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Jun 25, 2023
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Homam: 3 Essential Ingredients and Their Symbolic Meanings

In Ancient India, the Rishis of Sanatana Dharma discovered certain forces of energy, through meditation. 

These forces were then called Devatas, Gandharvas, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, and so on, as per their respective qualities.

These Devatas live in different realms and do not have physical bodies. They are made up of a subtle material, like the material of our thoughts. 

Despite having such subtle bodies, they have tremendous energy. Each Devata has the power to manifest a specific physical object in our world. 

For example, the Devata called Sun embodies the idea of health and energy, the Devata Moon, the idea of nourishment, the Devata Venus, the idea of love and creativity, and Jupiter Devata, the idea of knowledge, and so on.

There is nothing in existence that is not energy. Even matter comes from energy. 

When a Devata is pleased, he donates a part of his energy to create an object of his type.

But we cannot approach a Devata directly without preparing ourselves first. 

So, to prepare ourselves before establishing communication with a Devata, we need to overcome our EGO and its potential energy. We have to break away from our Ego.

Because our Ego makes us operate on limited information and does not allow us to perceive something beyond the body’s sensory information.

We are aware of the 5 fundamental elements, Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Space. We can use any one of these elements to communicate with the Devatas in higher realms.

For example, to communicate with a Devata using the element of Earth, we use an idol made of mud or stone for the puja. 

As we observe today, the elements Air, Water, and Earth get easily polluted by Human intervention, but Space and Fire do not. 

Therefore, to communicate with the divine using the element of Space, we can contemplate the Vedanta. 

Similarly, a Homam is a mechanism to communicate and pray to a Devata, using the element of Fire.

Fire is pure. It purifies anything it comes in contact with. The first verse in the Rigveda is Praise for Fire. Fire worship is an ancient practice found in many religions.

In this article, we will understand three key aspects of the Homam ritual. They are

  1. The Fire
  2. The Divine Energy
  3. The Mind

 

Fire: The Great Transformer

Fire is an energy that can transform one thing into another. 

For example, the digestive fire in our body transforms food into various components of our body. 

Similarly, the Fire in the nervous system receives various sensory inputs and transforms them into various memories. 

In this way, different types of fire transform different objects into some other form. 

There is nothing in existence that is not energy. Energies are in turn converted to matter.

The scriptures of Sanatana Dharma say that there are three forms of Fire in us:

  1. The fire that transforms our Satvic qualities into knowledge 
  2. The fire that transforms our Rajasic qualities into actions, and 
  3. The fire that transforms our Tamasic qualities into desires

So, essentially Fire is the energy in all of us that causes desire, knowledge, and action. 

 

Devatas: Beings of Higher Realms

Devatas are subtle energies in the universe that govern and manifest specific aspects of creation. A Devata’s ability to influence other forces of nature is much more than a Human. 

The devatas mentioned in the Puranas are not the same as the devatas in the Vedas. The Puranas describe a devata in a human context, by giving them some personality traits, a family and relationships, etc. 

Whereas, the devatas in the Vedas are the ones who support life on our planet. 

For example, the Sun, the Moon, Water, Fire, etc are all devatas who support life.

The Devatas exist in a subtle form which is almost like an idea or thought. 

Therefore, using Mantras we encode our thoughts onto the samagri and offer them to the fire of the Homam. Examples of these samagri are Grains, Ghee, etc.

As the Homam Samagri burns, the devatas receive our thoughts in a subtle form.

Once we make an offering to a Devata with proper Vedic procedure, they are compelled to respond to the Sankalpam taken by the person performing the Homam.

A Devata already has whatever we are offering. Therefore, the only thing which we can offer to the Devata apart from our offering is our devotion and intention to offer. This forms the basis for Bhakti yoga. 

Lastly, we must realize that none of these Devatas are permanent, just like us. 

So, we must not consider the energy of a Devata as ‘my energy’ or cling to a Devata.

Eventually, we must learn to drop all support systems and remain free without a sense of self or ‘I’.

 

Mind: An Essential Ingredient

Our Mind is a bridge between ourselves and the Universe. 

With practice, the mind can be trained to access any realm of existence. It is just like tuning the radio to a different channel to listen to a different song.

But usually, we choose to focus only on the physical realm.

So, chanting a mantra repeatedly keeps the mind busy with some activity, and loosens up the identification with itself. 

This allows a vacuum to be created in the mind. This vacuum is filled in by the Mantra and the Devata. 

In other words, when the mind lets go of the self, it starts to resonate with the Mantra. 

 

Conclusion

  • Sadhana is not just performing a homam or some other ritual. Every thought and action is a part of your sadhana. 
  • Increase self-awareness to know when pride and ego are entering your heart. 
  • Regular practice of controlling the mind should be as much a part of your sadhana as a puja or homam.

 

 

Some Popular Homas

 

Saraswati Homam 

Goddess Saraswati is one of the Tridevi, along with goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati. She embodies knowledge, arts, and language that purify humans. 

Goddess Saraswati is also known as the Goddess of speech, and the mother of Vedas. She is not just the goddess of knowledge but also Brahmavidya herself, which is the wisdom of the ultimate truth.

 

Lakshmi Kubera Homam 

Goddess Lakshmi is an embodiment of wealth and prosperity, while Lord Kubera is the protector of all the riches. This Homa is done to invoke these specific energies that lead to prosperity and happiness and material progress. 

Wealth here refers to not just material wealth but also spiritual wealth in terms of Satsang, constructive thoughts, etc.

 

Mryutyunjaya Homam

In this puja, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Mrityunjaya, the one who conquers death. We pray to Lord Mrityunjaya so that our departure from our body is not untimely, but is natural and timely like a ripened fruit falling from its tree. 

This puja can also be performed on one’s birthday. Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is a part of the Rig Veda and Yajurveda and is also called Rudra Mantra or Tryambakam Mantra. This puja is also known as Maha Sanjeevani, believed to remove fear and heal holistically. 

 

Ayushya Homam 

Ayushya means lifespan in Sanskrit. In this homam, the God of life Ayur devatha is worshipped, to bless us with good health and long life. 

This homam can be performed for children who frequently fall ill until they recover. Ayush homam is also done on the child’s first birthday as per their janma nakshatram.

 

Sudarshana Homam

The Sudarshana Chakra is a golden weapon of Lord Vishnu having 108 pointed edges. It was created from Sun God’s rays by Saint Vishwakarma. 

This puja is performed to gain health and achieve our desires. The Sudarshana chakra is also seen as the wheel of time which destroys the universe and helps free our soul from the attachments that cause us to take rebirths.

 

Chandi Homam

Chandi is the energy of all things in the universe. As the Sun shines its light on everything equally, in the same way, the energy of the Goddess equally permeates everything.

This energy exists in many forms. In our body, the kundalini energy represents one such form of this energy.

Lord Shiva is our consciousness, and Goddess Chandi is Shiva’s Vibration. 

There are three gunas, which are present in everyone. These gunas are Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. Even though the gunas originate from Devi, she is not affected by their qualities. 

These three gunas are also associated with the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, and also with the three forms of Devi, which are, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. 

 

Ganapati Homam

Ganapati combines the peacefulness of Shiva and the creative power of Parvati, with his enormous intelligence to remove all obstacles from our path. The Muladhara Chakra, the bottom-most energy center in our body, is responsible for our stability, survival, and reproductive function, and the energy of Ganapati is associated with this chakra. We worship Ganapati before worshiping any other devata because first, we need to stabilize the Muladhara Chakra, before moving on to other aspects of life. This is why we worship Ganapati in the beginning, even if the entire puja is for Ganapati.

 

Manyu/ Anjaneya Homam

Anjaneya is a symbol of optimism. He represents not just physical strength, but mental strength, compassion, and knowledge as well. He can become a great source of inspiration when we are in need of mental support. 

In Sanatana dharma, there are certain devatas who offer the best protection. Hanuman and Bhairava are two such devatas. They respond faster to our prayers because they are closer to our plane. In the case of Hanuman, he is said to be an immortal, who has never left the plane of Earth. Hanuman remains on Earth because he has promised that as long as the name of Rama is here, he will be here. Hanuman is one of the 52 Veeras in Tantra. A Veera is a devata who acts as a protector of a particular place. Narasimha avatara of Vishnu is also one of the Veeras. 

Hanuman offers strength, power, and protection if asked with devotion. Hanuman Upasana helps us overcome issues related to health and negative energies. 

The positive energy of a devata is invoked with Mantras to remove negative energy. 

