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Can Ayurveda help us understand Agnihotra? Part I

What does Agnihotra mean? Hotra translates to “healing.” In one sense, Agnihotra can be understood to mean Agni healing, or healing through Agni.

What does Agni mean?

You’ll see many translations of Agni as simply fire or a flame. Based on this conception, one would understand Agnihotra to be healing through fire, or a healing fire.

But this conception of Agni is rooted in a structure and form. By framing our understanding of Agni through a structure and form, we are limiting our understanding of what Agni is, and thereby limiting our understanding of the impact of leveraging Agni as a modality of healing.

What can we use to better understand Agni? What does Ayurveda say regarding Agni?

Ayurveda is considered by many scholars to be the oldest systems of health and wellness. Ayur translates to “life,” and veda translates to “knowledge.” Hence it is the knowledge of life.

Ayurveda views Agni as a function of energy and energy, rather than structure or form. Put another way, it is energy and power that can express itself in many forms.

According to Ayurveda, Agni is the most vital energy and power of the body. Agni is the foremost biomarker of life, vitality, health, vigor, complexion, immunity, and resilience. It is the single factor whose presence indicates life, and whose absence is death.

How so?

In essence, Agni is the power that drives all metabolism in the body. Metabolism refers to collective chemical and energy transformations that occur in the body.

Metabolism is broken down into anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism is the process of cells creating larger molecules from smaller ones (e.g., protein synthesis, tissue formation), and catabolism is the process of breaking down larger molecules into smaller ones to create energy for the body to function (e.g., ATP use by cells, nerve impulses, hormone release into the blood).

Hence, Agni is what enables the heart to beat, the lungs to assimilate oxygen, the mind to perceive and think, the eyes to see, the ears to hear.

If Agni has such a predominance in our body and is such a central biomarker of life and health, what does Agnihotra mean? What does it mean to heal through Agni?

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