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Lead a life of Vedic discipline !
Pancha Maha Yagnas in daily life

By Hemamalini Raghunathan

Pancha Maha Yajnas mentioned in the Scriptures are the minimal practices, to guide a person in everyday life, ensuring peace, material and spiritual prosperity. These are acts of kindness and sympathy, teaching one to serve others. These can improve one’s interactions and rapport with others.


Our Vedic Scriptures recommend righteous and regulated living, i.e. a balanced life with an ultimate spiritual goal. The paths may be many, but they are considered equal. Upanishads give practical guidelines, to be followed in daily life. Taittiriya Upanishad, in Shishya-Anushasanam, provides a few rules, containing enduring values for living a purposeful life.
  • Satya na pramaditavyam                                              - Hold on to Truth
  • Dharma na pramaditavyam                                           - Hold on to Righteousness
  • Kushalan na pramaditavyam                                         - Hold on to welfare activities
  • Bhootyei na pramaditavyam                                         - Hold on to acquisition of wealth
  • Deva pitru karyabhyam na pramaditavyam                 - Hold on to worship of gods and manes
  • Swadhyaya pravachanabhyam na pramaditavyam     - Hold on to self-study and teaching
  • Matru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava                           - Take care of father and mother
  • Yaanyanavadyani Karmani tani sevitavyaani                 - Do only good deeds; avoid bad deeds
  • Shraddhaya deyam                                                        - Give gifts liberally with faith and humility
  • Achaaryaaya priyam dhanam aahritya                           - Bring wealth to your teacher, to help him
    continue his vocation of teaching.

Our life will be meaningful and rewarding, if we practise the above, as our daily discipline. The above are relevant even today, even though our life-styles have gone very different.

Pancha Maha Yajna propogates 'Living in Harmony'
Taittiriya Aranyaka 2.10 says,


Pancha vaa ete mahayajnaassatati
Prataayante satati santishtante
Devayajnah pitryajno bhutayajno
Manushya yajno brahmayajna iti

"These are the five great sacrifices, which are to be performed on a daily basis and completed. They are Deva yajna, Pitru yajna, Bhuta yajna, Manushya yajna and Brahma yajna".

Meaning of the term 'Yajna' evolved from 'ritual sacrtifice' to any 'personal attitude and action or knowledge' that required devotion and dedication. 'Inner rituals' are meant and not the 'external rituals'. Scriptures refer to performing one's ordained duties in a righteous manner (dhaarmically), like a sacrifice (yajna), or a yoga, free from attachment, without expectation of results. In a wider sense, yajna, may refer to any good act performed for general welfare. In fact, one is expected to live the whole life as yajna, by performing acts of general welfare.

Pancha Maha Yajnas mentioned above are the minimal practices, to guide a person in everyday life, ensuring peace, material and spiritual prosperity. These are acts of kindness and sympathy, teaching one to serve others. These can improve one's interactions and rapport with others.

Deva yajna refers to worship of the gods, showing our gratitude towards God. This pertains to our daily prayers for the welfare of all living beings. Deities controlling the various aspects of Nature are saluted in vedic ways. The pleased Deities, in turn, will fulfil the desires of mankind.

Pitru yajna is paying respects to our ancestors and serving the parents / elders. The life of one's forefathers can motivate one as an inspiration and he will continue his family values. One's gratitude towards Pitrus is shown by offering libations.

Bhuta yajna is showing our reverence to other beings and also nature. Offer food to dogs, birds, insects etc. This is to insist sharing of our food with others, who are distressed. Manu Dharma Sastra propagates this noble practice, to take care of our environment, maintaining balance and harmony in the Universe.

Manushya yajna is sharing our food with the guests to our house, the poor and any fellow human being. Service to man is service to God. The attitude of hospitality is insisted.

Brahma (Rishi) yajna Acquisition of knowledge through study of scriptures and spreading them to others are also included here. Our vedic culture is to be thoroughly understood by us and then handed over to the future generation. Studying scriptures daily refreshes one's mind.

It is said that human beings commit sins unwittingly also and to expiate such sins, the Pancha Maha yajnas are prescribed as daily discipline.
Rituals performed with Agni and other sacred items purify the air and environment. Acquisition of knowledge, refinement of character, awareness of righteousness etc are some of the benefits of the daily disciplines prescribed by our ancestors. Peace and happiness will spread to our immediate neighbourhood first and then to the whole universe, as well.

Reference : Vedanta Kesari, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
Picture Courtesy : sanskritcultureofindia.com
 
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