Avahanti homam - What is it?

Courtesy: https://nandalala.files.wordpress.co...gnificance.pdf

Avahanti Homam The Hidden Truth We perform the Avahanti Homam on Her Holiness Pujyasree Mathioli Saraswathy's nakshatram – Uthradam, every month in the homes of devotees. In the month of May I attended the Homam at the residence of Dr.K.G Balakrishnan and Mrs Malathi Balakrishnan at Bangalore. The impact of the homam was more than visual. Something within me was stirred, raising questions seeking the meaning. As you read further, you will understand what the mantram signifies and the specific boons that we seek. Above this, we understand that when we perform the Avahanti homam we are (perhaps unknowingly as in my case) benefiting all living beings! The purpose of this homam is brilliant because on one hand we perform this homam for the well being of our Guru and on the other as a prayer to HER- Our Almighty for the well being of her followers and in fact humanity at large. The hidden truth is that this is Sree Akka's way of teaching us how to pray and what to ask for! This prayer enables us to become better shishyas and imbibe Her ways. It is her way of showing us the path to reach THE UNION. Significance of the Avahanti Homam Mantras The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. The Taittiriya Upanishad is divided into three sections or vallis, the Siksha Valli, the Brahmananda Valli and the Bhrigu Valli. Each Valli further subdivided into anuvakas or verses. The "Avahanti homam" is in Sikshavalli. The fourth anuvaka consists of mantras and rituals to be done by those who aspire for Divine Knowledge (Medha Kama) and Wealth (Shree Kama). It is performed by the Acharya to ensure that disciples come to learn from him without any hindrance. Even today, as a result of performing this sacrifice, Vedic schools which were in decay have received a new lease of life with the admission of many new students. The mantram recited during the Avahanti homam maybe understood in four parts. I. Medha Prarthanai (Prayer for Knowledge) II. Dhanam Prarthanai (Prayer for Prosperity) III.Shiksha Prarthanai (Prayer to spread knowledge that has been gained) IV. Saadhya Prarthanai (Ultimate prayer for attaining Moksha) I. Medha Prarthanai: performed through japam First, the Almighty is invoked as the Omkara and the praises on the Omkara are showered. This is followed by the prayer asking specifically for six boons. 1. Medha - The retention power. Before the Almighty is asked for knowledge, one prays for the ability to retain the knowledge that will be imparted. What purpose is that knowledge which cannot be retained? Medha is the strength for knowledge. 2. Gyanam - The Athma Gyanam. Now we seek the knowledge of realizing the athma. We w•ould be more prepared to receive this Gyanam since we now have the retention power. We pray that we posses the athma gyanam. 3. Shareera Arogyam - Good health. Why would one ask for such worldly needs while we are seeking higher planes of spirituality? We pray that this body, (that is our instrument) is a friend to the athma in achieving the goal of spiritual attainment. If the body fails to cooperate in the spiritual journey, the purpose of Saadhana is lost. Hence we pray to the Almighty that good health is bestowed upon us so that we are able to fulfill our spiritual journey without health related obstacles. 4. Madhura vaak- Speech that is sweet as honey. To the newly initiated seeker, we pray for the Almighty's blessings to control our speech and be only a source of good words and not hurt anyone by means of words. To the elevated seeker, this is a prayer to the Almighty that we may be blessed with the effective communication with the Almighty or our Guru seeking answers to our questions to gain clarity. 5. Shravanam - Effective hearing ability. Here we pray to the Almighty that we are given the opportunity to repeatedly hear the Shastras so that with every chance we are able to gain further knowledge with full involvement until the point where our mind is without any doubts. 6. Gopaya - Save and retain. As in the first boon where we ask for the ability to retain, here again we seek the blessings of the Almighty to be able to retain all that has been gained through the Sadhana. Along with these boons, in this part, the prayer says: O Almighty in the form of Omkara, you are the shield and protector of the Brahman. Ironically here it adds that the Ishwara (Almighty) in all beings is hidden to us because of "Medha" of the worldly knowledge. Through these statements, it reminds us to get past the worldly medha and try to attain Athma Gyana. II. Dhana Prarthanai- Prayer for Prosperity- performed through homam. By making several offerings in the homam chanting SwahaA one is praying for the various kinds of wealth such as garments, food and water, cattle and different kinds of animals (which were the symbol of prosperity several years ago). But the key part here is the placement of this prayer in the entire order of the Shlokas. It says that: O Almighty shower me with all these symbols of prosperity after I have gained the culture to behave according to your ways and attaining the knowledge that wealth is only a means. III. Shiksha Prarthanai- Prayer to spread the knowledge Here, we pray to Iswara, the Almighty, to bless us with the ability to share our knowledge. In the case of an Acharya or Guru, we pray that the right kind of followers and students are led to the Guru. In this verse the teacher prays that "As water flows from high land to low land, as months join to become year, let good disciples come to me from everywhere." There are two examples given in the sholkas to describe the kind of students who should follow the Guru. Example1. Almighty, bless me with students just as how the water flows downwards/southwards- naturally and with force. Let it be a natural process for the students to come to me so that I may impart the knowledge that I have gained onto them so that they in turn can spread the knowledge further. Example2. I pray to thee Lord that just as the days grow into months and months into years in timelessness with no stopping, let me have a timeless flow of students, so that I may share the knowledge that I have gained to them as well. Let the never ending spread of knowledge continue. IV. Saadhya Prarthanai- The ULTIMATE prayer for THE UNION with the Almighty. This is also called Jeeva Iswara Aikhyam Prarthanai. Of what use is Saadhana (hard work/exercise) which does not lead us to the Saadhyam (the ultimate goal)? We should not get lost in the achievement of all that we have prayed for in the first three stages of this Prarthanai. The ultimate purpose of our prayer is to merge with the Almighty, which is expressed in this portion of the shloka. Here we demand to the Almighty: Allow me to enter you and Thou shall enter me so that I see what you see and we see as ONE! Since we are mortals to start with, we try to realize the Athma and through this prayer we seek that the Athma merges with the Iswara. We pray that with the knowledge that you have given me, help me get past the ahankara that does not distinguish between the sharira and the athma. And thus, I the Athma may become one with you. If I have erred, help me nullify my mistakes so that I may still become one with YOU- that ONE AND ONLY all pervading being. Disclaimer: Please pardon me if I have erred in any interpretation. I have absolutely no background in Sanskrit or the Upanishads. It is an attempt with the help of the internet and divine intervention that has accelerated this discovery. I would like to thank the vaadyaars who conducted the homam so well and also took time to explain. A special thanks to Group Captain Chandramouli who not only added onto the vaadyaars commentary but also guided me with valuable references making my search for answers much quicker and precise. I think this search was meant to be and I believe it is meant to be shared. Sources: www.poornalayam.org Taittiriya Upanishad, courtesy Group Captain Chandramouli - Compiled by Krithika Mouli, Chennai, India• Wikipedia •for the Vedanta classes, in Tamil, conducted by Swami Guruparananda

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