Agnihotra

Agnihotra (IAST: Agnihotra, Devanagari: अग्निहोत्र) refers to the twice-daily heated milk offering made by those in the Śrauta tradition.[1] This tradition dates back to the Vedic age; the Brahmans perform the Agnihotra ritual chanting the verses from the Rigveda. The tradition is now practiced in many parts of South Asia in the Indian sub-continent, including primarily India and most particularly in Nepal. The Brahman who performs Agnihotra ritual is called Agnihotri.

The history of Agnihotra ritual — the casting of cow milk (or ghee) into the fire, at every sunset and at every sunrise — has been traced from Indo-Iranian fire-worship of the Zoroastrians, as seen in Yasna Haptaŋhāiti in the Old Avestan. This was already popular in India with Upaniṣads as religious performance.

Agnihotra rituals in Nepal

Witzel (1992) locates the first Agnishala hypothetically at Jhul (Mātātīrtha), in the western ridge of the Kathmandu valley and later at the southern rim of the palace of Aṃśuvermā at Hadigaon, Kathmandu. The first source of inscription evidence was from Tachapal tole, east part of Bhaktapur city, also shown by a legend that the Maithila King Harisiṃhadeva would establish the yantra of Taleju Bhavānī in the house of an Agnihotri. From 1600 CE onward, the Agnihotra has been attested to Patan only.

The Agnihotra ritual in Nepal has been first recorded in an inscription of King Anandadeva in c. 1140 AD that mentions of the initiations of his two sons, viz. Yasomalla and prince Somesvara at Agnimatha (or Agnishala in Lalitpur).[2] The temple of Agnishala since the 12th century (or before?) still maintains the Vedic tradition of Agnihotra fire sacrifice ritual and has since then undergone many ritual changes.[2][3] However, the basic Vedic performance is still intact.

Alongside the one in Lalitpur there are other of such Agnishalas identified and recently revived, viz.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ Knipe, David M. (2015). Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Anthra Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ a b Witzel, Michael (1992). Hoek, A W van den; Kolff, D H A; Oort, M S, eds. "Meaningful Rituals: Vedic, Medieval, and Contemporary Concepts in the Nepalese Agnihotra Ritual". Ritual, State and History in South Asia: Essays in Honour of J.C. Heesterman. E J Brill: 774–828. ISBN 9004094679.
  3. ^ Rajopadhyaya, Abhas D (2017). Fire Rituals in Newār Community: The Dynamics of Rituals at Agnimaṭha, Pāṭan [MA Thesis]. Kathmandu: Department of Anthropology, Tri-Chandra College (affiliated to Tribhuvan University).
  4. ^ Witzel, Michael (1986). "Agnihtora-Rituale in Nepal" [Agnihotra Ritual in Nepal]. In Kölver, B; Leinhard, Seigfried. Formen kulturellen Wandels und andere Beirtaege zur Erforschung des Himalaya. St Augustin: VGH Wissenschaftsverlag. pp. 157–187.
Achamana

Achamanam (achamana, achmana) is one of the most important rituals in the Hindu tradition. It is a purification ritual that is believed to cure all physical and mental illnesses.

Agni

Agni ( AG-nee, Sanskrit: अग्नि, Pali: Aggi, Malay: Api) is a Sanskrit word meaning fire, and connotes the Vedic fire god of Hinduism. He is also the guardian deity of the southeast direction, and is typically found in southeast corners of Hindu temples. In the classical cosmology of the Indian religions, Agni as fire is one of the five inert impermanent constituents (Dhatus) along with space (Akasha/Dyaus), water (Jal), air (Vayu/ Varuna) and earth (Prithvi), the five combining to form the empirically perceived material existence (Prakriti).In Vedic literature, Agni is a major and oft-invoked god along with Indra and Soma. Agni is considered the mouth of the gods and goddesses, and the medium that conveys offerings to them in a homa (votive ritual). He is conceptualized in ancient Hindu texts to exist at three levels, on earth as fire, in the atmosphere as lightning, and in the sky as the sun. This triple presence connects him as the messenger between gods and human beings in the Vedic thought. The relative importance of Agni declined in the post-Vedic era, as he was internalized and his identity evolved to metaphorically represent all transformative energy and knowledge in the Upanishads and later Hindu literature. Agni remains an integral part of Hindu traditions, such as being the central witness of the rite-of-passage ritual in traditional Hindu weddings called Saptapadi or Agnipradakshinam (seven steps and mutual vows), as well being part of Diya (lamp) in festivals such as Divali and Aarti in Puja.Agni (Pali: Aggi) is a term that appears extensively in Buddhist texts, and in the literature related to the Senika heresy debate within the Buddhist traditions. In the ancient Jainism thought, Agni (fire) contains soul and fire-bodied beings, additionally appears as Agni-kumara or "fire princes" in its theory of rebirth and a class of reincarnated beings, and is discussed in its texts with the equivalent term Tejas.

