CHEMISTRY OF AGNIHOTRA • By • Ish Narang
Agnihotra is one of the five great duties (panchamahayajna) of every householder. A daily ritual to be performed by every Arya twice a day. An integral part of the Indian tradition All the 16 Sanskaras prescribed in our life start with it Every marriage ceremony includes Agnihotra What is Agnihotra
What is Agnihotra …. • It is also called by the names of Deva Yajna, havana and homa. • The last word homa is interesting .It sounds similar to the word home in the English language. • Could it be that a house is worthy to be called home only if homais performed therein everyday?
THE IMPORTANCE OF FIRE…… • Fire stands for all forms of Energy • On this earth, sun- prime source of energy • Life without fire or energy is unthinkable • All the technical gadgets,transportation systems,even house hold cooking need fire or other forms of energy • Thus in the faculty of the material sciences ability to generate fire at will must have been the foremost invention of our seers long ago
Rig veda Starts with the Word AGNI • The very first word of the Rig veda, the very first book in the library of the mankind is Agni, meaning fire, in addition to many other things. • Agnimile purohitam……
AGNIHOTRA - a multi-dimensionally useful affair • Spiritual Dimensions 2. Scientific Dimensions
AGNIHOTRA - a multi-dimensionally useful affair….. Spiritual Dimensions • a spiritually enlightening experience • performed in a group - becomes a family /community affair -strengthening the bond of love & affection among Participants • recitation of Mantras has preserved the texts of Vedas • praying to God brings humility and helps get rid of selfishness and Vanity
Spiritual Dimensions …Yajna.. • The word Yajna - derived from the root yaj - stands for devapuja, sangatikarana & danesu. • devapuja-Yajna is a karma that should be in due honor of devas, both sentient and insentient, • sangatikarana -an assembly of noble souls, and • danesu.- in the nature of sacrifice.
Spiritual…Agnihotra.. truly Yajna • First, it is for cleansing of air, a devata of insentient ( Jarh ) nature. • enhances the effectiveness of the herbal substances (that are also devatas in nature) multifold. -Devpuja • Two-group activity- a number of people with a positive frame of mind and intellect assemble. (Sangatikaran ) • Three- amounts to making a sacrifice from a personal point of view- Idam na mum
Spiritual --Agnihotratruly Yajna…. • The benefits would be obtained by all • The oblations of many valuable substances offered into the fire -- sacrifice. ( Daneshu ) • The Verses are chanted with the endings of “idamnamama” i.e. this is not mine. • This reinforces in mind that all our material possessions are actually not ours • but are merely for the purpose of transfer and diffusion to others.
Scientific Dimensions • Cleans air - within and outside the Room • Most ancient science to fight air pollution • Fire breaks up the substances into vapor/ gaseous phase,( Sublimation) - Producing buoyancy and other aerodynamic effects - a mechanism to clean indoor – outdoor air
Agnihotra and combustion science • Essentials of Combustion • Combustion is said to occur if a fuel is oxidized (generally by the atmospheric oxygen) giving rise to thermal energy • Thermal heat is produced that was inherent in the particular fuel. • Some fuels like fossil fuels –petrol ,coal etc release much more energy than others
Combustion..Fossil Fuels • Thermal energy -called Calorific Value- of fossil fuels is in the range of 10,000 calories / gram of fuel, • Upon combustion of such fuels the final temperatures may be as high as 2500 degree Celsius
Combustion –cellulose materials • Fuels such as cellulose materials & wood have smaller calorific values. • Typical firewood - calorific value around 3000 calories / gram of fuel – about one-third of the hydrocarbon fuels. • Upon combustion, maximum temperatures may be in the range of 800 – 1200 degree Celsius.
Types of wood for Homa • Dayanand Saraswati has mentioned certain types of wood to be used in Homa : • Chandan –Sandalwood (Santalum album ) • Palash (Butea frondosa ) • Aam (Mangiflora indica ) etc. • Certain other types like Pipal (Ficus religiosa) and Barh ( Wat ) (Ficus bengalensis can also be used
Medicinal values of wood used for Homa • All these types of wood apart from having low calorific value have medicinal properties also. • Medicinal properties - well documented in several scientific books on Medicinal plants • Thus the fire wood used in Homa is not only low in calorific value ( almost non polluting ) • but produces medicinal substances to help us get rid of common diseases
Combustion… Harmful effects • Upon complete combustion, we expect formation of carbon dioxide and water vapor as the products • Due to the deficiency in the availability of oxygen, or other possible reasons, some fuel remains un burnt, • or gets only partially oxidized to carbon monoxide.
Combustion –Harmful effects • Un burnt fuel and carbon monoxide are undesirable pollutants for the atmosphere • If the combustion gives rise to high temp --2000 deg. C or above - the atmospheric N2 & O2 may react to form the oxides of nitrogen –undesirable pollutants. • Excessive volumes of CO2 are also undesirable
Combustion in Agnihotra • Agnihotra consists of a base fire generated in a specially designed vessel • Burning firewood of certain specified characteristics forms the base fire. • Firewood has much lower calorific value. and produces much lower temperatures than in the typical engines.
Combustion in Agnihotra • To this base fire,we add oblations comprising: • Ghee (ghritam) • Several herbal substances which should be 1) wholesome, i.e. health givers, • 2) anti-bacterial, 3) aroma-builders, i.e. deodorants and 4) sweeteners.
Agnihotra --Possible production of pollutants • The base fire is generated by burning firewood - lower calorific value • Amount of firewood burnt is minimum • This ensures lower temperatures - oxides of nitrogen cannot be formed. • Design of vessel ensures plenty of oxygen. • Therefore Carbon monoxide & un-burnt hydrocarbons are minimal
Agnihotra- Possible pollutants & Remedies • Carbon dioxide is definitely formed, • our Rishies knew this & prescribed that : • the Agnihotra ought to be performed during and after sunrise, • and well before sunset i.e. Sandhya Kaal • WHY ? To get the benefits of Photosynthesis
What is Photosynthesis ? • A process by which Plants make their food from CO2 and water in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll. • Chlorophyll -Pigment which gives green colour to the plants • During this process Oxygen is released.
Photosynthesis –Biochemical Reaction • Bio-chemical reaction in photosynthesis • 6CO2 + 6H2O + Sunlight + Chlorophyll= C6 H12O6( Glucose i.e. Food for Plants )+ 6O2
Factors Affecting Photosynthesis • Red Effect - Rate of photosynthesis is maximum in red light • Hence Photosynthesis is maximum in mornings and evenings when there is a red glow in the sky • Thus, the air is richer with oxygen during morning and before sunset in the evening. • This is what is described as SANDHYA KAAL
Our Rishies knew the Science of Yajna • Our Rishies understood these phenomenon of science and prescribed that : • Agnihotra ought to be performed during and sunrise & before Sun set • Be performed in an area with good green cover to ensures that CO2 is well utilized by the green cover in the vicinity • And give rise to oxygen and greenery.
Our Rishies knew the Science of Yajna 2.They also understood the the principle of Conservation of Mass, • “No mass is created or destroyed.” • Oblations of different substances into fire appear to vanish, but they actually do not. • Merely change to gaseous form -Sublimation
Our Rishies knew the Science of Yajna 3. Need for purifying air was also understood 4.Basics of combustion too were known i.e. • Low calorific value of Wood -hence lower temps produced by burning wood 5. medicinal values of herbs-prescribed herbs as oblation to cure diseases.
Our Rishies knew the Science of Yajna 6.Production of aerodynamic effect of fire- described by Dayanand Saraswati as Bhedak Shakti 7.Inhaling is more effective than eating thru mouth
Overall effect of Agnihotra • Agnihotra drives the indoor air out • Causes outdoor fresh air to move in. • Effectively neutralizes the stale indoor air due to the characteristics of the herbal substances utilized. • A typical air freshener, simply attempts to neutralize the stale air,
Overall effect of Agnihotra • The desirable substances can be inhaled through the nostrils by one and all. • Mechanism of inhaling as opposed to intake through the mouth (liquid & solid ) is more efficient by a factor of several hundreds. • Also, it seems to be the only way to cleanse the indoor air.
Air fresheners vs. Agnihotra • The commercially available air fresheners cannot purify the indoor air. • Their purpose is very limited to reduce the undesirable foul odor, • and even for that purpose their side effects have to be fully understood.
Agnihotra –Absolute necessity • There is no other method to purify the air once that has been polluted by us. • This requirement is of enormous proportion for the in-door air because that is what we breathe most of the time. • Our life style of remaining in-doors is doing more and more harm to the environment. • In the given circumstances, Agnihotra has become AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY
CONCLUSION • Burning of firewood not the purpose of Agnihotra. • Minimum quantity is burnt to generate base fire to vaporize the oblations • Desirable herbs offered as obelations .
CONCLUSION… • The Base Fire vaporizes these herbal substances • It does not cause their independent combustion process. • Herbal substances inhaled in their vapor or gaseous form thru the nostrils have much greater efficacy • – many hundred times more
CONCLUSION….. • Thus Agnihotra magnifies the advantages of the desirable herbal substances. • The thermal and aerodynamic effects of the fire cause the vaporized substances to spread & diffuse into every part of the enclosed surroundings
CONCLUSION….. • The overall temperatures in the combustion of firewood are lower • Hence production of the oxides of nitrogen -safely ruled out. • Design of Havan Kund -Supply of more than adequate oxygen • No significant production of unburned hydrocarbon or carbon monoxide.
Need of the Time • Further documented research into various types of Agnihotras • Like Vrishti Yajna, ( to simulate rain ), Putreshthi Yajna ( to enhance fertility ) etc • To perfect procedure on all these types • To secure patent on different forms of Yajna • Make practical use of these procedures in times of draughts and other similar situations
LET US PERFORM AGNIHOTRA • EVERY DAY • We pollute the environment by various biological & chemical means • It is our duty to purify the environ at least to that extent
Further Readings • Yajna Vimarsh - Dr Ram Prakash Former V C of Kurukshetra University • Chemistry of Agnihotra - Dr(Swami ) Satya Prakash former head of Department of Chemistry Banaras Hindu University • both the authors :Doctorate in chemistry