What is Havan
Havan is one of the five religious obligations that an Arya Samajist is called upon to perform daily. The first two of the five yajnas have gained more importance than the other three and, therefore, are known to just about everyone owing allegiance to the realm of the Vedas. The first one is Vedic Sandhya or the Brahm Yajna and the second one is Havan or the Dev Yajna. Let us dwell on them a little bit in detail for the benefit of those Aryas who have joined the Arya Samaj in the last few years and also are the first generation Arya Samajists. Indeed it is the social duty and religious obligation of the comparatively older Arya Samajists to initiate their co-religionists into the proper form of religious obligations as laid down by no less a person than Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati himself.
Panch Mahayajna Vidhi
With a view to defending your universal Vedic Dharma against an onslaught of Mr Ignoramous, it is essential that our Grihastha should have an adequate grounding into the Vedic Dharm. A Vedic preacher who has acquired sufficient knowledge of theory and practice of the Vedic Dharm as interpreted by Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati may consider himself adequately armed to defend and protect the tenets of the Vedic Dharm and at the same time to launch a frontal attack on the adversary so that he blows the bugle of retreat. Thus the Vedic preacher will gain additional votaries and increase the number of followers of the Vedas who would adhere to its tenets.
One does not expect a new co-religionist to be a master of tenets of the Vedic Dharm overnight. It takes a good grounding and constant practice to gain mastery over the basics. Indeed the first and the foremost book recommended to form the base is Satyarth Prakash, a magnum opus of the founder Swami himself. That should give a good base and the other two books in the series are called the Sanskar Vidhi and Rigvedadi Bhashya Bhumika. Of course, the last two may wait until the first one, light of truth is read time and again and the fundamentals of the Vedic Dharm are imbibed, absorbed and digested to be a part of personality forever. Indeed the Sandhya and Havan will go on simultaneously as these two never interfere but supplement self study.
Let us list the five yajnas that an Arya Samajist is expected to perform daily. These are: Brahma Yajna or Sandhya and a devotee recites mantras of the Vedic prayer, Sandhya twice a day. In the wee hours of morning, just after the twilight, an Acharya or Purohit takes his Aasan on a raised platform and invites undivided attention of the congregation to performing Sandhya collectively. A devotee should withdraw from the outer world and concentrate on the inner self. Let no thoughts disturb you and on recitation of the Gayatri mantra, peace prevails all over. One recites the Ved mantras in the same order as given by the founder of the Arya Samaj. Right at the end is the Samarpan mantra written by the Maharishi himself wherein a devotee seeks the blessings of the Almighty for the fulfillment of his wishes and the four fundamentals - Dharm, Arth, Kama and Moksha as early as possible.
I shall be taking up Havan later and dwell on that at length as a collective form of prayer coupled with discharge of an important social commitment. The other yajnas of importance are the Pitra yajna, Atithi yajna and the Balivaishvadev yajna. Pitra refers to parents who are our progenitor and protector. Looking after them, taking care of them when they need it most is the sacred duty of children, especially the sons. The shastra says that parents are like a god, that is one who always gives something or the other. Pitra Devo Bhav, so say our scriptures and join us to follow it both in letter and spirit.
Atithi Devo Bhav – a guest is a god and must be looked after to the best of our ability and financial as well as physical capacity. If as a host, I fall deficient in one sphere or the other, our devotion to the guest must make it up elsewhere.
Balivaishvadev Yajna is observed by making offerings of the residual, ghrit and mixing it with Mishri etc to the lighted fire. Ten offerings are made while Ved mantras are recited. Bali means Havi and the offerings are made for cleansing the environment.
Maharishi Yajyavalk has described Yajna or Havan glorifying it as the most desirable deed; “Yajyo wai shreshthatamam Karma”, so says the Rishi and who dares to disagree with the great saint.
There cannot be two opinions about the environment being polluted by human beings in ample measure besides what other living beings do. Since we are many notches above animals who know not how pollutants they are, we humans know and feel guilty about it. But that is not enough. Remedial actions have to be taken by us to ensure that the environment is restored to its former glory before our acts and omissions caused concern to environmentalists. They, in turn, motivated lawmakers to enact laws to bring culprits to book to punish them so that it became a deterrent to other polluters-to-be and they had second thoughts about pursuing their dangerous hobbies. Indeed it was through imparting education in environment culture and adopting its practical application like performing Vedic Havan on a grand scale in large numbers that purification of environment was achieved.
We should not lose sight of the fact that there are many agents of pollution and unless havans are performed more frequently than what it is now, the environmentalists will be fighting a losing battle. The human beings must make a pledge that they wish to win the battle against environmental pollution for their children and children’s children to let them breathe air as fresh as ever. Havan will be a great friend of human beings in the project - pollution-free environment.
In this battle for achieving the goal of getting pollution-free environment, all sections of society will keep performing Havans day after day as fellow human beings without any distinction of caste, creed, colour, region or religion. May god be with us to fight the last ditch battle with havan mantras on our lips, offerings of non-pollutants in our hands and cheerful lips and faces as old stalwarts of pollution-free environment chanting the ved mantra, aum sarvam wai purnam swaha.