Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Panchamahayajna - Five-fold duties

Traditional Vedic Karma is classified in five groups:
1)    Nitya Karma - daily duties
2)    Naimittika Karma – duties to be undertaken on special occasions
3)    Kamya Karma – Special rituals performed for the fulfilment of specific desires
4)    Nishidha Karma – Acts that are prohibited
5)    Prayachitha Karma – Acts in expiation of sinful actions of commission or omission

The daily obligatory duties Lord Krishna enjoins upon Arjuna with these words in Gita (3-8) - नियतं कुरु कर्म त्वं (Niyatam kuru karma tvam) – You perform your ordained duty. Panchamahayajna is the ordained Nitya Karma for a householder.  Yajna literally means "sacrifice, worship, offering".  Panchamahayajna is the five regular sacrifices/offerings to be made by all Grahasthas, the householders, every day.  They are:
1)     Brahma yajna – This is also called Rishi Yajna. This involves daily study of the scriptures and regular sharing of the scriptural knowledge with others through teaching, writing and satsang.  This type of blog-writing also comes under this. By so doing one discharges the debt to Rishis who by preserving and passing on made this knowledge available to us.
2)     Deva yajna – This involves ritual worship and prayer of Devas including Homams and Nitya karmanushtanam like Sandhyavandanam. Lord Krishna refers to this yajna only, when he tells Arjuna in Gita (3-11)
देवान्भावयतानेन ते देवा भावयन्तु वः। Devan Bhavayathanena te Deva bhavayanthu vaha
परस्परं भावयन्तः श्रेयः परमवाप्स्यथ।।Parasparam bhavayanthah sreyah param avasyatha
Nurture the Devas with this sacrifice and may the Devas nurture you.  Mutually nurturing each other you shall attain the highest good.
3)     Pitru yajna - offering tarpana, libations regularly and on special occassions in respect and gratitude to all Pitrs and Pitr Devathas.   The word Pitrs primarily means the immediate ancestors i.e. father, mother etc.  In Srartha ceremony three generations like father, grandfather and the great grandfather etc., are remembered and pindas, cooked rice balls, are offered to them. 
4)     Manushya yajna — Caring for, looking after and feeding fellow humans. Food and clothes to the poor and needy and shelter to the homeless all come under Manushya yajna.  In short all social services and anna dhanam in functions and festivals besides feeding a guest will all come under Manushya yajna.
5)      Bhutha yajna — Caring for nature and all life. Not only feeding animals like cow, insects like ant and birds like crow but also caring for them as well as the plants and trees etc., in the environment come under Bhutha yajna.

The performance of the Panchamahayajna is conducive to the spiritual evolution or growth of a Grahastha.  The knowledge he gains by the study of scriptures enables him to lead a life conforming to Dharma with personal conviction. He also learns that he is not a separate entity or isolated creature but is a part of a great whole and the Panchamahayajna is only a means to discharge the debt to his ancestors, family, society and the Panchabhuthas that all contribute to his well being and growth. He also develops compassion and mercy that blossoms into cosmic love as he feels oneness with other beings. This can end his separateness and selfishness, making him realize that his happiness multiplies manifold as he makes others happy through service, help and an attitude of charity to the needy.

Grahastha is the pillar of social fabric as he provides support to the members of the other three Ashrams viz.Brahmacharya, Vanaprastha and Sanyasa. This aspect has been emphasised by the revered Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar in Thirukkural:
இல்வாழ்வான் என்பான் இயல்புடைய மூவர்க்கும் (Ilvaazhvaan Enpaan Iyalputaiya Moovarkkum
நல்லாற்றின் நின்ற துணை (Kural 41) (Nallaatrin Nindra Thunai)
A Grahastha is the one who supports strongly those in the other three Ashrams.
So society prospers when a Grahastha leads a dharmic life performing Panchamahayajna as individual moral fabric is strengthened and collective welfare is fostered.

1 comment: