In the Vedic Hinduism, a homa (Sanskrit: होम) also known as havan, is a fire ritual performed on special occasions by a Hindu priest usually for a homeowner (“grihasth”: one possessing a home).
It is rooted in the Vedic religion, and was adopted in ancient times by Buddhism and Jainism. The practice spread from India to Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia. Homa rituals remain an important part of many Hindu ceremonies, and variations of homa continue to be practiced in current-day Buddhism, particularly in parts of Tibet and Japan. It is also found in modern Jainism.
Homa traditions are found all across Asia, from Samarkand to Japan, over a 3000-year history. A homa, in all its Asian variations, is a ceremonial ritual that offers food to fire and is ultimately linked to the traditions contained in the Vedic religion. The tradition reflects a reverence for fire and cooked food (pākayajña) that developed in Asia, and the Brahmana layers of the Vedas are the earliest records of this ritual reverence.
The yajñā or fire sacrifice became a distinct feature of the early śruti rituals. A śrauta ritual is a form of quid pro quo where through the fire ritual, a sacrificer offered something to the gods and goddesses, and the sacrificer expected something in return. The Vedic ritual consisted of sacrificial offerings of something edible or drinkable, such as milk, clarified butter, yoghurt, rice, barley, an animal, or anything of value, offered to the gods with the assistance of fire priests. This Vedic tradition split into śrauta (śruti-based) and Smarta (Smṛti-based).
The homa ritual practices were observed by different Buddhist and Jaina traditions, states Phyllis Granoff, with their texts appropriating the “ritual eclecticism” of Hindu traditions, albeit with variations that evolved through medieval times. The homa-style Vedic sacrifice ritual, states Musashi Tachikawa, was absorbed into Mahayana Buddhism and homa rituals continue to be performed in some Buddhist traditions in Tibet, China and Japan.
The homa ritual grammar is common to many sanskara (rite of passage) ceremonies in various Hindu traditions. The Vedic fire ritual, at the core of various homa ritual variations in Hinduism, is a “bilaterally symmetrical” structure of a rite. It often combines fire and water, burnt offerings and soma, fire as masculine, earth and water as feminine, the fire vertical and reaching upwards, while the altar, offerings and liquids being horizontal. The homa ritual’s altar (fire pit) is itself a symmetry, most often a square, a design principle that is also at the heart of temples and mandapas in Indian religions. The sequence of homa ritual events similarly, from beginning to end, are structured around the principles of symmetry.
The fire-altar (vedi or homa/havan kunda) is generally made of brick or stone or a copper vessel, and is almost always built specifically for the occasion, being dismantled immediately afterwards. This fire-altar is invariably built in square shape. While very large vedis are occasionally built for major public homas, the usual altar may be as small as 1 × 1 foot square and rarely exceeds 3 × 3 feet square.
A ritual space of homa, the altar is temporary and movable. The first step in a homa ritual is the construction of the ritual enclosure (mandapa), and the last step is its deconstruction. The altar and mandapa is consecrated by a priest, creating a sacred space for the ritual ceremony, with recitation of mantras. With hymns sung, the fire is started, offerings collected. The tranquili enters, symbolically cleanses himself or herself, with water, joins the homa ritual, gods invited, prayers recited, conch shell blown. The sacrificers pour offerings and libations into the fire, with hymns sung, to the sounds of svaha. The oblations and offerings typically consist of clarified butter (ghee), milk, curd, sugar, saffron, grains, coconut, perfumed water, incense, seeds, petals and herbs.
The altar and the ritual is a symbolic representation of the Hindu cosmology, a link between reality and the worlds of gods and living beings. The ritual is also a symmetric exchange, a “quid pro quo”, where humans offer something to the gods through the medium of fire, and in return expect that the gods will reciprocate with strength and that which they have power to influence.
The homa (goma) ritual of consecrated fire is found in some Buddhist traditions of Tibet, China and Japan. Its roots are the Vedic ritual, it evokes Buddhist deities, and is performed by qualified Buddhist priests. In Chinese translations of Buddhist texts such as Kutadanta Sutta, Dighanikaya and Suttanipata, dated to be from the 6th to 8th century, the Vedic homa practice is attributed to Buddha’s endorsement along with the claim that Buddha was the original teacher of the Vedas in his previous lives.
