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The Significance Of Maharudra Yagna

Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian

Dr.S.Yegnasubramanian from the Shringeri Vidya Bharathi foundation talks about the significance of the Mahararudra Yagna. More information on the special Yagna which is going to be held in Lowell, MA on Sept 21 may be found at http://www.maharudram.org.

The word "Yajna" (Sanskrit root "yaj") means 'an act of pious and devotional worship/sacrifice'. It is the performance of a vedic rite with absolute devotion to the ParamAtman. The Vedic Hindu tradition prescribes that isht4poorta, which implies praying for the welfare of all the communities through the conduct of yajnas etc., and the performance of community services such as digging wells, feeding the poor, giving medical care, giving education, caring for all of nature's creations, as the highest of services. MahA nArAyaNa Upanishat categorizes eleven items in the discussion of moksha sAdhana and speaks highly yajnam (sacrifice):

yajna itiyajno hi devAnAm yajnena hi devA divam gat4 .... yajnena dvishanto mitrA bhavanti yajne sarvam pratishThitam tasmAt yajnam paramam vadanti

(Sacrifice is the means of liberation; sacrifice is indeed dear to devas. The devas attained to heaven by sacrifices; by sacrifice even the unfriendly become friendly; everything is supported by sacrifice and so, they say, that it is the supreme means of liberation.)

Historically, big yajnas were performed by emperors for the benefit of their subjects. DAnam was an integral part of the yajna. SrI Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita: "you please the Devas through yajnas -let the Devas please you by rains and such other things".

Several of these yajnas are very complex and ran to even months and years; in addition they require the observance of extremely rigorous austerities that it is almost impossible to perform them today! Scholars attribute a threefold benefit of yajnas: 1. To ensure the well-being for oneself though the grace of the Divinities; 2. To live happily in the world of the Devas (Devaloka) after death. (Rewards 1&2 are related to one's merits (punya) and will last only as long as the Punya lasts!) 3. When one performs the yajna without expecting any personal gain whatsoever (including Devaloka), it leads to the purification of the mind and leads to the path of knowledge (jnAna-mArga); the destination is Moksha or release from the cycle of birth and death or a state of total bliss (Ananda)!

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