Amidst the Kaveri issue, one other issue that is popping up is the issue of “Scanty Rainfalls” or say a gradual reduction in rainfall year on year basis. Although this year, the monsoon has been termed as “normal”, this much of rainfall is just sufficient to fulfill the water requirements; irrigation may become difficult. This case is peculiar to certain states like Karnataka or Tamil Nadu for example. The problem specific to South Indian Rivers is that all of them are “Rain-fed” rivers. One problem particular to Kaveri is that the sharing is of “Deficit water”, unlike other rivers where surplus water is shared. Anyway, the root of the problem is that there is not enough rainfall in the catchment areas and also in irrigated lands. In Kodagu, we are seeing a reduction in rainfall every year by 1 mm. The problem may be contemporary, however, the solution lies in following the age of customs and scientific practices.
The inference from various data is loud and clear. In India and across the world, rainfall is falling gradually. Now, why is that so? Even before knowing why Yajna’s need to be performed to beget rains, let us understand the root of the problem. Going further from there will be easier.
Think of a heart patient; with a fragile heart; with his/her body in ICU. This does not happen overnight. Whatever may be the scientific explanations that you may give, the broad reasons are two. The first one being an aftermath of a “Sudden Shock”, and the second one being “prolonged fatigue” (i.e. excessive strain to the body and/or mind in the long run). I am making an inference at the macro level out of this micro-individual problem. Whatever may be the problems of the modern world, be it global warming, greenhouse effect, deforestation, receding rivers, falling rainfalls, decreasing fertility of soil, decreasing groundwater levels, etc., these are attributable solely to the “Shocks” caused to the environment. Like the body that has an “immunity system”, so does nature has its own means to tackle problems both within and without. Say for example plants and trees consume “Carbon Dioxide”, worms and insects compost the waste into fertile soil etc. Now, in the past 2 centuries (more so in the latter half of 20th century and onwards) we have given more shocks to mother earth than she can bare. We are producing carbon monoxides on one hand and cutting trees on the other. Where from can Mother Nature absorb these shocks? Simply put, mother earth runs on a “Fine Balance”, much like the fabrics that are woven into a beautiful cloth. Even if one thread breaks in the fabric, the possibilities of the entire cloth being torn into pieces are more. We have done all that needs to be done to break this winsome balance of nature.
We have seen how individual events are not just working in isolation. All acts on this earth, or in the cosmos as such, are having an equal bearing/weight in maintaining this divine order. We also know that modern physics is in conformity with this theory i.e. every object in this cosmos is in constant interaction, beat through gravitational force or through electromagnetic waves, etc.
What we experience as “changes” are but the “effect”. The cause is the same. That is unquestionably the change in “man’s character/life”. All other creatures are living on this planet without causing any harm whatsoever to the planet. It is only the man who is trying all he can to break this order (the beautifully woven fabric). In science, three things matter the most:
- Cause and Effect
- Space and Time
- Experiments, Evidence, and Statistics
What the spiritual traditions speak of is that which transcends “space and time”. However, I shall make an honest effort in this article to reconcile the two of them.
The Cosmic Order
We have seen that there is an order that drives the life on this planet. We have also seen what the effects are, and how human beings are the sole cause of affecting this order. When this order is spoken in the manner it exists, then it is called “Satya” (सत्य); even before it is spoken, the very thought/or the existence of this order in the mind (or the subtle body) is called “Ruta” (ऋत); the practice or the tangible existence of this order is “Dharma” (धर्म). To maintain “Satya, Ruta, and Dharma” or simply put, to maintain the cosmic order, what one does is called the “Karma”. Without going into too much detail in this regard, and in the light of the above discussion I shall quote two shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 3 – Karma Yoga)
Bhagawan Krishna says thus in the Gita,
अन्नाद्भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः।
यज्ञाद्भवति पर्जन्यो यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः।।14।।
annād bhavanti bhūtāni parjanyād anna-sambhavaḥ
yajñād bhavati parjanyo yajñaḥ karma-samudbhavaḥ
All living beings subsist on anna (food), which are produced from rain (crops cultivated through rains). Rains are produced by performance of yajña [sacrifice], and yajña is born of prescribed duties (Karma).
