nayam loko ‘sty ayajnasya
kuto ‘nyah kuru-sattama
Even this world is not for those who do no sacrifice. How could there be other world for them?
That person who does not perform yagna or offerings of worship to propitiate the Supreme Lord and who does not perform the regular and occasional duties as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures according to varnasrama or their rank and station in life, such a person derives absolutely no benefit for receiving a human existence in this world. They have wasted a very precious opportunity as human birth is very difficult to receive and humans are the only species on the Earth with freewill and the power to reflect on the Supreme. Moksha is the true goal of all human endeavours and real purpose of human existence. The divine discourse of the Bhagavad-Gita is all about moksha which is the greatest good eternally for all humanity.
A man (the self), is eternal. It is because of his attachment to the perishable, that he believes that he dies. When he, having utilized his so-called possessions, for the welfare of the world, gets detached from them, he realizes the fact, that he is eternal. When action is performed as duty i.e., for the welfare of others without any selfish motive, it becomes a sacrifice (yajna). A selfish member, who does not perform his duty, is not liked even by members of one’s family. Non-performance of duty causes quarrels, strife and annoyance in the family. He, who wants to lead a peaceful life in the family, should perform his duty by rendering service to other members of the family. By doing so, he becomes a source of inspiration for others and thus unity and peace prevail, in the family and in the world, here as well as hereafter. On the other hand, he who does not perform his duty scrupulously does not lead a happy life, here as well as hereafter.
evam bahu-vidha yajna
vitata brahmano mukhe
karma-jan viddhi tan sarvan
evam jnatva vimoksyase
All these different types of sacrifice are approved by the Vedas, and all of them are born of different types of work. Knowing them as such, you will become liberated.
Lord Krishna has described the 12 different performances of yagna or offerings of worship in propitiation to the Supreme Lord that are the means of attaining soul realisation. It should be clearly understood that all yagnas manifest from activity of the mind, the speech or the body and involve the performance of regular daily duties and occasional special duties. Understanding this wisdom and practically applying this knowledge one shall by their own efforts dissolve all their sins and become free from bondage of the cycle of birth and death.
Arjuna wants to attain salvation, but he wants to renounce his duty of fighting, by regarding it, as a sin. Therefore, the Lord by using the expression ‘Karmajanviddhi’, explains to him, that whatever spiritual practice he will do by renouncing war, will also be, the performance of action. The Lord declares that it is not action, but total renunciation of affinity for actions, which leads to salvation. Therefore, he should perform his duty of fighting, remaining detached from actions, in order to attain salvation, because it is not actions but it is attachment to them, which binds him.
sreyan dravya-mayad yajnaj
sarvam karmakhilam partha
Knowledge, as a sacrifice (yajna) is superior to any material sacrifice, O Arjuna. All actions and objects in their entirety culminate in knowledge (jnana).
Karma or actions has two aspects. The action of using the paraphernalia and ingredients to perform is one aspect and the spiritual intelligence to perform it properly is the second aspect. The second aspect of spiritual knowledge is superior to the first aspect consisting of material ingredients. All activities culminate in wisdom. Any action performed without directed intelligence is meaningless.
The mind is tainted by three kinds of defects – sins, volatility of mind, and ignorance. When a seeker performs actions, for the welfare of others without any selfish motive, his first two defects i.e., sins and volatility of mind, come to an end. In order to get rid of the third defect, having renounced actions, he goes to his teacher, so that he may impart knowledge. At that time, he does not aim at actions and material objects, but his aim is God-realization. This is known, as culmination of all actions and material objects, in knowledge i.e., God-realization through the attainment of true knowledge.
In the scriptures, there are eight inward spiritual means to attain knowledge. These are (1) Discrimination. (2) Dispassion. (3) Six traits (Quietness, self-control, piety, indifference, endurance and composure). (4) Desire to attain salvation. (5) Listening to
Vedanta texts. (6) Cognition. (7) Constant and deep meditation. (8) Self-realization.
Discrimination (viveka), consists in distinguishing, the real from the unreal. Renunciation of the unreal or having disinclination for the world is called dispassion (vairagya), Deviation of the mind from the sense object is quietness (sama), Control over the senses is ‘dama’. Reverence for God and the scriptures is called ‘piety’ (Sraddha). Total resignation from the world, is ‘Uparati’. Forbearance in the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold is endurance (Titiksa), Freedom from doubt is composure (Samadhana). The desire for salvation, is called ‘Mumuksuta, When desire for salvation, is aroused, a seeker having renounced material objects and actions, goes to a learned God realized teacher. He hears the Vedanta texts, which remove his doubts, which is known as hearing (sravana). Then, he thinks of the reality, about God which is known cognition (Manana). If he holds that the world is real and God does not exist- this is an opposite conception. Removal of this contrary conception is called constant and profound meditation (Nididhyasana). When having renounced affinity for all material objects, one gets established in the self, it is called self-realization (tattvam padartha samsodhana).”
In fact, all these spiritual disciplines are practised, in order to renounce the affinity for the unreal. That which is renounced, is not for one’s own self, but the result of renunciation (God realization), is for one’s own self.
tad viddhi pranipatena
upadeksyanti te jnanam
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.
Lord Krishna is revealing how to attain spiritual knowledge. The seeker should go to a teacher, with profound humility and perfect devotion, and through prostration surrender himself, his body mind and possessions etc., to him. The student must have an intellectual attitude of surrender and meekness, respect and obedience towards the Teacher. He should keep his inquisitiveness always, awake. The seeker must ask the teacher with a pure heart about the purpose of life, the true nature of a living being and how to revive one’s relationship with the Supreme Being? By these questions and by being pleased by one’s sincere service such a self-realised being will guide and instruct one on matters related to the ultimate truth. The Guru will remove all doubts about: Who am I? Why was I born? What is my purpose in life?
yaj jnatva na punar moham
evam yasyasi pandava
yena bhutany asesani
draksyasy atmany atho mayi
Knowing which, Arjuna, you will never lapse back into delusion again and by that knowledge you will see all beings without exception in yourself and also in Me.
Lord Krishna is clarifying to Arjuna that by this spiritual knowledge he will no longer be deluded by the illusion of relatives, friends and preceptors dying and if they are dead he would not even want to continue living; because with spiritual knowledge he will realise his soul and the soul in all beings is identical and part of the param atma.
A seeker, having gained knowledge of the self, by hearing, cognition constant and deep meditation etc., or from the Guru, sees all beings in the self-this is the realization of ‘Tvam’ (self-realization). Then he sees all beings and the self in God-this is realization of ‘Tat’ (God-realization). Thus, he realizes the identity of the self with God, and, then nothing remains for him, except God.