Yajna, of Sanskrit origin, and often pronounced as Yagna, is an inherent tradition from the Vedic times, which in its literal meaning translates to Sacrifice or Offerings. Performed in front of the Sacrificial fire, or the Agni Deva with Vedic mantras being chanted by the Brahmans, the Yagna is performed in the Hindu dharma to envoke the Gods for the blessing and also to obtain favors from them. The Vedic tradition which evolved from offering oblations, or Aahuti (as in Sanskrit) meaning things such as food and drink being offered to the supreme lord, into the sacrificial fire, still finds its significance in the contemporary society as it has been an integral part of all major Hindu celebrations for quite some time now- marriage ceremonies and Hindu Temple inauguration, just a few to mention.
Other than the holy smoke from the Yagna eradicating all the evil spirits and bringing with it peace, prosperity, and contentment, as scientific studies have revealed, Yagna indeed has an impact, and a positive one on the biosphere- the soil, its micro-organisms and all other life that inhabits it.
Performed in a square Altar called Vedi, set up in the Mandapa or Mandala, wherein woods are piled up along oily seeds and other combustion aids, Principally Mango wood is used in the Ritual. Along with the smoke, the fumes of Formaldehyde is released into the atmosphere. Formaldehyde exhibits bactericidal effects, therein decreasing the number of micro-organisms in the vicinity. Also, the air in the contact of fire becomes lighter, and less dense thus moving upward, the space in turn is taken by the cold, impure air. Thus, the ritual helps also in the geological cycle of air purification.
As a libation, or Aahuti every time the Mantra is chanted, Ghee is poured into the sacrificial fire. In the Vedas, aided by modern-day research, Ghee has been mentioned as an antidote to poisoning. Ghee when burnt reduces the number of dust particles in the surrounding atmosphere; the macro-molecules in the Ghee are the fat-particles wherein even the tiny dust particles easily get accumulated and are precipitated with the rain. Oxidation of Ghee is also said to lessen the effect of extra-terrestrial radiations on the earth surface, though the research on it is still underway and no evidences have been put-forward.
Honey, a fructose-rich polyacrylamide, Jaggery or Gur and aromatic herbs, such as Cardamon, Illaichi or Sukmel, Rose Petals, Dalchini or Cinnamon, Tulsi leaves, just a few to mention are too offered to the sacrificial fire. If not the modern day pharmacology, the Ayurveda would certainly embrace the benefits of these medicinal herbs, evidently these very herbs are widely used for their medicinal value in the Ayurveda.
As of late, in April of 2015, a team of researchers led by Prof VPN Nampoori, former director of the International School of Photonics, Cochin University of Science and Technology located in great South Indian state of Kerala, conducted a detailed study scientific dimensions and impact on biosphere; soil and its microorganisms and other potential environmental effect, of the Yagna ritual. Findings were groundbreaking, as they indicated not only towards the purification of air, lesser microbial count in the vicinity but the ritual also seemed to have accelerated the germination of seeds, an essential life process! The pots kept closer to the fire altar had faster and better rate of seed germination.
An analysis conducted on the dimensions of temperature from the flames of the Yagna, by Prof A K Saxena, head of photonics division, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore, found that the fireball that formed during the ritual had a particular wavelength with an unusually high intensity, it may be possible to have stimulated emission at this wavelength could have accelerated the rate of seed germination.
As more light has been shed upon the bactericidal effect of Yagna, findings reveals, it even kills contagious microbial hosts of air-borne diseases such as Tuberculosis and Pneumonia.
As what the ancient Scriptures of the Hindu dharma have always said, the basis for life on the earth is water and air along with soil, and everything else including the food- an important aspect for survival, is derived from it. The Yagna has positive impacts on all of those; cleaner air, better vegetation, disease-free environment, timely rainfall, the Vedic ritual of Yagna indeed has enormous significance.