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What is yagya and tapa for householders?


I must say these terms have been used in a particular context so much so that they have lost their real meaning. The moment you think of a yagya, a picture of some people pouring  ghee and offerings into fire, reciting some mantras, pops up in your mind. Likewise,  tapah only calls up an image of hath-yoga austerity or fasting. 

Let me be very clear here that these are one of the many ways of yagya and tapah. Yagya comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means to join a large welfare project. Tapah comes from the Sanskrit root tapas, which means to make an ardent effort to achieve something. The only difference between the two is that yagya is a social event (participated by many for many). Whereas tapas is an individual effort to achieve something. Even a yagya can’t be performed without tapas! Yagya is social effort for common good and tapas is personal effort for one’s own and the others’ good subsequently. The householder  is a social constituent and hence he has to be engaged in social welfare efforts. He is an individual also. Therefore, he is required to make self-effort to achieve something. In the old texts, we come to know of a story where the sun performed tapasya and became fire. But, it didn’t gain the brilliance until it shared its tapas with the moon  and the earth and other planets. It is where the sun began to perform yagya that gave him the shine of a star. The solar energy is the basis of everything. But, you need to have an earth to receive and digest that energy and a moon to convert it into a nourishing energy. Therefore, what we eat in the form of vegetables is nothing but partaking in the sun’s yagya with the moon and the earth. Now all individuals use that energy for personal welfare —that is called tapas. That tapas then becomes a yagya when participated by many! Therefore, self-effort and social effort both are required for a householder. Tapas may turn you selfish and egoistic if you don’t share its fruits with others. The moment you begin to share it, the tapas becomes yagya! Dheerubhai Ambani made a self-effort (tapas), later he began to share his gain with the masses in one form or the other. This became his yagya, which Mukesh Ambani is carrying forward. But, there are many corporate houses which are selfishly using up their tapas for themselves. They are gradually losing their shine and getting burned down to a coal for developing a hard-shell approach towards masses. The same applies to the household. If you earn and share it with many, you as good as perform a yagya and continue to gain brilliance. Otherwise, you break down and get consumed in your own tapas! Egoists always get consumed in their tapas!--VS

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