Why Homa?

The following are excerpts from Narasimha Rao's writings.
Homam or worship of deities in fire is a powerful practice taught by rishis. I know from experience that it burns blocking karmas and enables the inner transformation. It is a very useful spiritual practice. I know people who made (and are making) considerable spiritual progress through regular practice of homam. It is the most powerful method I know of and teaching it is one of my tasks for this life.
Regarding the practical usefulness of homam, there is no doubt. I have seen its transformational power with real people in front of my own eyes.
Agni is the element of transformation. It symbolizes absorbing and digesting experiences. As you make offerings in fire and they burn in fire, various spiritual experiences are processed and digested by your internal fire.
After doing homam a few times, most people will only experience an indescribable calmness and pleasure coming from the cleansing of various nadis and chakras and resultant extra flow of praana vaayu in the sookshma sareera. Things like Kundalini awakening and rise do not happen in most people. Actually, most people talking about Kundalini flow actually mistake smoother praana vaayu flow for Kundalini flow. Most yogis do not ever experience the latter

In general, after a few months of daily homam, some inner transformation should occur in the way the person views self, others and life. Some clarity should come. Mind should be more peaceful and calm (even when engaging in actions that usually spoil mental calmness). Even when mental calmness is disturbed temporarily, it should be restored fast. The impermanence of most things we cling on to should be more obvious than before. Devotion should increase.

Specific experiences can vary. If one is ready, meditation at the end of homam can even make Kundalini rise, but that may need more preparation in most. Some level of prior inner transformation is needed before that. The goal of homam or any other sadhana is inner transformation. In addition, some specific results are possible with different kind of homas. One doing Savitri Gayatri homam regularly may experience a sharper intellect and the ability to see things related to knowledge more clearly. One doing Chandi homam regularly may experience fearlessness, boldness, frankness, detachment and the ability to wage a big battle without much attachment. One doing Sri Krishna homam regularly may melt with devotion and start to internally cry for Krishna. Different homas may work in different ways. But they all cause internal transformation, simplify the ego of the person, purify the system and clarify thinking.

If you do a 30-min homam and spend just 10 minutes meditating by the fire after homam, the energy surrounding you, the level of focus you can get and the amount of impurities you can burn are much more than a regular meditation for a couple of hours! One need not believe me. The proof of the pudding is in eating it. If anybody tries to do a 30-minute homam everyday (or atleast every weekend) for a few months, one should find some difference internally.

Seeing divinity in a solid form such as an idol is shown by earth (bhoo) element. It is a sureshot way to achieve, but it is extremely slow and one needs to be very patient. It is difficult to maintain focus for so many lives in Kali yuga. One can lose one’s way in the middle. Seeing divinity in the water is shown by the water (jala) element. The water element is anyway predominent in the human body and it is imperfect in Kali yuga. It is quite tricky to achieve through sadhana shown by the water path in this age. Seeing divinity in the air we breathe is the sadhana form shown by air (vaayu) element. It is fast, but the air we breathe in so corrupt in this age that this is a very risky path. Though many teach praanaayaama, hatha yoga, raja yoga etc these days, this path is extremely risky. It is very difficult to reach the end goal in this path in this age. The path of pure Vedanta,shown by the aakaasa (ether/space) element may also not be appropriate for most in this age.

Irrespective of the impurities in the food one eats, the water one drinks and the air one breathes and irrespective of the impurities in various nadis in one’s system, the fire is always pure and it purifies everything that it comes in touch with. That is why another name of fire is “paavaka” (purifier). You just have to expose various parts of your system to fire. Thus, the sadhana form shown by fire (agni) element is the safest and quickest in this age for most people. It is quick and safe and purifies one despite other distractions of Kali and helps one achieve the Ultimate eventually.

It is possible to get some result in every sadhana. But, if one wants to make significant progress, homam is the best sadhana. No wonder rishis put a lot of stress on agni kaaryam (fire ritual). These days, people - even those who are born in Brahmin families - are afraid to do homam because they think it is complicated and one may make mistakes. However, a homam done as a personal sadhana for one’s own progress is different from a yaagam that is done for universal benefits. While the latter is far more elaborate and strict, the former is much simpler. When performed on a regular basis, it really purifies one’s koshas and nadis.

Regularity is the key. If you eat a big bowl of almonds once every six months, you will not get enough proteins for the six months from them. On the other hand, if eat a few almonds everyday, that may be a good source of proteins