Faith

The five fires

Chandogya Upanishad tells how King Pravahana taught sage Gautama the Panchagni Vidya, knowledge of the five fires, said M.K. Srinivasan in a discourse. The first fire is svargaloka.

The sun is the samit (sacrificial stick) of this fire. The rays of the sun are the smoke, while the day is the flame. The moon is the ember. The stars are the sparks of this fire. When Agnihotra is performed, the jivas become Soma raja and enter svargaloka.

The second fire is Parjanya. For this fire, vayu or the air is the samit. The cloud is the smoke. Lightning is the flame. The thunderbolt is the charcoal. The roars of the fire are the sparks. Somaraja (jiva) is the oblation in this fire.

The third fire is the earth. For this fire, the year is the samit. Akasa, that is the sky, is the smoke. The night is the flame. The directions are the live charcoals. The directions are the sparks. The oblation in this case is rain. When the rains reach the earth, food is grown.

The fourth fire is man himself. His speech (vaak) is the samit. His prana is smoke. His tongue is the flame. The eyes are the live charcoals, and his ears are the sparks. Here the oblation is food. From that food the seed of man is born.

The fifth fire is woman. The interaction between man and woman is the live charcoal here. The small pleasures are the sparks here. The oblation here is the seed of man, and from this does a newborn emanate.

Thus the Chandogya Upanishad says that jivas go to svarga, but their stay there is temporary. From there they come down to the earth as rain and then become food, which then gets transformed into the seed of man, resulting in procreation. The important point to note is that while the jiva passes through all these various stages, its essential nature remains unchanged.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 8:17:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/the-five-fires/article17713001.ece

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