Havan Yagna is as ancient as this world, for it is prescribed in the oldest of texts-the Vedas. In its physical form, Havan Yagna is a devotional offering of havan samaagri (herbal preparations and food) in the fire accompanied by the chanting of Vedic mantras. This is only the outer physical process or ritual of Yagna, which has deep scientific importance and beneficial effects. Havan Yagna is also known as Havan, Homam or Agnihotra.
Agni, the fire god, is the most revered deity of the Vedas, based on the number of mantras dedicated to Him. Agni is the link between man and God. When offerings are made into the fire, Agni Deva acts as the messenger and takes the offerings to the respective Deities, in much the same way a mailman will deliver a properly addressed envelope to its destination. It is our belief that all things, even the Devatas, have Agni present within them. He is the eternal witness, or saakshi, to all activities. It is like the vowel “A” in all letters, which remains hidden in every sound uttered, showing Agni’s all-pervading presence. The color of fire is the color of Sanatan Dharma; saffron represents the destruction of all negative vibrations and the sustenance of purity. Indra, Surya, and Agni are the three main deities of the Vedic era; while Indra controls the air, and Surya the sky, Agni is the presiding deity of the Earth. No activity is sanctioned without the presence of the Fire God.
When Prabhu Shri Ram established friendship with Sugriva, it was the fire that witnessed their friendship. When Raja Dasratha wanted to be blessed with sons, it was Agni Deva who fulfilled his wishes. Even today, no wedding is complete without the blessings of Agni Devata; in fact, it is the Fire God that unites the two jivas. He is also the eternal protector, as demonstrated when Lord Rama requested Agni Deva to keep Mata Sita safely in his care until Ravana was defeated. Agni is invoked in different forms: for pujas, he is referred to as Vaishwanar; for weddings, he is called Yojak; for shraddas, he is called Kraabya; and for cooking at home, he is called Grihapaatra.
The meaning of Yagna is not only confined to the performance of Havan. It has a much wider and deeper meaning. The word Yagna is derived from the Sanskrit verb Yaj, which has a threefold meaning: worship of deities (deva-puja), unity (sangati
karana) and charity (daana). The philosophy of Yagna teaches one to exist in harmony in our society. This lifestyle promotes and protects higher human values and is indeed the basis of an ideal human culture. The performance of Havan Yagna beautifully combines these two aspects (Agni & Yajna) into a ritual which purifies the individual mind, protects families, and brings harmony to the entire society.
Scientific Explanation of Havan Yajna
Performance of Havan Yajna recommended by the Vedas, is perhaps one of the most powerful tools available for MAN’S well being and happiness. In Bhagwad Gita Lord Shri Krishna Says the following of Yajna .
“Yagyad bhavati parjanyah, yagya karma samud bhava.” Gita 3/14
Yajna is based on prescribed action as described in the Vedas, from yajna rain comes and, from rain comes food which is converted into energy that maintains life. In order to understand Havan Yajna scientifically; we need to understand the effect of some of the following.
(1) Shapes of “yajna (havan) kuñd” (the vessel for preserving the oblatory fire);
(2) The selection of“samidhas” (wood or fuel for yajna) and their specific combustion properties;
(3) Correct pronunciation of mantras;
(4) The time of havan yajna; and
(5) The analysis of “Havan samagri” (the articles for oblation).
The heat and light that are generated by the combustion of samidhas and the Havan samagri in the kuñdas of different sizes and shapes give rise to various changes in the environment. This fact has been verified by scientific experiments. There occurs a distinct change in the intensity of heat and the quality of fire produced by the change in the samidha. For example, one can easily distinguish between the quality of fire produced by different types of dhoop. The physical properties of materials are dependent on their physical state (solid, liquid, gas). Solid materials have a less chance of interaction or mixing with that of the other materials. However, if the materials are transformed into a more subtle state e.g., vapor or gaseous state, the probability of interaction between the constituents of the two types of materials increases. Minute particles have different shapes in natural form. The curvature of particles decreases as the subtlety increases i.e. as the particle size decreases their chemical activity increases. In this category of materials, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves etc are used in very high quality Havan samagri. The fragrant oils (cow ghee) in the Havan samagri catches fire easily; and after vaporization, it expands considerably. Thus, its effect also becomes extensive.
Several compounds have been found in the vapors of Havan samagri. Some of these, e.g., aldehydes, amines, phenols, etc have already been identified. Salted materials are prohibited for use in the preparation of samagri, because salt (which is sodium chloride) decomposes to produce chlorine gas. The latter is as harmful to the human beings as it is to the bacteria. Cow ghee is used in the havan, in specific quantity. This has two advantages: first, it ignites the fire and controls its temperature, and second, after conversion into the vapor state it surrounds the minute particles of the Havan samagri and produces negative charges on them.
The first advantage of Havan is the purification of air. The air surrounding the yajna, gets hot, becomes light due to the high temperature of the fire and rises up. The evacuated region is filled by the fresh air drawn from the surroundings. This air is thus sterilized due to the high temperature of the fire. Sunrays of different colors have different wavelengths and hence their effect on the germs also differs. An experiment was done to see this effect, the inner walls of several canisters were painted with different colors and they were kept in such a room where a large number of mosquitoes were present. At the time of sunrise, lids were placed on all the canisters with the mosquitoes inside. When the lids were removed in the evening, it was found that the number of mosquitoes were least in the canister which was painted with orange color. The color of fire is also orange. Thus the utility of Agnihotra and its effect becomes clear.
Scientists have discovered two types of materials for destroying germs. They are
(i) antiseptics and (ii) disinfectants. The materials in the first category protect human beings from germs but do not kill the latter. The materials of the second category directly kill the germs. Some materials have both of these properties, depending on their concentration. Havan gas is free from this defect. Even if there is some harmful portion, it is destroyed by the vapors of cow ghee and is made beneficial. The use of pure cow ghee cannot be over emphasized. There are two layers of air in the atmosphere. The first one ranges up to six miles from the surface of the earth and the second one goes up to just over 600 miles.
May the blessings of Agni Devata be with you all.
Pt. Ram Hardowar.