Agnicayana

The Agnicayana (ati-rātrá agní-cayana "the building up of the fire altar") or Athirathram (Malayalam: അതിരാത്രം) is a category of advanced Śrauta rituals.

After one has established the routine of the twice-daily routine of Agnihotra offerings and biweekly dara-purna-masa offerings, one is eligible to perform the Agnistoma, the simplest soma rite. After the agnistoma, one is eligible to perform more extensive soma rites and Agnicayana rites. There are various varieties of Agnicayana.Agnicayana continues to be performed in Andhra.

Agnihotri

Agnihotri is an Indian Brahmin surname derived from the Sanskrit word Agnihotra. The term Agnihotri originally referred to the Brahmins who maintained the sacred fire during the fire rituals.People with this surname include:

Arvind Agnihotri (born 1966), cardiovascular surgeon on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine

Atul Agnihotri (born 1970), Bollywood actor

Bhishma Kumar Agnihotri, former Chancellor of Southern University Law Center, USA, former Ambassador-at-Large Global, Government of India

Bharat Agnihotri (born 1953), member of the Alberta Liberal Party

Mezhathol Agnihothri (born 4th century AD), Shrauta High Priest who revived the ancient traditions of Yaagam in Bharatam

Rati Agnihotri (born 1960), veteran Indian actress

Shiv Narayan Agnihotri (born 1850), founder of the Deva Samaj

Apurva Agnihotri, Indian actor

Vivek Agnihotri, Indian Bollywood director

Shilpa Saklani Agnihotri, television actress

Satish Agnihotri (born 1956), Madras high court judge

Mridul Agnihotri (born 1998), politician of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh

Alta (dye)

Alta (also Mahawar or Rose Bengal) is a red dye that mainly Hindu women in the Indian subcontinent, notably in Bengal and in Balasore and Baripada regions of Odisha, apply with cotton to their hands and feet during marriage ceremonies and festivals. Alta was originally produced from lac, although later it was replaced with synthetic dyes.

Ashram

Traditionally, an ashram-Hindi (Sanskrit ashrama or ashramam) is a spiritual hermitage or a monastery in Indian religions.

Ashvattha

According to Hindu mythology, asvattha (Sanskrit: अश्वत्थ, IAST: aśvattha) (or Assattha) that is, the Sacred Fig, is a sacred tree for the Hindus and has been extensively mentioned in texts pertaining to Hinduism, mentioned as 'peepul' (Ficus religiosa) in Rig Veda mantra I.164.20 . Buddhist texts term the tree as Bodhi tree, a tree under which Gautam Buddha meditated and gained enlightenment.

Ashvattha is a name of Shiva and Vishnu; according to Sankara this name is derived from the terms, shva (tomorrow) and stha (that which remains). The Atharvan were the recipients of gifts (given to Payu) in the Danastuti from Prince Ashvattha’s generosity (Rig Veda mantra IV.47.24); the prince identified with Divodasa by Griffith.Yama while instructing Naciketa describes the eternal Asvattha tree with its root upwards and branches downwards, which is the pure immortal Brahman, in which all these worlds are situated, and beyond which there is nothing else (Katha Upanishad Verse II.vi.1). But Krishna tells us that the Asvattha tree having neither end nor beginning nor stationariness whatsoever has its roots upwards and branches downwards whose branches are nourished by the Gunas and whose infinite roots spread in the form of action in the human world which though strong are to be cut off by the forceful weapon of detachment to seek the celestial abode from which there is no return (Bhagavata Gita Chapter XV Verses 1-4). The former teaches that the Asvattha tree is real being identical with Brahman and therefore impossible to cut-off; the latter insists that the Asvattha tree must be regarded as unreal being identical with existence which needs to be cut-off. The Puranas such as the Padma Purana and the Skanda Purana enumerate the very many advantages to be secured from reverentially approaching and worshipping the Ashvattha (Peepul) tree.The first historical person named in connection with the worship of the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya is Asoka whose Buddhist name was Piyadasi.The fire sticks used in Hindu sacrificial fire like agnihotra also contain dried wood of ashvatha tree.

