Burning samidhas (wood) of special trees such as — pipala (ficus relegiousa), ama (mangifera indica) and palasa (Butea monosperma), produce lesser amount of toxic gases such as carbon-dioxide etc. and lesser coal and ash.
Burning cow’s ghee in yajna produces special gases, that quickly destroy the pollutants of the atmosphere to a great extent. No other ghee or oil possesses this quality.
Instead of performing Yajna at night, it should be done either after sunrise or in the evening before sunset because the rays of sun distributes the special disease-annihilating gases produced in the yajna, evenly in the atmosphere, which is not possible during the night-time.
Jala-acamana (the process of sipping holy water) purifies the body apart from developing divine thoughts. Therefore, Jala-acamana and anga spars (touchings specific parts of the body on recitation of concerned chants) are performed before commencing the yajna, as by reciting various mantras one comes to know the benefits, results and effects of the yajna and the mind becomes pure due to their contemplation.
Yajna might cause a little atmospheric pollution, yet, the special air created due to yajna, destroys the micro-organisms responsible for a great number of diseases.
The benefits derived by offering oblations of ghee along with the Havana materials (herbs and shoots of plants) in the sacred fire is altogether different from those of merely burning ghee.
Scented, disease repelling, nourishing and aromatic materials are generally used in yajna.
To speak softly and only the truth, to claim only genuine things as one’s own, to speak and act as per the actual thoughts in the mind, to develop the ability to sacrifice everything for the family and nation, offering pure and ethnically prepared ghee and havana materials in the fire — these are the meanings of the word ‘svaha’.
Three samidhas, dipped in ghee, are specially offered in the yajna fire. By dipping these samidhas in ghee, they burn faster.
Performing yajna benefits a person spiritually, mentally and physically and develops the virtues of sacrifice, happiness and serenity.
During yajna, sometimes, ghee is poured in the north, south and in the middle of the yajna-kunda. This is done in order to burn all the samidhas equally and evenly.
The scriptures have enjoined performing of yajna as mandatory for everyone; whether a little or much.
Aghihotra means, putting ghee and havana materials in the yajna-kunda. The words havana and homa are synonymous to Aghihotra.
The right to perform yajna is not reserved to brahmanas alone, rather, every human-beings is entitled to do it.
A small quantity of potassium cyanide kills hundreds and thousands of persons, similarly a small quantity of ghee and havana materials nourishes the lives of hundreds and thousands of persons. Hence, yajna is considered as the greatest of all actions.
Burning incense sticks merely produce fragrance, it neither kills disease-producing bacteria present in the atmosphere, nor does it purify the air. Hence, yajna carries the greatest importance.
Apart from performing agnihotra (yajna), untiring hardwork is required to fulfill are our desires.
Yajnakarta (the person performing yajna) does not need to wear specific clothes for yajna; but, if they so wish, it is their choice.
In case of shortage of time, one can get the yajna performed through someone else; but one cannot derive the same benefits that accrue by performing yajna personally.
Sankalpapatha (reading out the resolution) is done before yajna for the purpose of kalaganana. It generates the feeling of enacting an auspicious thing in the mind of the yajnakarta.
Placing the dipaka (lamp) in the northern side and water in the eastern part of the vedi (havana-kunda) is just a system for convenience.
Our scripture do mention that, with the help of yajna, rain can be showered or it can be intensified, stopped or lowered down at any chosen place, but, those who know this science, are scarce.
For lighting the fire, do not use cowdung-cakes in place of wood.
A true samnyasi, virakta, yogi or a siddha-purusa (accomplished person) need not perform yajna, as their very lives are yajnamaya (the very form of yajha). Hence, they can forgo yajhakarma (the duty of performing a yajna).
Performing yajna without knowing the meaning of its mantras, though ensures materialistic success, but, the mental, intellectual or spiritual benefits derived when it is done with the knowledge of meaning of the mantras, cannot be obtained.
Performing yajnas even dispel all kinds of physical and mental diseases.
Every living being is born due to anna (food), anna results from parjanya (rain) and parjanya results from yajna, in this manner, not only man’s life is dependent on yajna, but the entire creation and the karma vyapara (the cycle of action) too are the outcome of yajna-vihita-karma (actions performed in accordance with the principles of yajha),actions are the outcome of vedas and the vedas are designed by God Himself. The above points has been encapsulated in the following sloka:
Annadbhavanti bhutani parjanyadaan-
parjanyo yajnah karmasamudbhavah.
Karma brahmodbhavam viddhi
nityam yajne pratisthitam.
In the absence of ghee and havana materials, yajnas can be performed even by using then other materials such as ausadhi (medicinal herbs), anna (cereals) and vanaspati (forest products).
The ashes produced in the yajnakunda should be spread in agricultural lands, flowers, fruits and vegetables. It acts as an excellent manure.
Though yajna is a physical act, yet the mantras of Isvarastuti (adoration of God), prayer and worship are recited with it. Due to recitation of veda mantras a sense of dedication, faith, love and gratitude is born in us.
There are no provisions for any animal or bird being sacrificed in a yajha, nor the offering of meat and liquor. In samskrta ‘yajna’ means-actions devoid of any violence. Yajna cannot be practised by including impure non-vegetarian foods like- meat and other such stuff.
‘Gomedha’ refers to the practice of strengthening and nourishing the physical body, senses etc.; whereas, ‘asvamedha yajna’ means — performance of great actions for the purpose of making the nation prosperous, well cultured, happy and affluent.
(Excerpted from the book Divine Transformation: Building Blocks for Enlightened Life, Ideal Nation & Peaceful World by Acharya Balakrishna)