Home - Yajna (Sacrifice): The Many Meanings and Practical Applications in the Bhagavad Gita

Yajna (Sacrifice): The Many Meanings and Practical Applications in the Bhagavad Gita

Yajna - fire sacrifice

Q: May I ask for your explanation of the true sense of yajna [sacrifice] and Adiyajna [Primal Sacrifice] as used by Lord Krishna, and is it found in the sacred teachings of The Christ?

Although we naturally equate yajna with the fire sacrifice, agnihotra, yajna basically means any kind of offering.

Those who publish and distribute books of spiritual and scriptural knowledge are said to be engaging in Jnana Yajna. It is very common to call akhanda kirtan (especially of the Mahamantra) Nama Yajna.

As in virtually all spiritual matters, the supreme authority is the Bhagavad Gita. There we find the subject explained thoroughly and perfectly. No commentary is needed because Sri Veda Vyasa has expressed everything so clearly.

1. “The world is bound by the actions not done for sake of sacrifice. Hence for sacrifice you should act without attachment. In the beginning along with mankind Prajapati created sacrifice and said: ‘By this shall you increase: this shall be the granter of desires. May you foster the gods by this, and may the gods then foster you.

Then, each the others fostering, you shall attain the highest welfare. The gods, fostered by sacrifice, will give you desired enjoyments. But he who enjoys the gods’ gifts without offering to them is a thief.’ The good who eat the sacrificial remains are freed from all evils. The wicked eat their own evil who cook food only for themselves.

From food all beings are produced, and from rain all food is produced. From sacrifice there comes down rain. From action is born sacrifice. Understand that action arises from Brahma, Brahma arises from the Imperishable. Hence the all-pervading Brahma is eternally established in sacrifice” (Bhagavad Gita 3:9-15).

2. “The karma of one who is free from attachment, whose thought is established in knowledge, undertaking action for sacrifice, is wholly dissolved.

Brahman is the offering, Brahman is the oblation poured out by Brahman into the fire of Brahman. Brahman is to be attained by him who always sees Brahman in action.

Some yogis offer sacrifice to the gods alone, while others offer the Self as sacrifice unto the Self into the fire that is Brahman. Others offer senses such as hearing into the fires of restraint; others, sound; and others objects of the senses into the fire of the senses. Some offer all the actions of the senses and the functions of the life force (prana) into the fire of the yoga of self-restraint, which is enkindled by knowledge.

Those whose sacrifices take the form of yoga offer material possessions and tapasya as sacrifices; while ascetics with stringent vows offer self-analysis and knowledge as sacrifice. Some offer inhalation into exhalation, and exhalation into inhalation, restraining the paths of inhalation and exhalation, intent upon control of the breath (pranayama). Others who have restricted their food offer the pranas into the pranas. All these are knowers of sacrifice whose wrongdoings have been annihilated through sacrifice.

Eating the amrita of the sacrificial remains, they go to the Eternal Brahman. Even this world is not for the non-sacrificing–how then the other worlds? Sacrifices of many kinds are spread out before the face of Brahman. Know them all to be born from action. Knowing thus, you shall be liberated. Better than the sacrifice of material things is knowledge-sacrifice. All action without exception is fully contained in knowledge” (4:23-33).

3. “And others, sacrificing by the sacrifice of knowledge, worship me as One and Manifold, variously manifested, omniscient” (Bhagavad Gita 9:15). “He who will study this dharmic dialogue of ours, by him will I have been worshipped through the sacrifice of knowledge; such is my conviction” (Bhagavad Gita 18:70).

4. Sri Krishna also speaks of “the tapasyas offered as sacrifice” (Bhagavad Gita 5:29).

5. “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give, whatever tapasya you practice, do that as an offering to me. Thus shall you be freed from the bonds of actions producing both good and evil fruits. Steadfast in the yoga of renunciation and totally liberated, you shall come to me” (Bhagavad Gita 9:27-28).

6. Sri Krishna then discusses sacrifice as characterized by the three gunas: “Sacrifice which is offered, observing the scriptures, by those who do not desire the fruits, concentrating the mind only on the thought: ‘This is to be offered;’ that is sattwic. But sacrifice which is offered with a view for the fruit and for the purpose of ostentation, know that to be rajasic. Sacrifice devoid of faith, disregarding the scriptures, with no food offered, without mantras, without gift or fee is declared to be tamasic” (Bhagavad Gita 17:11-13).

Regarding the Adiyajna, Sri Krishna, speaking as Ishwara, says: “I myself am the Primal Sacrifice” (Bhagavad Gita 8:4). At the beginning of each creation cycle (kalpa) the unchangeable and unchanging Brahman yet expands or projects Itself as both the material creation, Prakriti, and Ishwara, the Divine Guiding Consciousness within creation. Thus Brahman “sacrifices” Itself by embodying Itself within material existence and guiding that material existence until the time of its dissolution when all resolves back into the original state of Parabrahman. God (Ishwara, Bhagavan) is the Adiyajna.

Jesus and Yajna

Since Jesus the Christ spent most of his life in India before returning to Israel to teach Sanatana Dharma, he would have taught what he would have learned from the Gita. The so-called Gospels were edited and filtered through the minds of the editors and were widely distributed long after Jesus was on the earth. Except for fragments, the earliest Gospel texts are from about three hundred years after his lifetime. Therefore they are not reliable and certainly contain many things that he did not teach.

That is why anyone who wants to know the teaching of Jesus must study the scriptures of India, especially the Gita and Upanishads. Just as Jesus sought and adopted the wisdom of the Indian rishis, so should they, for he was a Sanatana Dharmi. [see The Christ of India.]

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