Baburaoji Parkhe

Malhar Sadashiv (M S) "Baburaoji" Parkhe (15 April 1912 – 13 January 1997),

was an Indian industrialist. Parkhe was known to have a good study of Vedic literature. He was known to be a strong follower of Param Sadguru Shree Gajanan Maharaj of Shivpuri, Akkalkot and believer in his teachings of Agnihotra. He was involved in the worldwide propagation of the Agnihotra way of life. Parkhe delivered lectures and wrote several books on the subject.

Butea monosperma

Butea monosperma is a species of Butea native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia, ranging across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and western Indonesia. Common names include flame-of-the-forest and bastard teak.It is a medium-sized dry season-deciduous tree, growing to 15 m (49 ft) tall. It is a slow growing tree, young trees have a growth rate of a few feet per year. The leaves are pinnate, with an 8–16 cm (3.1–6.3 in) petiole and three leaflets, each leaflet 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long. The flowers are 2.5 cm (0.98 in) long, bright orange-red, and produced in racemes up to 15 cm (5.9 in) long. The fruit is a pod 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) long and 4–5 cm (1.6–2.0 in) broad.In West Bengal, it is associated with spring, especially through the poems and songs of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who likened its bright orange flame-like flower to fire. In Santiniketan, where Tagore lived, this flower has become an indispensable part of the celebration of spring. The plant has lent its name to the town of Palashi, famous for the historic Battle of Plassey fought there.In the state of Jharkhand Palash is associated with the folk tradition. Many folk literary expressions describe palash as the forest fire. The beauty of dry deciduous forests of Jharkhand reach their height when most trees have fallen their leaves and Palash is in its full bloom. Palash is also the State Flower of Jharkhand.

It is said that the tree is a form of Agni, God of Fire. In Telangana, these flowers are specially used in the worship of Lord Shiva on occasion of Shivratri. In Telugu, this tree is called Modugu chettu.

In Kerala, this is called 'plasu' and 'chamata'. Chamata is the vernacular version of Sanskrit word 'Samidha', small piece of wood that is used for 'agnihotra' or fire ritual. In most of the old namboodiri (Kerala Brahmin) houses, one can find this tree because this is widely used for their fire ritual. Tamil Brahmins have a daily Agnihotra ritual called "Samidha Dhanan", where barks of this tree is a main component for agnihotra, and this ritualis very essential for Brahmacharis during the first year of Brahmacharya.

In Theravada Buddhism, Butea monosperma is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by second Lord Buddha called "Medhankara – මේධංකර". The plant is known as කෑල in Sinhala.

Charmanwati

Charmanwati (also spelled Charmanvati) is a river mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. It is believed that the ancient name of Chambal river was Charmanvati, meaning the river on whose banks leather is dried. In due course of time, this river became famous as the river of ‘charman’ (skin) and was named as Charmanvati.The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, refers to the Chambal river as the Charmanyavati: originating in the blood of thousands of animals and cows sacrificed by the Aryan King Rantideva.

"So large was the number of animals sacrificed in the Agnihotra of that king that the secretions flowing from his kitchen from the heaps of skins deposited there caused a veritable river which from this circumstance, came to be called the Charmanwati."

Karmkand

Karmkand refers to ritual services proferred by swamis or religious Brahmins in exchange for dakshina.

Mrunmayee Deshpande

Mrunmayee Deshpande (Marathi: मृण्मयी देशपांडे) (born 29 May 1988) is an Indian film actress, who appears in Bollywood and Marathi movies. She has appeared in Hindi and Marathi films and TV serials and established herself as one of Marathi cinema's leading actresses and an accomplished dancer. Her first daily soap was aired on Star Pravah, named Agnihotra.

Pinda (riceball)

Piṇḍas are balls of cooked rice and barley flour mixed with ghee and black sesame seeds offered to ancestors during Hindu funeral rites (Antyesti) and ancestor worship (Śrāddha).

Pindi (Hindu iconography)

Pindi are decked stones or tree stumps viewed in Hinduism as abstract manifestations of the mother goddess Shakti. Most of the 20th century goddess temples in Himachal Pradesh, India, enshrine a pindi.