 

Rudra Homam

The Sri Rudram is equal to three aspects, which are: 

  • Worship of Shiva or Upasana 
  • A Ritual or Karma
  • The Knowledge about Shiva and our relation to Shiva 

During the Rudra Homa, we must see everything as Shiva. The priest who is performing the Homa is Shiva, the Spoon which is used to pour ghee is Shiva, the ghee which is poured is Shiva, the fire which is blazing there is Shiva, and the act of pouring the ghee is Shiva. This is not just a homa, but a symbol that will inspire our daily life to become spiritual. The one who sees God in all actions realizes God. 

 

Navagraha Shanti Homam

Each person’s senses record and store a lot of information about them. This memory is called Karma. This memory contains our predictable habit patterns, tendencies, social triggers and their responses, and our likes and dislikes. The tendencies stored in our subconscious memory are awakened due to a unique combination of three energies called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are energies in a person’s body, which are formed due to different combinations of the five elements or Panchabhuta, and their imbalances can lead to various illnesses. When a person’s karmic energy is imbalanced due to various factors like diet, bad habits, overwork, and suppression, it can lead to diseases. 

There are many cosmic forces that can have an impact on the Panchabhuta, and can therefore also impact our body, because our body is a part of this cosmos, and made from the same elements. This impact exerted by the cosmic forces on the Panchabhuta and Vata-Pitta-Kapha can be observed through the tendencies demonstrated by a person in their lifetime with reference to the Navagrahas. The Navagrahas being cyclical can indicate the predictable path a person will take, based on the time and location of their birth. Navagrahas acts as a map of a person’s current life’s karmic journey. 

Each Navagraha can also represent certain relationships that a human being has, for example, the Sun represents Father or employer, Moon represents mother or infant, Jupiter represents a teacher, etc. This is the reason, that if a planet is placed in the horoscope in such a way that it’s causing problems, then by improving our relationship with the person associated with it and by pleasing them, we can reduce the negative impact. 

 

Sarpa Homam

There are certain serpents that are of Divine nature. These Divine serpents belong to the following 8 kulas:

  1. Anantha
  2. Vasuki
  3. Takshaka
  4. Karkotaka
  5. Sankha
  6. Kullika
  7. Padma
  8. Mahapadma

Maharishi Patanjali who has given us the Yoga Sutras, is himself a form of the divine serpent. 

The serpents being wrapped around a Shivalinga represent the flow of energy through our nadis, and the kundalini is one of them. The Shivalinga at the center is a symbol of the source of all these energies. 

 

Subramanya Homam

Subramanya Devata is also known as Shanmukha because he has six faces. These faces acquire knowledge from six directions, North, South, East, West, Up, and Down. These six faces are in the form of Homam fire and Havis, because Homam fire has five directions, including the upwards, and the Dravya or Havis being poured into the homa, is in the downward direction. 

Each devata has its own specific method of worship, for example, Abhishekam to Shiva, Alankaram to Vishnu, Tarpanam to Ganesha, and Namaskaram to Surya. So similarly, Subramanya is worshiped by having his Darshan. 

Karthika Purnima happens during the time of Kruttika Nakshatra, which is the Nakshatra of Agni or Homam. Since, Homam is considered the soul of all devatas, and Shanmukha is the form of Homam, Shanmukha Darshanam during the Karthika Purnima is the same as performing a Homam to all the devatas.

People commit various misdeeds because of their attachments. If a person performs good deeds, their Chitta gets purified, which then qualifies their mind to turn towards self-realization. Kumaraswamy Darshanam is one such good deed, which purifies one’s Chitta. Minds of the people who perform good deeds without any expectations turn towards Subramanya Darshana to attain moksha.  

Shanmukha Upasana means to go beyond six things, which are the mind and a group of five things such as Pancha indriyas, Pancha jnanendriyas, Pancha bhootas, pancha koshas, pancha pranas, Pancha tanmatras, etc.     

Shanmukha symbolizes the six chakras in our body, from Muladhara to Ajna. 

Six qualities are considered divine, and the one who has them is called Shadguna Paripurna. Shanmukha’s six faces represent these six qualities:

  1. Aishwarya
  2. Dharma
  3. Yashas
  4. Sri
  5. Jnana
  6. Vairagya

Shanmukha’s six faces and twelve hands represent the six seasons and twelve months in a year, and his three eyes represent the Soma, Surya, and Agni tattvas.

 

 

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