रथमानय मे शीघ्रं गच्छाम्यद्यैव मा चिरम्। वसिष्ठस्त्वग्रतो यातु सदारः सहितोऽग्निभिः॥

In this shloka from Adhyatma Ramayanam (Bala Kandam, 6th Sarga, 37th shloka), Raja Dasharatha tells his ministers, “Bring forth my chariot quickly, I will go today itself. [We will take along] Guru Vashishtha, our women, and the sacrificial fires”. On hearing the invitation from Raja Janaka bearing the news of Rama’s swayamvaram and his feats, Dasharatha was elated, and immediately leaves for Mithila.

This shloka emphasises the pre-eminent position of the preceptor, as well as the sacrificial fires of the Grihasthāshrama. No travel was even made without these fires! It was common practice, till a few decades ago, to carefully preserve the fires from vivāha till the end! See also http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part19/chap6.htm, where MahaPeriyava emphasises the importance of various yajnas and the different sacrificial fires.

The shloka underlines the importance of one’s nityakarmas — even when embarking on a long journey, from Ayodhya to Mithila, the king carefully takes his sacrificial fires, for offering oblations till his return to Ayodhya! Nowadays, it has unfortunately fallen out of practice; it is rare to see people offering Sandhya arghyams, leave alone Aupasana/Agnihotram!

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