By Swami Harshananda
Gārhapatya literally means ‘belonging to the gṛhapati or the master of the house’.
Types of Fires
In the Vedic era, many dvijas (the ‘twice born’) maintained three sacred fires. These fires were ceremonially established. These fires were called as:
- Gārhapatya fire
- Āhavanīya fire
- Dakṣināgni fire
Ignition of Gārhapatya Fire
The gārhapatya fire is established first by kindling it with the araṇis through the process of agnyādhāna. The pit for the gārhapatya fire is round in shape and one square aratni in area. This fire, once kindled, had to be maintained throughout life.
Utility of Gārhapatya Fire
The fire itself is used for various purposes such as:
- Daily Agnihotra
- Warming the havis of oblatory material
- Warming the vessels used for the same
- Cooking the havis
- To start the other two fires
Alternate Gārhapatya Fire
- An aratni is 1/5 of the height of the sacrificer who establishes the fire.
- Uttaravedi is a higher platform to the east.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore