[Advaita-l] Pancha Mahayagna

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Dec 12 01:18:04 CST 2011

On Mon, 5 Dec 2011, Sumitha Ramachandran wrote:

> Namaste,
>          As a Grihini how I could improve on doing Yagna?

I think by asking this question you are already along the right path.  In 
the Kathopanishad Uddalaka Aruni, a great Rshi who is called Vajashrava 
for his renown in performance of karma does a yajna in which 10,000 cows 
are given as dana.  But his son Nachiketa noticed that while this was 
technically correct, the cows were old and feeble and did not give milk. 
One who follows the letter of the law like Vajashrava can be great but 
one like Nachiketa who follows the letter _and_ the spirit, who asks how 
his practice can become more perfect is greater still.

> Gitacharya says He is Japa Yagna of all the Yagnas.

Because in japa there is (or should be!) total concentration on the 
Yajneshvara.  In the Bhagavata there is the story of how the Brahmanas of 
Gokul were engaged in Vedapatha and got irritated when the child Krishna 
came to "bother" them so they sent him away.  But when he came to the 
wives of the Gopas, they dropped all their household duties to attend to 
him.  The intention here is not denigrate Vedas but to remind that when 
attention to detail becomes so severe one doesn't "see the wood for the 
trees" it crosses the line into mere pedantry. In all your duties strive 
for excellence and selflessness and keep focused on Bhagavan.  This is 

> The Pancha Mahayagnas which is potent in removing sins, is explained in 
> the shastras. I perform Bhootha yagna by offering small portion of 
> cooked rice with dal ghee and salt after Naivedya , to the birds , 
> calling "haraa".  
> Today I was too sick to have a bath and cook as I had to pack lunch for 
> my husband. After some rest , I took bath and prepared roti. I offered a 
> portion of it to the birds. It is said in Shatashloki too that a person 
> eating alone without sharing is eating sin. Though it is preferred for 
> the crows to cosume the food offered, here pigeons , sparrows, Myna 
> sometimes parrots are also spotted .  

The idea is that birds will fly away and bear the offering anonymously. 
The exact species doesn't matter though crows are particularly associated 
with the pitrs because of their black color.

> My questions are:
>  Can Roti be called as Annam during Naivedya and offered to Bhoothas ?

Yes.  What is fit to eat and is offered with the spirit "na mama" (not 
mine) is suitable.

> Is it right to shoo away a cat that searches for food remains like fish 
> from my neighbhour Bengalis Kachhada bag kept on the doorway passage  
> for collection?  

In this matter allow me to mention an experience I had growing up which 
imparted a profound lesson to me.  My mother worked as a teacher and one 
of her colleagues had a cat which gave birth to too many kittens for her 
to keep.  So my mother decided to bring one home.  My father was not happy 
about this at all as he did not believe animals like that belonged in a 
Brahmana home.  (The funny thing was that in those days he was a 
borderline atheist on most dharmic matters but some ideas he was strangely 
adamant about.)  Given his strong opposition we were surprised to find 
that in a few days he was the one primarily feeding and cleaning up after 
the cat.  When I asked about it he said "I still don't like the idea of 
having this animal in my house but now that a living thing depends on us 
it is our responsibility to see that it is looked after with care."  So I 
think the dharmic thing to do is to prevail upon your neighbors to feed 
this poor creature that depends on them properly.  The sin will be on them 
if they refuse.

> May I please request the Respected Group to  enlighten me about all the 
> Pancha Mahayagnas as said in our scriptures ( Sruti and Smriti )?   Also 
> please give practical suggestions for Grihinis to follow Yagna which is 
> called as Vedic Yagna for us.  

Follow this principle:  We have life insurance even if we are not old, 
medical insurance even if we are not sick, car insurance even if we are 
good drivers.  Dana in all its forms to Devas, Pitrs, Rshis, Manushyas, 
and Bhutas is dharmic insurance which cancels out any aparadha which might 
purposely or accidently happen.  So one should try to find opportunities 
for dana.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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