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Vyshwanara Yagna - I

Vyshwanara Yajna

A ritual is one which is done to please the deities who in turn bless the person. Partaking food is one such daily ritual. It is known as Vyshvanara Yagna - A ritual to please God Vyshvanara present in every human being.

- Raghavendra Rachuri

Jayateertha Vidyapeetha

Food is the living source of every creature in this world. According to our scriptures, the personality and nature of an individual depends largely on the nature of food he eats. We learn from Bhagavd Gita that the nature of the individual can be determined by knowing his likes/dislikes towards certain food items. Gita classifies humans into Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic depending on the food they like. Hence food plays an important role in shaping the personality of human being.

Among the four Yugas of the Vedic calendar, in Krita Yuga, creatures would live as long as their bones were intact (asthigata prANaH). In Tretayuga, they would live as long as their flesh exists (mAmsagata prANaH). In Dvaparayuga, they would live as long as their blood is intact (raktagata prANaH). But in this age of Kali, it is said that all living beings depend on food for their survival – kalau annagata prANaH i.e without partaking food, they would die in due course of time. Such is the importance of food in this age.

In today’s world, not many realize the significance and sanctity of partaking food. Many have developed a habit of eating anything anywhere without due consideration of time, place, sanctity and nature of food. Food is looked upon only as a means to satiate their appetite. In a hurry to fill the belly and please their taste buds they do not even stop to think whether eating such food is good for their overall health or not. If man continues in this fashion what would be the difference between him and the animals?

Though human being shares a lot of commonality with other species, he always tries to stand out from them because of his superior faculty of intellect. He adapts certain ‘best practices’ which make him superior to animals. Similarly, though depending on food for survival is a common factor for all species, human being can stand out only if he follows some best practices while taking food. Apart from eating clean and healthy food that makes him energetic and free from any diseases he should also prepare the food hygienically.

Much has also been said in our ancient scriptures about preparing and eating healthy and pure food making positive impact on the mind and body.

Our ancient wisdom views “Partaking food” as a sacred ritual. Accordingly, certain rules are laid out, which, when followed, make the ritual complete and meaningful. It is important to know how to perform this sacred ritual. What is its meaning and what one should contemplate at that time? Let us see what our scriptures say about this. A ritual is one which is done to please the deities who in turn bless the person. Partaking food is one such daily ritual. It is known as Vyshvanara Yagna - A ritual to please God Vyshvanara present in every human being. Lord Sri Krishna says in Gita –

अहं वैश्वानरो भूत्वा प्राणिनां देहमाश्रितः । प्राणापानसमायुक्तः पचाम्यन्नं चतुर्विधम् ।। - Gita XV.14

I am present in the Vaishvanara form in all human bodies and am responsible along with Prana and Apana for the digestion of the four types of food.

By following simple etiquette mentioned below one gets great benefits out of this otherwise routine process.

The food should be pure (Shuddha) and should be partaken with right contemplation.

Shuddhi

The Suddhi or hygiene required for food is three-fold:

Patra Shuddhi

The Patra(Utensils) used for preparing the food should be clean. They should be without any leftovers. Utensils used for cooking should not be used for any other purpose such as eating etc.

Dravya Shuddhi

The provisions used for cooking should be earned in a just manner according to ones Varnashrama Dharma.

Paka Suddhi

The process of preparing food should also be pure. The food should be prepared after duly taking bath, stamping ones body with symbols of Vishnu and with due contemplation of the Almighty.

Contemplation

• पञ्चार्द्रो भोजनं कुर्यात् प्राङ्मुखो मौनमास्थितः • हस्तौ पादौ तथैवास्यमेषु पञ्चार्द्रता मता ।।

One should eat facing east after washing 5 parts (hands, legs and face) are the of body. One should not speak while partaking food.

• अन्नं दृष्ट्वा प्रणम्यादौ पाञ्जलिः प्रणमेत्ततः • अस्माकं नित्यमस्त्वेतदिति भक्त्याथ वन्दयेत् ।।

Before partaking, looking at the food with folded hands, one should say the following prayer with devotion – “Let this be unto us every day”.

The food may then be partaken thinking that it is being offered to Lord Vishwanara with the following contemplation.

The five forms of Vishnu – Narayana, Aniruddha, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Vasudeva govern the process of eating. Hence these forms of the Lord should be specially remembered during this holy Vyshwanara ritual.

सङ्कर्षणश्च प्रद्युम्नः तत्र भोक्तृषु संस्थितौ । भोक्तृशक्तिप्रदौ नित्यं भेक्तारौ च विशेषतः ।।

Sankarshana and Pradyumna are present in the eater. They are the ones who accept the food offered and give strength to the eater.

For any action to take place we need a doer. The doer also must have the required capacity or energy to perform that action. Without these two the action cannot be performed. The individual soul has doership but it cannot act independently. It depends on the Almighty for all its actions. Thus Vishnu assumes Sankarshana and Pradyumna forms and makes himself present in each person. नारायणानिरुद्धौ च भोग्यवस्तुषु संस्थितौ । तर्पकौ सर्वलोकानां तस्मात् भोग्यौ च चर्व्यतः ।।

Narayana and Aniruddha are present in the food we eat. They are the ones who are responsible for giving the feeling of satisfaction to the person who partakes food.

The food we eat gives us satisfaction. It gets transformed into energy and gives us strength to carry out our normal activities. But, the food alone cannot give us the satisfaction. It cannot give us the energy all by itself. Vishnu makes himself present in the food in his Narayana and Aniruddha forms and gives us the feeling of satisfaction. अवकाशप्रदो नित्यं वासुदेवो नभः स्थितः ।

Vasudeva pervades the stomach and provides the empty space in our stomach to hold the food that is eaten.

We feel like having food when our stomach is empty. One cannot take even a single mouthful of food when our belly is full. Vishnu present in our stomach provides the space for us to eat and fill our stomach. एवं पञ्चात्मकं विष्णुं य उपास्ते सदैव तु ।। अवकाशप्रदः सोपि स्वजातीनां भविष्यति । भोक्ताचाप्यायकश्चैव तस्य विष्णोः प्रसादतः ।।

In this way, one who contemplates and prays to the above five forms of Vishnu will become noble. He will be blessed with the power to give shelter and satisfaction to others.

Vishnu shows unaccountable grace by being constantly present in us and making us partake the food and become satisfied and energetic. We cannot give anything to Him in return. We can only be grateful for all He has bestowed unto us and prostrate before him with our hearts drenched with devotion. The least we can do is to remember his magnificent forms during our meals. This is the true Vyshwanara Yagnya.

People who daily perform this Vyshwanara Yagna not only find contentment themselves but also become capable of giving shelter to the needy and provide them food and satisfaction.

Only a brief account of the important anusandhana that needs to be done while partaking food is given in this article. A detailed account of the procedure to be followed will be given in future articles.
 
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