Symbolism of Offerings

Now the substances or offerings also are to be understood as symbolic. Just as the derivation of the names of ritviks gives us their symbolic meaning of Gods etc., in the inner yajňa, so also substances that are offered to the Gods in the ritual, even things like ghee belonging to the yajamāna are symbolic and they are to be so grasped following the meaning of the component parts of the terms. The term go means both cow and ray of Light. Hence gavya, yield of the cow, stands for the brilliant Light indicating knowledge. Gavya, ghŗta, clarified butter, havis, offering and the like are thus to be taken as offerings to the Gods which intimately belong to the yajamāna. Ghŗta, clarified butter, gharma, heat, ghŗni ray – all these terms are derived from common roots meaning heat, brilliance. Ghŗta is the brilliance of an inner grace. The verb juhoti signifies both   giving and eating. What is given by the yajamāna to the Gods and eaten by Agni, the mouth of the Gods, the first-born, Immortal among the mortals, that is havis, offering, that is havaĥ, invocation. The other substances offered to the Gods are also outwardly symbolic of knowledge, action, happiness and enjoyment along with their means acquired by the yajamāna.

This is to be noted: all that is – macrocosmic or microcosmic – is under the control of the Gods, belongs to the Gods. All that exists in us, separately and intermingled – mind, life, matter (body) including any combination of their elements with their causal material provided by the cosmos and included in it- are under the control of the Gods who are the Cosmic Powers, the functionaries. Hence all that is offered by the yajamāna namely knowledge, skill in works, means of enjoyments etc., is really offered to the Gods, as belonging to them, for no part whatever belongs in fact to the yajamāna, the whole universe itself being the property of the Gods. Thus in the end the yajamāna offers his own self. The brāhmaņa books also speak of the yajamāna, at times, as the yūpa, sacrificial post. Even the animal to be sacrificed is referred to as substitute for the yajamāna. There are passages to be found in the brāhmaņa books which state that the yajamāna redeems his own self by the sacrifice to all the Gods. Thus reads the aitareya brāhmaņa (2.6.3). “The yajamāna is the yūpa or altarHe is the stone or rock. Agni is the womb of the Gods. Born of the offerings made through agni, the womb of the Gods, the yajamāna with the body of gold rises upwards to the world of Heaven”. The kaushītaki brāhmaņa (10.3) states: “He, who sacrifices, attains the mouth of Agni and Soma; sacrificing, on the fasting day, the animal for Agni and Soma, he redeems his self. Thus redeeming himself, free from obligation, he carries on the sacrifice”. Similarly reads the aitareya brāhmaņa: “He, who sacrifices, offers himself to all the Gods; Agni is all the Gods” (2.6.3).

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