Our pandits performing the Ekadsa Rudrabhisheka Homam
About Pujas & Homas
Puja is the Hindu ritual of worshiping God in a systematic manner as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures. An idol or image or symbol of the deity is kept and worshiped by chanting the mantras & verses. The various names of the deity and the mantras are recited. The number of times they are recited depends on one’s convenience, capacity and time (Yatha Shakti). Some recite 108 times, or 1008 or more. Various offerings like fruits, flowers, camphor, sweets, milk etc. are offered. These are called Shodasa Upacharas. It is a way of expressing ones faith in God, a way of seeking salvation and a way of seeking His blessings to ward off the troubles and to ask Him to grant ones desired goals and objectives.
Homa is an ancient Hindu ritual performed to invoke Agni, the God of fire, by offering Ghee (clarified butter) and other sacrificial offerings. As Havih means Ghee and Havisha means offering and Yagya means sacrifice, Homa is also called Havan and Yagya. After performing the Pooja, a fire is lit in a Homakunda as shown in the above picture. If one has done 1000 mantra recitals during the pooja, the 1/10 of that number, i.e., 100 times the mantra is recited again and with each mantra recital Ghee is pored into the Homakunda. Other offerings like cooked rice etc are also offered as prescribed. The ingredients vary according to the deity worshiped. Brahma is the creator of the world and the Sun God is His son. The Sun is the main source of energy and fire represents Sun. Hence ending the Pooja with offering to fire is considered very auspicious and enhances the beneficial effects of the pooja.
Technically a Homa and Yagya (also called Yajna) are the same but Yagya is a much larger scale Homa. To give you an idea: the famous Ekadasa Rudram where normally 11 pundits perform the Homa is called Rudra Ekadasa Homam. Where as the Ati Rudram, where 121 pundits perform the Homa is called Ati Rudra Yagya. Let me give you another perspective. Ashoka, Akbar & Vikramaditya were Maharajas, i.e., kings. As they ruled vast kingdoms they were also called “Chakravarti”, i.e., Emperors. Where as the maharaja of Junagad and the maharaja of Patiala were only kings and not emperors. So if you get a Havan/Homa done by a few pundits, you should not call it a Yagya. Today a lot of astrologers and websites are promising to perform “Yajnas” or “Yagnas” or “Yagyas”. There are not enough qualified priests in some of the countries and places where they promise these! It definitely sounds great and you visualizes a grand Vedic ceremony to wipe out all your sins. Instead of getting carried away, ask them > what all will be performed, how many recitals and homa offerings, by how many pundits it will be performed, the date time and the venue of the homa and as a final deterrent tell them that you or your representative with a family pundit would like to attend it!!
How the Pujas work
The Hindu theology is based on the theory of Karma or fate. The good and the bad acts by you have a positive or negative effect on your soul. This balance sheet of your Karma is carried forward from life to life. It is based on this that you have good and bad experiences in your life. You may commit a murder and may get away with the police and the law. Or you may cheat your partner or spouse and hoodwink him. But there is no escaping His cosmic x-ray. Your account gets debited and the law of Karma is as certain as Newton’s third law of motion. Sometimes you experience the effects of your Karma in this life and sometimes in the next life.
According to the Vedic scriptures and the learned saints, performing mantra-japa, stotra recital, dana, pooja/homa etc. are auspicious as they produce positive effects and counteract and remove or at least reduce the negative Karma and improve your life.
The poojas and homas work when performed properly reciting the prescribed mantras, using the prescribed ingredients, by making the required homa sacrifices and doing the prescribed dana etc to the pundits. Unfortunately a lot of people and pundits perform them either to cut cost or time and the results are not what you expect.
To counteract the negative influences of the planets and their bad yogas/doshas, or to improve and attain various desired objectives, the scriptures have prescribed several poojas and homas of various deities. The deity is worshipped in the prescribed ritualistic manner with mantras and offerings, the Brahmins are given anna-dana, vastra-dana and dakshina etc. The positive influence of these give you positive results. You experience better results and get an inner strength and confidence. Sometimes the results are instant and sometimes they are slow. But they are certain. I say it with confidence because poojas have vastly improved my life.