Totally enlightened and fully accomplished sages with their beings in the Supreme Spirit gave a proper shape to spiritual excellence and yagya, and instructed men that they would prosper through the observance of yagya. By this prosperity they did not mean that clay houses would change into brick-and-plaster mansions. Neither did they promise that men would begin to make more money. They rather wished men to know that yagya would fulfil their God-inclined aspirations. A logical question that confronts us here is whether yagya leads to immediate attainment of God or only by gradual steps.
Lord Krishn sings in Chapter three of Bhagavad Gita:
“And may you cherish gods by yagya
and may gods foster you,
for this is the means by which
you will finally achieve the ultimate state.”
Cherishing gods by yagya means fostering sacred impulses. And that is also how gods foster mankind. Thus, by mutual augmentation men will ultimately achieve that final bliss after which there is nothing more to achieve. The deeper we enter into yagya (worshiping of God), the more is the heart enriched with divinity. The Supreme Spirit is the only God and the means-the impulses-that provide access to that God are the “divine treasure” because they bring the ultimate God within reach.
Lord Krishn adds further:
“The gods you foster by yagya will shower upon you
without asking all the joys you wish for,
but the man who avails himself of these joys
without having paid for them is truly a thief.”
The divine riches we earn and store by yagya will give us nothing else besides joys related to the revered God. They are the only powers which give. There is no other way to attain to the adored God.
The man who tries to enjoy this state without making an offering of divine riches, the righteous impulses, is doubtlessly a thief who is given nothing. And since he gets nothing, what is there for him to enjoy?
But he pretends all the same that he is perfect, a knower of the essence. Such a braggart is shy of the path of righteousness and so he is truly a thief (albeit an unsuccessful one).
But what do the attainers gain?
Sri Krishn preaches in next verse:
” The wise who partake of what is left over
from yagya are rid of all evil,
but the sinners who cook only for the sustenance of their bodies
partake of nothing but sin.”
They who subsist on the food derived from yagya are absolved of all sins. The moment of achievement in the course of augmenting the divine plenty is also the moment of its completion. When yagya is complete, the leftover is God himself. The same has been said by Sri Krishn in a different way: the one who feeds on what is generated by yagya merges into the Supreme Spirit. The sage who feeds on God’s manna that issues from yagya is liberated from all sins or, in other words, from birth and death.
Sages eat for liberation, but a sinner eats for the sake of the body that is born through the medium of attachment. He feeds on evil. He may have sung hymns, known the way of worship, and also made a little bit of the way, but despite all this there arises in him a cloying desire that he should achieve something for the body and its objects of attachment. And it is quite likely that he will also get what he desires. But then, after this “joy”, he will find himself stationary at the very point from which he had begun his spiritual quest.
What greater loss can there be than this? When the body itself is destructible, how long can its pleasures and joys be with us? So, irrespective of their divine adoration, such men partake only of sin.
They are not destroyed, but they do not progress on the way. That is why Sri Krishn stresses action (worship) undertaken in a self-effacing spirit. He has so far said that the practice of yagya confers the highest glory and that it is a creation of accomplished realized sages.
But why do such sages undertake the shaping and refinement of mankind?
Lord Krishn adds:
“All beings get their life from food, food grows from rain,
rain emerges from yagya, and yagya is an outcome of action.”
“Be it known to you that action arose from the Ved
and the Ved from the indestructible Supreme Spirit,
so that the all-pervasive, imperishable God is ever present in yagya.”
All creatures are born from food. Food is God himself whose breath is life. A man turns to yagya with his mind fixed on that divine manna. Food results from rain: not rain that falls from clouds, but the shower of grace. Yagya which have been undertaken and stored earlier themselves come down as a shower of grace. Today’s worship is given back to us as grace the next day.
That is why yagya is said to generate rain. If an indiscriminate oblation or offering to all of the so-called gods and burning of barley grains and oil seeds could produce rain, why should deserts have remained barren? Thus rain here is the shower of grace that is an outcome of yagya. This yagya, again, arises from action and is indeed brought to completion by action.
Arjun is told to remember that this action is born from the Ved. The Ved is the voice of sages who live in God. The vivid perception, rather than cramming of certain verses, of the unmanifest essence is named Ved. The Ved is born from the imperishable God. The truths of the Ved have been proclaimed by great souls, but, since they have become one with God, the imperishable God himself speaks through them.
It is for this that the Ved is said to be of divine origin. The Ved came from God. And the sages, being one with Him, are only instruments. It is he whose spokesmen they are. God manifests himself to them when they have restrained the desires of their mind by yagya. The omnipresent, ultimate, and imperishable God is, therefore, always present in yagya. So yagya is the only way to attain to him. This is what Sri Krishn tells Arjun.
Lord Krishn adds further:
“The man in this world, O Parth,
who loves sensual pleasure and lead an impious life,
and does not conduct himself in accordance with
the thus prescribed cycle of Self-realization,
leads but a futile life.”
The pleasure-loving, sinful man who, despite his birth in human form, does not conduct himself in keeping with the means of the ordained action or, to put it differently, does not follow the way of attaining to the state of immortality through fostering gods and so also himself by tending the divine riches of his nature, lives but in vain.
Yagya is an action in which there is no comfort for the senses. The injunction demands participation in the act with complete subjugation of the senses. Sinful are they who yearn for sensual comforts.
And now, whether we have to practice yagya forever, or will there also be an end to it?
Yogeshwar Sri Krishn speaks about it:
“But there remains nothing more to do
for the man who rejoices in his Self,
finds contentment in his Self,
and feels adequate in his Self.”
The man who is utterly devoted to his embodied Soul, finds satisfaction in him and feels that he needs nothing more besides him-has nothing more left to do. After all, the Self was the goal.
Once the unmanifest, immortal, indestructible essence of the Soul has been realized, there is nothing beyond to seek. A man such as this needs neither action nor worship. Soul and God-Self and the Supreme Spirit-are synonymous.
~ Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans ~
~ mrityunjayanand ~
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Nature and form of Yagya can be seen here: