By Swami Harshananda
Rakṣoghna-mantras literally means ‘mantras that destroy evil spirits’.
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. 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
Classification of Rakṣoghna-mantras
These mantras can be classified into 5 groups.
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 by pushing them into the nether worlds from where there is no return.
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.
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.
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.
- Ṛgveda 4.4.1-15
- Ṛgveda 7.104.1-25
- Ṛgveda 10.87.1-25
- Ṛgveda 10.118.1-9
- Ṛgveda 10.162.1-6
- Rakṣohā here means destroyer of demons.
- Asuras are the demons.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore