Hindu Fire Ceremonies: 7 Paka Yajnas and 14 Srauta Yajnas (Post No.3310)

Picture: Prince Charles doing Yajna in Rishikesh, India


Compiled  by London Swaminathan


Date:1  November 2016


Time uploaded in London: 19-51


Post No.3310




Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.


(Read the following and you will agree with me on these points: 1. Nobody follows Manu Smrti now and then why do you criticise it? 2.Hindus are the only people in the world who included feeding the guests and animals as part of their religious duties. 3.If Hindus have come to India from outside, at least a few of these rites must be found outside India. None of these and several hundred other rituals are never found in other cultures. That explodes the myth of Arya-Dravidian race theory. Following is the list of Yagas given in “An Advanced Text Book of Hindu religion and Ethics” published in 1905)


“Man is not an isolated creature, and his whole well-being depends upon his co-operation with nature, which not so much for the exaltation of individuals as for the steady evolution of all creation. The sacrifices prescribed by Hindu law-givers are nothing more than an enumeration of the duties which thus devolve on every man. They embrace all the planes of his existence and are therefore conducive to his highest growth.

There are thus five Maha yajnah, Five great sacrifices, to be offered every day, and seven Paka  Yajnah, literally ‘cooked sacrifices’, occurring at stated intervals. In addition to these, there are the fourteen Shrauta sacrifices, divided into Havir yajnah, offerings of grains, etc., and  Soma yajnah, offerings of Soma. Some of these are of daily, others of occasional, obligation.


The five great sacrifices are as follows:

1.Brahma-yajnah, called also Veda-yajnah,Sacrifice to Brahman or the Vedas.

  1. Deva-yajnah, Sacrifice to Devas
  2. Pitri yajnah, Sacrifice to Pitris (departed souls).
  3. Bhuta yajnah, Sacrifice to Bhutas (animals and other spirits).
  4. Manushya-yajnah, Sacrifice to men (feeding the poor and the guests)


These are laid down by Manu among the duties of the householder.

Picture of Swami Ganapati Sachidananda


“Teaching is the Brahma sacrifice, Tarpana (the offering of water) is the Pitr sacrifice, Homa (the pouring into the fire) the Deva sacrifice, Bali (food) is the Bhuta sacrifice, hospitality to guests the Manushya sacrifice.


“They call the five sacrifices Ahuta, Huta, Pra- huta, Brahmya huta, and Prashita.


“Japa is Ahuta, Homa is Huta, the Bali given to Bhutas is Prahuta, respectful reception of the twice-born is Brahmya-huta, and the Pitri tarpana is Prashita.

“Let a man ever engage in Veda study, and in the rites of the Devas; engaged in the rites of the Devas, he supports the movable and immovable kingdoms”.

Manusmriti. iii. 70,73 75.
And again–
“The Rishis, the Pitris, the Devas, the Bhutas guests expect (help) from the householders and hence he who knows should give to them.


“Let him worship, according to the rule, the Rishis with Veda study, the Devas with Homa, the pitris with Shraddha, men with food, and the Bhutas with Bali”.

– Manusmriti iii. 80

We have here very plainly indicated the nature of the sacrifices to be offered; the sacrifice to Brahman, called also that of the Vedas and the Rishis, is study and teaching this is a duty every man owes to the Supreme-to cultivate his intelligence and to share his knowledge with others. Every day one should devote a portion of time to study; the man who lives without daily study becomes frivolous and useless. This duty is enjoined by the first of the great sacrifices.

Picture of Sathya Sai Baba doing Ati Rudra Yaga

Then comes the sacrifice to the Devas-the recog- nition of the debt due to those who guide nature, and the feeding them by pouring ghee into the fire, the Homa sacrifice. The Devas are nourished by exhalations as men by food, their subtle bodies needing no coarser sustenance.


Hindus are so kind they feed not only pilgrims (guests) but also animals. Manu says

“Let him gently place on the ground food for dogs, outcasts (Patitaanaam), shvapachas (dog eaters), those diseased from sins, crows and insects.”


It is not to be thrown down carelessly and contemptuously, but put there gently, so that it may not be soiled or injured. It is a sacrifice to be reverently performed, the recognition of duty to inferiors, however degraded.


Lastly comes the sacrifice to men, the feeding of guests:

The Bali offering made, let him feed  first the guest, and let him give food, according to rukle, to a beggar and a student. (Manu 3-94)

Man’s duty
In this man is taught his duty to his brother- men, his duty of brotherly help and kindness. He feeds humanity in feeding some of its poorer members, and learns tenderness and compassion. The giving of food is illustrative of all supply of human needs.


Manushya-yajna includes all philanthropic actions. As in the old days, want of food was the chief want of man, that is mentioned prominently. The com plexities of life have given rise to other wants now. But they are all included in the Manushya yajna, provided they are legitimate wants, and it becomes the duty of each man to remove them, so far as lies in his power.


Thus these five great sacrifices embrace man’s duty to all the beings round him and the man who truly performs them in spirit as well as in letter, day by day, is doing his share in turning the wheel of life and is preparing for himself a happy future.



We may glance briefly at the other sacrifices.

The Paka-yajnas are seven in number

I.Pitri shraddham

2.Trkorwne Parvana-shraddham






The first two of these are ceremonies in honour of the Pitris. The remainder except the fourth, are now rarely met with’


The fourteen Shrauta sacrifices are as follows:

The seven Haviryajnas:



3.Darsha-purna masam.




7.Sautra manih.


In these milk, ghee, grains of various kinds, and cakes were offered, and Manu says that a Brahmana should daily offer the Agnihotra in the morning and evening, the Darsha and Purnamasa at the end of each fortnight, the Agrayana with new grain — before which the new grain should not be used —  the Chaturmasya at the end of the three seasons, the Nirudha-pashu-bandha at the solstices (Manuamriti. iv. 25, 26).

Radha Krishna figures are seen in Yajna Fire

The seven Somayajnas are

1.Agnishtomah t


  1. Ukthyah







In these sacrifices Brahmana priests must be employed, the number varying with the sacrifice, the man on whose behalf they are offered being called Yajamanah; the husband and wife light the three sacred fires—

The Ahavaniya fire on the east for offerings to Devas

The Dakshina fire on the south, for performing duties to Pitrs (Departed souls)

The Garhapatya fire on the west.

Sometimes a fourth is mentioned, the Anvaharya – these are not allowed to go out; this is the Agniyadhana ceremony. All these Shrauta sacrifices are offered in these.

According to some authors he domestic or household – the Avasathya or Vaivahika – fire is lighted by the student on his return home when his pupillage is completed, but on this point there are many varieties of custom. The Paka-yajnas are offered in the household fire.


Please read my earlier article:

400 Types of Yagas (Fire Ceremonies),By London Swaminathan,Post No. 891 dated 6th March 2014.