Krishna extends the discussion on Yajna, the Yajna spirit and attitude, to show how it gives rise to greater fulfillment and benevolence in preserving and enriching both individual and collective life on earth. In doing so, he links yajna with Prajapati, the Creator, calling it His command for mankind. “Mankind was created together with Yajna,” says Krishna. This means men and women do not have any truthful right to exist without adopting and pursuing Yajna. Why is it so? Then again, why should Krishna bring in so much religiousness in his otherwise spiritual and philosophical discussion?
Verses 3.10 to 3.16 certainly give rise to such a question. At the same time the precepts and relevances brought home through them make the seeker think more deeply about the harmony between individual life and universal life. Mankind is compelled not to fall a victim to selfishness and greed which often give rise to the flair for domination. When such an unchecked note is allowed to flourish, the harm and destruction it brings about can be colossal.
There is an amazing difference between the ancient and the present man. The way human mind and intelligence have worked, the discoveries and inventions that have come to be as a result, are too obvious. In the process, man has interfered too much with the environment. The extent of water and air pollution man’s life-style has breathed into the surroundings stands to threaten the very life on the planet. What is the reason for such adverse ‘growth’? It is sheer lack of proper insight into life and the inseparable connections it has with the rest of creation. The call for Yajna, though at first seemingly religious, is an effective safeguard against all such slips and disharmonious developments.
Spiritual thinking and philosophical wisdom have in this land first emerged as a natural climax and culmination of religious life. Vedas bear evidence to this unnegatable fact. Vedic life was first given to the pious utterance of eulogistic hymns addressed to different celestial powers. But, before long it had its gradual transition to the Upanishadic thoughts and findings, in which spiritual search, philosophical reasoning and subjective introspection ranked supreme.
The religious stronghold in the minds of our people cannot be ignored or set aside. But the religious thinking and life has always stood interwoven with spiritual truths and findings. This is unique to our land. Thus the philosophical pronouncements of Krishna are always coupled with religious references and linkages. This is, however, no interception or disharmony. In fact, the discussions become more practical and fruitful to understand and practice, especially for the great multitudes of our people
Creating mankind with the scope and power of Yajna, Prajapati, the Creator, pronounced: “By this you grow and multiply. May the Yajna awareness act as a wish-yielding cow for you.”
Mankind will remain prosperous, useful to the earth and the world, and will also fulfil themselves and others, only as long as they reflect and pursue the Yajna spirit and purpose. The institution of marriage, as evolved in this country, has a lot to offer in the matter of knowledge and perception. The one great purpose of marriages, holds our tradition, is vamsa-vrddhi, preservation and progress of the lineage. This certainly means that man must have the timely concern and awareness about when and what for he should marry and what should follow the married life. If the country or the world requires more population, he can lend himself to parent more children. If the opposite is the situation around, then with discernment he must permit only a reduced population. Thus, to contribute more children or less is within the discretion of man.
Previously the families here were quite big and large in terms of the number of children. But child mortality, deaths from ill-health, disease and epidemics, destruction due to inter-kingdom wars, used to be quite common. Now in the changed context, these are almost extinct, or the minimum. Naturally, the present mankind should have the present updated view of having lesser children and population so that the earth will not be overloaded, meaning that its resources will not be overstrained or exhausted. Anena prasavishyadhvam: When Krishna says this, he means that mankind should always remain an ornament to the earth, earthly lives and Nature. The basic ignorance in this regard should be removed and a proper measure of enlightenment and caution should always adorn mankind’s thoughts, feelings and wishes.
Then only generation after generation will take their place to remain viable, healthy, prosperous, and contributory to the world.
The next pronouncement of Krishna should make any one think deeply about spiritual nature and potential of man. Although all the other forms of life have the same constituents as the human has, namely the material elemental body and the supra- material spiritual consciousness to animate and activate it, only in man the higher evolutes, namely the mind and intelligence, have attained newer dimensions. The depth and magnitude of the mind and intelligence are truly inestimable. Perhaps at no time will man be able to know fully how much is the power and possibility of his mind and intelligence.
By employing his immensely potent mind and buddhi, man can, says Krishna, draw to himself practically any favour or help to redress his grievance or fulfil his rightful wishes. He has to be non-possessive in doing so, and greed and domination should be scrupulously avoided.
How much can the right employment of mind and buddhi bring about fulfilment in life is best illustrated by the life of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya. The instance also shows how the pursuit of Yajna, in this case with a special focus to generate its spiritual power and relevance, can fill the gaps and needs of the usual life and by that it can also bring timely benediction to the society around.
Dasaratha first married Kausalya, from whom he had a daughter, whom he gave in adoption to Lomapada. But Kausalya did not bear any further child. The King married Sumitra next, and then again Kaikeyi. But, the plight of sonlessness did not change. None gave birth to any child. The throne of Ayodhya stood almost deserted. The King became anxious, burdened with the thought of Ayodhya’s welfare. To give a heir to the throne was the supreme task of the King. When the feelings become strong then the spiritual powers and laws begin to work in strange succession. He decided to perform the great Aswamedha Yaga, by which he proposed to set in motion the spiritual process which, according to tradition and reason, had the potential to help man in distress.
