The Somayāga or Somayajña is a yajña (ritual) performed for appeasing the celestial entities in Hinduism. It is primarily performed to promote the wellbeing of all humanity. The ritual is based on methods prescribed in the Vedas. Soma is used as the main oblation in this yajna, hence the name Somayajña. The Soma plant, the king of medicinal herbs, is said to be relished by the celestials.
In a Somayajña, there is a full complement of priests, with each of them being assisted by three others. In all sixteen priests participate in the Somayajña. There are a total of seven types of Somayajña:
- Agnistoma - This is the first and main type, referred to as the ‘Prakriti’ (archetype) while the other six are its ‘Vikriti’
- Atya Agnistoma
Somayajña has unparalleled importance in the yajna culture. This special yajna is said to provide an extra powerful boost of healing energy for those who participate and also to the whole world. Performance of a Somayajña is intended to cleanse the atmosphere so that it becomes medicinal, nutritious and disease-free, yielding a qualitative and quantitative improvement in the psyche. The benefits of Somayajña for the public are similar to those of the other Śrauta yajnas, e.g. cleansing of the environment of toxins and harmful pollutants. The performance of a Somayajña has some prerequisites apart from the knowledge of Yajurveda in full together with the auxiliary sutras e.g. Srauta grihya-dharma-kalpa pertaining to the particular recension of the Veda.
In 2015, an Atya Agnistoma Somayajña was performed by Dharma Vardhiny Sabha in Telangana, India near Gnana Saraswati Temple, Basar, an important places of pilgrimage. This is the first ever recorded performance of a Somayajña in Basar. The yajna was performed over six days at the Naimisharanyam Yagashala from 27 July 2015 to 1 August 2015.
In 2017, Samvit Sadhnanyan Trust under the watchful eyes of Swami Shri Ishwaranandgiriji Maharaj organized and performed Soma Yajna at its Shankralok Ashrama in Uvarsad gram, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. This was one of its kind and first ever recorded Yajna in western India. This 7 day carnival started from Feb 26, 2017 till March 3, 2017. The special Somvalli from Himalayas was brought upon and used in this auspicious Yajna. Sri Ranganath Krishna Selukar ji maharaj of Parbhani Maharashtra also performs soma Yajna in various places of India.
The Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala have continued the tradition of performing the Agnistoma (agnistoma somayaga) and Atiratra (agnicayana). In 1975, the tradition faced extinction, whereupon, it was decided to conduct an atiratram, involving outsiders (non Nambudiris) in the organization of the ritual for the first time, at Panjal, Thrissur. Since then, many somayagas and atiratras have been conducted in the state of Kerala.
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