Rakṣoghna-mantras

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Raksoghna-mantras, RakSoghna-mantras, Rakshoghna-mantras


Rakṣoghna-mantras literally means ‘mantras that destroy evil spirits’.

Rakṣoghna-mantras Definition

Belief in the evil spirits and their capacity for harassing or even harming the good, is as old as the Ṛgveda itself. Prayers addressed to deities like Agni or Indra and Soma to ward off such evil spirits are found in quite a few places in the Ṛgveda.[1][2][3][4][5] These hymns are known as Rakṣoghna-mantras.

Chanting of Rakṣoghna-mantras

They are chanted at the appropriate places in sacrifices like:

  • Consecrating a newly-built house
  • Prevent abortion in a woman who has conceived
  • Others

Classification of Rakṣoghna-mantras

These mantras can be classified into 5 groups.

First Group

The first group comprises of 15 mantras. They are all addressed to Agni as Rakṣohā.[6] He is compared to a king going on invasion for conquest and requested to destroy the rākṣasas or demons.

Second Group

The second group has 25 mantras. They are addressed to Indra, Soma, Agni and Maruts. Here also the prayers are addressed for the total annihilation of rākṣasas and asuras[7] by pushing them into the nether worlds from where there is no return.

Third Group

The third group is made of 25 mantras. They are addressed to Agnī Rakṣohā with a request to burn up all the evil spirits who are trying to disturb the Vedic sacrifices.

Fourth Group

The fourth group has 9 mantras. It also addresses the Agnī Rakṣohā and praises him. He is then requested to destroy the female fiends called Yātudhānīs.

Fifth Group

This is the last group having only 6 mantras. These mantras contains a special prayer indirectly addressed to Agni to destroy all the diseases in a pregnant woman so that abortion or miscarriage is prevented.

References

  1. Ṛgveda 4.4.1-15
  2. Ṛgveda 7.104.1-25
  3. Ṛgveda 10.87.1-25
  4. Ṛgveda 10.118.1-9
  5. Ṛgveda 10.162.1-6
  6. Rakṣohā here means destroyer of demons.
  7. Asuras are the demons.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore