“Becoming the fire of digestion, I reside in the bodies of all living entities; then, in conjunction with the life airs, Prana and Apana, both incoming and outgoing, I digest the four kinds of food.” – Bhagavad Gita 15.14 (Translation by Swami B.V. Tripuri)
“Having become Vaishvanara, I exist in the body of living creatures; and, acting through Prana and Apana, I digest food that is eaten in four ways.” – Bhagavad Gita 15.14 (Translation by Paramahansa Yogananda)
The concept of Agni is perhaps the most foundational idea in Ayurvedic medicine and the science of Self-Realization or Yoga.
In Ayurveda, the Agni which resides within the digestive system is jatharagni. This fire in the digestive tract is just one small somatic expression of Agni, as this sacred fire exists in all levels of the body from metabolic activity, cellular respiration, cognitive functions, and neuroplasticity to name just a few examples.
Cultivating the Inner Flame
Yoga practices seek to cultivate this inner flame via the tapas of sadhana cultivating the Pranagni of the subtle bodies (Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vijnanamaya Kosha) as well as the Agni of the physical body (Annamaya Kosha).
Essentially, if these inner flames are burning at an even state illuminating and activating all aspects of life, individuals may manifest a long healthy life allowing them to experience and digest their unique prarabdha karma to ultimately reach a state of Self-Realization.
The symbol of fire as a sacred inner flame is rooted in the Rig Veda 1.31.11:
“Thou, Agni, wast the earliest Angiras, a Seer; thou wast, a God thyself, the Gods auspicious Friend.”
This single verse is but one simple example as the Vedas are pregnant with references to the sacred flame of Agni. In the Vedas, Agni is often referred to as Jatavedas or “he who knows all births.”
Interestingly, Vishnu is also referred to as Jatavedas, as well as another form of Agni mentioned in the above Yogananada Gita translation, Vaishvanara. Important esoteric connections exist between Agni and Vishnu / Sri Krsna and we should always contemplate this mysterious connection every time we sit to partake of the sacred ritual of eating.
The Five Elements
Each time we sit to consume food we must honor the sacred flame of Agni which exists in the stomach as well as in every expression of the five elements and the cosmos.
We must remember the words of Krsna before we create or consume our meals:
“Know that I am the light of the sun, the moon, and Fire that illuminates the entire world.” – Bhagavad Gita 15.12
“I am the ritual, I am the sacrifice, I am the offering, I am the sacred herbs, I am the mantra and I am the ghee, I am the Sacred Fire and I am the act of offering.” – Bhagavad Gita 9.16
“O Kaunteya, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, whatever penances you undertake, do that as an offering unto Me.” – Bhagavad Gita 9.27
Every moment we spend preparing, creating, and consuming food should be saturated with an attitude of remembrance of and reverence to the eternal sacred flame of Agni / Sri-Krsna. With this in mind, we should always offer the first portions of food to the Deity as prasad and be thankful and grateful for the opportunity to eat clean healthy food which sustains our minds and bodies allowing us to live a life fully embracing and digesting our unique karmas.
Sacred Space and Sacred Time
Mealtime should be viewed as sacred time and sacred space for true Bhakti Yoga. To do this we must prepare, consume and create food with an attitude of reverence, offer a portion to the Deity before eating, say a prayer before eating, eat slowly with a calm mind paying attention to how much we eat, and when finished eating honor the sacred flame of jatharagni for nourishing our mind and body.
We can transform each meal into a sacred ritual or Yajna if we ponder these verses from the Bhagavad Gita and truly remember that the sacred flame Agni / Sri Krsna exists within the foods we consume and exists within our minds and bodies. With this concept in mind, every act can be transformed into a sacred expression of Bhakti Yoga.
“I am situated in the hearts of all living beings, and from Me arises remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness. I alone am to be know through all the Vedas. I reveal the Vedanta and am the knower of the Vedas.” – Bhagavad Gita 15.15
Jai Agni!!! Jai Aghor!!! Jai Sri-Krsna!!! Jai Jatavedas!!! Jai Vaishvanara!!!
Indra-Ram Das Aghori
Vaishnava Aghora Sampradaya