The Maha Yajna at Rikhia in 2001 attracted thousands of people from all parts of the world. It meant so many things to so many people. The magnanimity of the event was awesome. The multitudes of people, the diversity of events, the profundity of the sacred rituals, the participation of people from so many different nationalities, religions, and diverse classes, colours and creeds, the enrapturing melodies and mantras all blending perfectly with each other.
But above all it was the uninterrupted presence of Swami Satyananda that added the final touch to the event by giving it a spiritual vibrancy that was unmatched. One can certainly say that apart from attracting thousands of people, the yajna also attracted the divine forces to grace us with their luminous presence. The smoothness, ease and splendour with which it was carried out only points a finger in that direction. No human effort could have made it so attractive.
The most significant part of the yajna was the sankalpa of Rajasooya Yajna made by Sri Swamiji. After twelve years of rigorous and arduous panchagni sadhana, which he commenced in 1989, Sri Swamiji inaugurated the Rajasooya Yajna and said that it will continue for the next twelve years. The only difference is that he did panchagni in total isolation whereas the Rajasooya Yajna will be done in your presence with your participation and involvement.
The Rajasooya is a yajna which can be held only by a chakravarti, or one who is recognized as a conqueror. Ordinarily when we speak of conquest we attribute it to territories, kingdoms and countries. But this is not necessarily so. One who conquers the world through an idea, a thought or a philosophy can also be proclaimed a chakravarti.
A conqueror of hearts is a chakravarti too. Sri Rama performed the Rajasooya Yajna. Krishna, although he was one in every sense of the word, did not. He did preside over the Rajasooya Yajna held by Yudhisthira though, which became famous mainly because at this yajna Krishna washed the feet of all the guests and the plates as well.
As is the custom for a chakravarti to declare what he has conquered, Sri Swamiji pronounced that fixing the flag of yoga in all corners of the world was his conquest. To take yoga out of the caves of hermits and present it to the people in a manner most beneficial to them was also a conquest. Although he did not say this, we all know that to make it useful for society and mankind was solely his conquest. No wonder then that he found a place in their hearts also. When you uplift others you find a place in their hearts as well.
According to most ancient traditions recorded in the life of Rama, the speciality of this yajna is perfection in the art of giving. It was thus understood that only emperors and chakravartis could undertake this yajna and it was named rajasooya, as raja means one who governs. Who else but a raja can give with an open and joyous heart. This art of giving is known as bhet.
Bhet is not just about giving. It is about receiving as well. Rather it is receiving and returning what you have received after adding to it a touch of excellence. So you always get back in abundance what you give.
In this the first year of the Rajasooya Yajna, Sri Swamiji offered to all, including hundreds and thousands of families from Rikhia and neighbouring panchayats, vastra (cloth) brought from all parts of India. In the second year his offering of bhet will be patra.
The word patra has many meanings. In this context it means container, vessel or utensil. It also means deserving or fit for a particular role. Anything that contains or holds together is naturally and spontaneously regarded as auspicious, as opposed to something that cannot hold what you put into it. For example, which would you consider luckier, a pocket with a hole or without one?
Similarly, a container keeps your possessions safe and intact. There is little danger of them getting scattered, stolen or lost. That is why it is considered very lucky for the receiver. A primitive belief no doubt, but one that is rampant still today, because common sense tells us it is a reality.
Sri Swamiji tells us of a superstition people have in many parts of the world. Whenever food or any item is sent to anyone in a vessel or container, it is most important that the container be returned to the owner. That is the lakshmi or prosperity residing in his house and so it must come back. Even the richest, who can afford many containers, wants his container back. Tell me which person would like prosperity to leave his house and go to another? But the container is not returned empty. Something is kept in it as a token gesture of acknowledgement.
As you very well know, according to tradition and popular belief patra is synonymous with Lakshmi, the auspicious and beautiful goddess of wealth and prosperity. Everything about her, from the tip of the head down to her toe, is auspicious. She is much sought after.
During Deepawali, the exquisite festival of lights, when Lakshmi is beckoned into each and every home by lighting lamps, and gifts are bought and exchanged, a patra is always included in some form or the other. It is a symbol of novelty in life. A wonderful concept that has at once both social as well as spiritual overtones.
Patra offered at the yajna are highly auspicious because you receive it after it has been blessed by Devi. She awakens the prosperity already residing there. That naturally adds a new dimension to it. It becomes sacred and thus rejuvenates your life.
The patra or utensils offered in bhet should be new and traditionally can be made of clay, cast iron, aluminium, stainless steel, copper, silver, gold, ceramic, or ashta dhatu. They can be patra of utility such as those used for cooking, serving and eating as well as for storage of grains, food or water. Or else they can be ornamental for adorning and worship. However, items of utility such as those used in the kitchen made of aluminium and steel are preferred.
In the tradition of Sri Rama, giving is exemplified in the Rajasooya Yajna. It is a total giving which extends from the material to the spiritual. Yes, by such a chakravarti, along with vastra, patra and anna (grain), both jnana and bhakti can also be given in bhet. But just as in a yoga class it has to be graded. Not just all at once.
There is an adage in Hindi which, when translated, means that your patra or vessel can hold only as much as the capacity it is used to. Through innuendo it tells us that in order to receive more you will have to enlarge your vessel. This is only possible through giving. So come to the Rajasooya Yajna and learn the art of giving and receiving.
The Rajasooya Yajna will be held at Paramahamsa Alakh Bara, Rikhia, from 5th to 9th December. Sat Chandi and Sita Kalyanam will be held during this event.
Swami Satyananda has emphasized it is most important that the patra selected for bhet should represent Lakshmi. This means that the items should not just be beautiful but useful too. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth denoting both beauty and utility. Wealth that is not put to practical use dwindles and dies. It does not multiply. In the same way the patra has to have a practical use in our lives. In other words it should be a purposeful bhet.
Patra specified by Sri Swamiji to have the most utility are:
Aluminium and stainless steel are the metals Sri Swamiji has selected for the utensils. They are practical, durable, most current, widely available and also reasonably priced.