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August 29, 1999   VNN4611  Comment on this storyNext StoriesAbout the AuthorNext StoriesOther Stories by this Author

Sri Gita: 'The Cakra Of Life'


EDITORIAL, Aug 29 (VNN) — (from Sanga" wfd@efn.org)

"The bounty of life is not a product of chance. It is a result of detached action. Getting is a result of giving; and moreover, giving is getting."

Q u e s t i o n: What should one do if he or she cannot take directly to bhakti yoga, or even the selfless work of karma yoga?

A n s w e r: Krishna describes this in the third chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

This section follows below. However, there should be no difficulty in taking directly to bhakti. The qualification to do so is faith in its efficacy. Take shelter of a pure Vaisnava and he or she will guide you.

'Bhagavad Gita; Its Feeling and Philosophy' by Swami B.V. Tripurari, Chapter 3, verses 10-16

3:10. "Having created humanity along with sacrifice, the progenitor (Brahma) said at the beginning of creation, 'By this (sacrifice) you shall attain all things; may such sacrifice be your wish-fulfilling cow of plenty."

In this section Krishna speaks about the duty of those who remain attached to the fruits of their work, as well as about the principle of sacrifice and its efficacy. Those who cannot live a life of karma yoga should regularly perform religious sacrifices in conjunction with important events such as marriage, child birth, and so on. In this way, their desires will be fulfilled by the cosmic arrangement, and they will have acknowledged their dependence on God and regulated their senses accordingly.

Here Krishna speaks of the proper way to approach the Vedic rituals, the abuse of which he condemned earlier when first speaking to Arjuna of the Vedas and their rituals. Those who are not qualified to practice karma yoga must begin to regulate their senses in their pursuit of material enjoyment through acknowledgment of the cosmic order via acts of sacrifice. Indeed, they must embrace sacrifice itself as the way of progressive life and acknowledge the various manifestations of the divine principle in nature.

3:11. "By sacrifice you will satisfy the gods, who in turn will satisfy you. By this mutual arrangement, you shall attain the ultimate good."

The gods include the deities that preside over the senses. For each of our sensual functions there is a corresponding aspect of nature that the senses' functions are dependent on. The personification of these aspects of nature are the gods under discussion. They represent the conscious principle behind all the functions of nature. For example, our eyes are not independent in their capacity to afford us vision. They are dependent on light, the source of which is the sun. In the act of seeing, we are dependent on the sun.

The principle of sacrifice mentioned in this verse refers to acknowledgment of our dependence on the presiding deities. This act of acknowledgment helps people realize that they are not independent in life, but part of an interdependent system in which humanity and nature flourish in the culture of God-consciousness. This gradual culture leads to the ultimate good for all concerned.

3:12. "The gods, nourished by sacrifice will certainly bestow the fulfillment of your desires. However, one who enjoys the gods' natural gifts without acknowledging the gods themselves is a thief."

False proprietorship is the basic misconception our material lives are based on. If we do not acknowledge our indebtedness to others, we are criminal. The debt incurred from enjoying the bounty of nature must be acknowledged and repaid. This is the principle of sacrifice. In our everyday modern experience we must acknowledge the municipality for our supply of heat, light, water, and so on. If we do not do so by paying our monthly bills, we break the law. Similarly, there is a cosmic order that must be acknowledged in human society.

3:13. The saintly, who even while eating perform sacrifice by offering food in sacrifice and then eating the remnants, are released from all evils. The wicked, who cook only for themselves, eat only their own impurity.

Here Krsna cites the common act of eating as an example of how far reaching the principle of sacrifice is for human society. The very act of eating should be one of sacrifice. Enjoyment is truly only that which is the fruit of sacrifice.

The act of 'saying grace' before one's meal is the heart of Krishna's instruction in this verse. In the strict Vedic sense this verse refers to the means by which the householder is freed from evil acts performed inadvertently. Five types of sacrifice are enjoined for the householder that absolve him from evils committed through five everyday household accessories: the pestle, grinder, oven, water pot, and broom. It is said that on account of these five items the householder does not attain heaven, for their use in household life causes harm to other living beings (insects, for example). Thus by performing the five sacrifices one counteracts the sins inadvertently committed by using the five items essential to the householder's livelihood. Central to these sacrifices is the offering of food to the gods in the Vaisvadeva yajna.

Taking this verse beyond the scope of the Vedic law to the heart of the principle of sacrifice, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments that the devotees, who are truly saintly people, are freed from all sins merely by the act of offering all of their food to Krishna and partaking of the remnants.

Krishna next further explains the system that calls for sacrifice on the part of humanity, thereby connecting humanity with divinity.

3:14. "Humanity subsists on food, and food is a product of rain. Rain in turn is a product of sacrifice, and sacrifice is born of prescribed duties and ritual."

3:15. "Ritual and prescribed duties originate from the sacred literature (Vedas), and the sacred literature arises from the imperishable Absolute.

Therefore, the all-pervading Absolute is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice."

In verses fifteen and sixteen Krishna says that it is sacrifice that makes the world go 'round. While we often hear that love keeps the world turning on its axis, we do not stop to think that love arises out of sacrifice.

Without such introspection one often mistakes selfishness for love, the result of which is that one goes around only in confusion as to what the working of the world is really all about.

When food is eaten and transformed into blood and blood into semen, the possibility of the birth of the bodies of living beings occurs. Food is dependent on rain. All of this is understandable to modern society. The idea that rain is produced through sacrifice is not apparent. Otherwise, it is common knowledge that sacrifice rains prosperity on its performer. It should be clear that sacrifice arises from enjoined action, and this action being enjoined in the scripture originates therein. Scripture (the Veda) is an expression the Absolute, and is that by which the Absolute can be known.

It has no human origin and it is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.

3:16. "My dear Partha, one who in human life does not acknowledge this cycle, lives irresponsibly for sense pleasure and thus in vain."

This section beginning with verse ten and ending with this verse is not merely a mandate for ritualistic offerings to the gods, a magical technique of bargaining with supernatural powers for one's maintenance. Those who see it as such miss the deeper implications of Krishna's words. Krishna is really advocating sacrifice not as a means but as the end itself, for he has said that life begins with sacrifice and is meant for further sacrifice. The bounty of life is not a product of chance. It is a result of detached action. Getting is a result of giving; and moreover, giving is getting. Life really consists of effectively and actively surrendering one's own power and resources to a supernatural and personal source.

He who does not follow this system described here as a cycle or wheel (cakra) of life would be better off dead, for he would then have the opportunity to do so in the next life. Although he enjoys through the senses and is thus obliged to participate in religious sacrificial rites, he does not do so. His life is most certainly spent in vain.

'Bhagavad Gita; Its Feeling and Philosophy' by Swami B.V. Tripurari is scheduled for release in Fall, 2000.

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