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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