Bhagavad-gītā 4.20–24

August 9
New York

Prabhupāda: One two three, [tap, tap, tap] one two three, one two three. Testing, one two three. [break]

yasya sarve samārambhāḥ
tam āhuḥ paṇḍitaṁ budhāḥ

We have been discussing this śloka since the last two days in our meetings. The next verse is

tyaktvā karma-phalāsaṅgaṁ
nitya-tṛpto nirāśrayaḥ
karmaṇy abhipravṛtto ‘pi
naiva kiñcit karoti saḥ

In order to be free from the reaction of our work, this formula is described by Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

dvandvātīto vimatsaraḥ
samaḥ siddhāv asiddhau ca
kṛtvāpi na nibadhyate
gata-saṅgasya muktasya
yajñāyācarataḥ karma
samagraṁ pravilīyate

The formula is that we have to become detached from the result of the work and must be situated in full knowledge, in full knowledge. Unless we are situated in full knowledge, it is not possible to be detached from the work which you are doing. And that detachment and that knowledge, to be situated in full knowledge, is possible when we perform yajña or sacrifice.

Now, today’s subject matter is varieties of sacrifices, how we can perform different kinds of sacrifices. And what is the sacrifice? Sacrifice means yajñārthe karma. Just at the present moment our conception is that I am the proprietor of everything. Actually, I am not the proprietor. The Īśopaniṣad says that īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam: [Īśo mantra 1] “The Supreme Lord, Personality of Godhead, or Kṛṣṇa, He is the proprietor.” But deluded by the illusory energy of the material existence, we are thinking that “I am the proprietor.” Therefore in the scriptures, in Vedic scriptures, sacrifice is recommended. Sacrifice means you give voluntarily. You give voluntarily. Because we have been so much attached to this material proprietorship, that… And without that attachment, there is no possibility of our becoming free from this material entanglement. But that attachment is very difficult to give up. Therefore sacrifice has been recommended, that “You sacrifice.”

Supposing that it is your proprietorship, you are the proprietor of everything, but you sacrifice, yajñārthe. Yajñārthe means “for the Supreme Lord.” So so many sacrifices are recommended in various scriptures. So we shall try to discuss some of the sacrifices. Yajñāyācarataḥ karma samagraṁ pravilīyate. If we perform our duties, yajña, for the matter of satisfaction of Viṣṇu, the Supreme Lord, then we shall not be bound up by the reaction of any work.

Now, the first thing is in the sacrifice according to the Vedic rites, there are five principle factors. What are those? There is sacrificial fire, altar, and the person who is offering the… Generally, in the sacrifice grains and butter, clarified butter, is offered. So the sacrificial altar, fire, and the offering ingredients, grains and clarified butter, and the person who is offering sacrifice, three, and the result and the performer. These five things are there in the matter of sacrifice.

Now, Kṛṣṇa says that if the five things are transformed into Kṛṣṇa consciousness or Brahman realization, then the result will be that the man who is performing that sacrifice is sure to attain his spiritual salvation and go back to Godhead. This prescription is recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā, that

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir
brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ
[Bg. 4.24]

Now, brahmārpaṇam. Sacrifice for whom? For the Brahman. And Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Brahman. Therefore sacrifice for Kṛṣṇa is brahmārpaṇam, means, sacrificing for the Brahman, Supreme Brahman. Because Kṛṣṇa is described in the Tenth Chapter as the Parambrahman, the Supreme Brahman. Brahman means, we are also all Brahman. Because we are all fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Being, Kṛṣṇa, therefore we are also Brahman. Just like particles of gold is also gold, similarly, we are fragmental portions of Kṛṣṇa. Do not understand that as material fragments… We are not material fragment. But just because we have no other conception at the present moment except material understanding, therefore I am just trying… This is translated into English as “fragment,” but not like that material fragment.

Just like we have got a paper in our hand. If I tear into pieces, they become fragments. Then the original paper, the shape of the paper—no longer existing. It is not like that. The Upaniṣad says that

pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ
pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya
pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
[Īśo Invocation]

The spiritual conception is that, that any number of fragments of the whole can be taken from the whole spirit, but still, the spirit whole is as it is. That is the description in the Vedic literature. We have got material idea: “One minus one equal to zero.” But in the spiritual realm, one minus one equal to one. So these fragments, the fragments of the Supreme Brahman, Kṛṣṇa, we are. So with that consciousness, we have to sacrifice.

Brahmārpaṇam brahma havir. And the thing which we are sacrificing, we have to understand that the things belong to the Supreme Brahman. Brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau. And the fire which is on the altar, that is to be understood as the energy of the Supreme Brahman. And brahmaṇā hutam. And the person who is offering the sacrifice, he is also part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman. In this way, if we offer sacrifice, then brahmaiva tena gantavyam. The person who is offering such sacrifice is sure to attain spiritual salvation. This is brahma-karma-samādhinā. And the performance is just according to the Vedic injunction. So in this way, if we, I mean to say, execute the duties of our living condition, then the result will be that at the end we shall be attaining Brahman. And the whole process is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

In the higher conception of life, just it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that everything is visualized as Brahman. Brahman means spiritual. So in the higher conception of life, one who has attained in the higher stage of spiritual realization, for him, there is nothing material. There is nothing material. The distinction of matter and spirit is this. Now, from the Bhagavad-gītā we understand that two energies are working. One energy is called inferior energy, and the other energy is called superior energy. Now, take for example the inferior energy. The energy emanating from the source, is there any possibility of dividing the energy and the energetic? No. That is not possible just like you cannot divide heat from the fire or the illumination from this light. This is not possible. If there is no illumination, then the light has no meaning. If there is no heat, then fire has no meaning. Similarly, if the energy is separated from the energetic, the energetic has no meaning.

So Kṛṣṇa says that there are two kinds of nature: superior nature, or higher nature, and inferior nature. Now, even the inferior nature… We take it for granted that there is something like inferior nature. Of course, this material energy, the material nature, is called inferior nature—inferior in the sense that matter has got no incentive. Without touch of spirit, matter cannot work. Therefore it is understood that it is inferior. But in the higher sense it is not inferior. How it is not inferior? Because it is emanation from the Supreme and you cannot separate this energy from the Supreme, and there is no difference between the Supreme and His energy.

Śakti-śaktimator abheda. This is the Vedic injunction. Śakti, śakti means energy, and śaktimat, śaktimat means the person who has got the energy. So abheda, they are nondifferential. You cannot differentiate between the energy and the energetic. Just like electric powerhouse. The energy is electricity. Now, from the electricity energy we are working so many things. So far our household affairs are concerned, by the same electric energy we are getting heat and we are getting also cold. In the refrigerator we see everything is cold. In the heater we find everything is hot, warm. But the same energy is working. So one who knows that this is the electrical energy that is working in a different way, for him, there is no superior or inferior. That is called jñāna. If we are on the platform of knowledge, then there is no distinction between matter and spirit.

And that knowledge we have to acquire. How we have to acquire? We must know it definitely that everything that is manifested… In the Viṣṇu-Purāṇa there is a nice verse which describes this energy and the energetic very nicely:

jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā
parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktis
tathedam akhilaṁ jagat

Akhilaṁ jagat. Whatever we are seeing in this, in our presence, whatever we are seeing, they are nothing but different energies of the Supreme Lord.

And how they are acting? Just like the electric powerhouse is situated far away from your residential apartment, but from there the energy is being distributed and you are finding heat, cold, and so many things, electrically, you are working, so although the Supreme Lord is far, far away… Of course, He is not far, far away, but in our conception, in the material conception, because we cannot see… We are on a different planet. So by His energy He is not far away. Just like the sunlight, the sunshine, in the morning you find the sunshine is within your room, the sun is just within your room. It is actually. But still, the sun is 93,000,000 miles away from you. Similarly, in all circumstances we must understand that Kṛṣṇa is, although far away from us, still, He is with us, within us. This is called knowledge. This is called knowledge.

And He says also in the Bhagavad-gītā that sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ: [Bg. 15.15] “I am situated in everyone’s heart.” So just think how much nearest He is if He is sitting on my heart, and He is actually there, which is called Paramātmā, or the Supersoul. So sarvasya, sarvasya means everyone’s, not only in human body, but in animal body, in the atoms also. Aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham [Bs. 5.35]. Paramāṇu means atom. He is situated. So practically, He is not far away. He is the nearest friend. He also claims in the Bhagavad-gītā, suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām: [Bg. 5.29] “I am the friend of everyone.” So this knowledge, we have to acquire, that “We have got the greatest powerful friend in Kṛṣṇa, and He is with me.” This is knowledge.

