God’s Word or Man’s Words and Experience—Fire Hindu Temple Consecration; Brian McLaren’s Book

Two recent news items that include fire and religious beliefs and relate to my fire or fire/heart posts of April and May 2008, have come to my attention. Before posting the articles, some definitions:

Agni, Agnihotra, Yagna

Agni is the Hindu firegod, who is also part of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the Southeast corner of the house being the quarter of Agni. Agni also plays a central role in most Buddhist homa fire-puja rites.

Agnihotra (homa) means an offering (originally, of milk) into Agni or consecrated fire…Pouring into the ritual fire was known as early as in the Ṛgveda (c. 1400 BC) and is closely related Zoroastrian religion.

The central part of the recent form of Agnihotra (Homa) consists of making two offerings to the fire exactly at the time of sunrise and sunset along with two small Sanskrit mantras.

Yajna, Yagna, Yagya or Yadnya is a Hindu ritual of sacrifice derived from the practice of Vedic times performed to please the Devas or to attain certain wishes. An essential element is the sacrificial fire (the divine Agni) into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered in the divine Agni
is believed to reach the Devas (gods or deities).

Homa/Homam, Puja, and Aarti

Homa, homam or havan refers to any ritual in which making offerings into a consecrated fire is the primary action. [1] The words homa/homam/havan are interchangeable with the word Yagna. Homas are an important religious practise in Hinduism, Buddhism
and Jainism.

Puja is a religious ritual that Hindus perform on a variety of occasions…to communicate with god and the gods or real gurus to keep a thread to continuity, of relationship, between this physical world and the subtle inner worlds. Puja also serves as a means of offering love, praise, thanks, and supplication to god, gods, and gurus…Most practicing Hindus perform puja once or twice a day.

Puja consists of meditation, austerity, chanting (mantra), scripture reading, offering food and prostrations. The individual also applies a tilaka mark on the forehead with sandalwood paste, and then a vermillion (kumkum) dot (chandlo)
in its centre. This signifies submission to the Almighty and also
His Omnipresence. Puja is usually concluded with aarti.

Steps of Puja:
Invocation, Offering, Prayer, Conclusion (Aarti), Immersion
Photo from a puja ceremony

Aarti is a Hindu ritual, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aarti is said to have descended from the Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa…

Aarti is performed and sung to develop the highest love for God. Aarti is generally performed two to five times daily…

The purpose of performing arati is the waving of lighted wicks before the deities in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein faithful followers become immersed in god’s
divine form.

Just the Book comment:
With the recent research regarding fire and religious beliefs, including Buddha’s Fire Sermon, and the above terms as a background, I found the following two items of great interest.

1. Consecration ceremony at Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona

Photo links to the three-day consecration ceremony of the Hindu Temple, Wednesday May 16th through 18th, 2008:

Priest Achutha Ramasarma, of Houston, chants and makes offerings to the fire god during on the first night of a three-day consecration ceremony.

Worshipers pray to the fire god at Maha Ganapati Temple of Arizona during a three-day consecration ceremony.

Costs of Religious services at Maha Ganapati Temple
Puja items are usually available in the Indian stores like India Plaza. Fire starter log and firewood chips can be purchased at Home Depot or Walmart.

example: Costs for the Ganapati Homam
Ganapati Homam At Temple: $51;
Ganapati Homam At Home (within city): $101
Ganapati Homam At Home (outside city): $201
Items needed for the Ganapati Homam

2. Brian McLaren’s newest book, published May 6, 2008,
Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices

“The purpose of the via purgativa to prepare us for the via illuminativa, and the purpose of the via illuminativa is to prepare us for the via unitiva, the union of our nature with the nature of God.

“As we place ourselves in the light and fire of God through the practices of fotosis or illumination, we are overpowered by the nature of God, and we begin to glow with God’s radiance. We join God in being fire.”
(pp. 171-172).

God’s WORD
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”—John 16:13

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”
—Revelation 1:5

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”—Matthew 7:13, 14

Links you may be interested in that relate to this post:

These posts from Just the BOOK talk about Agni, Agnihotra, and/or Yagna, Buddha, and/or Buddha’s Fire sermon, “…all is burning.”
Fire 3 A; Fire 3 B; Fire 3 D, Part 4

Links to God’s Word or Man’s Words and Experience Series so far, including the 9 hearts/fire posts from Babylon to 2008.

Hindu temple rises from Arizona desert
by Lynh Bui The Arizona Republic May. 10, 2008

The Ritual Fire Offering
(This description is intended for practitioners of tantra who have taken refuge and have received initiations. Pujas for ordinary persons are shorter (about 45 minutes), less elaborate, and less complicated. However, the following information will give the general reader some idea what a fire puja is about.)

After receiving an initiation, one practices the tantric path, bound to accomplish the welfare of sentient beings. To be capable of doing this one must become enlightened, and on the initial stage of the tantric path to this goal, one must closely identify with the deity whose practice one is pursuing by meditation on the deity, reciting his/her mantras and by making a ritual fire offering. Performing the ritual fire offering pleases the deities who help the disciple gain accomplishments on the path. It also serves to remove the faults of badly or incompletely recited mantras and removes obstacles to a good meditative stabilization.

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