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Yajamana In Hindu Rituals

Yajamana is an important term widely used in the Hindu Rituals especially in Vedas. Yajamana in simple terms is the person who employs priests and pays to conduct the Yagna. Being derived from the root yaj (“to worship”, “to consecrate”) with sacrifice, denoting a continuous power of sacrificing or worshipping, it means one who pays the cost of a yagna, institutor or a yagna for performing the same and who employs a priest or priests as hereditary functionaries in a family.  

In Hindu scriptures, various synonyms of the term ‘yajamana’ are used to denote the performer of a yagna – vrati, yasta, yajva, dikshita, ijayasila, yajajuka, etc.

The term is mentioned several times in Vedic literature, especially Taittiriya Samhita, Maitrayani Samhita, Taittiriya Brahmana, Aitareya Brahmana, Satapatha Brahmana, Jaiminiya Brahmana and Tandya Brahmana.

The relation between yagna and yajamana is so intimate that one is counter-self of the other in the form of action. Bother are inseparably united or sometimes both are praised as yagno vai yajamanah.

Satapatha Brahmana (III.2.1.17) states that – yad yajate tad yajamanah.

A Yajamana is the being of Yagna (Kapisthalam Katha Samhita 41.7) and priests are parts of the same.

He is owner of the yagna as per Satapatha Brahmana (I.1.2.12).

He is praised with other ritual parts and implements in the Brahmanas. He is fire, protector of cloud, animal or victim, sacrificial post, a sacrificial seat or stone, year of cycle, sacrificial ladle, and conveyer of oblation.

Yagna is the shelter of the yajamana and the sacrificial altar is the abode of yajamana. With his good works, the yajamana is symbolically placed in heaven, provided with soma drink. A yajamana is compared with Indra Satapatha Brahmana (VIII.5.3.8) and Prajapati Satapatha Brahmana (I.6.1.20).

According to Satapatha Brahmana, a yajamana gives himself up to gods on entering a fast. By a yagna he becomes an oblation to the gods by which he redeems himself. The same text also states that by wrong sacrificial procedures, a yajamana becomes ousted from his realm.

A yajamana should not expose the lower part of the sacrificial post, as it shortens his lifespan. He enjoys the result of the yagna and Goddess Earth brings excellent treasures for the yajamana.

If two yajamanas perform the same yagna at a time, the earlier wins more. (Rig Veda V.77.2)

Prajapati is the first yajamana, as he sacrificed himself, desiring offspring that is germ of creation. Building of fire altar assimilates yajamana to archetypal yajamana as an eternal worker. A Yajamana requires assistance of priests for which he pays fees to them. Thus a yajamana plays a significant role in ancient Hindu sacrificial traditions working as a mediator; he tries to link both worlds through imperishable and ultimate spiritual power.