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 AGNIHOTRA


        Right from the very beginning the Yajna was considered to be strong and effective tool to get hold over the whole nature, internal as well as external. Various forms of this Yajna, such as Atmayajna (self-accomplishment or Yoga), Devayajna (Agnihotra or purifying technique of atmosphere), Piriyajna (care of the elderly persons), Atithiyajna (care of peripatetic monks/Sanyaasis), Balivai„vadevayajna (feeding of other living creatures that surround us), Brahmayajna (doing the science of mantras) Grihyayajna (performance of various duties concerned with the compartmentalised life of an individual in the society), Srautayajna (performance of symbolic rituals for the exposition of process of creation enshrined in the Vedas), etc. were applied to attain accomplishment in various fields.  Here, we are dealing with agnihotra particularly. Devayajna or Agnihotra  was the only means of treating atmosphere of its pollution and deadly diseases.
Agnitora is performed by means of various ahutis, meant for particular purpose, offered to the fire of Yajna.
History of Agnihotra is as old as the history of humankind on the globe. It was, in fact, the part and parcel of the Vedic life. It was the basis of the human life. The daily life of a Vedic seer  used to commence with Agnihotra in the morning and end up with Agnihotra in the evening. This may very well be understood through the perception of Vedic seer him self. He speaks thus :

yajnena yajnamayajanta devaastaani,
dharmaani prathamaanyaasana
te ha naakam mahimanam sacanta
yatra purve saadhyaa santi devaah

Another Rishi proclaims :


yajnena yajnam ava yajaneeya.

Not only this, the AV. proposes to human-beings to perform Yajnas season-wise daily, monthly and yearly, so that the seasonal deities may be stimulated to get their favour, e.g.

ritoon yajna ritupaeennaarta vaanuta haayanaan
samaaÌ samvatsaraan maasaan bhootasya pataye yaja

Theory and Principles of Agnihotra 
Now the questions arise as to what are the basic principles underlying the science of Agnihotra? How does it works in weather modification, pollution control and prevention of diseases? Before to get an answer to all these questions, it is necessary to understand the actual process of Agnihotra. Normally, an Agnihotra consists of the three elements : (i) fire (ii) Aahuti-dravya, i.e. an offering material (iii) and devataa, i.e. the deity to whom the material is offered. Kaatyaayana Srautasootra speaks of Yajna as dravya devataa tyaagah.
"i.e. the Yajna or Agnihotra is offering the specific material to the specific targeted deity by means of fire."

Thus all the above mentioned elements, viz. fire, offering material and a deity are included in the aforesaid definition of Yajna or Agnihotra. This is what is the actual meaning, purport and purpose of the Agnihotra form of the Vedic Yaj¤a. All the three elements play a vital and crucial role in the proper prosecution of Agnihotra mechanism.

Vedic Theory of Origin of Diseases
Actually the diseases of men, animals and plants are caused by the impairment of the equallibrium of vata, pita and kafa, i.e. air fire and water respectively in the body. The treatment of vata, pita and kafa is often made by administering various suitable aushadhis (herbs). Life of plants, animals and human - beings is sustained by the food they intake and the air they inhale. So, either way their treatment is possible. Through oral intake of aushadhis as foods as well as through inhalation of the diffused molecules/atoms of the concerned aushadhis as the air. According to the expanding characteristics of the air, as stated earlier, a solid or liquid substance when treated with fire converts into its gaseous state thus facilitating the diffusion of its molecules/atoms with that the air. The molecules of herbs thus diffused with the air when inhaled produce an effect similar to that of an aushadhi taken orally. Moreover, the administration of aushadhi through Yajna has for more and larger effects than its oral administration. For instance, the oral intake of aushadhi may effect only the patient who has taken it, but the administration of the same through Yajna may effect large number of patients on account of its diffusion with the air. This method is useful to take preventive steps as the check effectively the spread of epidemics, etc. it may also be used for the cure of people of the mass scale.

Agnihotra Reduces Airborne Bacteria
From time immemorial, Indians have used the technique of Agnihotra or smoke of medicinal plants for curing disorders. Ancient Indian physicians have described and recommended the use of smoke produced from natural substances for the cure of various diseases and purify environment. The great seers of India performed Agnihotra to purify the environment as described in Rigveda - the most ancient compilation of knowledge on earth by sublimating the havana Saamagri (mixture of wood and odoriferous and medicinal herbs) in the fire accompanied by the chanting of Vedic mantras described in Rigveda. Swami Dayananda, one of the leading Vedic scholars of India in 19th century emphasised upon the environmental purifying qualities of Agnihotra in his famous work Rigvedaadibhaashya Bhoomikaa (Introduction to the Commentaries of Vedas). Several studies carried out on Agnihotra have proved Agnihotra inhibitory to micro-organisms. Recent study by C.S. Nautiyal, PS Chauhan, and YL Nene proves purifying and antibacterial quality of Agnihotra. The summary of the study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology 114:446-451 (2007) is appended below.