Pranagnihotra Upanishad

The Pranagnihotra Upanishad (Sanskrit: प्राणाग्निहोत्र उपनिषत्, IAST:Pranagnihotra Upaniṣad) is a minor Upanishad of Hinduism. In the anthology of 108 Upanishads of the Muktika canon, narrated by Rama to Hanuman, it is listed at number 94. The Sanskrit text is one of the 22 Samanya Upanishads, part of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy literature and is attached to the Atharva Veda. The Upanishad comprises 23 verses.The Pranagnihotra Upanishad's title literally means Hotra (sacrifice) offered to the Agni (fire) of Prana (breath, life force)." The text asserts that universal soul (God) is within one self, all Vedic gods are embodied in the human body giving one various abilities, eating is allegorically a sacrifice to the gastric fire, and life is a ceremony to the God within.The Upanishad suggests that even if one does not perform external rituals such as the Vedic Agnihotra and one lacks the knowledge of Samkhya or Yoga philosophy, one can nevertheless achieve moksha (liberation, freedom) by realizing that the God is within one's body, and the universal soul in the individual self represents the all pervading Brahman. This realization makes a person sail through all suffering and vicissitudes of life. The Upanishad in its final passages states that virtuous duty of non-violence, compassion, patience and memory unto others is an act of worship to the God within. It concludes by re-asserting that "all the gods are enclosed in this body here".The text is also known as Pranagnihotropanishad (Sanskrit: प्राणाग्निहोत्रोपनिषत्).

Pravargya

In the historical Vedic religion, Pravargya was a ceremony introductory to the Agnishtoma (Soma sacrifice), at which fresh milk is poured into a heated vessel called mahavira or gharma and offered to the Ashvins. The ceremony is described in details in the technical texts on proper ritual, the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Shrautasutras.

Putrakameshti

Putrakameshti is a special Yajna performed in Hinduism for the sake of having a male child/son. It is a kaamya-karma.

In the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, upon the recommendation of Sage Vashishta, King Dasharatha of Ayodhya performed the Putrakameshti Yajna under the supervision of Rishishringa Muni, who was an expert in Yajurveda, which has the guidelines for this prayer. After its successful completion, the Lord of Fire, Agnidev appeared and gave a bowl of sweet to the King of Ayodhya, which was provided to his three queens in order to promulgate his sons Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.

Sandhyavandanam

Sandhyavandana (Sanskrit: संध्यावन्दन, sandhyāvandana) is a mandatory religious ritual performed, traditionally, by Dvija communities of Hindus, particularly those initiated through the sacred thread ceremony referred to as the Upanayanam and instructed in its execution by a Guru, in this case one qualified to teach Vedic ritual. The Sandhyāvandanam consists of recitation from the Vedas, accompanied by ritual. These rituals are performed three times a day - at morning (prātaḥsaṃdhyā), noon (mādhyāhnika) and evening (sāyaṃsaṃdhyā).

The Sandhyavandanam is the oldest extant liturgy in world religion. As a practice, it may be descended from the much older daily Agnihotra ritual.

Sandhyavandanam literally means "salutation to Sandhya". Sandhya, in turn, has traditionally been interpreted either as "the transition moments of the day" (namely the two twilights dawn and dusk), or as "the solar noon". Thus, Sandhyavandanam may be defined as the ritual "salutation to twilight or the solar noon".

The term sandhyā, when used by itself in the sense of "daily practice", may also refer to the performance of these rituals at the opening and closing of the day.

The steps in the Sandhyavandan always include the following essential components:

Ācamanaṃ and aṅga-vandanaṃconsists of Nama Sankirthana - taking the names of the Lord

Prāṇāyāma is the ritual purification of internals via breathing exercises

sūrya-upasthānaṃ ,

Mārjanaṃ and punar-mārjanaṃ is a ritual self-purification

Mantra Prōkṣaṇam is a prayer for atonement of sins

Āghamarṣaṇaṃ (performed by some schools, especially Rig Vedins) is a prayer for forgiveness of sins

Gāyatri japaṃ is meditation

Gāyatri Upasthānam is a prayer to the Hindu deities Mitra (performed during the morning prayer) and Varuna (performed during the evening prayer)

Abhivādana is a salutory introduction offered to all deities. It usually follows a prostration to the deities in each direction (dikpālakas)In addition to the above Vedic components of the Sandhyavandanam, many include the following Tantric component:

Navagraha tarpaṇaṃ are offerings made every day to each of the 8 planets.The steps in the Rigveda Sandhyavandan are twenty-eight in number. The emerging need to perform the Sandhyaavandanam daily is supposedly increasing .

Uthsavar

Uthsavar or Utsavar is derived from the Sanskrit word, Utsavam, a festival predominantly referring to Hindu religion. In Hinduism, it is referred to the festival deity's moorthi usually taken during temple festival processions. Utsavar moorthis are generally made of metal, and Moolavar murthi is usually made of stone.

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