Vedic Science: Agni Hotra As A Purification Practice
In this day in age during the Kali Yuga, the temptation is to want to reach out and change things outside of us by fueling the fire of anger, or rage in us vs. them mentality. Instead of changing the planet from it being separate from us standpoint, we have to change inside first. As Jim Morrison once said, “the revolution has to happen inside first.” “There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” Over the summer, for five days, I participated and led one Agni Hotra ceremony in Puerto Rico. I still practice the ritual when I remember. The other day as I was driving to practice and then teach yoga. Before sunrise, I turned on Manorama on iTunes and sang along to her morning Vedic ritual.
Sooryaya svaha, Sooryaya, Idam, na mama, Prajapataye Svaha, Prajapataye idam na mama.
Although I didn’t have the rice or ghee, I felt the effects by the time, I started my physical practice. The sun didn’t visibly rise here in Michigan but according to Vedic Science, whether the sun is visible or not, the benefits of the ceremony are great. Firstly, when we invoke the sound of the sun we are calling out to the transformational energy of the sun. Secondly, the transliteration and the actual heart of the meaning translate to “To this fire I offer everything. This offering belongs to the Divine, not me.”
What is Agni Hotra? Agni means fire in Sanskrit. Hotra means a firepit. In Ellie Hadsall’s practice guide, she refers to Agnihotra: as a Havan on Earth. Havan is translated to Vedic Ceremony rather than heaven, but there is a similarity in semantics: a heavenly state for the environment and the people performing the ceremony. Agni Hotra is an ancient practice in which fire is burned at exactly sunrise or sunset in a copper pyramid. The Sanskrit pronunciation must be precise. The results of the ceremony vary according to the ingredients, astrological events, the wind, the performer and the environment. The results of fire transformation and the ceremony have been repeated and proven for thousands of years. The objective of the fire ceremony is to remove harmful effects from the environment so the universe can harmonize itself. In fact, there are some studies show that as the agnihotra is performed as the sun rises, buds start to bloom, and animals and other plants respond similarly.
Purifying the environment starts with purifying our hearts first. We must clean out our hearts and bodies and offer them to something more divine, in order to evolve.
The process of hatha yoga or asanas also has an alchemic process to it. If one practices asanas regularly, our matter (bodies/shells) become thinner. The ego dissipates. The practice of becoming less and less something solidified and more nothing visible, but something grand in the collective consciousness.
In Vedic meditation, we are also working to get rid of heavy sediment like thoughts and vaporize them so any excess negativity doesn’t affect our internal and external environment. Just as in asana practice, it is not the work we do on the mat, it is the work we do off the mat that changes the world. After the Agni Hotra ceremony, invite one to withhold universal qualities such as compassion, kindness, forbearance, non-judgment, being of service to others, and responsible use of the earth’s resources. The Agni inside of us gains momentum and the purification practice becomes a life practice rather than just a ceremony.
Healing the earth, from the inside
As we watch our injured earth disintegrate due to erratic weather such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and since we’re living in a time of unpredictability, instead of security; agnihotra is one practice that is not done only for our own personal good. According to Vedic Science, the other objective of Agni Hotra is too live in harmony with the universe. As yogis, it’s our job to use our creativity to find solutions and practices to heal the planet now, not complain about it.
Benefits of Agni Hotra
- Agnihotra fire ceremony affects the planet through the effects of its smoke and ash. The Sanskrit words become like alchemy combined with the fire in transforming our environment.
- It heals animals, plants and people. It works to restore balance to the planet’s resources, remove toxins from the environment and transmute negative energy into something healing to the microorganism (us) and the macroorganism (the environment)
- People living in areas where regular agni hotra fires are held report experiencing the release of addictions, improved relationships, and faster healing of wounds
- Animals also have similar effects. They experience less illness and faster healing
- Plants grow exceptionally large and abundant fruit. Science has shown that agni hotra changes the cellular structure of a plant, therefore, creating a more beneficial distribution of nutrients.
- It neutralizes radioactive toxins in the air. In fact, the ash from the fire when added to water has been shown to purify the harmful effects. Additionally, toxic rivers and streams where agni hotra has been distributed re-established a healthy eco-system
- It harmonizes the function of Prana (life energy) so that one is invigorated in the morning and soothed with sattvic (pure) energy in the evening
- Removes tension of the mind and negative thought patterns. The atmosphere is conducive to a deeper experience of Vedic meditation.
- The person performing the ceremony benefits immensely, as does their household, circle of friends and their entire community of connectivity
How to Get Started:
A Copper Pyramid, Copper Lid, Copper stand, Copper spoon, Copper tongs, Dry cow dung, ghee, rice, matches not a lighter, exact times of sunrise and sunset for your region, the ancient chants memorized preferably or on paper (if this is a new practice for you), clock/timer. The cow dung can be purchased at your local Indian Grocery Store. In my home state, for example, all the authentic ghee, white rice, and cow dung can be purchased at Patel Brothers in Troy, MI.
Morning Sunrise chant is above. Evening Sunset chant is:
Agnaye Idam na mama
prajapataye idam na mama
Connectivity through fire
Once established in a regular Agnihotra practice, consider inviting friends and connections over to experience the benefits. Offer ceremonies to those that have moved into a new house or apartment to purify and invigorate the air and get rid of the old energy. Connecting during healing ceremonies is one way to build relationships. Perhaps there is stagnant karma between you and some friends or a negative dynamic. Consciously attending the ceremonies with others can help clean out any old thoughts and renew the dynamic, restoring the friendship or relationship to balance. Agni hotra also removes foul smells and can bring a new vibrancy to a new sacred space especially when performed regularly. The simple thread of fire and conscious intention can help save the world now! Divine intelligence is not lost, although it seems muddled behind a constant state of fear. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “As the spirit of our mortal body wanders on in childhood and youth and old age, the Spirit wanders on to a new body: of this, the sage has no doubts.” As Krishna says, “Because we all have been here for a long time…And we all shall be here for all of the time, forever, and ever.”
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