Havan(Yagya) is an essential part of Vedic religion and culture. Havan(Yagya) is the primary way of manifestation of religion. In ancient times there were no idols nor were there temples. Human being used to directly interact with God. To express their gratitude towards God, human beings started doing prayer and surrender himself before God. Slokas in Veda are nothing but expression of gratitude and surrender of human being to God. Havan(Yagya) was performed as a manifestation of the art of gratitude and surrender. One altar was made in which fire is lit. Fire was supposed to be the mouth of all Gods and Goddess and by putting different things (mainly crops) in fire. We are feeding them.
Yajurveda is the main pillar of Havan(Yagya) . It has described all the ways of performing Havan(Yagya) and components needed for Havan(Yagya) and also different types of Havan(Yagya) which should be performed for different purpose. As veda is Apauraseya (not written by one person) eternal and permanent. Havan(Yagya) is also apauresaya, eternals and permanent.
Our Indian culture can be called a Havan(Yagya) culture. From birth till death there are 16 Sanskaras which elevates our nature from animal instinct to Divine instinct. In every sanskara and in every auspicious work Havan(Yagya) is indispensable. Holi is an annual Havan(Yagya). Marriage is solemnized before agnidevta and after death our cremation is done by putting the body in a pyre, that is purnahuti or the ultimate ahuti. This shows how important Havan(Yagya) is for the human life. It is a process of reformation and self development which occurs as and when these sanskaras take place. It starts from when the body is in mother’s womb. Body’s brain starts developing in this stage when the body is in fifth month. It is like a coronation ceremony of the body. That is why Punshawan sanskara is celebrated in the fifth month of pregnancy(Grbhdharan).
Our sixteen sanskaras are garbhadhan, punshawan, shimantonnayan, jatakarma, namkarana, nishkramana, annaprasan, chudakarm, karnaved or vidyarambhs, yaggopobit, vedarambh, keshanta, shamabartan, vivah, antyesthi and shraddha. Every sanskar, is important and it has deep significance. Every sanskar takes us forward to the right direction. Upanayana sanskar takes place at the age of 8-13 years. This is a sensitive point of life. This sanskara has deep rooted meaning and helps this tender mind to take the right path. Brahmacharyya ashram teaches a young boy as to what we should eat, what we should hear, what we should read, how we should sit, when we should get up, Gandhiji used to say brahmacharyya is the discipline of our senses, we can only do it when all our senses are in total control. It gives a new life to a person.
Brahmachari performs Havan(Yagya) and prays that give me buddhi (intelligence) power to analyse (vichar shakti) and power to control all my senses.
In the upanayana sanskara medhashukta is recited. It is a prayer to God to help him to develop his intelligence and power of concentration so that he grows up and becomes a person of great ability. In the three strings of yagnopobit signifies karma,bhakti and gyan .If a person achieves these three he is a person of great ability . Our life should be a combination of the above three .Every person has a tremendous possibility .Om scriptures are directives based on practical realizations of sages . If properly comprehended can help us to lead us towards light .
Havan(Yagya) enlightens the self (2/14 shukla yajurveda) The fire of Havan(Yagya) makes the person wise, successful , famous and a great orator and gives him a son with all merits(5/25/5 Rigveda).
Shankar mishra writes that veshaja Havan(Yagya) cures disease. Prajapati is God of Gods. When he created human being, their joints were loose. The year is prajapati, the union of day and night, new moon full moon, different season are the joints with the help of Havan(Yagya) human being is able to stablise the problem which occurs in the time of change.
Raja Dasharath performed Putreshti Havan(Yagya) . Charu (khir) was made and queens of Dasharatha were asked to consume it. Firstly priest knew that there are two queens, so it was divided in to two equal parts but when he came to know about the third queen. He took some part from each one’s share and gave it to third queen. Youngest queen Sumitra got two shares. She gave birth to two sons. This is special about charn which is a powerful medicine. It looked like a simple kheer but with the blessings it became extremely powerful medicine.
A respectable and prosperous person should perform Havan(Yagya) . The person who is miser and does not perform Havan(Yagya) is not considered to be a respectable.
Havan diminishes the sin, samveda says when we perform Havan(Yagya) and recite the mantra again and again which has a great impact. This has been adopted by Buddism and Jainism in the form of chanting.
Havan(Yagya) is basically performed for the welfare of human being or society. For instance through Havan(Yagya) we pray to Indra and Vayu (air) that it should protect water and air from being polluted otherwise there will be infection, disease and human beings will suffer (Yajurveda). Best time for Havan(Yagya) is the period of change when season changes. This is a time when diseases spread and Havan(Yagya) purifies the atmosphere and helps us attain good health.