Returning to a Lost Tradition

Pancha Mahayagya teaches how to care and share

July 2017

Be truly sensitive to the needs of others—care for and share with them. This is the essential principle of the ancient practice of Pancha Mahayagya, a tradition of ancient India that is slipping away through the passage of time. As individuals, corporate entities or collective bodies, we take care of others and express that we care. We can share our knowledge, resources, and time. We can also pray for others.

We decided to make this a part of the 2016 Summer Camps because most of the children had never heard of Pancha Mahayagya. On the first two days, the children were taught what it means and how to practise. Then they were asked to keep a diary every day to express what duties they performed and how that felt for them.

The literal meaning of Pancha Mahayagya is “five great sacrifices”. It instructs how a person can lead a good and purposeful life. Such actions are seen to bring the Grace of the Divine into one’s life. The key principle is that man is not a separate entity or isolated unit, but part of a greater whole. Parents give the physical body. This vehicle for the soul is nourished by grains, vegetables, fruits and the milk of the cow. The five elements are also essential to survival. A human cannot live without oxygen and water.

When it comes to social interaction, a human being gets help from family, friends and the community at large. The Devas and Pitrs (ancestors) give their blessings. Knowledge is obtained by studying the sacred scriptures written by great Rishis.

And so there is a fivefold debt to Nature—the way life in the world works. A human being will have the best life possible when these owings are paid back on a daily basis, especially via the essential ingredient of gratitude.

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