The term “Yagna” has several meanings:
- Literally translated means to selflessly sacrifice for noble purposes.
- Secondly, yagna also means to worship the Divine – either as an external or an internal ritual – done within one’s own being.
- Thirdly, yagna is the name given to a fire ceremony that is conducted where one offers sacrifices into a holy fire – where the fire becomes an aspect of God.
Many yagna fire ceremonies are carried out in the company of a group of people. The aim of the yagnas are varied but in essence they are performed to bestow benefit to some or all people present, the surrounding environment and the world.
The deity to whom the yagna is being performed is invoked into the yagna through meditation and chanting of Sanskrit mantras. We begin to worship the deity by offering ghee and a rice mixture containing Havan Samagri. The rice mixture symbolically represents the 9 astrological planets, so by offering the rice mixture into the yagna, we are also offering all our negative astrological influences to the deity for purification.
Similar to abhishekam, we also offer into the sacred fire the elements milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey, sugar and panchamrit – asking the deity to purify the five elements within us, the surrounding environment and the five senses. Chanting and contemplating the Name of the deity helps us to connect and feel and/or see Her/His presence. The most important offering in the sacred fire is the Love that comes from within our hearts. This enables us to establish this connection of Love which is paramount in surrendering aspects of ego to the beloved deity. Yagna is a very powerful tool for transmuting the accumulated karmas that one builds up from one’s lives.
At the end of the yagna, we offer arati to the deity and ask all the deities who have attended the yagna and offered their help and assistance to return to their dwelling place.