Yagyashala Nepal connects learned pandits with yajamansThe founders say they seek to make the rituals hassle-free and true to the ancient Hindu scriptures.
Hindus in Nepal have been performing various rituals at different stages of their life cycle for ages. The ceremonies are performed by pandits or scholars versed in the Hindu and Sanskrit philosophies.
The clients, commonly known as yajaman, find pandits to conduct the services through personal contacts and family network.
But many yajamans complain that their priests don’t follow the correct procedures while conducting the rituals, and the pandits too have their own grumbles that it is difficult getting a decent fee for their services.
The most common complaint of laypersons is that there’s no uniformity in the services conducted by different pandits, and they have a hard time putting together the worship paraphernalia for them.
In a bid to make the rituals hassle-free and true to the ancient Hindu scriptures, Jesson Adhikari and Abhishek Adhikari from Bhaktapur started Yagyashala Nepal.
Jesson Adhikari is an MBA graduate and is currently pursuing a master's in Metaphysics and Parapsychology at Banaras Hindu University, India.
Abhishek Adhikari is an information technology (IT) professional and is currently pursuing a master's in Vastu Science at Shree Maharshi College of Vedic Astrology in India.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic when my college was shut down, I started reading ancient books on Hinduism such as the Vedas and Puranas. With the help of a mentor, I also explored other philosophies of Hinduism,” said Jesson.
Hindu rituals are based on scriptures such as the Vedas and Puranas, and priests chant verses from them during the service.
Karmakanda, a section of the Vedas, contains a step-by-step guide to perform each yagya and ritual.
“After reading the scriptures, I found that the pandits who come to my home usually don’t follow the complete procedures while performing the rituals,” said Jesson.
“I was not satisfied by their practice because the rituals done incorrectly don’t benefit the yajaman and degrade the standard of Hindu traditions. So I thought of establishing a platform to connect learned pandits with yajamans.”
With Jesson’s idea of entrepreneurship and Abhishek’s knowledge of information technology, the duo set up Yagyashala Nepal five months ago.
Yagyashala Nepal has hired 18 pandits and three senior pandits to guide newcomers with their skills.
Experts say that the pitch of the voice and the pace and fluency when chanting verses, and each step followed during the rituals, play a vital role in the effectiveness of the ceremony.
“However, the pandits freshly graduated out of gurukuls and ashrams possess barely 25 percent of the requirements. So the mentors in our team fine-tune their skills before sending them to our yajamans,” said Adhikari.
“If Vedic rituals such as Rudri Puja and Graha Shanti [a ritual performed to remove negative effects of planets] aren’t done in accordance with the Vedas, the efforts of the yajamans go wasted. Therefore, our priority is to conduct the rituals precisely.”
Adhikari said that people all over the world were lately becoming attracted towards the Vedic and Puranic practices of Hinduism, but they were having difficulties finding pandits with the right skills to conduct the rituals.
The founders of Yagyashala Nepal also aim to tie up with the Sanskrit schools in Devghat, Chitwan, Dang and Kathmandu which have been producing pandits and develop the right skills among them.
Due to the unprofessionalism seen in the ceremonies, freshly graduated pandits also prefer to go to foreign countries like Germany and the United States where better opportunities are available to scholars of Sanskrit.
Currently, 14 universities in Germany offer courses in Sanskrit and Hindu philosophies. Several universities in the US including Harvard University and the University of Chicago offer Sanskrit courses.
“Due to the rising population of the Indian and Nepali expat communities, several foreign companies and individuals are asking for franchises of our services,” said Adhikari.
“But we have decided to expand our service only after a couple of years when we have a strong base in Nepal,” he said.
Besides rituals, Yagyashala Nepal also provides services related to Vastukala, architecture based on Hindu philosophy, and Jyotish, or Hindu astrology.
Adhikari said that the aim of their company is to retain skilled pandits in Nepal by offering a fair wage and bringing more professionalism to the sector.
The charges for rituals at Yagyashala Nepal range from Rs25,000 to Rs400,000 including the pandit’s fee, cost of the materials required and the rental of the venue at their office in Kaushaltar, Bhaktapur.
Yajamans can customise the package as per their requirement.
Adhikari claims to have served 83 yajamans with Vedic and Puranic rituals and more than 300 individuals with Vastukala and Jyotish to date.
“At present, our mobile app is under construction. When it’s ready, we will add some more services to our portfolio. For now, interested yajamans and pandits can get connected to our platform via our Facebook page or visit our office at Kaushaltar,” said Adhikari.