In Swamiji’s activities, homa plays a very significant role. Wherever he may be travelling, daily morning homa is mandatory. Vishesha homas (special homas) are performed on Sundays and all festival days. In what way are homas beneficial to devotees? Isn’t this your doubt?
In this world, there are primarily only 2 types of energy that can cause movement in atoms. They are the energy created by heat (ushna shakti) and energy created by sound (sabda shakti). To cause a movement in atoms, every other form of energy has to convert to either of these two and then act. This truth has been realized even by the present day science. Homa joins the heat and sound energies as per a scientific method prescribed in the scriptures. It thus purifies both the internal as well as the external environment.
In a homa, while the fire is burning brightly, certain mantras are chanted and prescribed herbal ingredients are put into the fire. The smoke produced by the burning of these herbal ingredients will have certain medicinal properties that can cleanse the external environment of its impurities.
At the same time, the energy that is generated by the agni (fire) as well as by the mantras chanted causes a positive change in the hearts of the people in the vicinity. It cleanses their mind of impurities. In the west, of late research on ‘homa therapy’ for medical purposes is progressing.
The ingredients used in a homa vary according to the deity who is invoked and the mantras to be chanted. This is done totally as per the rules laid down in the scriptures (Shastras). If the rules are strictly followed, the results will be positive. The homas being performed by Swamiji are a proof of this!
There is another explanation for the scientific background of the homas. We all know that fire illumines brightly only at night. However homas are always performed only during day. Why is this so? Actually for earth, the Sun is the eternal and natural source of heat. It is the Sun that provides us the energy in our life. In a homa, the primary focus is on the Agni (fire). The energy emanating from this fire should mix thoroughly with the Sun’s energy to be able to give complete spiritual as well as materialistic benefits. Modern science calls this as ‘Photo chemical effect.’ The atoms originating from the homa smoke have to mix evenly with the Sun-rays to create a significant energy or a movement. This can happen only during daytime. Hence homas are always performed at this time.
It is well known that the Sunrays are more powerful at both the early morning Sunrise and evening twilight times. At these times the ultra violet (UV) rays are slightly more. These rays affect our health. Our ancient sages, who were well versed in all this knowledge, devised thereby the system of daily homas at this Sandhya times.
Apart from a homa, all other types of worship such as vratas, pujas are aimed at generating personal benefits for the person conducting them. Only when the person doing the puja wishes explicitly for universal benefit, then only does the society benefit from it. The homa activity is completely different. Even if it is conducted with a personal desire, it benefits the society at large. The smoke from the homa cleanses the atmosphere nearby. Thus others automatically benefit from it.
So, when a homa is being done scientifically for the benefit of the society and nature, can it be called a waste of the natural resources? Think about it.
In Swamiji’s method, on any day Swamiji uses a fewer ingredients than what would be needed to prepare a person’s meal. On that day some person in the ashram would be fasting. So, there is no waste of natural resources- only a set off. That is why in our scriptures for vratas and pujas, upavasam (fasting) has been prescribed.