On a bustling warm summer day, with the air resonating with the blaring horns of vehicles and the lively activity of the market, a captivating mantra gently played in the background, drawing our attention. Curious, we traced the source of this tranquil melody to Yagyashala, situated on the third floor of a building in Kaushaltar, Bhaktapur.
Upon entering Yagyashala, we are immediately struck by its harmonious blend of ancient and modern artistic design. The space is adorned with comfortable furniture, adorned with indoor plants, and decorated with a calendar and captivating paintings. Within this tranquil ambience, three youthful priests stand together, chanting mantras in unison, creating a captivating chorus of sacred sounds.
On the fourth floor, there is a permanent fire pit (havan kund). In front of it, is a prayer room. Inside the prayer room, there are traditional decorative designs made up of colourful rice kept inside transparent glass. At a glance, they look like rangolis, traditional decorations and patterns made with ground rice, particularly during festivals. A copper wire has been used to line its inner layer.
The Yagyashala is a meticulously designed modern space that facilitates a wide range of Vedic rituals. Here, one can partake in Vedic Puja, perform graha shanti ceremonies to appease celestial influences, and seek expert consultation on Vastu, the traditional architectural principles. Additionally, the Yagyashala offers services for crafting handmade kundalis (birth charts), conducting mantrabhisheka (ritualistic chantings), and availing astrology services, providing a comprehensive and convenient spiritual and astrological hub all under one roof.
Yagyashala was formed when a group of young boys wanted to know more about the rituals and traditions practised in Hindu society. One of the founders Jesson Adhikari, 26, from Bhaktapur, says he developed an interest towards Vedic science when he was pursuing his Masters in Business Administration.
Driven by a deep fascination towards Vedic science, Adhikari embarked on a journey to Varanasi to pursue the study of metaphysics. During his time there, he delved into the intricacies of various Vedic rituals, expanding his knowledge and understanding of the ancient practices.
With a background in management, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a genuine passion for Vedic science, Adhikari was inspired to share his newfound wisdom and create a platform to preserve and promote these valuable traditions. That is how Yagyashala was born.
“To utilise my academic skill and knowledge of Vedic science, I established Yagyashala,” says Adhikari.
Soon Abhishek Adhikari, a 27-year-old software developer, joined him. Abhishek was sold by what Jesson was aiming to do through Yagyashala and wanted to make a difference by making Vedic tradition methodical.
Two soon became three when 27-year-old priest Shantiram Adhikari joined their venture. Influenced by the deep respect and reverence his father received as a priest, Shantiram decided to follow in his footsteps. He pursued formal education and training to become a priest himself, as he wanted to carry on the family tradition.
Shantiram has been performic Vedic rituals for the last decade. Along with him, Yagyashala has two more priests who hold expertise in different fields. Among them, some are experts in Vedic rituals and some are experts in astrology.
With a vision to serve a diverse clientele, Jesson says that Yagyashala aims to offer comprehensive services encompassing various aspects of Eastern traditions. Their primary objective is to provide assistance in Vedic rituals, astrology, vastu science, and other practices that hold significance in the Eastern tradition.
“If anyone wants to perform Vedic rituals in their home or here, they can visit us, we can provide them human resources and all other necessary things.”
Need for Yagyashala
As he grew older, Jesson found himself increasingly drawn towards uncovering the true essence and profound significance behind practices such as puja, mantra, havan and the broader realm of Vedic rituals.
“As I researched, I found that most people perform Vedic rituals by not following its true principles. I wanted Yagyashala to be such a place where we would not compromise on anything,” says Jesson.
Actually, Vedic rituals are performed for transcendental happiness and peace. Priest Shantiram says, these days Vedic rituals are being performed just to create a buzz among relatives and neighbourhoods. He feels many priests do not chant mantras and perform rituals in the right way.
“Clients also do not understand the significance of those Vedic rituals and mantras,” he adds. “They do not know why Kalash and paddy are kept, why the priest asks for ghee to offer havan. We are blindly performing rituals.”
According to Shantiram, our ancestors and sages have discovered these methods through extensive research and studies. As such, all the methods used in the rituals are science in itself, which unites the spiritual consciousness of a person and the rhythm of nature.
“The mantras we chant are perceived from the sound of nature,” says Shantiram. “Therefore, factors like tone and essence, strength, quantity, uniformity, and continuity should be adjusted while chanting mantras.”
Mantra chanting awakens the spiritual consciousness and establishes a rhythmic relationship with nature. Rituals like havan contribute to the purification of air. That is why it is essential to have a proficient priest while performing the rituals. And the hosts should also well understand, feel and follow those rituals, says Abhishek.
“Our effort is to consistently uphold the Vedic knowledge and principles passed down by our ancestors and sages, ensuring their true meaning remains relevant in the present time,” says Abhishek. “For this, we have been trying our best in researching Vedic rituals and other related fields.”
Yagyashala has skilled human resources for every kind of ritual such as weaning ceremonies, weddings, bartamanda, griha pravesh, and vastu.
Young individuals with academic backgrounds in management and information technology have transformed Yagyashala into a modern and convenient venue for performing Vedic methods and rituals accurately.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.