Spiritual Questions and Answers with Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami answers the question ‘What is Yagna?’

By on December 27, 2014 in Insights with 53 Comments
Radhanath Swami performs Sankirtan Yagna

Radhanath Swami performs Sankirtan Yagna

Question to Radhanath Swami: I want to understand the concept of yagna which Krishna talks about. Yagna, in relevance to modern times; can it be related to in modern times?

Radhanath Swami Answers: Yes, it is a timeless principle. Spiritual truths, according to time place and circumstance, how to apply them takes wisdom – wisdom of the scriptures, wisdom of saints and wisdom of own intuition. So yagna has many meanings. In one sense, yagna means the ‘homa’, the performing of oblations to a sacred fire. And in another sense, yagna means sacrificing something selfish for something divine. Neglecting the bad dog to feed the good dog is also a form of yagna. Yagna also means whatever particular spiritual practice we perform – may be puja, may be vandana prayer, or may be mantra japa.

In this age of kali, a time – or let us say a season – it’s predominated by the tendency for quarrel and hypocrisy. Cornel West once, when we were having a conversation together in Princeton University, he said something that really inspired me. Because he is a very religious man himself as a Christian, he said, “In this world people are constantly being bombarded by weapons of mass distraction.” So our spiritual practices are meant to help us to focus our energies in such a way that we are making progress towards our spiritual goals in whatever we do. So to make those choices are a form of yagna. But in this age, where the tendency is strong towards quarrel and hypocrisy, where there are so many distractions, the simplest most powerful and accessible of all forms of yagna is the chanting of God’s names.

Lord Chaitanya wrote a prayer: namnam akari bahuda nija sarva shaktis. “My dear Lord, you have many names that you have revealed in many religions over the ages. And you are personally present with all of your powers, with all of your grace, with all of your love in your names. And there are no hard and fast rules for chanting these names.” Even a child could chant. It doesn’t matter what material designation or role in our society may be; it’s so accessible. Whether you are in bathroom, or whether you are on altar of a temple, you could chant God’s names and we can invoke that grace and be purified by that grace. Lord Chaitanya himself personally chanted this mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. He proclaimed according to the Kali Santaran Upanishad that it is Maha-Mantra, special medicine of a yagna to clean our hearts, to awaken that love within us in this age of kali.


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  • vidya karekar

    harer naam harer naam eva kevalam! nam sankirtan ki jai !

  • nkd

    ‘weapons of mass distraction’, simply wonderful lessons!!!!!!!!

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes true!

  • Navin Poojary

    yes…best yagna suited for this Modern age is Sankirtan Yagya …chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord is most purifying and ALL Satisfying yagya

    • Vinay Malani

      You are right Navin. Chanting the Holy Names of the Lord is the Yug-dharma for Kali-yug.

    • Piyush Singh


  • Piyush Singh

    A very genuine inquiry here and a holistic answer by HH Radhanath Swami. Often the understanding about yagna is only the homa in to fire, how ever HH Radhanath Swami presented so many perspectives on the same, this helps a lot in understanding the complete concept of yagna and what to pick from it. Also I heard somewhere that lord Krishna says in Srimad Bhagwad gita “yagnanaam japa yagno asmi” that I’m the japa aygna among all types of yagnas, which implies that japa yagna is the highest form of all yagnas and same is the conclusion from the answer by HH Radhanath Swami. Impressive. Isn’t it? Thank you very much for making this available.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Nicely summarized Piyushji! Chanting the Holynames of the Lord is the only yagna that is possible in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Therefore, we should inspire people to take to this process seriously.

  • Sanjiv

    Chanting of God’s names is the most powerful medicine for the soul because it attracts the attention of God and He feel’s that He must take care of the chanter

  • suresh

    thank you maharaj for sharing the different types of yagna and the most important among all these, the chanting of the holy names of the supreme lord in this kali yuga,

  • Sumit Sharma

    Wonderful definition of Yagna by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Best Yagna for this age is chanting the holy names of the Lord.

  • NSP

    Maharaj so wonderfully explained the meaning of Yagna in this article!

  • Prahalad

    Thanks Radhanath Swami Maharaj for explaining the true meaning of Yajna.

  • biswajit

    wonderfully explained

  • nkd

    Glories of the HarinaamPrabhu!

  • Satish Rane

    Holistic answer. thank you maharaj.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes indeed. Radhanath Swami Maharaj’s answers are always very inspiring.

  • Raju K Mewada

    I like it very much. In true sense H H Radhanath Swami has explained meaning of Yagna with so many practical examples. Definitely we can also participate in yagna of holy name in this Kali yuga. Even I personally experienced the power of holy name that can help us to concentrate and focus for goal of our life. This kind of yagna is most simple and most effective for this age.

