  
Udgitha group  
Brahma group  
Honorarium-dakshina 148
Expiation (prayaschita) 150
Resolve (sankalpa) of host 150
Sacred fire 150
Sacred piece of land (yajna bhoomi) 153
Yajna venue (yajnashala) 153
Articles of oblation (havi dravya) 155
Yajna implements (yajnayudha) 156
Auspicious time (yajna muhurta) 156
Helpers for miscellaneous activities (parikarmi) 156
Shrauta yajna: description 157
Shrauta purifying yajnas 157
Shrauta cultivating yajnas 158
1. Agnyadheya  
2. Agnihotra  
3. & 4. Darshapoornamaseshti  
5. Navasyeshti  
6. Chaturmasya  
7. Pashubandha  
Shrauta augmenting yajnas 169
1. Agnishtoma  
2. Ukthya  
3. Shodashi  
4. Atiratra  
5. Atyagnishtoma  
6. Aptoryama  
7. Vajapeya  
Smarta yajnas:  
General information 173
General structure 174
Rituals (based on graha yajna) 176
Planning a smarta yajna 181
Selecting the venue  
Raising the structure  
Yajnyagni and agni kunda  
Yajna samagri  
Selecting an auspicious time  
The daily program  
Maha yajnas 192
Maha soma yajna 192
Pancha maha yajna 194
10. Internal Yajna 195
Purusha Sukta and yajna 196
Purusha at three levels  
Sacrifice as the cause of creation of the universe  
Re-sacrifice of the created elements  
Cause of re-creation  
Trisuparnam Sukta and yajna 199
Chandogya Upanishad and life as yajna 201
Bhagavad Gita and yajna 203
Yajna in nature revisited  
11. The Environment and Yajna 210
Ecology according to modern science 210
Vedic view of ecology 212
Dynamic equilibrium in the universe 213
GnT law  
Mechanism of Nature  
Imbalance among components-pollution 215
Causes of imbalance 216
Air pollution  
Water pollution  
Land pollution  
Effects of imbalance 217
Hole in ozone layer  
Diseases produced by polluted air  
Unhealthy minds  
Yajna as corrective action 219
Purifying the atmosphere  
Science of oblation  
Concept of good rain (suvrishti)  
Vedic theory of cloud formation  
Recorded impact of yajna 225
12. Yajna for the Enhancement of Life 228
Pancha maha yajnas 229
Brahma Yajna 231
Vedic interpretation  
Modern adaption  
Vaishvadeva yajna 234
Vedic interpretation  
Modern adaption  
Prerequisites for pancha maha yajna 237
Surya namaskara  
Annexure 1-  
Vedic Literature: Structure and Content 247
Rig Veda 247
What is the Rig Veda?  
What is the Rig Veda Samhita?  
Branches of Rig Veda Samhita  
Form of Rig Veda  
Structure of Rig Veda  
Yajur Veda 254
Branches of Yajur Veda  
Sama Veda 258
Atharva Veda 260
Brahmana Granthas 261
Particulars of extant Brahmanas  
Aitareya Brahmana  
Taittiriya Brahmana  
Shatapatha Brahmana  
Tandya Brahmana  
Gopatha Brahmana  
Aranyakas 275
Upanishads 275
Vedangas 277
Puranas 287
Annexure 2 -  
Impressions of Vedic Society 297
Some misconceptions 298
The origins 300
The time frame 302
Appendix -  
Popular Smarta Yajnas 303
Ganesha yaga 304
Nava graha yaga 307
Vishnu yaga 311
Rudra yaga 314
Chandi yaga 317
Glossary 321
Bibliography 360
Sample Pages

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