Fire Puja – what?

Some years ago at the BYC I found the word „Fire Puja“ on the schedule.
It was something that was supposed to be early in the morning around 6:30. I thought it might be a special kind of meditation and since I was in the mood of starting the day early and to do meditation in a group, I decided to go there.

The Sanskrit word for “offering” is “puja” or has also the meaning “to please.” So a puja is a traditional ritual of healing and purification.

A fire puja is more specific and is a buddhist ceremony that is used to cleanse the environment and beings in this environment.
It is said that it grants blessings and done on a regular basis can stimulate peace within and even peace on our whole planet. It also can build up immense merits of wisdom and compassion towards ourselves and others.

The main intention of the offering is to dissolve obstacles to enlightenment and to eliminate imperfections. Imperfections that can be occur by any kind of harmful actions, for example broken promises.
Also I was told it can be an ideal ritual for sick people to purify from decease, negative karma and is also done to receive a higher rebirth.

So generally spoken it can support the prevention of all negative conditions in daily life.

As I approached the yoga village I saw a small group of people sitting already there in a circle. I got more and more curious and joined them silently, not knowing what is going to happen. I can remember that we were sitting and waiting for quite a bit and I decided to meditate on my own until we were going to start.
When I opened my eyes again I saw a man, building up a tiny altar out of sand and flowers in the middle of our circle. I was wondering what this is going to be and stopped my meditation to watch the process.

There were some small bowls and cans with oil and ghee and also a bigger one with brown earth or dust. After the small altar was finished, the guru startet to mix oil, ghee and dust together. The fire was already burning and I remember the smell of a nice but strong incense, I couldn’t define.
Then everything started. We were chanting and reciting mantras in a call and respond way with the guru, while watching the fire. At some point everybody was allowed to throw a little portion of the „oil-earth-mud“-mixture into the fire.

To be honest, it is very hard to explain what we were doing, but I found it very special and yet comforting. Therefore I would highly recommend to visit one of these pujas or rituals if you ever happen to have the opportunity.
I attended some pujas during my travels to India as well and I guess every guru or spiritual teacher has his own way to do it. 🙂

Find some links here for a short overview what a puja can look like:

Source: BYC Blog

The day I fell in love with Kirtan… <3

The first time I came in touch with Kirtan and Bhakti Yoga was in 2016, which was also my first time at the BYC.

To be honest before that, I thought singing mantras is not for me. I thought it doesn’t fit to my yoga approach, which I to that time considered as „very modern“, „not very spiritual“ and „more into fitness“.

My friend suggested to visit one of the Kirtan workshops with him and since my body was already a little bit tired of practicing asanas for so many hours, because I didn’t want to miss out on anything, I agreed to join.

I was sceptical. Really sceptical. Doubting if I would stay there more than 10 minutes, but I still wanted to give it a try and be open for something new.

There were two people sitting on the floor on yoga bolsters. A woman and a man… I am not sure if he or she played the harmonium, an instrument I maybe had seen before once or twice, but I had no idea how it sounds or how to use it. The other person had a guitar and both of them were equipped with microphones.
Next to the couple there were 2 or 3 other guys with drums and percussion instruments and also two small children were playing on the floor next to the musicians.

I started to observe this group of people… eager to hear them sing and play, eager to find out about what we will be doing next.

After some time more and more people joined and when the workshop started, there was a nice group of maybe 20 or 30 people sitting in front of the musicians.
They started with a short explanation of what Kirtan and Bhakti Yoga was. I knew a little bit about it from my YTT, but it was nicely explained and made me want to know more and dive deeper.

After that we started singing … actually they started singing, because first I was not sure if I would sing too. But 5 minutes later I joined the choir. I simply couldn’t help. I stopped thinking and started feeling.
I was just caught by the music, singing the Sanskrit words and sharing energy with complete strangers and it was beautiful.
So beautiful that I found myself crying. That was the last thing I would have expected, but I was not the only one, so I told myself I don’t have to be embaressed and kept singing. I felt so cleansed and happy afterwards, that I just was wondering what kind of magic this group of Bhakti yogis just did to us.

After that beautiful workshop I decided to learn more about Mantras, Kirtan and Bhakti. I joined the concert of Jai Uttal the night after and I promised myself to keep joining workshops like that. The next year I attended a Krishna Das concert in my home town Vienna and was so happy to find him at BYC again and enjoyed a wonderful Workshop with him as well.

Playing the harmonium, singing mantras and attending kirtans now has become a part of my yoga practice.
I stopped consindering my yoga practice to be a certain way and started to enjoy the wonderful journey.

Thank you BYC.

Source: BYC Blog