Tantric Buddhist Fire Ritual (video)

This video of the Agni Hottri Buddhist Fire Ritual, was created in 1980 by Michael Saso with a grant from the University of Hawaii. Shown here in 5 parts in order to be able to upload it to Youtube and embed here for viewing. Explanation and minor corrections to follow shortly.
Click to start Part One:

Click to start Part Two

Click to start Part Three

Click to play Part Four

Click to play Part Five

19 thoughts on “Tantric Buddhist Fire Ritual (video)

  1. What a great Master lesson in the form of video! The best (probably the only accurate) English explanation I have seen. Thanks for sharing this inner tradition.


    1. thank you, William, I will soon add much more written English explanation, and also my book on the Goma published in India is now ready for a reprint new edition, cost only non profit price. Will post when this is ready.

  2. Dear Michael Saso, enormous to see the fire ritual and to hear its explication. I will be doing the practice of the goma at Koyasan this coming may and it gives me a good idea of the essence. Are these videos available somewhere? I like to show them in class.
    peter baekelmans cicm

  3. Thank you, Peter, there is a cd avaiable, and a much longer printed account, but I did leave out the kuden, as required, — tho now some 30 years later I am preparing a new edition with the kuden explained too. Gundari’s name and summons are not supposed to be shown, but Ichishima Sensei and others have already done this. I also did not pronounce Acala and Vairocana in the Siddham form, it should be “Achala” and “Vairochana.” Send me an address, I shlal mail you copies.

  4. The work first published with Sata-Pitaka series, #362 is the one I refer to. Ichishima-sensei’s Jihachi do is also available, but his and others are all Anoo ryu, mine is Homan ryu, more into bakhti rather than “siddhi.” “Homa Rites and Mandala Meditation in Tendai Buddhism.” The new 2nd edition will have some o fthe kuden bot not all).

  5. Great video! Please let me know when your reprinted book is available… I would love to purchase one. thanks.

    1. It is almost ready, I do want to include more of the “kuden” that show how the various spirits, protectors, and accompanying images are to be envisioned. The main goal of the ritual meditations, to reach “emptiness” or “no vision” before achieving advaita (adi) with a transcendent “non-being”, and how this is analogous to the final Daoist meditation as well, is not yet adequately explained, nor do most of the monks at Hieizan (or I presume Koya-san) explain it this way to most of their disciples, or foreign scholars. The “burning away” of the images in the agni-hottri fire, or in the belly of the meditator, are analogous.

  6. Dear Michael Saso, Thank you for sharing this. I have your first book, “tantric art and meditation” and have been looking for “homa rites and mandala mediation”
    I was fortunate to have an opportunity to particpate in the Homa at Kinpusenji at Mt Yoshino.
    Subsequently, I vistited Mt Hiei and had a memorable visit there.
    Could you advise how a non-japanese like myself may go about joining the tendai ranks and learning to perform this ritual with a master?
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for your e-mail, I hope to have the “Homa Rites and Mandala meditation” republished soon, and will mail you a copy when done. It is our plan to establish a study center in the Tendai Betsuin, Honolulu, Hawaii, to receive Tokudo initiation and Kancho empowerment in the 4 mikkyo mandala rites, Juhachi-do, Taizo-kai (Lotus mandala), Kongo-kai (Vajra mandala) and Agni-Hottri. It is much wiser to learn it here, or privately, with a mster, than on Hieizan, which is nothing more than 60 days of intense punishment with no real introduction to the Kuden (oral teachings), visualizations, inner placement of spiritual images, and most important of all, the burning away ior eliminating of all images, in the “Churon” 中崙 Madhyamika tradition, that distinguishes Tendai (Bakhti) and Shingon (Siddhi) at the inner contemplative level. Please let me know a snail mail (land address) to mail the books to.

  7. Hello Mr. Saso,

    The correct isn’t ‘Agni Hottri’, but “Agni HOTRA” – अग्निहोत्र
    “Hotri” is the priest who performs the Hotra, and the word is hoTr, with one T, and not TT.
    For someone who knows sanskrit, the video with title “Agni HoTri” is about some priest…

    1. Thank you, Andre’ for this correction, I formerly used “Agni Hotra”, but was scolded by a Sanskrit scholar from India, who saw the whole video and suggested using the Hotri title, due to the fact that the great Ajari master Yamada Eitai (Ozasu-sama id Mt Hiei and head of Tendai Buddhism) was performing it. Agni Hotra is the correct title for the rite. I do hope to make the entire video available for study soon. Also, I am always grateful for corrections of my errors.

  8. Hello Dr. Saso,

    When will the new edition of “Homa Rites and Mandala Meditation” be ready for release/purchase?

    Thank you and best regards

    1. I am not sure if I responded yet, it can be ordered in DVD or CD form, for th cost of shipping only. Please use my yahoo address, it is easier, michael_saso@yahoo.com

  9. Hello,

    Is this available on DVD or as one entire video (say on vimeo.com) as of yet?

    1. yes, it is available on DVD, best use my yahoo e-mnail to order it, michael_saso@yahoo.com, the only cost is the shipping/mailing.

  10. it there a way to watch it without the commentary

  11. yes, samantha,, you should be able to turn off the sound, on the upper part of your computer screen. The DVD has a separate voice over and music sound track..

  12. Dear Dr Michael Saso,
    We have for the first time watched this video, It took me back to my visit to Hawaii Tendai Mission in early 1985 and the first time my wife had seen a Tendai goma, it was a very infomative Video and was easy to follow. It was a really wonderful experience for both us.
    With Gassho, Micke & Ginny Bowden. U.k.

    1. thank you so very much, I hope to be able to teach again with Ara Sensei, as well as here in California, the inner meditations, visualizations, and devotional aspects of the Goma, Lotus, Vajra, and 18 Path ritual meditations can be done inwardly, as well as visibly on a purified “tan” 壇 altar. When done inwardly, our miond, heary, and belly become the altars for the Dharma, Lotius, and Vajra worlds, respectively.

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