Shri G. K. Kannan, now 73 old, had served in various capacities as an engineer till
1981. After retirement he went on an extensive pilgrimage. He had an opportunity right
from his young age to come into contact with Mahatmas and great religious personalities
like the Kanchi Paramacharya, Ramana Maharshi, Chinmayananda, Sivananda Saravati and
many others. Similarly the writings of Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, Sri Ramakrishna
Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Subramanya Bharati and others had also their own effect in
moulding his life. For understanding the meaning of various Hindu rituals, he was deeply
indebted to the teaching of Kanchi Paramacharya in particular. During 1996 and 1997 he
personally attended various Vaidikayajnas in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, particularly in
rural areas and collected valuable information from the presiding priests themselves.
Gita says that by pleasing Devas through yajnas, they in turn nourish the
mankind through rain, food etc. Mankind is advised not to break this cycle.
In Hinduism, there are 40 samskaras (purificatory rites). They are divided into
a) A hnika Karmas (Daily rites) like Sandhya and five Mahayajnas.
b) Grhya Karmas beginning from conception right upto funeral rites like
Garbhadhana, Upanayana, Vivaha and Antyeshti.
c) Srauta Karmas i.e. Haviryajnas and Somayajnas.
Ahnika Karmas and Grhya Karmas have been dealt with by the present author in Vol. I
published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 1997 under the title "Under-standing Veda
Karma Kanda Vol. I Grhya Karma".
The present volume by the same author, Shri G.K. Kannan, deals with Srauta
Yajnas. The book is divided into four sections a) Basics of Srauta Karmas, b) Havir
Yajnas, c) Soma Yajnas and d) Agni Cayanas.
Thus out of the 40 obligatory purificatory rites Samskaras, 26 are Grhya Karmas
dealt with in Vol. I and Srauta Karmas dealing with 7 Havir Yajnas and 7 Soma Yajnas are
dealt with in this volume.
This present volume deals with the basics of Srauta Karmas. Havir Yajnas, Soma
Yajnas and Agnicayanas. The Prakriti for Ishti is Darsa-Purna-Masa. The Prakriti for
Havir Yajnas having animal sacrifices is Nirudha Pasu-Bandha. The Prakrti for Soma
Yajnas is Agni-shtoma. The requisites for a yajna are sacrificer, Priests, Deity, altar,
oblation materials, Tyaga (renunciation) and sacrificial implements. Soma is the King of
plants. The various deities mentioned in the text are only the different attributes and
aspects of the same one Deity. Materials for sacrifice are either liquid, semi-liquid or
solid. Sacrificial instruments are as many as about 35. Metres like Gayatri etc. have
their Devata and symblols. The Samans which are sung have their names and attributes. In
Havir Yajnas, there are seven obligatory Yajnas, Kariri Ishti is performed for rainfall.
There are some other sacrifices also like Rajasuya etc. which are dealt with in
The last section deals with Agnicayana or fire piling. Often these Cayanas are
mystical evolution of creation of universe, based on legends of Mantras or Brahmanas.
The author of this book has dealt with this subject in the form of
questions-answers and given detailed analysis of each subject in simple pithy language.
These vedic yajnas are rare now-a-days and the general reader has only a faint idea
about them. Even though the author is not a performing priest, the information collected
here is very authentic as the author has minutely attended these sacrifices and obtained
authentic details from experts performing priests.
The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has great pleasure in publishing this work which the
author has prepared with great care and accuracy and given detailed information about
The Vedas form the foundation of Hindu Dharma and Indian culture. They are distinguished
alike for their language and literature. They are looked upon, not as compositions of
human skill. But intuitions of the human mind. They are the gifts to mankind of seers,
who attuned themselves to the Supreme. They are apaurusheya, not of human origin. They
are anadi (without beginning) ananta, (many) and sanatana, (eternal).
There are four Vedas, the classification of which is attributed to Krshna
dvaipayana, who is also hailed as Veda Vyasa. Each Veda is divided into four parts viz.
Samhita, Brahmana. Aranyaka and Upanishad. Excluding the Upanishads, which contain the
philosophical thought of our ancients, the rest is collectively known as Karmakanda. The
hymns of the 'Samhita' part are chanted at the yajnas or Yagas, which are elaborately
dealt with in the Brahmanas and the Aranyakas.
Four hundred sacrifices are said to be mentioned in the Vedas. Out of these 21
are required to be performed at least once in one's lifetime. These form part of the 40
samskaras which are elaborated in the Kalpa Sutras and the Dharma Sutras. These
sacrifices fall into two broad categories Srauta and Smarta.
Explaining the importance of the 'Karmakanda', the Mahaswami of Kanchi,
Paramapoojya Sri Chndrasekharendra Saraswati, has observed: "The Vedas and the Vedanta
are not at variance with one another. The Karmakanda prepares us for Vedanta or
Jnanakanda. The former has to do with this world and with many deities and its adherents
are subject to the three gunas. But it is the first step to go beyond the three gunas
and to severe oneself from worldly existence. If we perform the rites laid down in the
Karmakanda, keeping in mind their true purpose, we shall naturally be qualifying for the
Jnanakanda." (Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life, a Bhavanas's publication.)
His Holiness was the source of inspiration to the author of this book. He
explains, in the form of questions and answers in four sections: a) Basics of Srauta
Karmas, b) Havir Yajnas, c) Soma Yajnas and d) Agni Cayanas.
As we step on to our 61st year of service in the cause of India's Ageless
Culture, Education, Art and Moral Values, the Bhavan prayerfully offer this volume as
its humble mite to foster Sanatana Dharma-Indian Culture.
Back of the Book
Born in Tiruchirpalli on 24th September 1926, G.K. Kannan joined Railways in 1945. He
served in various capacities till 1981 and voluntarily retired as Assistant Signal &
Telecommunication Engineer, Mysore, During the service, he was a member of Railway
Engineers Trritorial Army. Consequently he had occasion to enter Bangladesh (Sylhet
Sector) during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict. This personal experience of the tragedy of
war had its own effect. After retirement, he went on an extensive pilgrimage of India,
including Himalayan trekking to visit temples situated in high altitude remote corners.
He was also associated with social services work in the cause of handicapped children,
children, whose parents are life-convicts and leprosy patients. Etc. at Sri Perumbudur
Due to divine grace, he had the opportunity, right from an young age, to come
into direct contact with great Mahatmas and have their blessings in various forms, like
personal conversations/Pada namaskara/Participation in Pada Yatras/honorary service as
Administrative Manage/Touch/Sight/Lectures, etc.
The Paramacarya of Kanchi Mamakoti Peetam, Sathya Sai Baba, Ramana Maharshi,
Chinmayananda, Sivananda Sarasvati, Yogi Ram Surat Kumar are notable among them. The
writings of J. Krishnamurti, Rajneesh, Sri. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and Vivekananda,
Subramanya Bharati had their own effect in moulding the writer.
In trying to understand the path of rituals, lectures and reports of lectures of
Paramacaryal had a deep influence, resulting in this Brahma Yajna debt discharge act.
Understanding Veda, Karma Kanda in 2 Volumes is his maiden venture.
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