In some Buddhist homa traditions, such as in Japan, the central deity invoked in this ritual is usually Acalanātha (Fudō Myōō 不動明王, lit. immovable wisdom king). Acalanātha is another name for the god Rudra in the Vedic tradition, for Vajrapani or Chakdor in Tibetan traditions, and of Sotshirvani in Siberia. The Acala Homa ritual procedure follows the same Vedic protocols found in Hinduism, with offerings into the fire by priests who recite mantras being the main part of the ritual and the devotees clap hands as different rounds of hymns have been recited. Other versions of the Vedic homa (goma) rituals are found in the Tendai and Shingon Buddhist traditions as well as in Shugendō and Shinto in Japan.
In most Shingon temples, this ritual is performed daily in the morning or the afternoon, and is a requirement for all acharyas to learn this ritual upon entering the priesthood. The original medieval era texts of the goma rituals are in Siddham Sanskrit seed words and Chinese, with added Japanese katakana to assist the priests in proper pronunciation. Larger scale ceremonies often include multiple priests, chanting, the beating of Taiko drums and blowing of conch shell (horagai) around the mandala with fire as the ceremonial focus. Homa rituals (sbyin sreg) widely feature in Tibetan Buddhism and Bön and are linked to a variety of Mahayana Buddhas and tantric deities.
Homa rituals are also found in Jainism. For example, the Ghantakarn ritual is a homa sacrifice, which has evolved over the centuries, and where ritual offerings are made into fire, with pancamrit (milk, curd, sugar, saffron and clarified butter) and other symbolic items such as coconut, incense, seeds and herbs. The mantra recited by Jains include those in Sanskrit, and the 16th-century Svetambara text Ghantakarna Mantra Stotra is a Sanskrit text which describes the homa ritual dedicated to Ghantakarna Mahavira in one of the Jaina sects.
The Adipurana of Jainism, in section 47.348, describes a Vedic fire ritual in the memory of Rishabha. Traditional Jaina wedding ceremonies, like among the Hindus, is a Vedic fire sacrifice ritual.
Most of us do not know the importance of Swaha. The Rigvedic Aryans started using fire to carry the gods to the gods during the Yagya tradition. But “Swaha” was chanted while offering Havis in the Yajna altar. The meaning of Swaha itself is very interesting.
Chanting the mantra for the purpose of invoking the deva, chanting the swaha and offering the prescribed havan material to the gods through fire. The prescribed natural meaning of this swaha is to deliver – but to whom and to whom? That is, the necessary physical matter to his beloved. This is the last and most important ritual of the Havan ritual. No yajna can be considered successful until one assumes the deity of the future. But the gods can take such an eclipse only when offered by fire through “Swaha”.
Certainly, from the beginning of the structure of the mantra legislations, consideration had been started on the fact that how to bring the future to God for his sake? Various attempts by various measures were made while administering the sacrificial law. Ultimately, Agni was found to be the best medium and “swaha” was formed as the appropriate word.
The mythological narratives related to Agni and Swaha are also very interesting. Srimad Bhagavat and Shiva Purana have described descriptions related to Swaha. Apart from this, in the Vedic texts like Rigveda, Yajurveda, many suktas have been composed on the importance of fire.
According to the Speaking Tree of the Times of India, Swaha means to deliver correctly. In other words, to say the necessary physical matter to his beloved. In fact, no Yajna can be considered successful until the deity of the havan is performed. However, the gods can only take such an eclipse when offered by fire through swaha.
According to mythology, Swaha was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. He was married to Agnidev. Agnidev receives Havishya through his wife, Swaha, and through him the same deity invoked gets to the deity. At the same time, according to the second legend, Aghadev’s wife Swaha had three sons named Pavak, Pavman and Shuchi.
Another interesting story is also related to the origin of boon swaha given by Lord Krishna. According to this, Swaha was an art of nature, which was married to Agni at the insistence of the gods. Lord Krishna himself gave this boon to Swaha that only through that the deity would be able to accept Havisya. The sacrificial purpose is fulfilled only when the deity invoked is delivered to their favorite enjoyment.
In Hinduism, people often perform Havan before doing any auspicious work. During the havan, people chant the word ‘Swaha’ while offering sacrifices. But very few people know why the word Swaha is spoken.
Actually, Swaha has a fixed natural meaning – to deliver correctly. Pandit Vivek Garola said that the offering of havan material is offered to the deities through fire, chanting the word ‘Swaha’ to invoke the gods. No Yajna can be considered successful until the deity is accepted by the divine, but the deity accepts such a soul only if it is devoured by fire through fire. According to the legend Swaha is the wife of Agnidev. In such a situation, after chanting Swaha, the havan of the prescribed havan material is offered to the deities through fire.