    • Piyush Singh

      Very well said Mr. Raju.

    • Sumit Sharma

      Thank you very much Rajuji for sharing your experience with chanting the Holynames of the Lord.

  • brajswaminidd

    Nice understanding of Yagna according to time, place and circumstances.

  • Prahalad

    Radhanath Swami clearly differentiates the importance of chanting the hare krishna mahamantra as the important yajna for this age compared to the traditional yajna.

  • vidya karekar

    according to the Kali Santaran Upanishad that it is Maha-Mantra, special medicine of a yagna to clean our hearts, to awaken that love within us in this age of kali-yes we are fortunate to receive this yagna so easily.

    • Piyush Singh

      Thank you very much for sharing this information.

  • Pradeep Kumar

    Such a beautiful & practical description of Yagna which we can simply and quickly assimilate in our life. Thanks a lot Radhanath Maharaj for this wonderful wisdom.

  • biswajit

    wonderfully explained the meaning of Yagna

  • mangesh

    How nicely HH Radhanath Swami has explained the definition yagna and what is yagna in this age.thanks

  • Anand Patil

    A very thorough meaning of “Yagna”. Thank you HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes! His explanation about various meanings of “Yagya” is fascinating.

  • biswajit

    Thank you HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj

  • vilas bhujbal

    Thank you Maharaj. I got new insight about the yagna,”yagna means sacrificing something selfish for something divine. Neglecting the bad dog to feed the good dog is also a form of yagna.”

    • Sumit Sharma


  • Sanjiv

    Neglecting the bad dog to feed the good dog is also a form of yagna.- This means we can do yajna any time

  • Piyush Singh

    “namnam akari bahuda nija sarva shaktis.” – All the shaktis of supreme Lord are infested in his holy name and anyone can chant the holy name, which means practically everyone have the potential to access all the powers of the supreme Lord. The only thing needed is the desire to take shelter of the Lord. wow such an amazing and a hope giving point. Isn’t it?

    • Sumit Sharma

      Yes indeed Piyushji! By chanting the Holynames, one can get highest perfection in one’s life.

  • biswajit

    Nice understanding of Yagna



  • Abhinaw

    Not satisfactory
    Specially this usage of words like dog with yajna is improper
    All concocted philosophy.

    According to vedas :

    Yajno vai Visnuh
    Yajna means Vishnu.

    yat karosi yat juhosi

    Krishna says in BG offer to me (not to any dog)

  • Prahalad

    Radhanath Swami gives an insight about real meaning of yoga.

  • biswajit


  • Sanjiv

    It is so critical to keep making the right choices

  • Kalpana Kulkarni

    True! We all have the freedom to make choices in life – it is up to us whether we make the right ones or not. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given us an easy way of purifying ourselves – chanting of the holy names.

  • Sanjiv

    One of the ways to make the right choice is to give more time to spiritual acivities like hearing from great souls

  • Raju K Mewada

    Mean of real yagna is to purify our heart through chanting the holy name. Specifically congregational chanting of the Lord gives us real fulfillment in our heart. Due to limitation of non availability of pure material for yagna, due to limitations of availability of pure brahmana who can perform such fire sacrifice, Lord Caitanya gave congregation chantings as the best yagna for the present age of kali. H H Radhanath Swami Maharaj has explained perfectly how easily we can perform this yagna of chanting the holy name without any limitation of time, place or any other circumstances. Let us try to put our genuine efforts to learn this yagna and put in practice of our practical life..

  • Kishore

    Apt answer , I find it easy to apply

  • Rajeshlk

    Yagya of modern times..Holy name easy and simple solution. Good Post

  • Rahul Gupta

    What a nice explanation of yagya. Hats off to Radhanath Swami

  • Betty Lee

    now that’s a pretty cool analysis and explanation of the term yoga with it gaining so much popularity both in the us as well as Europe the need of an authorized meaning and perception of the same. herein i think it is explained pretty well

    • Laura Baker

      very true with so many people out there claiming to do yoga out there it becomes damn tough to ascertain the real stuff. thank you for the suggestion laura that was really helpful

  • Satish Rane

    hare krishna thank u maharaj for such a wonderful class…grateful to you hare krishna

  • Jason Evans

    I never knew all this before…nice to read about this article….

  • Jeff Smith

    After reading this article only i could know that neglecting the bad dog to feed the good dog is also a form of yagna

  • Keshav Kishor Das

    The last two sentences is the verdict ……! Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtanam………!