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Should we still do havan (fire sacrifice)?

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Public Satsang at Sai Anandam, Singapore – 8th August 2017

Swami: Definitely! Haven is not just about putting something into the fire. It is a sense of gratitude, as Swami always says. During the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna, we were putting kilograms and kilograms of ghee, milk and precious things into the havan. Those who did not understand the significance thought that we were wasting a lot of precious articles by burning them in the fire. Swami answered this question very beautifully. He said, “Some people think, ‘What a waste! Putting all these precious things into the fire. Those edibles could have been given to some poor and hungry people. That much money could have been used to help ten children.’ However, to achieve anything in this world, two things need to come together: God’s grace and human effort. Human effort alone cannot achieve everything. God’s grace has to join in. How do you get God’s grace? You have to please God. How do you please God? By expressing your gratitude.”

Then, He further explained, “All these gods, such as Ganesha, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva – where do they reside? They all reside in the subtle. They are energy forms. How do you send your gifts to them, as a mark of gratitude? Suppose you have to give a gift to your friend. You will buy it from the market, wrap it nicely and hand it over to your friend. He will accept and use it. However, how do you send gifts to the gods, who are in the energy form? You have to convert matter into energy. All the sthoola or physical gifts have to be converted into the sookshma, the subtle – only then will it reach them. That is the way they accept your gifts. This is done by putting the gifts of these articles into the sacred fire, which transforms them from matter to energy, so that it can then reach the respective gods. Fire is the postman which carries all your gifts to the recipients. Fire converts the physical into the subtle, and that is how everything reaches the gods – and the gods are there to receive the offerings.”

That is how we have been worshipping gods – by offering them precious gifts. For that matter, lighting a candle in front of Jesus is also an offering. It is a way of expressing our gratitude.

One day, Vijay Sai Sir asked Swami, “We have our family deity as Balaji in our village, but the Lord is omnipresent. Can I go and offer my worship in the nearby temple, or do I have to go only to my family temple, which is quite far?” Swami said, “If you are using water services, and you are also using electricity services from the government, would you pay the electricity bill in the water department and the water bill in the electricity department? You wouldn’t do that! The electricity bill must be paid in the electricity department and the water bill must be paid in the water department. Likewise, there is a particular god who is looking after you, and so you have to pay your gratitude only to that god. You cannot skip going to that temple just because it is too far. That is just laziness! You have to follow certain rules and respect the traditions.”

So the next question is: What happens to this concept with respect to Swami? Sometimes, we say, “Swami, You are everything and we offer it to You.” Swami has said that that is fine, as long as it comes from the bottom of our heart. You can meet the deputy commissioner and get your work done in the government, but suppose you know the Prime Minister very well. Then, you can directly write to the Prime Minister and he will forward it to the concerned deputy commissioner any which way. So, when we write our request to Swami, Swami directs it to whoever it is meant for. If it is a health problem, He will probably direct it to Shiva. If it is a financial matter, He will probably direct it to Lakshmi. He will direct it to the respective gods it is meant for. Swami respects them a lot. He performs so many Bhoomi Poojas and other Poojas wherein He follows the traditions. He knows and I know. I have seen these beings personally; they exist everywhere. They receive the offerings we
offer to them.

I will tell you a very recent experience. We were doing a Bhoomi Pooja in Gulbarga. We were digging the earth while Swami was standing there and telling us, “See, this is a way to express gratitude. You pray to Mother Earth, saying, ‘O Mother! You are so compassionate. You are allowing us to build our home or our institution on You, bearing the brunt of our digging and hurting You. Yet, like a Divine Mother, You are bearing all this for our sake.

We are so grateful to You. We offer You our gratitude.’ That is why pooja is done,” He said. At that moment, when Swami was pouring milk and curds into the earth, I saw a one-foot tall lady pop out of the earth. She was Mother Earth, and She was getting drenched in the milk and curds flowing on top of Her. She was like a small idol to which we were doing abhishekam, but She was alive; She was moving. I saw that happen when the offerings were falling on Her. So I know that it reaches its proper destination. Every god has their own preference. If you want to please Ganesha, give Him ladoos. If you want to please Shiva, give Him bilva leaves; if you want to please Vishnu, give Him tulsi (holy basil); if you want to please Lakshmi, give Her chandan (sandalwood). Every god or goddess has their likes and dislikes, and we have to respect that. This is very important.