Shakti Sadhana

Agni - The Sacrificial Fire
 by N.Madasamy

Fire lives in the sky born of lighting and underground in the churning bowels of volcanoes. Red like human blood, warm like the human body and animated with living power, its almost personified. When ignited to a blaze out of control, it moves and devours violently growing hungrier as it goes. Yet, after the rage of its all-consuming devastation, it gives back its vanquished as ash, suitable for fertilizing the earth it burnt. It drives away predatory animals at night and shines brightly day or night, signifying eternal life and inner light. It renders raw food cooked and edible and molds porous dirt and clay into watertight pottery. Alchemic experiments , which attempt to purify mineral substances and turn them into gold, use it to recrystalize lower elements into newer and higher forms. Fire is the great transformer, graciously wielding its flame in a number of ways, forever defying judgement of good and bad.

With its variety of effects upon the forces of man and nature, fire is perhaps one of the most symbolically complex phenomena in the history of human culture. It has always been an important part of religious rites worldwide. Its chief function in religion is similar to that of its opposite, water to purify. Yet, there is nothing like purification by fire. In its ruthless efficiency and ultimate purification it leaves nothing behind. The widespread ritual use of incense smoke in purification rites is based on the transforming powers of fire ( as well as additional purificatory powers of sweet smells ). Exposure to sun and intense heat are also regarded as cleansing and the making of antiseptic.

All the world religions have worshipped the fire as a most benevolent element. From times immemorial the sacrificial fire has been the most important items of our heritage. Every auspicious function, ceremony, worship or Pooja starts with the fire in some form or the other. Every religious house-holder performs a small HAVAN every morning/evening in his/her residence to performs Arti of the diety with a special Deepak ( lamp ) a candle or incense sticks. The purpose of performing HAVAN and related rituals has been the fulfillment of some materialistic desire or for expressing gratitude to the GODDESS and the elements for fulfillment of cherished desires/blessings/boon.

The word "yajna" is a noun derived from the sanskrit verb root "yaj", which is usually translated as "to sacrifice". The basis of yajna/Havan the pouring of food offerings or oblations into Agni, the sacrificial fire. The mythological explanation set forth by the post-vedic literature is that Agni receives the oblations poured into him, and carries them to the celestials for whom the oblations are intended. In this role, Agni is analogous to Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods.

Havan is performed by using ghee ( boiled and filtered butter ) and other specified ingredients such as twigs, dried leaves of selected /prescribed trees, TIL-oil-seeds, barley, rice, wheat, sugar or gur, dry fruits, coconuts, raisins, Agar, Guggul, saffron musk, vermillion, turmeric as well as the dry timber of specified trees. All these substances when burnt in the fire in well graduated/regulated quantities with every chant of selected mantra, together with spoonfuls of ghee release smoke with gases rich in beneficial properties. Repeat Havans multiply the potency. A Havan is the best and most economical means of purifying environmental pollution. With accompanying chants and the blowing of the conch , bell or drum etc, the effectiveness of the gases become manifold