Can Ayurveda help us understand Agnihotra? Part III
From part I [add hyperlink to part I], we understand Agni to be the power that drives all metabolic functions of the body, and is responsible for all chemical and energy transmutations of the body. It enables the mind to perceive and think, the nervous system to emit nerve impulses, the heart to beat, the eyes to see, food to digest.
From part II [add hyperlink to part I], we understand that health and wellness is a result of balanced Agni, and illness is a result of weak and imbalanced Agni. Further, Jataragni is the major-agni of the body responsible for digestion and assimilation of food. Regulated Jataragni brings to balance all micro-agnis, or Agni at the cellular level. When food is digested properly, then the cells can properly assimilate nutrition, but improper food digestion leads to a build up of undigested waste (ama), which leads to cellular toxicity. Hence, balanced and well regulated Jataragni is the prerequisite and foundation for health, and imbalanced Jataragni is the primary factor for disease and illness.
According to a viewpoint from the Vedic perspective, the human is considered a replica of the universe (or nature). Whatever is found in nature is present in the human body as well.
If this is true, then so is reverse, meaning what is found in the human body is also found in nature.
So if Agni is the force that drives all metabolic and energy transformations in the body, Agni is also the force that drives all chemical and energetic transformations in nature.
Further, if Jataragni is the major-agni in the body that regulates all micro-agnis and is the primary factor for health and wellness, an equivalent Jataragni is also the major-agni of nature that regulates all micro-agnis, and is the primary factor for health and wellness of nature.
Just as humans are nourished through its Jataragni by ingestion of food, nature too is nourished and replenished by “ingestion” through its Jataragni.
What is nature’s Jataragni?
References to the Rig Veda, one of the four major books that comprise the Vedas, and the revered Bhagavad Gita provide us with a clue.
They indicate nature’s Jataragni is Yajna, which are offerings to fire contained within a particular geometric structure, created from burning particular organic substances, that include offerings of food to the fire in conjunction with the utterance of Mantra, the timing of such offerings attuned to particular biorhythms of nature. Agnihotra is the most foundational and important form of Yajna.
The Rig Veda describes fire as the child of the earth, and the flame is the tongue and mouth of “gods,” or the energy and forces of nature that support intelligent life. See Rig Veda, Mandala two, Sukta 1, verse 13 (“O Fire, the sons of the indivisible mother made thee their mouth, the pure gods made thee their tongue; . . . the gods eat in thee the offering cast before them.”); Rig Veda, Mandala two, Sukta 1, verse 14 (“O Fire, all the gods, the immortals unhurtful to man, eat in thee and by thy mouth the offering cast before them; . . . Pure art thou born, a child of the growths of the earth.”)
According to the Bhagavad Gita, when we perform Yajna, we are in essence nourishing nature. We are providing nature with the energy it needs to sustain and replenish itself. When we nourish nature through Yajna, nature in turn nourishes humanity with rain, food, and conditions that support a life-sustaining environment. See Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 11 (“You nourish the Devas (energetic intelligences in nature) with Yajna, and the Devas in turn nourish you (with rain and other desired gifts). Thus, mutually nourishing, you shall attain the highest good.”); Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 12 (“Being nourished by Yajna, the Devas will give you the desired objects of enjoyment. . . .”); Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 14 (“From food (i.e., from reproductive power sustained by food) creatures are born. Food is produced by rain. Rain is born from Yajna, and Yajna originates from action”).
Just as ingesting food through our Jataragni is the foundation for life and health in the human, providing nourishment to nature through Yajna is the foundation for life and health of nature.
And just as if we are starved of food through our Jataragni, human life will languish and cease. Likewise, if nature is starved of nourishment through Yajna, nature will languish and be unable to support life.
Hence, we see the central importance of Yajna from the references from the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita. According to the Vedas, Yajna is essential to a healthy nature and environment, and a necessary aspect of human living.