कर्म ब्रह्मोद्भवं विद्धि ब्रह्माक्षरसमुद्भवम् |
तस्मात्सर्वगतं ब्रह्म नित्यं यज्ञे प्रतिष्ठितम् || 15||
karma brahmodbhavaṁ viddhi brahmākṣhara-samudbhavam
tasmāt sarva-gataṁ brahma nityaṁ yajñe pratiṣhṭhitam
The duties for human beings are described in the Vedas, and the Vedas are manifested by God himself. Therefore, the all-pervading Lord is eternally present in acts of sacrifice (Yajna).
A Short Note on the above two shlokas:
Lord Krishna is referring here to the Karmic Cycle. Just like the many cycles of Science and life, so is the Karmic cycle.
Living Beings subsist on food, food (crops) are grown (on fields) through rains, rains are a consequence of Yajna, and Yajna subsists in ones Karma (Duty). The Karma is a consequence of the Brahman, and hence all (that exists) and the Brahman (creator) himself dwells in Yajna.
Living Beings -> Anna (Food) -> Rains -> Yajna -> Karma -> Brahman (Creators, Sustains, and motivates all the processes in the chain).
These shlokas have a more subtle meaning. Sri Krishna illustrated how Yajna is embedded within the fabric of the Universe. If we interpret the shlokas literally, it refers to Vedic rituals that were used to invoke rain-gods. It also has a more symbolic and deeper meaning. We have seen earlier as to how every action has a reaction. Every object in this cosmos is in constant interaction with the other. Everything in the entire cosmos is working to keep the cosmic fabric intact. A consecrated, orderly, and defined performance of actions for a higher ideal is called the Yajna. In this higher order, not just the rains, the entire life cycle/cosmic cycle in well balanced through the performance of Yajnas. Balanced rainfalls are just a consequence.
The Historical reference
The story of Rishyasringa is a reference point for us to know about an incident where rain was begotten by the performance of Yajna. Rishyasringa was born to Vibhandaka Rishi and the celestial damsel Urvashi. Rishyasringa was a Rishi was great wisdom, merit, and was a realized soul. His wisdom was known far and wide. King Romapada of the Anga Kingdom also had heard of the scholarly merit and chastity of the Seer. Once upon a time, the kingdom of Anga went through the sufferings of drought and famine. The king, Romapada, is told that this can only be alleviated by a Brahmin with the powers that come from an observance of perfect chastity. The only such person was Rishyasringa. Rishyasringa was invited to the Palace of Romapada, and was persuaded to carry out the necessary ceremonies i.e. the Yajna. Yajnas were performed under the guidance of Sage Rishyasringa and the kingdom of Anga was subsequently bestowed benevolently with rainfall. The sage was later married to the daughter of King Romapada. King Romapada’s son-in-law, sage Rishyasringa, later goes in to perform the “Putra-Kameshthi” Yāga for king Dasharatha of Ayodhya (Yajna to beget progeny).
The word “Yajna” or “Yagna” (Sanskrit: यज्ञ; yajña or yajJa) literally means “Selfless Sacrifice” or an “offering”. You may depict Yajna through two aspects:
- Tangible aspect: Yajna is a process aimed at the refinement of the subtle energy existing in the matter with the help of thermal energy of the mantra. In pure scientific language, it is a holy “combustion process”.
A typical Agnihotra process. Involves burning of any one of the five holy sticks (of the Panchavati trees), along with Cow dung, Raw Rice, Turmeric, with the help of clarified butter (ghee).
- Intangible aspect: It denotes the sacrificing of the ego, selfishness, and material attachments, and adopting a rational thinking, human compassion, dedication, creativity, and is performed for the well-being of all. We saw in Rishyasringa’s story as to how chastity also became important.
Motive of Yajna
The motive of Yajna can be “Kamya” (With a specific desire/desirous sacrifice) and “Nishkamya” (sacrifices without a desire). The “Tantra” school of thought talks about both the aspects. However, Krishna prefers the latter in the Gita.
The performance of Yajnas with a motive or specific desire is known as Kamya Karma. I shall list a few examples as under:
|Sl.No.||Name of the Yajna||Motive||Citation in Puranas|
|1.||Varuna Yajna||To obtain showers and rainfall.||Performed by Sage Rishyasringa|
|2.||Putrakameshti Yāga||To beget progeny||Dasharatha performs under the guidance of Seers to beget Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana, and Shatrugna.|
|3.||Sarpa Yajna/Sarpa Satra||Performed to destroy/kill snakes. Also called as “Snake Sacrifice”||Performed by King Janamejaya to avenge the death of his father “Parikshit”.|
|4.||Ashvamedha Yajna||Horse sacrifice or the Horse that runs into variations Kingdoms to establish the supremacy of monarch.||Countless examples may be cited viz. Rama in Ramayana, Pandavas in the Mahabharatha, etc.|
|5.||Rajasuya Yajna||It is a Soma Yajna i.e. involving the offering of Soma Juice, performed by a King.||Performed by Yudhishthira (Mahabharatha)|
|6.||Vājapeya Yajna||Same as above with a few minor differences.|
Many more examples may be cited from the Puranas.
These are Yajnas performed with selfless motive. It is without a desire. It is performed for either of the following:
1. Yajnas for the sake of performance i.e. the sacrifice being duty bound for performance.
- For the benefit of humanity and all living/non-living creatures on this planet/cosmos.
For the welfare of all.
Examples are Nitya Agnihotra, Athiratryam, etc.
Significance of Yajna
Yajna has been given a lot of importance in our traditions. Basically everything gets an authority from the Vedas. In fact, the very first Verse of Rigveda talks about “Agni” (the sacrificial fire). So much is its importance that the Veda starts from Agni itself.
अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं यज्ञस्य देवं रत्वीजम |
होतारं रत्नधातमम ||
I Laud Agni, the chosen Priest, God, minister of sacrifice,
the hotar, lavishest of wealth. (1st Hymn of the Vedas)
In Chandogya Upanishad, Yajna is compared to the world (Section 4), to the rain Gods (Section 5), the earth (section 6), the man (Section 7), and the women (Section 8). This chart I am that I have reproduced here is from an article by Sri Jayaram B on “hinduwebsite.com”.
Many such examples may be cited from scriptures.
The Scholars needed to perform Yajna
Vedic yajnas are typically performed by four priests: the hotar, the adhvaryu, the udgatar and the Brahmin. The functions associated with the priests were:
- TheHotri recites invocations and litanies drawn from the 
- TheAdhvaryu is the priest’s assistant and is in charge of the physical details of the ritual like measuring the ground, building the altar explained in the The adhvaryu offers oblations.
- TheUdgatri is the chanter of hymns set to melodies and music (sāman) drawn from the The udgatar, like the hotar, chants the introductory, accompanying and benediction hymns.
- TheBrahmin is the superintendent of the entire performance, and is responsible for correcting mistakes by means of supplementary verses.
This reference may be found in the Mahabharatha where the Sarpa Satra Yajna is performed by Janamejaya. Sage Veda Vyasa writes in detail about the roles of various priests in the Mahabharatha itself.
One exception to the above is the “Nitya Agnihotra” (Daily fire sacrifices). Only one individual practices this Yajna on a daily basis. This can and must be done by all. It is an individualistic practice done for the benefit of all beings.
The 5 categories of Yajna
|The five great Vedic sacrifices|
|Name of sacrifice||What is Offered?||To whom?||Frequency of performance|
|Bhuta-yajna||Food/Water||To living beings
(animals, birds, plants, trees etc.)
|Manushya-yajna||Alms and water
|Offerings to fellow human beings||Daily|
|Pitr-yajna||Libations and water||Sacrifice to fore-fathers/ancestors||Monthly/Annually|
|Deva-yajna||Firewood/Cow Dung Cakes/Pancha Gavya/Raw Rice with turmeric/Coconuts, Steamed Rice-cooked food, etc.||Sacrifice to please gods (typically the homas & havanas)||Daily|
|Brahma-yajna||Words, read the Vedas, meditate on Brahman||Sacrifice to Brahman
|Constantly (No specific frequency prescribed)|
(Picture Credits: Wikipedia)
There are 5 Categories of Yajnas:
1. Deva Yajna (Done to please Gods viz. Homa, Havanas, etc.)
2. Pitru Yajna (Done to please the ancestors, elders who are not in this world viz Shraddha, etc.)
3. Bhoota Yajna – Bhoota means a being. To live in harmony with all beings i.e. with plants, animals, rivers, mountains, and the entire cosmos is Bhoota Yajna.
4. Manushya Yajna – To perform your duties towards family, society, nation, & humanity.
5. Brahma Yajna – The study of the Vedas, Upanishads, and meditating on the Brahman.
All these were part of our daily lives in the ancient times. As a result of such love and responsible life, the climate was natural and normal. The rain gods were naturally pleased. Agni Deva can be ignited within (the body) or without (Agni in the homa kunda). When all men and women perform their duties viz the Yajna, then and then alone will the rain gods be pleasing and the nature be bestowing. Not just for solving water problems, but for all problems performance of Nitya Yajna (Daily performance of all the 5 duties) by all is the solution.
The Science behind Rainfalls
Rains happen as consequence of three basic processes, namely vaporization, condensation, and precipitation. As shown in the picture below, we can see that the sun vaporizes the water from water bodies, say for example the ocean. This is the first stage. The water vapour or the water droplets are constantly in motion in the atmosphere. There collect together or gather at a point to form the “clouds”. Then the process of condensation is to ensue for the happening of rainfall. The clouds condense to become water droplets. The falling of these droplets either as snow/ice/water is known as precipitation.
Yajnas and Rain
What happens naturally is the vaporization; the formation of clouds, and subsequent condensation through may be pushed through external factors. Say for examples the role of aerosols and carbon particles in the formation of clouds, breaking down of water droplets, and the subsequent precipitation is being studied to a great extent off late. Studies say that the fine particulate matter produced by car exhaust and other human sources of pollution forms cloud condensation nuclei, leads to the production of clouds and increases the likelihood of rain. The water vapors collected in the atmosphere need greater heat to precipitate. As a consequence of a natural phenomenon, the steady rising of hot air helps water droplets/clouds in the atmosphere to condense. The NASA Earth Observatory has made significant observations with regards to the impact of “aerosols” (say for example smoke) and “carbon particles” in the formation of clouds vis-à-vis precipitation and rainfall. The scientific American too had carried a story on June 06, 2014 as regards to the impact of Climate Change on clouds. The article was written in the magazine by Gayathri Vaidynathan.
We are increasingly seeing rainfalls in India in Cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, etc. However, I must admit that this increase in rainfall is not balanced and sustained. Studies say that Bengaluru has had a general increase in rainfall, whereas Kodagu being Kaveri catchment area is getting 1 MM of decreased rainfall every year. Although a singular concrete research substantiating the impact of carbon particles on rainfall has not been done, all the existing researches point to the direct nexus between “aerosols – carbons” and “rainfall”.
From the above discussion we know that fire (smoke) and certain gases can increase precipitation and thereby rainfall. The more hot air that goes up, the more the chances are of rainfall. But the problem with the vehicles or industries is that they cause pollution to the atmosphere. Besides, we need to recollect the discussion made in the introduction. The nature has its own mechanism to protect itself from the shocks of pollution. However, we have polluted the atmosphere the most in the last two centuries than in we have in some 5,000 or say 10,000 years. Also, there is this impact of “Green House Effect” and “Acid Rains” in the modern polluted air and/or clouds. So we must permit the letting of only so much shocks as the atmosphere can bare. This is very tricky situation. We must handle it like the mother tiger that handles the cub. The mother tiger carries the cub with its mouth on the cub’s neck. All though the tiger’s mouth have sharp teeth that can tear into an animal’s skin, the softness it has it carrying the cub and coupled with its love, has not impact on the cub (or its skin).
A pictorial representation of the Acid rain.
The fire that emanates from the Yajna Kunda is much different from that of polluted air or smoke. The Yajna Kunda has besides firewood, cow dung cakes, turmeric, sandalwood paste, vegetables, raw rice and/or steam rice, vegetables, coconut, etc., and all these are burnt with the help pf camphor and clarified butter (ghee). The temperatures attained in the Kunda varies from 250 degree Celsius to 600 degree Celsius (when in actual flames it can go as high as 1200 degree Celsius to 1300 degree Celsius). The smoke that emanates from the combustion is released to the atmosphere. Due to the shape of the Yajna Kunda, the Sun Light is reflected and is not held in a particular place. As a result of the reflection of Sun Light, it has a positive impact on the photo-chemical reaction. Besides the floor/ground is kept cool due to the reflection of sunlight.
The smoke that emanates from the Homa Kunda is aromatic, especially with the ghee, camphor, Sandalwood paste, etc used along with the firewood. A group of scientist lead by Dr. Manoj Garg, Director, Environmental and Technical Consultants and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board conducted experiments during the Ashvamedha Yajna at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. Samples of 100 ml each of water and air collected were analysed. I am reproducing that data below as published in the book “The Integrated Science of Yajna” compiled by Dr. Rajani R Joshi.
In Air Samples (Unit Mg per average sample)
|Particulars||Level of Sulphur Dioxide||Level of Nitrous Oxide|
Bacteria Count in average water samples
Mineral in the Ash that remains after Yagna
|Phosphorous||4076 mg per kg|
|Potassium||3407 mg per kg|
|Calcium||7822 mg per kg|
|Magnesium||6424 mg per kg|
|Nitrogen||32 mg per kg|
The resultant ash is a very good fertilizer. You may also refer to the researches made by an Australian Bruce Johnson of Om Sree Dham. This Australian has made substantial research on how Agnihotra ash or the Ash that remains after Yajna helps purify water, enriches the fertility of the soil, helps in skin diseases when applied to the skin, and also helps strengthen the plants and trees to fight bacteria.
The conclusion from this discussion is that Yajna not only helps in rainfall, but the smoke that emanates is aromatic and helps kill bacteria and germs, and also the remains being ash are very good fertilizers and helps fight skin diseases. I have also made personal experiments on how Agnihotra Ash/Cow Dung Ash helps in tackling skin problems. Personally speaking, all the houses in our street complaint of mosquitos, and buy all chemical coils and stuff from the market. Our house remains an exception with reduced mosquitos as a consequence of daily performance of Agnihotra.
Unlike the poisonous or harmful smoke emanating from vehicles and industries, the smoke from the Agni Kunda is aromatic, medicinal, and simultaneously increases the chances of rainfall. For a realistic impact to be witnessed, I would suggest that most of the households, if not all must practice Yajna on a daily basis. Just a few families cannot help permeate the effect upon the entire humanity. The hot air that goes up from the sacrificial fire in large quantities (emitting carbon based elements) helps condense the water vapours into rain droplets. Besides, that much amount of carbon elements (CO2 or CO3) emitted by the sacrificial fire are readily inhaled by the plants and trees. It does not give shocks to the system nor does it have a cascading effect. Also, the remains of the Homas i.e. the firewood-cow dung cake-rice-vegetable ash, are the best fertilizers for the soil.
I have talked about how Yajnas in general will beget rains. However, there are some Yajnas done with a specific purpose or intent. Say for example, the Varuna (God of water) Yajna is done with a specific purpose to please the God and beget rains (You may recall the story of Sage Rishyasringa discussed earlier). Be it a specific purpose or generic or selfless sacrifice, in my view and in the light of the scientific discussions made above, all of them beget rains. All Yajnas ensure the well-being of humanity and the entire creation. But in what manner, by whom, when, and where all the Yajnas must be done is a matter that must be researched further. I am affirmative about the results that I have arrived at, and I also believe in the words of our ancestors. I only mean that there is always a scope for greater research in this field. Also it depends on facts, situations, and circumstances.
To please the rain Gods, yajna must be performed by all. When I say Yajna must be performed by all, every household must do so irrespective of what caste or religion they belong to. Yajna is the life of this Nation (Bharat/India) and essence of our culture. Yajna is the need of the hour. It is the solution to all the problems that the world is facing today. We cannot contract Yajnas to priests or politicians. The mass or individual fire sacrifices are a limited view of what Yajna actually means. Yajna is life. Yajna is the means to sustain the higher cosmic order or to maintain the divine cosmic fabric. When all the threads in the fabric are neatly woven and well maintained (along with good embroidery), the cloth looks beautiful and is intact. So is the cosmos formed and maintained in the Yajna. What we do as daily Yajna is but symbolic of the cosmic Yajna. Sustained and normal rainfalls are a natural consequence of the same. My inference therefore is that, constant practice of Yajna will not just beget rainfall as much as it is required, it shall also help eliminate all problems by maintenance of the fine balance in this world and the entire cosmos.
[Note: I have opened up a debate in this article to carry out further. This should be a starting point to carry out studies and researches in large scale (here and there, small researches have been done). My article and findings need not be conclusion. I recommend scientist and experts to carry on this research further for the benefit of humanity.]