The Importance of Agni & Tejas
‘Agnim Ide Purohitam’ Rg Veda
Agni literally means fire and is the first word laid down in the Rg Veda, the oldest extant of ancient Sanskrit writings.
The fire practice is said to support the practitioner by cultivating connection with spiritual light. The Rishis say that Agni is the best representation of light on earth, so to make an offering to the fire is to link oneself with the essence of spiritual light.
Years ago when I was travelling in India, I would see fires everywhere; in homes, by the side of a road, at parties, for sacred ceremonies or modern usage… It struck me how integrated Indian culture is with fire and therefore to light.
I recall something Guru ji said many years earlier: He asked the students to pay attention to the fact that the flame of the fire, no matter where you pushed it, would always move in an upward direction. In the same way, he said, our consciousness seeks an upward movement. What he meant was that we incarnate here to grow and expand. We are essentially light. By working with and understanding the fire more we can understand our own essential consciousness here in this very life. We can evolve ourselves to be jivanmuktas, liberated while alive.
The months I spent in India taught me how woven into the fabric of ordinary life the notion of fire was. I don’t recall how many fires I actually saw, but I still recall today the feeling I had each time I saw those flames rise and fall.
Mythology, Agni & Sacrifice
As a god, Agni is considered to be like a guest among humans. Hindu mythology says that no one can overcome he who sacrifices to the gods. Agni represents the channel that brings the gods down from the sky to the place of sacrifice. He is said to be “the swiftest messenger to the gods.” And as such Agni is the Lord Protector among men and he is seen in three distinct ways: sun, lightening and the fires that we perceive on earth. In this way, Agni symbolizes the number three.
Tejas and Yogic Practice
Namah Shivaya Gurave Sacchidananda-Murtaye
Nisprapancaya Santaya Niralambaya Tejase
We respect Lord Shiva who is the supreme guide and who is the embodiment of truth, tranquility and bliss. He is independent, full of peace and is full of spiritual light known as tejas.
Tejas means filled with fire and light. In the verse above, we see the word tejase used to describe Lord Shiva. In other words, Shiva is one who is full of light, heat and power. Tejas derives from the Sanskrit roots TIJ/TEJ. TIJ means to sharpen, to heat, to shine, to endure, to bear and to suffer patiently with courage. TEJ means to guard, heat, defend or protect.
Agni is the blazing fire, while tejas, represents the transformation that happens when you go through the heat of practice and become the light of the fire. Yogis engage yogic practices, daily, as a way to burn their karmas and their misunderstanding and their misidentification with their body and mind alone. The traditional period for making the offering to the fire is at the dawn and the dusk. Additionally an aspirant will offer Sanskrit mantras and oblations of ghee into the flames. Yogic seekers practice austerities to purify themselves and make themselves ready to receive the light.
By means of these sincere offerings to fire, seekers receive the blessing of Agni, they connect with the luminous spirit that resides within. When you obtain access to the light that you are you are called a tejasvi (masculine) /tejasvini (feminine) one possessed of light.
Luminous Soul ’21 day Fire Blessing Exercise’:
For 21 days …
- Start each day by offering your practice in honor of a specific person both morning & evening.
- Work with the Awaken Fire – Mantras for Agni Hotra with Manorama CD/MP3
- Each morning and evening, with the sunrise and sunset, practice chanting each fire mantra one time.
- After chanting, sit silently and practice Luminous Soul Meditation on the fire for 15 minutes.
- After silent meditation, remain seated and watch the natural flow of your breathing for 4 minutes.
- Finish with a sacred prayer to the person you are dedicating these mantras to.
Luminous Soul Notes from Manorama regarding the prayer section:
Each day, dedicate your fire practice to someone in your life that you want to receive the healing light of this energy. At the beginning and end of your practice hold the person’s name and image in your mind for one minute while directing your love and prayers towards them. Afterwards, feel for two minutes the peace and healing that this practice gives you and the person you offer the mantras to.
* All references to Guru ji in this article, refer to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati
©2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama