THE AGNIHOTRA (Fire Ceremony) A Revaluation
TRANSLATION AND COMMENTS By Nataraja Guru. (Values Magazine, March 1968)
Aum- mystic syllable;
agne tava yat tejah- O fire, that light which is yours;
tat braahmam- that is of brahman, the Absolute;
atah tvam- by this, you;
pratyaksham brahmaasi- are the perceived Absolute;
tvadiya- yours are;
buddhih iti- intellect as;
sapta jihvaah- seven tongues;
tvayi- into you;
vishyaah- sense interests;
iti samidho juhomi- as offerings, I sacrifice unto you;
aham iti - as I;
aajyam juhomi- I sacrifice ghee;
tvam nah- you, us;
prasida prasida- propitiate, do;
sreyasca- benefits hereafter;
preyasca - benefits here;
svaha- (final word-gesture).
O Fire, That light which is yours,
That pertains to the Absolute;
By this you are the Absolute perceived;
Yours are the five senses, the mind,
The intelligence, making seven tongues.
I sacrifice unto you sense interests as offerings;
As ego, I sacrifice clarified butter.
Propitiate us! Propitiate!
Bring us benefits both of here and hereafter!
Svaha! (final word-gesture of Vedic ritual).
This was composed by Narayana Guru in order to equate Vedic and Vedantic Values unitively in a dialectically restated form.
It can be repeated thrice by one chief disciple in charge of the clarified-butter (ghee), the cup and spoon, and with half-a-dozen brahmacharis (student-type followers of the Absolute). Those could include virgin women or even married women when they have openly chosen a dedicated and pure way of life - that of a varni (one having varna or distinction of a life of principle, or having some sort of claim to absolutism as claimed by herself and acceptable generally).
These three repetitions can be bound by apt santipathas (usual introductory words of invocation or dedication to a peaceful context.) Or, santih, santih, santih could end each such invocation, and beginning with aum sahanavavatu (let us both be saved together, i.e. the teacher and the pupil) could be further punctuated preferably by aum purnamadah (plenitude yonder); purnamidam (plenitude here); purnat (out of plenitude; purnam udacyate (plenitude arises); purnasya (from plenitude); purnam adaya (taking away plenitude); purnam eva (plenitude itself); avasishyate (is found as remainder) etc. could be repeated as many times as desired.
The main student-disciple who first lights the fire in a deep pan or pit, pours clarified butter by himself at the words ajyam juhomi (I offer clarified butter). The others take a fistful of different grains mixed with leaves or flowers or any other objects of edible or enjoyable value, with a drop of clarified butter in the mixture when they begin to repeat the chant after the chief sacrificer. Purnamdah and santih are each repeated thrice by way of punctuation of the former and conclusion of the latter.
The whole ceremony takes place in the presence of a chief disciple or Guru in charge of the centre, who sits silently watching, and only overseeing or permitting the correctness. Any other, willing or desiring to take part out of the company present, man or woman, boy or girl could be permitted if they are with it and show conformist acceptance and are not a least against it.
What should be noted in this ritual-cum-chant is that the Self and the non-Self with the structural elements (psycho-physically or phenomenologically understood), with a one-one correspondence between them, are here equated and cancelled out into the neutrality of the Absolute. It is not to be looked upon as Vedic form of worship of the god of Fire, but from the word braahmam (pertaining to the Absolute) has a qualitative and schematic status only as a kind of object-lesson for "look and say" as in modern teaching. What you hear and what you see are equated and cancelled out to reveal the highest of all values, which is the Absolute Self, knowing no distinction between Self and non-Self.
This same ceremony could be performed on all occasions such as baptism, marriage or death and contains the same elements of sacrifice as understood by Agamemnon who sacrificed Iphigenia or Abraham who was about to sacrifice Isaac. Sacrifice merely represents the vertical value principle in the context of correct scientific Absolutism.
In Western countries the same ceremony could be adapted and gone through round a table in a drawing or dining room with miniature pans or spoons or cups. The effect of the lesson is independent of all considerations of big or small, one or many, part or whole, cause or effect, phenomenal or noumenal. Always the same universal concrete structuralism of the total situation is to e kept in mind, irrespective of all ends and means.
(Some further notes on the need for sacrifice and how wisdom is meant to help balance this element is to be found in Guru's autobiography, Reveries.1. April 1968, that shed more light on the questions)