To remove conditioning of mind (vasanas and samskaras) caused by one’s past actions through use or abuse of past free will, performing daily Japa (for minimum 20 minutes) or meditation is essential for everyone irrespective of caste, religion, race or community.(Remember there is no destiny as such – only our past actions performed using (or abusing) free will becomes destiny later or now. In other words destiny is un fructified results of actions through free will of the past)
By doing Japa for 20-25 mins daily one can remove the conditioning of mind and therefore channels for using the present free will effectively are opened. Japa or mantra as such do not do magic, but they are absolutely responsible for stilling the mind, thereby reducing the clutter which impacts progressively and positively in removing our conditioning of mind. This mechanism allows you to take corrective actions and decisions with clarity and without confusion and anxiety.
This mechanism can be expedited if you can do a Homa or fire ritual with the same mantra (initially under a competent guidance for few times and later by yourself), the effect can be 1000-100000 times more beneficial as Fire is the best purifier which can speedily burn out our inner conditionings acting as obstacles to our growth reducing our discriminative capabilities and ability to use right knowledge.
Scientifically Fire, is supreme as a cleaner and purifier because fire can burn anything but nothing can destroy or corrupt fire. Of the Five great elements, of this universe, we all know that water, earth and air are polluted by human misuse. Space is pure but cannot be used as a medium (except in deep meditation or supreme devotion for inner purification, like how Buddha, Ramana Maharishi, Sri Ramakrishna, Nandanar used for their attainment of GOD) for purifying the karmic particles. Fire on the other hand is the only element that cannot be contaminated by our human actions and therefore it is the element available to contaminate or destroy other things including our conditioning and impurities in the form of karmic particles. Religions of Romans, Chinese, Greeks, Jews, all have accepted this fact of our Vedic wisdom and worshipped Fire as God.
In view of the above, Fire rituals are the best for giving quick results for removing conditioning of mind for efficient decision making.
Can women do fire rituals?
Yes, our Vedas support women doing fire rituals as men and women are different only at the level of gross physical body, and in all other subtle levels, they are having similar constitution. Except for pregnant women, to whom , there is a danger (by chance) of fire rituals affecting the foetus, owing to kundalini awakening by any such spiritual practices, causing flow of energy through channels of awareness, other women are authorized by Vedas to perform rituals. In fact women can recite slokas and mantras (Japa) even during menstruated days if they can focus their minds on mantra ( or deity). Women and men are equal in every aspect of life as per instructions in all 4 Vedas. Hymns of Rig veda and Atharva veda are unequivocally and vehemently encouraging women to participate in wars, to have their own army wing, to master all arts and sciences at par with or to excel men and to take part in Vedic rituals, Vedanta and Sanyasa for greater contribution to society. (examples of glorious Vedic women of different castes: Madalasa, Sati, Anusuya, Sita, Draupati, Gargi, Maitreyi, Savitri and so on)
Panini differentiates between a teacher’s wife and a lady teacher while giving the sutras for acharya and acharyani, and upadyaya and upadhyayani. This reveals that there were women who took teaching as a profession. Similarly the words such as kathi denote that women had no restriction in studying the Veda. Women wore the sacred thread and performed rituals. Gargi, the famous composer of Vedic hymns was known to be brahmavadini as she requested for the highest spiritual knowledge from her husband instead of material wealth (Brahadaranyakopanishad).
Kalidasa, in Kumara Sambhava gives an expression to the regard husbands have for their wives. When the Rishis visit Himavan to fix the marriage of Siva and Parvati, Himavan looks at his wife Mena. And there Kalidasa remarks that men see through the eyes of their wives in matters concerning their daughters.
These incidents sufficiently prove that the Vedic women made their own decisions, and were as independent as their men were. If they seemed to be subservient to their husbands, it was more by choice of free will than by decree.
Can people other than Brahmins do fire rituals or havens?
Yes, interestingly, if one ( both man or woman except pregnant woman be vegetarian and avoid alcohol ( for at least 72 hrs) or more starting from previous day of ritual till next day, He or she is eligible to practice fire rituals or Homams initially under a guidance for few days and then on their own. If someone is veg always and teetotaller then He or She can do daily or regularly these rituals. This is also applicable to Brahmins who eat non veg food and consume alcohol.
Recall that Viswamitra, a Shatriya became Brahmin by practice, Sri Valmiki, a shudra by those days classification became a Maharishi Brahmin by practice. Therefore Vedas do not discriminate people by birth, but only by their practice. If a Brahmin is not prayerful seeking Brahman, the formless ultimate supreme reality, not following daily rituals, and only interested in making money He is no more a Brahmin as per Vedic wisdom. On the contrary, a non Brahmin showing more focus and attention in rituals, knowledge of Brahman gets gradually transformed into a Brahmin as per Vedic dictum. This is what Lord Krishna refers to as Guna Brahmana in Bhagawad Gita. One cannot become a Brahmin by birth, or action. He should have the Guna (character or qualities) of a Brahmin, loving All and seeing everyone and everything as God’s essence, seeking the ultimate truth or reality in the supreme SELF ( Self Excited Life Force).
One should practice japa or mediation or fire rituals for a minimum period of 3 months to see results. Focus will increase through practice.
The requirements of effective Japa or Meditation are:
Focus or concentration of mind
Positive attitude (that it will benefit you and / or others)