Bhagavad Gita- Chapter 3 (Part 1) Karma Yogah- Yoga of Action


sahayajnaah prajaah srishtwaa  purovaacha prajaapatih
    anena prasavishyadhwam  esha vo'stvishtakaamadhuk  // 3.10 //

The  creator (Prajapati ), having in the beginning created mankind together with  Yajna, said ‘by this you multiply’; this shall be the milch cow of your  desires'.

When  the Universe was created by the Creator - Prajapati - he simultaneously created  Yajna also, the spirit of self-dedicated activities which is seen everywhere,  e.g. shining of the sun and the moon, flowing of rivers, tolerance of the Earth  etc.,  All these activities show the  spirit of sacrifice without any selfish motives. The second part of the verse  means that no achievement is impossible for man if he knows how to act in the  spirit of self-effacement and self-sacrifice with the required amount of  non-attachment.


devaan bhaavayataanena te devaa  bhaavayantu vah
    parasparam bhaavayantah shreyah param  avaapsyatha  // 3.11 //

Cherish  the Devas with this and may those Devas cherish you, thus cherishing one  another you shall gain the highest good.

ishtaan bhogaan hi vo devaa  daasyante yajnabhaavitaah
    tair dattaan apradaayaibhyo  yo bhungkte stena eva sah  // 3.12 //

Devas, cherished by the  sacrifice, will give you the desired objects.   Indeed, he who enjoys objects given by the Devas without offering in  return to them is verily a thief.

By performing actions as Yajna, as dedication to the Self, recognize and express your sense of  appreciation and gratitude to all the Devas, the presiding functionaries of  natural laws such as wind, fire etc.

By worshipping the various Devas in a spirit  of sacrifice, by being grateful to all the presiding deities of the unchanging  laws of nature, you recognize the Self behind all the Devas, behind all the laws of nature and natural phenomenon  in this creation. Thus, through the Yajnam- by propitiating the Devas, you  propitiate the Self itself.

In any sacrifice or ceremonial ritual we  propitiate the Devas by offering oblations to them. It is simply a way of  expressing our deep sense of appreciation and gratitude to them for the parts  that they play in this creation. Whether one is grateful or not, the sun rises,  the rain rains and the wind blows. But by recognizing their functions in this  creation, and by expressing one's deep appreciation and gratitude to them, one  recognizes the true nature of one's own function in this creation, one becomes  an active participant in this creation, and one progressively identifies  oneself with the creation and the creator - The Self, Brahman.

When you express your appreciation and  gratitude to the Devas, what do they do to you? Having been properly  propitiated, the Devas will protect you; nourish you by their functions. Thus,  may all the laws of nature - by their own natural functions, uplift you by  being an asset to you in your endeavors for gaining your overriding goal of  life, namely liberation.

By doing every work as a work of sacrifice totally dedicated to the Self, everything in  this creation becomes an asset to you for your own upliftment in life, for your  own true progress in life, for a life of non-binding, everlasting prosperity,  success and happiness, leading ultimately to Shreyas, total Fulfillment  in life. Therefore, mutually interacting with each other, may you reap the  supreme good, may you gain moksha.

What about the person who never says a  prayer, who has no sense of gratitude, but only wants to enjoy whatever he, can  get out of this world? The one who enjoys all the blessings of daily life  without even a sincere expression of gratitude to the Self (Devas) who made all such enjoyments possible, is indeed  a thief.

Thus in the Vedic view, every human being is  meant for action as a participant in this creation. Every one's destination is  the same, namely shreyas, moksha. One reaches this destination by doing  one's Karma with the attitude  of Karma Yoga - as an act of  sacrifice dedicated to the Self.

In this relative world man and Devas are  interdependent. They are nourished by one another. Men offer oblations to the  gods; gods in return ensure men’s welfare by sending rain and other gifts. Thus  a chain of mutual obligation binds together all created beings.


yajnashishtaashinah santo muchyante  sarva kilbishaih
    bhunjate te twagham paapaa  ye pachantyaatma kaaranaat  // 3.13 //

The  righteous who eat the remnants of the sacrifice are freed from all sins; but  those sinful ones who cook food only for their own sake, verily eat sin.

Sins  of the past are the cause for the present pains and the present sins are the  cause for future sorrows. All the causes for the sorrows in social life can be  removed if the members of the community find happiness in enjoying the results  of their efforts performed in true Yajna spirit.  As a contrast to this it is pointed out that  those who cook for themselves only meaning those who perform actions only with  selfish motives are eating nothing but sin. By doing the work in yajna spirit,  the selfish life is transformed into an unselfish one and the individual  becomes aware of the interdependence of all beings.


annaad bhavanti bhootani  parjanyaad anna sambhavah
    yajnaad bhavati parjanyo  yajnah karma samudbhavah  // 3.14 //

 From food all creatures are born; from rain  food is produced; from sacrifice comes rain; sacrifice is born of action. 

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi   brahmaakshara samudbhavam
    tasmaat sarvagatam brahma  nityam yajne pratishthitam  // 3.15 //

Know  that action arises from the Vedas, and the Vedas from the Imperishable. Therefore,  the all pervading Vedas ever rest in sacrifice.

The  cosmic wheel of co-operative action is painted here. The living creatures are  born out of food and nourished by food.   The mineral wealth of the world becomes assimilable food because of the  action of the rain upon it. Rain is the cause for the conversion of mineral raw  material into nutritive food in life.   Similarly, in all fields of activity profit can be gathered only when  the field comes under conditions favorable for it to produce those  profits.  Self-dedicated activity - Yajna  - when performed in any field of endeavor will create conditions-rains- for the  field to yield profit - Annam- enjoyable by the society.

This  wheel of action is connected with and includes the Supreme.  The principle of right action has come out of  the Creator himself who is none other than the Imperishable Supreme Reality  expressed through the Vedas. Therefore, the all pervading Supreme is ever  centered in all efforts undertaken with an honest spirit of self-dedication for  the common good.  He who lives in unison  with this wheel of action is contributing to the harmony of life.

 evam pravartitam chakram naanuvartayateeha yah
    aghaayur indriyaaraamo  mogham paartha sa jeevati  // 3.16 //

He  who does not follow the wheel thus set-in motion, but takes delight in the  senses, he lives in vain, O Arjuna.

Every  member of the Universe follows the principle of Yajna and contributes to the  smooth running of the Universal Wheel of Action. But among all the living  creatures only man has been endowed with the option of freedom of action - to  contribute to the harmonious working of the cosmic mechanism or strike a  discordant note. 

While  a majority of the people live abiding in the Law of Harmony, there are some who  do not believe in this Eternal Law and revolt against it. During such dark  periods nobody works with the spirit of Yajna without which no favorable  circumstances can be created (rain) for the productive potential to  manifest.  Such seekers of selfish  pleasures bring about discordance in the Wheel of Action.  They are considered to be living in sin and  that too in vain by the Gita.

In  these verses (10 to 16) the Vedic conception of sacrifice as an inter-link  between God and man is set in the larger context of the interdependence of  beings in the cosmos. He who works for himself alone lives in vain.

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