Bhagavata Yajna

Swami Prembhava Saraswati

On the 2nd of January 2006, the devatas, divine powers, were invoked to bless, guide, protect and watch over the seven days of the Bhagavata Yajna. This was not only an enormous event in itself, but a powerful energy field of transformation, upliftment, faith and joy. The field was Yoga Vidya, adjacent to Ganga Darshan, the home of Bihar School of Yoga and Bal Yoga Mitra Mandal (BYMM). All who entered this field were uplifted by this energy, and taken on a seven day journey of transformation.

The samskara of the ancient land of Ganga Darshan provided the perfect environment for the Bhagavata Yajna. This hill and the land surrounding it was once the seat of King Karna, also known as Danavir, the great giver, of Mahabharata fame, who practised tapasya here. The ancient history combined with the recent history of Bihar School of Yoga all created the required ingredients for the yajna to take seed, grow, blossom and produce the fruits and blessings for thousands of people in the present time and for years to come. The people of Munger and the children of BYMM hold these same samskaras within them, which are expressed through their faith and devotion. Absorbing and blossoming, as the land itself, they were drawn by the thousands to the land of Ganga Darshan to be a part of Bhagavata, the story of Krishna, the poorna avatar.

The yajna was initiated in Jyoti Mandir, the temple of the eternal flame, which has been burning steadily and unceasingly for over twenty years. This is a space of peace and introspection, and it was here that the pandits created the environment required for the invocation of the gods, traditionally named the ‘moola’, which is the base or foundation of the yajna. Jyoti Mandir became the place of invocation of the ancient Sanskrit mantras and pooja. It was the centre from where all the creative energies began and continued to feed, sustain and nourish the yajna, like a generator of prana.

After the pandits invoked the energy of Krishna in Jyoti Mandir, the murti was carried down to the site of the Bhagavata katha, on the field of Yoga Vidya, by an international procession. Lord Krishna was installed upon the dais, with the blowing of the conch and chanting of Vedic mantras. From there, he presided over and blessed the huge congregation of bhaktas, who came to hear his divine stories.

The Srimad Bhagavata is an incredible compendium on creation, dimensions of consciousness and yoga philosophy woven into the format of stories. The teachings of spiritual life give primacy to bhakti or full surrender to the diine will. Intermingling their eloquent presentation with beautiful kirtans and bhajans, Dr Akhilananda Shastri and his daughter, Bhakti Kiran, from Varanasi made the mythology come alive by correlating it with situations from daily life.

Traditionally, a yajna involves the process of generation, distribution and enjoyment. Such an event as the Bhagavata Yajna gives us the opportunity to experience the power of this process in its purest form. A yajna is also comprised of certain components, which include: pooja, invocation of the deity, chanting of vedic mantras, satsang, kirtan and daan/bhet. In this yajna, the pooja, invocation of the deity and the chanting of mantras took place in the Jyoti Mandir, while the satsang in the form of Bhagavata katha, kirtan and daan/bhet took place on the field of Yoga Vidya.

Yajnas have been performed since ancient times, and are still performed today with the same simplicity and beauty. The ancient rishis, seers and sages heard the mantras and visualized the yantras, forms of the devas, which are integral to yajna. The rishis were the scientists of their time. They studied the world around them, the planets, stars, moon and sun, and the changing influences these had on their lives, internally as well as externally. They understood the nature of their world, the climate and changing seasons, and how to live in harmony with them. They considered every aspect of this world as divine and treated everything with the same devotion and respect. In this way they were able to connect the material with the spiritual in their life, and the rituals and ceremonies they performed, such as yajna, reflect this celebration of life in all dimensions of existence.

The pooja, and mantras performed during the Bhagavata Yajna are the same as those performed thousands of years ago. Daily worship was offered to the gods and to the forces of nature, such as: planets, sun and moon, plants, land, elements, climate (wind, rain), feminine and masculine nature, and the generating, sustaining and destructive aspects of creation. It is this worship of the natural forces that makes the yajna such a powerful event. All the forces of life are invoked and awakened, which contributes to the process of purification, growth and transformation of nature.

The pooja area for the Bhagavata Yajna contained three vedis, which were small representations of the cosmos and the divine forces. Radha and Krishna formed the central vedi. The left vedi contained the shaktipeetha, the creative and dynamic forces of nature in the form of the sixteen matrikas, or little mothers, and the Sarvatu Bhadra, the yantra representing auspiciousness to all beings. This vedi also included Gauri-Ganesha and Varuna, the Lord of the waters, controlling weather, oceans, seas and rivers. The third vedi, on the right, represented the energies of the navagraha, nine planets, in the form of yantras, along with Indra, Lord of the Devas, and Rudra, the destructive/transformative energy of creation. During the pooja, the worship of pustaka, the ancient books, in this case the Srimad Bhagavata, which hold the knowledge and power of the spiritual teachings over thousands of years, was observed. Tulsi Devi, the holy plant of healing, and the guiding inspiration of guru, were also included in the pooja and offerings. The worship went on daily throughout the seven days, and the Sanskrit mantras of the Srimad Bhagavata were chanted, maintaining the sanctity of the entire program and all its activities.

Throughout the yajna, the pooja was performed with pure and natural materials, the same simple clay pots, natural grains, oil, ghee, flowers, dhoop and camphor which were used 5,000 years ago. Each item has its own scientific properties that purify and uplift both the individual and the environment. Simultaneously, the Bhagavata katha was told on the field of Yoga Vidya to the thousands of people, who were inspired and enthralled by the pervasive spirit of satsang, kirtan, seva and joy, which continued for seven days. The beauty of it was that nobody consciously even knew it was happening, but this yajna definitely changed the direction of their lives and the way in which they relate to themselves and the world around them.

The human race has been the cause of unprecedented change and destruction of the earth’s ecosystems and environment. We take, enjoy and destroy, without distribution, without sharing or giving anything back. Nature has become a utility for the satisfaction of our pleasure and greed, without consideration or respect. By the performance of yajna, however, we can generate a new awareness whereby all the forces of nature are respected and invoked. In this way, we align ourselves and our environment with the positive energies of creation, which are generating, sustaining, and transforming. During yajna, the environment is purified by the vibration of mantras that permeate the air all around. This also affects our inner environment; the thoughts and feelings are harmonized and become clear, pure and inspirational.

The seven day Bhagavata Yajna culminated in a havan, fire ceremony, which invoked the ancient energies of the land and paid respect to them, offering peace and gratitude to all the aspects of nature responsible for the successful culmination of this historical event. Agni, the Lord of fire, was first invoked in Jyoti Mandir through mantras and the rubbing together of aranya, fire sticks. Within minutes Agni arose in his full glory, without fuel, matches or chemicals of any kind. Just as Lord Krishna had been carried down to the field in a procession on the first day, Agni was carried from the moola of Jyoti Mandir to the site of the havan. This symbolized that the process of transformation was being completed. Just as Shakti passes through the seven chakras and merges with Shiva in sahasrara, the energy generated in the moola throughout the seven days was transported to the field, where thousands were awaiting it. With guru as the witness, all could feel the power of inspiration and grace.

When you can experience the power of the divine and the forces of nature around and within you, the essence of yajna becomes real to you. The Bhagavata Yajna was a time of great unification and inspiration, reaffirming our faith and purpose in spiritual life and strengthening our dedication to continue on the path towards our goal.