Amba Yajna-Regulations and Precedent Performers

King Janamejaya sought for the details of Amba Yajna from Maharshi Veda Vyasa. Sages and Brahmanas perform the Sacrifice in Satvik manner, Kshatriyas and Kings perform in the ‘Rajas’ fashion, while Rakshasas do these in ‘Tamasa’ style. Satvik Yajnas are executed in ideal manner normally in ‘Uttarayana’ or when Sun’s direction changes from south to north, by highly puritan Brahmanas with their rightly earned resources as per strict adherence of Rules and Regulations prescribed and invariably for the larger benefit of the Society rather than for their own selfish motives. Rajo-oriented Yjanas too are aimed at the welfare of the Subjects of a country or a Rajya but once the Raja decides to organise the Yajna only to satisfy the Royal ego, then errors or motivations creep in the function. For instance, the ‘Sarpa Yajna’ had a definite purpose of vengeance and such events are initially commenced with bangs, but end up with whimpers. The Yajnas with motives domineering selfishness or obsession do get successful in the short term but finally the end result would invariably be a negative or boomeranging impact at the end. For instance, the Sacrifices performed by Demons like Hiranya Kasipu or Indrajit or Bhasmasura are purely motivated for selfish reasons. Certainly, the motivations in performing the Yajnas play an important role. King Dasaratha performed ‘Putra Kameshti’ was a success as it was done perfectly; but the Yajna done by Indra by Visvarupa as a duplicate Brihaspati was a fiasco ending Indra beheading Visvarupa as the latter, who was of the origin of Daitya clan, uttered mantras appeasing a few Daityas instead of Gods. King Drupada did the Putra Yajna out of spite for Dronacharya and thus an angry son Dristhtadyumna was born and Draupadi an example of distressed woman had several problems in her matrimonial life commencing from marrying five Pandavas, her end-less humiliation by Kauravas after the defeat of Dhritarashtra in an open assault on her before her brave husbands in a full Royal Court, travails in twelve years of forest life, her ‘Ajnathavas’ (Hiding phase of life) for a year as Sairandhri as a servant maid, the harassment by Keechaka and so on. Even the Rajasuya Yajna concluded by Dharmaraja himself in the presence of Lord Krisna was a flop as the sordid drama that happened to Pandavas followed thereafter, apparenltly due to the ego factor that was in play at the time of the Yajna! Many Tamasa-oriented Yajnas were held by several Daithyas which had all temporary triumphs but in the long-run were fatal at the end.

Besides the above types of Yajnas, Veda Vyasa described an entirely distinct kind known as ‘Manasika Yajna’ (Sacrifice by Mind), which is nodoubt difficult but once executed well would be extremely effective. The performer has to be completely devoid of sensual pleasures and attractions, has to preplan all the items of Yajna material, keep ready with purity of mind and body, pre-arrange Brahmana Priests and designate them as the Yajna Brahma, Adharyu, Hota, Prastota, Udgata, Pratihatra and Assistants and pre-worship them, imagine a huge hall for the Sacrifice, plan out the Central portion as the Altar (raised ceremonial structure) and the Homa Kunda or the Fire Pit; imagine the lighting of five‘Agnis’ represented by the five Prana Vayus or five Life Forces viz. ‘Prana’, ‘Apana’, ‘Vyana’, ‘Samana’ and ‘Udana’ in the Fire Pit with considerable care and caution, accompanied by the concerned ‘Mantras’ Viz. Prana standing for ‘Garhastya’, Apana for ‘Ahavaniya’, Vyana for ‘Dakshina’, Samana for ‘Avasatya’and Udana for ‘Sabya Agni’.One should be extremely careful and concentrated while lighting the respective Fires as any defect or shortcoming might have extreme ill-effects. In the ManasicYajna, mind is the performer, Presiding Deity is ‘Nirguna’ Brahma and Maha Devi Bhagavati or the ‘Nirguna Sakti’ is the targetted Receiver of the Fire Oblations. The offering of Prana Vayus are in the form of materials meant for the Homa Kunda or the ‘Kundalini’. Then by means of ‘Samadhi’ (the final stage of Yoga) the Nirvikalpa Mind is surrendered to Devi through the Performer’s consciousness or to the Self (Atma) which attains ‘Moksha’ (Final Liberation). The mortal form of ‘Jiva’ is stated to continue as long its ‘Prarabhda’ remains. Indeed, this type of Manasika Yajna is not meant for ordinary persons in any case, as this is the highest effort that a human being could possibly execute. But, Veda Vyasa had certainly recommended to perform a Rajasic Yajna aiming at Maha Devi Bhagavati as per the Rules and Regulations described earlier to King Janamejaya, instead of seeking to ‘Sarpa Yajna’ which would be only vengeful but could never provide liberation to his father’s soul, after the latter’s very enduring effort in hearing Maha Bhagavata from Maha Muni Suka during his very last week’s life!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at