Agnihotra is a beautiful home practice that anyone can do anywhere. When I say anyone I really mean it, I have a remarkable friend who sadly lost both his limbs when he was in his late teens, he was a young man from Austria. When he was recovering in hospital someone came to demonstrate Agnihotra and from that time he has performed it regularly without any limbs.
Agni is fire, fire is not just fire as we imagine it when someone says the word fire but all transformation and the underlying principal of transformation means one substance becoming another is agni. Agni is needed for the entire creation to exist. The very act of creation comes to life because of Agni. In Vedic tradition Agni is a Dev or a prime aspect of the creation and also another way of understanding god as where Agni is God is and Agni is one of the subtle qualities of God.
In our solar system Agni is very much personified by the Sun. Without the sun our human body could not exist nor any of the plants or life forms on planet earth. If the sun just stopped for short while all “life” would cease. The sun is radiating intelligent fire prana from it’s core out to all around. It is one of countless stars but in our solar system it’s presence is empirical to our life. Trees consume and store this agni from the sun and create great renowned structures this is nothing but son of the sun. Our physical bodies are comprised of the food we eat and this comes from the sun. So our body is just re-organized agni. If we awaken to the presence of agni around us we understand the world in a much deeper way. Ultimately agni will take all as through time and transformation we get what we call physical “death” where our body will no longer be containing the soul and ultimately the body returns back to the earth through agni.
So to understand agni is to understand life itself. Agnihotra is a Vedic practice to prepare a special fire from sacred substances. In Vedic science when a substance was “sacred” this would mean that it had immense value to energising and purifying the atmosphere and our consciousness. Sandalwood is a good example of the most “sacred” of woods. After 30 years the Sandalwood tree gives a fragrance that is nothing but heavenly. The inate intelligence of the tree forms this special substance that is known from Ayurvedic texts to be able to cure countless diseases. The smoke cleans the physical atmosphere removing bad odour and also cleans the vibrational atmosphere. Soma, Agni and Marut are the three basic principals of nature Soma being the cooling lunar essence, Agni being transformation and Marut being the animation of it all, what is also called Prana. In Ayurveda these are also called Kapha, Pitta and Vata. The prior names are more ancient and also the names of Devatas or facets of the gem so to speak the gem being the totality of all. When one sees all facets, one can subsequently grasp the gem itself.
So Sandalwood would be a sacred wood and it happens to have a very special vibrational fingerprint. Modern scientists can make chemical smells that are similar to the original like vanillin as a copy of vanilla, but the vibrational intelligence that is underlying the “fragrance” is what can not be copied, this is from the heart of the Divine in the countless forms that the Divine energy takes.
So with Agnihotra a sacred fire is prepared. Sandalwood can be used if it is available or affordable (at time of writing it is nearly as dear as Gold itself). Most common is to use dried cow dung cakes. Since millennia cow dung has been used in daily living it is the basis of Rshi Krshi agriculture which fed India since the beginning of it’s history, it is used in Ayurveda and is renowned in such formulae such as Panchagavya Grtham which is exempletory for unmade or chronic mental disorders. The floors of homes in Indian villages are all “sterilised” with cow dung. What an amazing magic, the cows excrement is actually anti-bacterial and once it dries it has a remarkable and beautiful fragrance. One of the oldest incenses in existence is simply to dry cow dung and burn it.
The smoke is highly medicinal, now the modern labs will show it has so many special effects but Rishis new it’s value as they understood the cow. The cow is a highly magnificent creature. The reason cows became “sacred” as in reality all creatures are “sacred” was because the Rshis understood it’s magnificence, the wonderment of it’s immense value to society on so many levels that they had to make it stand out that this should be protected, at all costs. Of course this does not mean one can worship cows but neglect other animals. Each and every creature has the Divine spark.
So once the fire is going an “offering” is made which is where the word “hotra” comes into play. The offering is simply an advanced form of smoke therapy on it’s very basic level. The offering is of cows ghee and whole rice. In other forms of Agnihotra other “offerings” are there, it is always a substance that has a particular vibrational fingerprint and when consummated by the fire it’s smoke and residual ashes will contain much potency. With Agnihotra one does the offering at a time that nature is extremely charged, the time of exact sunrise and sunset.
Did you notice how excited all nature gets at the time of sunset and sunrise. Time was taken seriously in the Vedic calendar and the calendar itself followed the very rhythms of natures cycles. So at the exact juncture of day to night or night to day there was a special flood of prana to the entire creation. Firstly the cycle is changing so there is a phase change for the entire planet. This phase change creates more harmony and coherence. This is why people often find sunrise and sunset very romantic. From a Jyotish perspective Sun rise is sun in the 1st house in the place of source of beginning and of soft and powerful strength. Sunset means sun is in the 7th house, sunsets are often romantic times, romantic just means a time for falling in love it could be with a person or with God. So this time is a good time to fall in love with God. The absolute dance of colours that comes which are all within our own physiology is a reminder of the source of all. All this creation is just different intelligent forms of vibration. We call it light or we call it sound but it is just vibration, intelligent vibration.
So there is the fire burning, the offering and the exact timing. The final ingredient is the chanting of a mantra. Sound is just a vibration that is within a specific frequency range (our ears here say from 20Hz to 15,000 Hz or a bit more if lucky or younger). Hz just means sine waves or cycles per second, pulsed intelligent frequencies.
Sanskrit was engineered that through the sounds the pulses would be perfect and coherent and represents the pulses of the creation itself. So when we opened our mouth to “chant” means reproduce a Sanskrit sound, we were tuning ourselves to the source of the creation. A recent study by a Sanskrit institute found the sound paters of recorded Sanskrit when analysed had waves within waves of the same mathematical formulae that life itself is using for all. This is called Golden Mean.
So by creating coherent harmonious pulsed vibration (called mantra) we get a specific effect. So when doing Agnihotra, this offering to the sacred fire, we offer the sound too. And finally the offering is done in a specific vessel, its measurements are not abstract, but perfect ratios. The word Pyramid means fire inside and the offering is performed in a pyramid. Fire was inside a pyramid as the triangular shape is ideal as an amplifier or condenser depending which way you sit it. If sit with the small base on the bottom it will amplify like a sound speaker will amplify as it directs the prana upwards and outwards no matter what it’s form is.
With Agnihotra the form is the substance being burnt (cow dung), rice, ghee and dung. Also trace amounts of the copper which the pyramid is made from are released. So it is a powerful home alchemy of purifying the world around us.
Subsequently the performer also gets much benefit by “living” in the purified atmosphere. The released smoke is highly fragrant (the ghee gives it a particular sweetness) and very pleasing to all around both physical beings, birds, insects, trees and all that we can not see too.
If you wish to learn Agnihotra then you can start by downloading our free software which has an interactive tutorial which will teach you and also give you easy reminders on your computer (or mobile). This software was produced by Vedic Society for a better world. If you enjoy it please contribute to continuing more projects like this.
You will also need to order Agnihotra equipment which we can send to you wherever you are on planet earth.