Yagyas

Most of the religions of India and indeed almost all human societies involve some kind of ritual. It can be elaborate and performed in a temple or similar setting, or simple and performed privately between a person and the symbol of the Divine for that individual. In the Hindu and Vedic tradition, specific rituals (yagyas or yajnas) are at the heart of the recommendations of the astrologer. Yagyas can be performed on all scales. Some are mind-boggling pageants rivaling analogous spectacles anywhere in the world. These were the rituals of ancient times done for kings who embarked on missions of fame and glory involving power and empires. Even today in India, there are large-scale ritual performances involving hundreds of priests, elephants, horses, etc.

For most individuals seeking remediation, yagyas are on a different order of magnitude. However, there is still a wide range of options available. The power of the yagya increases with the number of repetitions of the sacred sounds prescribed to alleviate the problem in the chart. Therefore, depending on the intensity of the affliction and the financial commitment of the person for whom the rite is being performed, a yagya can last for many days with many priests chanting or take place in a few hours with one priest responsible for the ritual.

In contemporary times, especially in the West, yagyas are performed without the person being present. Westerners often arrange to have them done in India though there are many qualified priests in the West who can perform these ceremonies as well. There are differences of opinion as to the efficacy of a small yagya with the subject present as compared to a larger one in abstentia.

Yagyas are generally comprised of puja and homa. Puja, which is also a ritual in its own right, involves prayers and offerings to a representation of the deity that is being worshipped and/or applied to for relief. Homa is a Vedic fire ceremony in which various symbolic items and mantras are offered into the fire. The fire is the vehicle that carries the offerings to the deities of the planets or whatever aspect of creation is being addressed. Appropriate prayers and chants are part of the performance.

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