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A Brahmin priest making offerings of ghee (clarified butter) into a sacred fire.

Agnihotra (अग्निहोत्र) is a Vedic yajña (ritual or sacrifice) performed in Hindu communities. It is mentioned in the Atharvaveda (11:7:9) and described in detail in the Yajurveda Samhita and the Shatapatha Brahmana (12:4:1). The Vedic form of the ritual is still performed by the Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala [1] and by a small number of Vaidiki Brahmins in South Asia.[2] Modern versions of the Agnihotra are promoted by various individuals and groups as a non-sectarian ritual for the healing and purification of the atmosphere and as a primary source of vibhuti or sacred ash.[3]

The Vedic Agnihotra[edit]

The central part of the Agnihotra consists of making two offerings of brown rice (unpolished) into the fire exactly at, slightly before, or even after the time of sunset and sunrise, along with Vedic mantras that relate the fire and the sun to each other: 'agnir jyotir, jyotiḥ sūryaḥ svāhā' in the evening, but the reverse 'sūryo jyotir, jyotir agniḥ svāhā' in the morning. This preserves the sun over night, which is also one of the interpretations of the ritual given in the Samhitas and Brahmanas.[4]

This small rite is surrounded by a large number of additional actions and is followed by the worship of the three (or five) sacred fires (agny-upasthāna). The ritual is performed by a Brahmin priest for his own or the benefit of a sponsor (yajamāna). The Vedic Agnihotra takes about 15 minutes in current performances.

There is a simplied version of the Agnihotra in the Grihyasutras and in later post-Vedic texts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Swami Parmeshwaranand (1997), Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Puranas, Sarup & Sons, p. 906, ISBN 978-81-7625-226-3 
  2. ^ Bhatt, G.P. (2003), Skanda Purana Pt. 19 (Aitm Vol. 67) Ancient Indian Tradition And Mythology, Volume 67, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd., p. 346, ISBN 978-81-208-1984-9 
  3. ^ Dhar, Bharat B. (2001), Proceedings of the 27th International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes, Volume 2, Oxford & IBH Pub. Co. Pvt. Ltd., p. 1167, ISBN 978-81-204-1152-4 
  4. ^ H.W. Bodewitz. The daily evening and morning offering (Agnihotra) according to the Brāhmaṇas. Leiden : Brill, 1976