Sage Vasishtha was apprised of the move. Complimenting the King for his timely decision, the Sage advised him on how to go about the huge Yajna.
Aswamedha Yaga was performed in all zeal and piety. By its special graceful notes, all the three queens became pregnant and the King got four sons. The sons grew with the best of brotherhood and fondness that the world knows of. How did this happen ? At the root of the whole material creation is the play and process of the spiritual reality, to which at least all the visible powers of the world rightly belong.
In the land of Kerala, it is an oft quoted instance. It was the time of scholarliness, which almost worked as an infatuation. A Tamilnadu Pandit, Uddanda Sastri by name, came to Kerala and challenging all the Pandits defeated them outright. None could combat him in Vedantic discussion and debate. Kerala Pandits could not take the humiliation. They did not want to relent and give up hope. Looking for a Brahmin woman having the characteristics to ensure possible learning skills and potentials, they masterminded a course of austerity and spiritual disciplines, sitting around her and making her the incumbent of the spiritual grace. Selected chants and invocations were made. Havans were performed. The expectant woman took her part in all this by partaking of the Yajna prasada every day. Finally a son was born. He was the famous Kakkassery Bhattathiri of distinction.
He grew up revealing exceptional notes of intelligence right from very early age. It is said that in his childhood, he could identify the crows that used to take the ball of rice offered traditionally in the house every day before the housemembers took food. This was, by all standards, a rare trait. That, however, proved to be a harbinger of Kakkassery’s precociousness. The boy had hardly grown up to be an adult when the same Uddanda Sastri was held by him in a direct debate arranged by the elderly folk. And in a matter of minutes, the proud scholar was defeated by the young boy in the presence of those very scholars whom he had defeated miserably a few years back.
The instance, which is historic, clearly testifies to the fact and possibility of man’s own inner spiritual potential, to harness and manifest which, he himself has designed the specific means. Yajna, viewed in any manner, implies the spiritual relationship of man with the non-spiritual substances and laws in the world surrounding him. The behaviour of one and all of these non-spiritual contents ultimately owes itself to the one fundamental and wholesome spiritual cause. The effects can be manipulated by this supreme cause.
Thus, Krishna’s statement that the spiritual pursuit called Yajna has the potential to be a Kamadhenu for man, is absolutely true. But this only covers the power of benevolence Yajna holds for man, the individual, his life on earth. Does Yajna have any wider relevance and application ? Here too Krishna holds that when rightly developed and pursued, mankind’s collective Yajna assumes far greater dimensions. It can help and determine the overall welfare of this earth. It is here that the linkage between Yajna and rainfall is brought in. Rainfall always carries with it an unpredictable note, which often victimizes man badly. One wonders as to why should such a fate occur at all.
Evaporation of water takes place regularly and the formation of clouds is also a regular process. Why should the shedding by clouds be so irregular - inundating or scanty ? At times, defying all calculations, it is damagingly delayed too. Is this a situation wherein the hearts and minds of mankind can bring about any salutary change ? Will the clouds respond to man’s spiritual power and resignation ?
The question is an open one, in which the abstruse connection between material existence and its spiritual foundation is involved. It has to be admitted that objective scientific investigations cannot by their very nature penetrate into the delicate horizon where materiality obviously steps into something beyond and beneath. And it is this inaccessible but definite linkage that Bhagavad Gita and such other discussions take up, expose and explain. Their mission is primarily and ultimately this.
As long as the rational human has to believe in and accept the invisible internal mind, he has also to heed faithfully its timely deeper pulsations and exhortations. If the humans reflect and display in their behaviour an abundance of their Yajna virtue and obligations which Prajapati has gifted them with, the benign outcome will surely have its destined effect on the clouds hovering above. In this broader and higher aspect, Yajna has the power not alone to fulfil the individual’s needs and wishes, but also to contribute liberally and tangibly to the preservation and welfare of the earthly life as a whole.
Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, who vouchsafes the truthfulness of his narration has something very relevant to say in this matter. Dandakaranya, he says, was a huge desert. When Sage Agastya stepped there for the first time, he was immensely afflicted by the sight. Moved at heart, he decided to remain there and plunge into his fond austerities. The spiritual vibrations found their response in the sky above. clouds collected all around and there followed continuous downpour. The whole region became lush green with plants and trees.
How could this be, one should wonder. Every form of life is a combination of the sentient inward spirit and the insentient outward matter. The connection or bond between the two is inextricable though ineffable. Of them, it is the sentient spirit that acts on the insentient counterpart, to make it vibrant and creative. The interaction normally takes place within repetitive specific parameters. But there can be occasions when a greater extent of interaction transpires. Dandakaranya’s plight responding to Agastya Maharshi’s kind austerities is only a rare but exemplary one. By citing it, Valmiki’s aim is to enlighten his readers and exhort them to seek the subtle higher redress when the gross lower ones fail or prove inadequate.
So Krishna’s linkage of the sublimity of Yajna with the behaviour of clouds has to be valued for what it distinctly reveals. Any extent of thought and reflection on this account will not be an excess.
(From the Series Essential Concepts In Bhagavad Gita)
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