The Alchemy of Pooja
Why do we perform Yagam Poojas? To feed the devas and thereby serve Nature.
Sri Sakthi Amma, teaches that the devas are the administrators of the set rules of life in the world. They function on behalf of the Divine here on Earth. We, as humans, have the greatest privilege and duty of performing Yagam Poojas, because the holy smoke from the fire sustains the devas.
There is a system of reciprocity, or give and take, between us humans and the devas. The word yagam comes from the Sanskrit word yajana, meaning giving – humans giving to the devas. We give to the devas through our offerings into the Yagam Pooja fire and thereby the devas are fed; nourished through the smoke produced from the fire. In turn, the devas bless us, and support and keep the world in balance. Whatever is provided to the devas through the smoke of the Yagam Pooja fire benefits and yields to us and the world much more than what has been given.
Another name for Yagam Pooja is kama-dhenu, meaning one who bestows – someone who grants you what you need. Only humans are able to bestow upon or provide for the devas, through creating the holy smoke of a Yagam Pooja fire.
The devas have form but they do not have a physical body. Since devas are in astral form, their food likewise must come to them in an astral form as holy smoke from the Yagam Pooja fire. When we perform a Yagam Pooja, we attract the devas by our chanting. Whenever and wherever a Yagam Pooja takes place, the devas will converge at that place and accept what is offered.
The devas require us to understand and perform Yagam Poojas in a proper and disciplined manner. For a Yagam Pooja, we do not use just any sort of offering: we use flowers; specific foods and herbs; and ghee (clarified butter). This mixture of flowers, foods, herbs and ghee, offered to a Yagam Pooja fire, creates a holy smoke, which feeds and nourishes the devas.
Pooja means to perform with flowers.
The Divine is embodied in a Yagam Pooja fire. A flower offering symbolizes the flower of our heart, which is our soul. When we perform a Yagam Pooja, we are offering our soul energy, with devotion, to the Divine. As we perform Yagam Poojas regularly and continuously, day after day, gradually our ritual becomes a source of Divine energy for us.
Even though we perform Yagam Poojas physically, during that time we are also thinking of the Divine by being mindful in our actions and by chanting Divine names. Externally, it appears that we are doing a physical action; however, throughout the duration of the Yagam Pooja, our consciousness is actually on the Divine.
Yagam Poojas allow us to connect our soul with the Divine.
Changing everything into itself is the specialty of fire. When we make offerings into a Yagam Pooja fire, it will burn them to ashes. Whatever we want to offer to the Divine, we can do through a Yagam Pooja, which then allows the Divine to accept it immediately.
The great secret is that the Divine is close; the Divine is within us. We do not need to go searching here and there for the Divine. Whenever we are performing a Yagam Pooja, it is good to remember that we are making our offerings to the Divine within us.
We are a part of the Divine through our soul. Bringing the Divine and our individual soul together is like mixing water with water; they will mix. A Yagam Pooja attracts the Divine; by experiencing a Yagam Pooja, our soul is able to connect with the Divine.
Performing Yagam Poojas is a way of lovingly giving back to the Divine what has already been given to us. Indeed, everything we offer into the Yagam Pooja fire has come from the Divine. It is the love and devotion (our bhakthi) with which we make our offerings to the fire that matters to the Divine. When we give a gift, it is not the gift itself, but the thought behind the gift that brings happiness to the recipient. The thoughts, "I want to make this offering, and I want to perform a Yagam Pooja", make the Divine happy.
Dispel the Darkness
We all want peace, happiness, and a problem-free life. Sri Sakthi Amma teaches that in our life, there will always be problems and difficulties which disturb our peace and happiness and that, according to the Law of Karma, even though we may try to live our life without harming anyone, or otherwise doing wrong, we may have produced negative karma in our previous life through our actions. The negative karma from our previous life has followed us and comes back to us in this lifetime in the form of problems and difficulties. There is a solution for this. Through the grace and blessings of the Divine, our difficulties and problems can be reduced or even wiped clean. Just as the paper burns in a fire, our difficulties will become less with the Divine's grace and blessings.
There are several ways to receive the Divine's grace and blessings in our lives, one of which is through Aarthi, or Ghee Lamp Pooja.
The unique feature of Aarthi is agni (fire), using ghee as its fuel. The flame from the Aarthi lamp produces jyoti, which is the light of the Divine.
If a room is dark, we turn on a light. Similarly, to dispel any darkness which we may be experiencing in our life due to problems and difficulties besetting us, we can perform Aarthi, the divine light from which will dispel the darkness caused by the negative karma we created in our previous lifetime.
Whatever we offer into a fire will be burned. Likewise, when we offer our negative karma and everything else that is negative about us to the jyoti light of Aarthi, they will be burned by the sacred flame and in their place, the Divine will bless us with positive thoughts and energy and our lives will be much better. We may be experiencing difficulties because of the past negative karma of our previous life, but when this negative karma has been burned or wiped clean by the jyoti light of Aarthi, we will not be distressed any further.
Strength for the Soul
Water has the special feature of changing into what has been added to it. For example, a few drops of rose essence will change plain water into scented rosewater. Among all the five elements, only water has this characteristic of changing according to what has been added to it.
As part of a Yagam Pooja ceremony, ordinary water is added to a metal pot, called a kalasam, and a coconut is placed on top of the pot. The pot and the coconut are decorated in a certain fashion; this combination is referred to as a purna kalasam and is a representation of the Divine.
To infuse divine energy into the water in the kalasam, a Yagam Pooja is performed, with mantras being chanted to the Divine. The energy from the mantras goes into the kalasam and also into the water, transforming the plain water into sacred water or theertham.
Drinking theertham from a kalasam, activated by a Yagam Pooja and the chanting of mantras, provides us with the divine energy contained within the theertham, producing a calming effect on us; and also, we gain strength and courage therefrom.
Even if we only consume a small drop of theertham, our difficulties will be reduced or perhaps may even vanish.
As a doctor will only draw the required amount of medicine for your medical condition and not use the entire bottle, the theertham produced from a Yagam Pooja has the same effect on us, whether we consume a drop or a tablespoon.