Havan or Homa is an age old sacred Fire ritual in Hinduism which has been performed since Vedic era in order to invoke the powerful energies of the Divine. This ritual is also performed to seek blessings of Gods and Goddesses by igniting the Holy Fire. In this sacred ritual, special offering are kindled in the Holy Fire while chanting the Sanskrit mantras. The ritual of Havan is conducted as per the Holy Vedic scriptures. The sacred Fire and the mantras fill the ambience with purifying and auspicious positive vibrations and thus benefit everyone who is attending the Homa in a splendid manner. It purifies the body, mind and soul, elevates spiritually, makes the mind calm and offers a sense of tranquility.
Why Havan Kund
The rich Hindu rituals entail invoking the celestial presence of the Divine in the idols of the deities or in the Kalash (vase). But in this Kalyuga, due to pollution, the air, water and earth are all polluted and there are rare chances of them being pure. Hence, if there are impurities when the Kalash or the deity idols are being made, then invoking the divine presence in these idols or the Kalash would not be possible. Therefore, we put to use ‘Agni’ (Fire), as fire is the one of the two elements that cannot be polluted, the other being Akash (space). We cannot conduct traditional rituals in space hence; we carry out the spiritual sadhana through Fire. Also in Sanskrit fire is known as “Pavaka”, meaning one who purifies”. Thus, the Fire element is one of the purest elements that purify everything that comes into contact with it.
Havan Kund Usage
Haven Kund is basically a reservoir in which the sacred offerings are kindled. The Haven Kunds are energy centres where divinity is evoked. Various Haven Samagri which include wood, herbs and more are burnt inside the Haven Kund along with offering of ghee and Japa of various mantra to invoke positivity and various energies. The shape of the Haven Kund is said to generate a special energy field and also store this divine energy. The energies generated due to the Haven have properties which are bacteriostatic. The peculiar shape of the Haven Kund helps to generates, stores and spreads the divine energies in the surrounding atmosphere, thus filling the atmosphere with divinity.
Types of Havan Kund
Different shapes of Haven Kund are available today; the shape of the Haven Kund too has a deep meaning attached to it. The meaning and significance of different shapes of the Haven Kund are mentioned in our ancient scriptures. Let us take a look at few types of Havan Kund along with their significance:
Rectangular or Square
Lotus-shaped and more
The shape of the Haven Kund also depends upon the Sankalpa taken and the situation of the Yajrnana. The most common Haven Kunds that are generally used are as follows:
Chaturkara (Square shape) Havan Kund
These Haven Kunds are generally used to gain Siddhis and to accomplish all the work.
Semi- circle shaped Havan Kund
The Semi- circle shaped Havan Kunda is known as the Ardha Chandrakara Haven Kund which is generally used to get peace, happiness, and harmonious family life.
The Triangle shaped Havan Kund
The triangle shaped Havan Kund are also known as the Trikonakara Haven Kund or the Trikon Kund, These Haven Kunds are designed in order to win over enemies.
The Vrut Yajna Kund
The Vrut Haven Kund is circular in shape. This Haven Kund is designed for peace and maintaining public welfare. In order to win over unknown threat and enemies the Star shaped Haven Kund is used. This Haven Kund is known as the Pushtrkon Kund. The Padma or the Lotus Haven Kund is designed to attract wealth and also to be protected against evil energies.
The Heart shaped Yajna Kund
The Heart shaped Yajna Kund is known as the Yoni Kund. This Haven Kund is designed to manifest desires like attracting love and to conceive a child.
The Star shaped Yajna Kund
The Star shaped Haven Kund is also known as the Pushtrkon Kund. The shape of this Kund is designed to win over the unseen and seen enemies.
The Yajna Kund with 6 angles
The Havan Kund with six angles is generally used for stopping death.
The Padma Kund
The Lotus shaped Haven Kund or the Padma Kund is especially designed to attract wealth. According to some ancient texts. The Padma Kund is also designed to protect one from evil energies.
Homam or Yagya are one of the most powerful Vedic rituals that serve as a remedy to achieve Karmic evolution. Homam helps in burning the negative karmas of the past and paves way for a bright future. The process of performing the Yagya has been clearly illustrated in the ancient Vedic texts.
