The first part of the Vedas gives us the technology of yajna by which one can fulfill all desires. There is a yajna prescribed for every conceivable desire. Do you want to go to heaven? Do you want children? Do you want name and fame? The Vedas offer yajnas for all of these and more. Yajna means a homa — oblations are offered to Devatas, strictly as per Vedic prescription. Yajna, in the form of homa, is an expression of our gratitude to Devatas who are believed to be in charge of sunlight, water, earth, wind and space. Without these essential elements, we would not have survived. But that is not the only meaning of yajna. In the Bhagwad Gita, chapter 3, Krishna explains the ecological cycle of life: ‘The bodies of all beings are sustained by food. Food is produced because of rain. Rains come by yajna. Yajna becomes possible because of karma.’ The word yajna here refers to the collective action of all beings, which sustain the food cycle and make this world worth habitation. The world we live in is what it is today, because of evolution, in which large numbers of people have contributed – scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, supervisors and labour, for instance. Every individual plays a small or big role in the making of a better world order. So also, by performing our chosen role with best efforts, we can express our gratitude to all other individuals who are trying to make this world a better place to live in. If we believe in karma theory, if we take more from the world and do not reciprocate equally by way of performance of our duty, we are gathering more paap, sins or exhausting our punya karma, fruits of merit deeds. Therefore, Gita’s prescription of yajna points at performance of one’s chosen duty without selfishness, carelessness and ego. A person is meant to do five types of yajna every day: Dev Yajna, Rishi Yajna, Pitru Yajna, Atithi Yajna And Bhoot Yajna. Dev Yajna is expression of gratitude to Devatas like Agni, Varun and Vayu. It is done by offering some food to the fire. Rishi Yajna is expression of gratitude to sages whose knowledge gave us wisdom of how to live life. It is performed by reading or listening to scriptural knowledge, every day. Pitru Yagna is expression of gratitude to our forefathers who are now in different Lokas. It is performed by offering a pot of water and some food to them, in front of the Sun.
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