The revival of the Vedas and of Agnihotra
Thousands of years ago, fire ceremonies (called Yajña or Homa in Sanskrit) were performed almost all over the world. Ancient lore and remnants of fire temples testify that fire ceremonies were a natural part of spiritual life. Among other things, these fire ceremonies served to express deference to a higher energy and order, with full knowledge that they were.
The knowledge around yajnyas, as well as many other aids and laws were written down at some point, and so the Vedas emerged. With the passing of time, they however vanished more and more into obscurity.
The revival of the Vedas was so extraordinary that it almost reads like a mythological narrative.
It was at the beginning of the last century that a wise Indian man named Bhao Saheb Shingavekar perceived the decay of spiritual life. He knew that the rejection of the eternal spiritual laws would eventually lead to catastrophic outer circumstances. He thought that to bring about a turn of events, it was necessary for a divine being to be born through a particularly pure mother. To this end, he started an intensive recitation of the Gayatri mantra, which he repeated for over two million times. As a result, the Divine Light in the form of the supreme being Gayatri appeared to him and promised to be born as his daughter. Gayatri is also deemed to be the Mother of the Vedas. About a year later, a girl was born and named Sonamata (Sona = gold) because of her golden radiance.
When she was at the appropriate age, Sonamata was married to Laxman Rajimwale. Both dedicated their entire lives to spiritual practices and to serving others. Sonamata was told in a vision that she would give life to the ‘Light of the Universe’. On 17th May 1918, she gave birth to a son who was named Gajanan Maharaj (mostly called Shree in short).
Already at the age of seven, Shree started to practice intensive spiritual disciplines, which he continued doing for the rest of his life. In 1944 he realized through a vision that the knowledge of the eternal spiritual laws that are grounded in the Vedas were about to become extinct. Therefore, he took an oath
“I will resuscitate the Vedas.”
After taking his oath, he was shown five guidelines, which comprise the quintessence of the Vedas in a simple way that can be followed by anyone. Later, these guidelines were called the “Fivefold Path”. One of these guidelines is Yajnya (Yajῆa). It is the umbrella term for fire ceremonies, of which Agnihotra is the most fundamental.
Through his presence and spiritual disciplines, Shree generated the necessary energy for this knowledge to spread. Soon enough people arrived who were ready to start the practical implementation of this task. Among them was Mr Mahanubhav Madhavji Potdar (1915- 1974), generally known as Potdarsaheb, who reached Shree in 1954. Following his instructions, on 22nd February 1963 a priest called Shri Hiralal Sharma conducted the first Agnihotra in the form in which it is known on a worldwide basis today.
Potdarsaheb started with the propagation and prompted the first scientific research into Agnihotra – with spectacular results. Findings included the ascertainment of the bacteriostatic effect, the measuring of a stress-reducing impact, the positive influence on farming, health, mind, etc.
The global distribution took place from 1972 through Shri Vasant Paranjpe (1921-2008). Shree instructed him to pass on his words to people all over the world. From that moment on, until almost the end of his life, Shri Vasant travelled across each and every continent of the Earth while experiencing Shree’s constant guidance throughout.
In this way, he was guided to Germany and to Horst Heigl in 1974, who subsequently travelled to visit Shree in India straightaway. Several years later, Horst received instructions from Shree to train people in the Fivefold Path. He did this first privately, and later publicly at the Homa-Hof Heiligenberg. And so the Homa-Hof grew to be a centre for the dissemination of Shree’s work.
The life and work of Shree is so extraordinary and remarkable that we created a website especially for it:
Two picture books about Shree’s main places of activity called “Akkalkot” and “Shivapuri”, which attend extensively to his life and work, also came into existence.