"The study represents a comprehensive analysis and scientific validation of our ancient knowledge about the effect of ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products’ smoke for therapy and health care on airborne bacterial composition and dynamics, using the Biology microplate panels and Micrology database. In this study, an air sample has been designed for microbiological air sampling during the treatment of the room with medicinal smoke. In addition, elimination of the aerial pathogenic bacteria due to the smoke is reported too. It was observed that 1 h treatment of medicinal smoke emission by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs (havan saamagri = material used in oblation to fire of Yajna) on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 h in the closed room. Absence of pathogenic bacteria Corynebacterium urealyticum, Curtobacterium flaccumfaciens, Enterobacter aerogenes (Klebsiella mobilis), Kocuria rosea, Pseudomonas syringae pv. persicae, Staphylococcus lentus, and Xanthomonas campestris pv. tardicrescens in the open room even after 30 days is indicative of the bactericidal potential of the medicinal smoke treatment. We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space."

In similar experiments, by Dr. Arvind D. Mondkar, two rooms of identical dimensions, but located far apart, were selected. In both the rooms four blood agar plates, an artificial medium for the cultivation of microorganisms, were exposed in four corners of each room to obtain the basal count of microorganisms in that atmosphere. Exactly at sunset, oblations were offered into Fire on one of the rooms; and in the other, only Fire was generated in the similar manner. The sets of blood agar plates were exposed again in both the rooms for half an hour each time, after an interval of thirty minutes, four readings were taken.

On analyzing the results on the next morning, it was encouraging to note that the total number of microorganisms in the environment under study or the colony count in the room where Agnihotra was performed surprisingly fell down by 91.4% after an interval of two hours. The other interesting finding was that the colony count in the room where only fire was created but no Agnihotra was performed did not show any significant change. These results clearly showed that the mere presence of fire did not reduce the microbial count, but the act of Agnihotra with specific oblations was responsible for this effect.

a). The gases released from Agnihotra might be inhibitory to microorganisms.

b).  A phenomenon similar to smog formation and its diffusion in upper strata might be a likely  postulation when Agnihotra was performed. In regions near the North and South poles, many a time, a thick layer of carbon and dust particles form an umbrella known as smog (smoke and fog). When fire is lit, the hot currents carry the smog upwards and diffuse it in the upper strata. This is much more a process of recycling, with neither a loss nor a gain but the carbon and dust particles are so diffused that they are no longer harmful as they were earlier. It is not unlikely that during the process of Agnihotra, microorganisms get diffused in a similar way, and that thereby the residual population in the atmosphere drops down to barely 8% a stage unharmful or tolerable to life.

Agnihotra also appears to make an impact on the bioenergetic systems of microorganisms. In one study, strain of Staphylococcus aureus, an organism that causes pus-formation was artificially cultivated from a case of an infected wound. This strain was inoculated on two blood agar plates separately.

             One of these plates were exposed to Agnihotra gases and allowed to remain in that atmosphere for almost twelve hours or till the timing of the next Agnihotra. The other plate was kept away from the Agnihotra atmosphere, in normal environment of the area. It is well known that, with some of the bioenergetic systems of the microorganisms, Staphylococcus aureus produces a plethora of enzymes and metabolites, which enable the microorganisms to produce infection in human body or other life. The important enzymes, in this respect are (1) Hemolysin (2) Coagulase (3) Necrotoxin. 
    
During the experiment, it was noticed that (1) the blood agar which was exposed to Agnihotra atmosphere showed a reduced zone of haemolysis, when compared with the zone of haemolysis on the unexposed blood agar plate, (2) the exposed strain failed to produce coagulase while the unexposed plate showed coagulase activity and (3) nerves or tissue damage was noticed where unexposed agar was tried.

Both the strains were suspended in normal saline to give suspension of equal strength. These suspensions were injected intradermally into each thigh of a white albino mouse. The mouse was kept under observation for five days. Surprisingly, the exposed strain did not produce any lesion, whereas the unexposed one did produce typical abscess with pus-formation. It was quite evident from these results that Agnihotra played a pivotal role in controlling the metabolic activities of Staphylococcus aureus. The pathogenic strain isolated from a clinical case was converted into a non-pathogenic one. This triggers a number of questions before an inquisitive mind.

1) Is this effect a phenotypic or genotypic one?

2) Is it necessary to expose the strain for a prolonged period or will even a short exposure also be equally effective?

3) Will the progeny of these strains behave in a similar manner?

4) Whether the small or micro doses of gases released from the Agnihotra ritual boost the immune status of a patient to get rid of the infection or whether the infecting loses its virulence or the ability to produce diseases? ”

This shows that miraculous power of Agnihotra made known to humanity  in the beginning of creation on this globe is still in practice and maintaining its scientific efficacy and mystery. Available data has compelled us to believe on the efficacy of Agnihotra on mind and body. Agnihotra applies equally to agriculture, environment, microbiology, climate technology, medicine etc. Therefore, this technology indigenous to Bharat is unparalleled and required further research and development.
 

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