Nearly two hundred years ago in Gujarat, India, Bhagwan Swaminarayan reinstated the importance of Vedic traditions by performing ahimsik, or non-violent Maha Yagnas. In keeping with tradition, on August 1-3 and August 8, 2014, a Vishwa Shanti Maha Yagna was organized on the grounds of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey as part of its inaugural Mandir Mahotsav celebrations. The grand yagna, performed by participants from all around the world, was conducted within the traditional Vedic realm and embodied prayers for world peace and unity.
A yagna is a holy Vedic ritual during which participants offer oblations into a sacrificial fire as Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The prayers and mantras chanted during the yagna bestow divinity to the murtis being installed in the Mandir and also bring about peace of mind, prosperity, and family harmony to the participating devotees.
While performing the yagna ritual, participants are requested to offer ahuti (puja materials) to God, and to say “idam na mama” which translates to “this is not mine”, rather it is Yours, referring to God. Herein lies the significance of a yagna. When the possessive “mama”, meaning mine, is forgotten, thus ahamkar (ego) too is forgotten. Therefore, the traditional Vedic ritual of yagna engenders a sense of selflessness and encourages people to forsake their greedy nature in order to offer their services to God.