"No libations can be poured into sacrificial fire without uttering MANTRAS" The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCCXLIII

"None of these, viz., a maiden, a youthful woman, a person
unacquainted with mantras, an ignorant person, or one that is impure is competent to pour libations on the sacrificial fire"
- Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CLXV

"The Sudra has no competence for performing a sacrifice."
- Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CLXV

"The Vedas declare that sacrifices cannot be performed by an unmarried man" The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLXIII

"The deities do not accept the libations (poured upon the fire) on the occasion of Sraddhas and the rites in their honour or on the occasion of those rites that are performable on ordinary lunar days or on the especially sacred days of the full moon and the new moon, if they behold a woman in her season of impurity." The Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, Sec.CXXVII

"They that are conversant with the scriptures say that the man who, having kindled the sacrificial fire, does not give away the dedicated food as Dakshina, is not the kindler of a sacrificial fire. One should never worship the deities in sacrifices in which no Dakshina is given. A sacrifice not completed with Dakshina, instead of producing merit, brings about the destruction of one's children, animals, and heaven. Such a sacrifice destroys also the senses, the fame, the achievements, and the very span of life that one has". The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sec.CLXV

The ultimate Dakshina:

"The renunciation of everything is the excellent Dakshina  of that sacrifice. Consciousness, mind and understanding - these becoming Brahma, are its Hotri, Adhwaryu, and Udgatri. Cessation of separate existence (or Emancipation) is the Dakshina." - The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Sec.XXV

"That person of little intelligence who, from desire of acquiring merit performs sacrifices with wealth acquired by unrighteous means, never succeeds in earning merit." - The Mahabharata, Aswamedha Parva, Section XCI

What is the significance behind chanting of Veda mantras and the mantras connected with the havan ceremony?

Man`s body is filled with innate intelligence. Through speaking words of confidence and power over and over, man gains conscious attention of the intelligence within the organs of the body.. as he continues speaking words of power, that innate intelligence is tapped and it releases increased life and substance into the mind, body and affairs of man.

James Newton Powell, a graduate in religious studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, is the author of the book `Mandalas, the Dynamics of Vedic Symbolism'. 

The following extracts are taken from his book:

Modern metaphysicians are rediscovering the fantastic powers released through spoken words. By certain arrangements of words, such as in Veda mantras, a tremendous vibratory force could be set upon in the invisible which profoundly affects physical and metaphysical substance in the body of man.

Four Levels of Languages

According to the rishis (seers) the mantras are the living body of the luminous inner truth of which they sing, a truth which does not reveal itself to the busy conceptual mind as readily as to the more receptive inner audience of unbounded awareness unfolded through meditation.There are four different levels of languages describing four domains of Vedic experience. 

  1. Language of communication or everyday speech. The gross physical level of articulate speech (Vaikhari).

  2. Language of ritual, the rhythmic sacrificial language of chant.Language as `thought', which is not yet spoken (Madhyama).

  3. Language of illumination, of vision. The level of luminous, `flashlike' intuitive' `seeing' speech (Pasyanti)

  4. Language of eternity, of imperishable silence. The silent, unbounded, absolute level of speech (Para).

Speech reveals herself only to the seer, the one she loves.

Speech is born of tapas (austerity) and throughout the Vedic literature is related to Agni (fire). Mystics of all ages have discovered the relationship between the repetition of sound and an inner fire, and these take the mind to profound depths and eventually spiritual illumination. The rhythmically formulated word, with its tendency towards rhyme, its alliteration, assonance and other types of repetition make it an instrument of power. The sound of such words is often of greater importance than their meaning, which has often been lost. Intoned speech becomes experienced as inner light.

The Veda is eternal and of non-human origin. The transcendance of the seer might give birth to an entirely new utterance, a new mantra, finite and localised when heard by the mundane sense of hearing, but with its origins in the infinite, and capable of again revealing the Infinite to the seer.

The function of the Vedic mantras is to reveal their own inner being.

The entire body of Vedic knowledge is Vac-(goddess of speech, Sarasvati)- with combinations and permutations of sound- in all its various degrees of manifestation. The meaning of the mantra is known not by attending to the semantic meaning, but by attending to the tendencies- the dynamics of sound. One of the Vedic or Yogic method of gaining knowledge is organised on the level of sound. Within the tendencies of the sounds of the mantras lie the method of gaining knowledge of the 'object' the mantra describes.

The Vedic mantras possess the impulses or tendencies which constitute the knowledge of these 'objects'. Thus there is a close relationship between sound and form. This knowledge is on the level of pulsating consciousness. The Veda is a supreme example of a type of poetry in which the life of the symbol corresponds so intimately with the truth it clothes that it is indeed the living form of that truth. There are, residing within the language of the Veda, a hierarchy of potencies, indwelling powers of speech which inspire by means of sound and a transcendental logic.

Image, sound and sense were indissolubly united to forge luminous language- symbols capable of conveying the most orient hues of the imperishable. The mantras are secret words, seer wisdoms, which utter their indwelling meaning to the seer prepared by tapas. The uncanny longevity of these hhymns (mantras) can be attributed to the fact that they are in such intimate contact with the eternal. The mantras are self- revealing, preserved by the imperishable for those who would seek their indwelling dimensions. The mantras exist in a supreme, imperishable location, in which all the gods are seated.

By the friction between the worshipper and the mantra (mind instrument), Om, the inner fire is the kindled and the highest Truth is seen.