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Dung of the cow family (that is Cow or Bull) is used for preparing the Agnihotra fire.
In ancient medical system the world over practice of treating diseases with the use of cowdung was prevalent. It is a proven fact that medicinal properties are present in the cowdung cakes and the resultant smoke that emanates after burning them.
Cowdung contains plenty of Menthol, Ammonia, Phenol, Indol, Formalin and specifically its bacteriophages eradicates the pathogens and is a recognized disinfectant.
It is the opinion of an Italian scientist that merely with the smell of fresh cowdung malarial fever and the pathogenic bacteria vanishes. The Russian scientists too have found that objects or the walls of houses coated with cowdung paste protects or safeguards them from radiation. Many Doctors in the West are taking interest in Agnihotra and experimenting with the dried cow-dung powder smoke while treating respiratory problems.
With a view to preserve these anti-bacterial properties of cow-dung cakes it is advised that the use of kerosene oil etc. should be strictly avoided. Prepare the fire by using camphor, dry gugul or cotton wicks duly soaked in cow's pure ghee.
During summer and winter prepare the fire 10 to 15 minutes before sunrise and sunset and during rainy season 15 to 20 minutes before Agnihotra time. If the cow-dung cakes are a little moist or damp in the rainy season, to help ignite the fire in time, use of dry twigs of prescribed trees is advised. Vata (Banyan tree) - Ficus Bengalnesis, Audumbara - Ficus Glometra, Palaash - Butea Prondosa, Peepal - Ficus religiosa and bel - Egle marleos are the five yagnya trees. Dry twigs of these trees are medicinal and hence beneficial if used with the cow-dung cakes. Normally finger thick twigs of the size that will not protrude outside the Agnihotra pot are recommended for use. These help in preparing the fire in time.
Cowdung cake pieces and dry twigs (if used) should be properly arranged in the pot. First take a flat piece of the cow-dung cake and place it at the inside bottom of the pot, than arrange other pieces in a circular way around the inner sides of the pot leaving the middle section hollow. This will enable air to circulate and proper combustion will be possible. In the hollow section or the middle empty space keep dry gugul or camphor or cotton wicks soaked in cow's ghee and lite it 10-15 minutes before Agnihotra time. Smokeless fire would be fully ablaze and ready for the performance of Agnihotra in time.
Agnihotra is a regular practice, a daily yagnya. There are also many other types of yagnayas which are performed on specific conditions and for specific purposes. Though the rites and rituals, the ingredients and mantras for every yagnya, right from Agnihotra to Ashwamedha, are different there is only one common but essential thing required for all these yagnyas - COW'S PURE GHEE. Oblations of cow's ghee offered to the yagnya fire purifies the atmosphere, spreads a pleasant fragrance in it. The evil effects of all the chemically poisonous gases that are floating in the atmosphere due to severe pollution are nullified when yagnya is performed with offerings of cow's pure ghee.
Microbiologists of Ferguson College, Pune (India) undertook an experiment with Agnihotra. Their observation was that with Agnihotra performed at the exact time the unnaturally formed air pollution of about 8000 cubic ft. in the Hall admeasuring 36' x 22' x 10' was thoroughly cleansed and the air therein was purified. This experiment proved that even with only one time Agnihotra 77.5% of the 8000 cubic ft. air was purified and it was filled with nutritious gases. It was also established by this experiment that with only one time Agnihotra 96% of the pathogenic bacteria vanishes.
Gases produced by the burning of cow's pure ghee acts in balancing the cycle of nature. Agnihotra performed using cow's pure ghee removes all pathogenic bacteria from the atmosphere of the place where it is performed. Cow's ghee works as an essentially useful and important ingredient in the purification of the atmosphere and making it sufficiently nutritious for mankind, plants and all life on planet earth.
Cow's ghee is the most important and essential ingredient prescribed in the performance of Agnihotra as ordained by the Vedas. Some people use buffalo ghee or refined vanaspati ghee for performing other yagnyas which is highly improper and harmful. Instead of deriving beneficial effects it causes misery. Any yagnya performed without the use of cow's ghee is harmful for human health and the atmosphere. At the same time this is going against the practice as laid down by the Vedas and, therefore, improper and trouble inviting.
'Cow's Ghee is Life,' so says the Vedas. Ancient healers (medical practitioners) having known its wonderful healing properties have given it a place of honour by describing it as the 'Medicines Medicine.' Cow's ghee is the most unique matter, the nectar available to man on planet earth.
Cows Milk, from which ghee is prepared, is a unique blending of 101 different substances containing nutritive values of its component parts. In its proteins there are 19 amino acids, in the butter 11 fatty acids, 6 vitamins, 8 enzymes, 25 minerals, 2 sugar, 5 phosphorous compounds, 14 nitrogenous substances and some more yet unknown substances- and all these ingredients suspended and dissolved in the form of fluid.
When cow's ghee is mixed with rice grains and uttering the mantras Agnihotra oblations are offered to the fire 4 types of gases that are produced with the burning of the oblations have been recognized so far. They are:
- Ethylene Oxide,
- Propylene Oxide,
- Formaldehyde and,
After the oblations are offered to the fire, cow's ghee produces acetylene, the energy of excessive heat, which sucks in the polluted air and purifies it. The gases that are produced from the burning of the cow's ghee possess the wonderful capacity of removing mental tensions and curing many diseases.
Cow's ghee is an essential ingredient. Agnihotra annot be and should not be performed without it. Raw Rice is the second or the subsidiary ingredient prescribed alongwith cow's ghee for the oblations. About 200 gms. of raw rice grains are sufficient for 1 month's regular performance of Agnihotra. Remove small stone particles, any other foreign material and dust etc. from the rice to be used for the offerings. Also remove the broken grains as oblations should be of Akshat- un- broken full grains. One pinchful of clean rice grains should be taken for each mantra oblation. Raw rice contains 14 to 18% moisture and the remaining is starch. The coating of the grains is hard which contain oils. A good amount of Olein and Albuminous is present in it. Rice is the only food grain available to man anywhere in the world. Agnihotra being the global discipline an abundantly and easily available commodity like rice is prescribed for its practice.
After offering the oblations and while allowing them to burn completely sit still at the same spot for a few minutes. This enables you to derive maximum advantage of the purifying atmosphere. Gradually mind becomes steady and concentration is easy. Many ailments like heart disease, blood-pressure, asthma, ulcer etc. are the result of mental imbalances, tensions and pollution. Sitting quietly for some time at the Agnihotra place, after the performance, helps in the mind becoming steady and tensions/ stresses are removed. In the modern day science of medicine the above mentioned ailments are defined as 'Anxiety Neurosis' which is the by-product of mental strain and tension. Agnihotra takes care of this.
After the oblations are burnt, free the mind of all thoughts, concentrate and try to steady it on pure (holy) thoughts or on some ideal (like Sadguru, Saint, Prophet). The more this time is extended the more advantages can be experienced. This practice helps in producing physiological changes in the body. It has been observed that the practice enhances intensity and frequency of alpha-brain wave patterns, a very healthy sign. Also, there is a significant decrease in heart and breathing rates, oxygen consumption and muscle tension. A marked decrease is observed in blood lactate a substance suspected of producing anxiety attacks. The practice helps the mind favourably. Peace and health is gained. During this period of meditation mental tension and stress is beneficially reduced which helps in enhancing the resistance power of the body. The pressure on the heart is comfortably in check and the heart functions in a relaxed and healthy state. The entire nervous system gets rejuvenated and works more efficiently.
After the performance of Agnihotra pure, nutritious, fragrant gases are produced. As these get spread all around us they enter our body system through respiration and other means. The blood vessels get sufficiently expanded and the blood circulation in the body functions smoothly. EEG (Electroencephalograph) tests have revealed that the number of Alpha waves is increased and the brain is in a state of complete relaxation.
The practice of meditation in the Agnihotra atmosphere is thus immediately rewarding.