From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Jammalamadaka Srinivas

Sometimes transliterated as: Paakayajna, Pakayagna, Paakayagna

There are around four hundred yajnas or sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. Of these, most of the yajnas are instructed to fulfill specific wishes such as children, wealth, physical strength, victory, rain etc. These are called as 'Kāmya Karmas'. For instance, putrakāmeṣṭi in the Rāmāyaṇa is the sacrifice performed to beget a son. These type of sacrifices come under the optional category. Then there are rites that are obligatory on one’s part to attain chittaśuddhi. They come under the category of "nitya-karma", but the word "nitya" here does not denote "daily". In the category of nitya-karma, the sacrifices to be performed daily, there are 21 sacrifices. There is no compulsion with regard to the rest of 400 other sacrifices. They are performed as required. There are 21 sacrifices, which are included in the forty eight saṅskāras, that must be performed at least once in a lifetime. These are divided into groups of seven pākayajnas, seven haviryajnas and seven somyajnas.

Aupasana Fire[edit]

Marriage is conducted with offerings made in the fire Aupasana. Aupasana fire must be performed, commenced and preserved every day throughout one's life. The seven pākayajnas, rites like upanayana and śrāddha must also be conducted in the aupasana fire. All the rites in which the aupasana fire symbolizes to an individual and his family. They are called as "gṛhyakarmas". The seven pākayajnas also belong to this category. They are related exclusively to the family and are not very elaborate.


Grhyasutras deal with the rites pertaining to gṛhyakarmas. They belong to the Smṛtis and are called "Smarta-karmas". The aupasana fire[1] is divided into two in a ceremony called "agniyādhāna". One part is called "gṛhyagni" or "smārtāgni" which is meant for rites to be performed at home. The second part is śrautāgni and meant for śrauta rites. These two sacred fires must be preserved throughout.

On every Prathama[2], a pākayajna has to be performed in the gṛhyagni. This rite is called sthālīpāka. "Sthālī" is the pot in which rice is cooked and it must be placed on the aupasana fire. The rice called "caru" cooked in it must be offered in the same fire.

Types of Pākayajnas[edit]

According to Gautama dharmasutra:

Aṣṭakā pārvaṇaḥ śrāddhaṃ śrāvaṇyāgrahāyaṇī chaitrāśvayujīti sapta pākayajnasaṃsthāḥ[3]

The seven pākayajnas are:

  1. Aṣṭaka
  2. Pārvaṇa
  3. Śrāddha
  4. Śrāvaṇī
  5. Āgrahāyaṇī
  6. Chaitrī
  7. Āśviyujinī


Aṣṭaka is a sthālīpāka among the seven pākayajnasaṃsthās. This rite is performed on the 9th day after the full moon in the month of māgha[4], but the actual rite begins on the previous evening and ends on the next day, making it a rite that is performed for three days.


Pārvaṇa sthālīpāka [5] is among seven pākayajnasaṃsthās performed on a 'parva'[6]. In this context the auspicious day means the days of full moon and new moon. When a person is married and returns to his house after marriage, he and his newly wed bride, sacrifice a portion of cooked food. The wife husks the grains of which the sthālīpāka is prepared. She cooks the portion, sprinkles ājya[7] on it and takes it from the fire. Then the husband sacrifices it to the deities of the vedic darśa-pūrṇamāsa and then to agni sviṣṭakṛt. With the remnants of the cooked food he feeds a learned brāhmaṇa and present that brāhmaṇa with a bull. From that time onwards, the householder constantly sacrifices on the days of full moon and new moon a similar portion of cooked food sacred to Agni.


It is a ceremony performed in honor of dead ancestors. It is believed that "Pindadan" and "Tarpaṇ" done by the family members in Śrāddha ritual facilitates the journey of departed soul after death.


Śrāvaṇī is a sthālīpāka that is performed on the full moon day of the month Śravaṇa, whether the moon is in conjunction with the constellation of Śrāvaṇa or not. Along with this sthālīpāka, a rite called 'sarpabali' is also performed. Bali or offerings to serpents are made through this rite. The dangers from snakes must have intensified in the rainy season when serpents sought shelter in the human habitations. Therefore the rite of offering a bali was performed on the full moon day of Śrāvaṇa.


The full moon day of Mārgaśīrṣa is called Āgrahāyaṇī. Sthālīpāka performed on that day also bears the same name.


Chaitrī is a sthālīpāka that is performed on the full moon day of the month of Chaitra. On the full moon day of Chaitra, the house is cleaned and decorated. The husband and wife deck themselves in new garments, flowers etc. After two āghāras[8] are made in the fire and rice is cooked in a vessel for the deities, offerings are made of clarified butter, with specific mantras. These oblations of boiled rice mixed with ghee are offered to Madhu, Mādhava, Śukra, Śuci, Nabhas, Nabhasya, Īśa, Ūrja, Sahas Sahasya, Tapas, Tapasya, to the deities of Ṛtu, herbs, lord of herbs, Śrī[9] and Viṣṇu. After having served the chitrya food to the brāhmaṇas, sacrificer should himself eat in the company of his sapiṇḍas.


Āśviyujinī is one among the seven pākayajnasaṃsthās mentioned by Gautama[10], which is performed on the full moon day of the month Āśviyuja. Āśvalāyana gṛhya sūtra[11] describes the rituals of this rite. On the full day of Āśviyuja, the Āśviyuji rite is performed. Having adorned the house, bathed and put on clean garments, sacrificer should prepare a portion of cooked food and offer to Paśupati. He should sacrifice it with his joined hands along with the mixture of milk and clarified butter uttering this phrase - "Ūnaṃ me pūryatāṃ pūrṇaṃ me mopasadat pṛṣātakāya svāhā". The verse means that "May what is deficient in me be made complete or full, may what is complete not deteriorate in me".


  1. It is ignited at the time of marriage by the groom's father.
  2. It is the first day of the lunar fortnight.
  3. Gautama Dharma Sutras 8-19, page no.74, Chaukhamba Samskrit Samthan, Varanasi
  4. It is also called as māgha-kṛṣṇa-aṣṭamī
  5. Gautama Dharma Sutras - 8-19, page no.74, Chaukhamba Samskrit Samthan, Varanasi
  6. It is an auspicious day.
  7. It is called as sacred ghee.
  8. Āghāra means a specific way of sacrifice of ghee to the deities. Sacrificing ghee from the north-west corner of the homakunḍa to the south-east corner and the same from south-west corner to the north-east corner of the homakuṅḍa
  9. It is the goddess of wealth.
  10. Gautama Dharma Sutras - 8-19, page no.74, Chaukhamba Samskrit Samthan, Varanasi
  11. Āśvayujyāmāśvayujaī karma| niveśamalaṃkṛtya snātā.............svāheti|| Āśvalāyana gṛhya sūtra II 2.1-3

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