Benefits of Yajyen
Yajurveda gives knowledge to do pious deeds. The first mantra of Yajurveda (1/1) says that human beings must perform Yajyen in which offerings are put in burning fire with Ved mantras. Then mantra says it will prevent the infectious disease and will give constant pleasure. Saamveda mantra 534 says that the matters like ghee and samagri when poured in fire while performing Yajyen, then these matters go in sky and create rain and make the atmosphere pure. Saamveda mantra 536 says that in YAJYEN, the matters (aahuti/offerings) goes up to sun and gives strength to sun to cause rain. Saamveda mantra 537 tells the offerings in a Yajyen must touch the ray of light of sun. Saamveda mantra 539 says that the offerings in a Yajyen, goes to the sky to create rain so that the animal, birds etc., are increased in number. Saamveda mantra 1379 says that Yajyen must be performed while chanting ved mantras and mantra 1380 says that age is increased by Yajyen. Saamveda mantra 1363 says thatone who loves Yajyen, he well concentrates/meditates. Saamveda mantra 1270 says that the offerings in Yajyen goes in the sky through ray of light of sun. Yajurveda mantra 1/2 says that Yajyen purifies the earth. It is stable in ray of light of sun and goes to sky and sun through air. Yajyen purifies the air and holds the universe spreading pleasure all over. When Yajyen is performed then air touches the burning fire and scientifically is purified just as water is boiled on fire and becomes purified. Then the pure air goes up and the old air starts touching the fire and after becoming purified goers to sky and this procedure is continued till the end of Yajyen. Yajyen is basically performed by using a stick of mango tree.
Ancient texts including Vedas and Upanishads mentioned a technique called Yagya, which has application to purify the environment specifically polluted air. Preliminary evidences suggested that Yagya reduce air pollution generated SO2 and NO2 level along with biological air pollutants such as microorganisms.
What is the significance of Havan?
It is believed that performing Hawan gets the devotee closer to the God. The natural ingredients used during fire worship, clean the atmosphere and aura, thereby diminishing negativity and flushing out all evil.
It is believed that performing Hawan gets the devotee closer to the God. The natural ingredients used during fire worship, clean the atmosphere and aura, thereby diminishing negativity and flushing out all evil
Does Havan purify air?
Havan is the best way to purify the air and produce oxygen, which would be a big positive in the current scenario. The fact is backed by science,” said Pramod Raghav, who runs the NGO. “The ingredients put in the fire help cleanse the air,” said Devendra Siani, a Civil Engineer.
1. Havan Purifies the surrounding air.
2. Creates a pure, nutritional and medicinal atmosphere.
3. Fire act as a pesticide for the home.
4. Earth attracts minerals due to heat.
5. Mantras sound energy is very good for eardrums.
6. Reduction in the bacterial count where Havan is performed.
7. Sunrise and sunset are the times at which havan are performed offer maximum healing to atmosphere and humans.
8. Carbon dioxide in small quantities gets mixed with aromatic vapors and act as a cerebral stimulant.
9. Yagna’s ash as an effective fertilizer.
10. Removal of foul odors from the surrounding atmosphere.
What is difference between yajna and Homam?
In a broader sense ishti is a yajna but when the yajna is done for just a few hours in a single day to fulfill one’s minor desires, it is called ishti. Ishti is done to please the God that can fulfill those particular desires.
The different yajna’s depending on the actual time you spend on them are classified as:
- Ishti (1 or 2 hours, e.g., Lakshmi-Narayana Ishti, Sudarshana Ishti, Narasimha Ishti, Hayagriva Ishti (for better studies), Vishwaksena Ishti (to remove obstacles) and Vaibhava Ishti (for wealth)
- Homam (1 day)
- Yajna (3, 5, 11 days or 3 months)
- Maha-yaagam (1 or 2 months)
- Advaram (6 months or 1 year)
- Satram (50, 100, 500 years or 1000 years)
Does Yagya purify air?
Ancient texts including Vedas and Upanishads mentioned a technique called Yagya, which has application to purify the environment specifically polluted air. Preliminary evidences suggested that Yagya reduces air pollution generated SO2 and NO2 level along with biological air pollutants such as microorganisms.
What is Havan Samagri made of?
Havan Samagri is a mixture of dried herbal roots and leaves that are burned during yagnas and homas. It is made from ayurvedic havan exotic herbs, black til, Jo, 32 types of dhoop, Bhimseni kapoor, rose petals, sandalwood powder, lobaan, ghee, agarbatti, chandan, and turmeric.
Is Havan good for environment?
Havan is an Ancient Ritual which is performed to purify the atmosphere and the environment. The main ingredient used in Havan is mango wood when burnt releases Formic Aldehyde, a type of gas which is used for killing harmful bacteria’s, thus purifies the atmosphere, as per the research of scientist, Trello from France.
1 reply on “SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVAN AND CHANTING OF SAWAHA”
Fantastic article with great information.