Just like when you chant Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, actually the fact is Kṛṣṇa is dancing on your tongue by sound vibration. Kṛṣṇa is not away. It is stated in the scriptures, nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe. He is addressing Nārada, Nārada, a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa. He is explaining to Nārada, nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu ca. The yogis, the mystic yogis, they try to find out the Supersoul within themself. That is the yoga system. Yoga, actual yoga system, is to concentrate the mind, to focus the mind on the Supersoul. That is yoga system. So Kṛṣṇa says that nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe. In the scriptures we find that kingdom of God, that is called Vaikuṇṭha. Vaikuṇṭha means vigata-kuṇṭha yatra. Kuṇṭha means anxieties. The place where there is no anxieties, that is called Vaikuṇṭha. So Kṛṣṇa says that nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu ca: “My dear Nārada, do not think that I am staying in the Vaikuṇṭha, in the kingdom of God only, or in the heart of the yogis only. No.” Tat tat tiṣṭhāmi nārada yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ: “Wherever My devotees sing or chant the glories of Me, I stand there. I go there.”

So this is brahmārpaṇam. This yajña, this is the highest yajña.

Now, we are discussing of the varieties of yajña. Now, so far sacrifice in the altar of fire, clarified butter and grains, it is not possible. At the present moment… Of course, formerly, we understand from the scriptures that they used to pour tons of tons clarified butter in the fire because at that time they were available. But at the present moment… Of course, we are seeing some butter sticks here in America, but from India practically butter has disappeared. So it is not possible.

The present day, Kali-yuga, is not favorable for such sacrifice which was being performed in the Satya-yuga or Tretā… Not Tretā-yuga. Sacrifice was being performed in the Tretā-yuga, second millennium. The duration of a period. Just like in a year we have got different seasons, similarly, in the existence there are different periods. According to Vedic literature, they are called Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga, Dvāpara-yuga, Kali-yuga. Now we are passing through the Kali-yuga. The Kali-yuga, duration of Kali-yuga is four hundred thousands, four hundred twenty-seven thousands of year. Out of that, we have passed only five thousands of years. That is the Vedic calculation.

So Lord Caitanya has recommended this yajña. It is not Lord Caitanya’s imagination. It is recommended in the Bhāgavata that

kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ
kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt
[SB 12.3.52]

Now, these four yugas are divided. Kṛte, kṛte means in Satya-yuga, when people were all virtuous. That is called Satya-yuga. So kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇum: “In the Satya-yuga what was attained by meditation on Viṣṇu…”

We shall always remember that whenever we call for meditation, that meditation is not on void. Void meditation is very much troublesome. Kleśo ‘dhikataras teṣām avyaktāsakta-cetasām [Bg. 12.5]. You will find in the Bhagavad-gītā. Those who are trying to meditate upon the void, they are in very troublesome condition. And it is very difficult to achieve success. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. So meditation always means meditation on Viṣṇu.

So in the Satya-yuga, in the millennium when all people were virtuous, cent percent virtuous, at that time this meditation was recommended. Because their minds were not disturbed and they could sit down peacefully and concentrate his mind on Viṣṇu. That was the process recommended.

Kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ [SB 12.3.52]. Tretāyām means the next millennium. That is… It was recommended that people should perform sacrifice.

Tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ dvāpare paricaryāyām. Dvāpare means the next millennium. That is recommended for temple worship, temple worship. The temple worship… So many temples, thousands and thousands of temples, you will find. Not only in India, in other parts of the world also. The churches are also temples, the mosques are also temples, the synagogues are also temples. So this temple worship was introduced in the third millennium.

Now this is the fourth millennium. In the fourth millennium, the Bhāgavata says that kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt: “At the present moment we have to perform sacrifices by chanting the hari-kīrtana, the glorification of Kṛṣṇa.” This is yajña. Other yajñas, although they are prescribed… Because when Kṛṣṇa was speaking, He was speaking generally, but there are specific considerations. This yajña recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā, brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma, brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam… Now, where is the fire and where is the clarified butter and where is the expert performer of yajña? The performer of yajña must be so much educated. There was a talk between Lord Caitanya and a Muhammadan magistrate. Because when Lord Caitanya appeared in Bengal, India was being governed by the Muhammadans, Pathans, in the fifteenth century, five hundred years before. Lord Caitanya appeared about 480 years before. So there was a talk between Lord Caitanya and the Muhammadan magistrate.

So just like… You will also learn that we are performing this kīrtana. Some tenant in this house, he has taken objection. And just to avoid misunderstanding, so I am closing this door. But it is becoming very too much discomfiture. That I can feel. People are not feeling comfortable.

Anyway, apart from that, this misunderstanding of kīrtana, five hundred years before also, there was. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was performing kīrtana, the, not the Muhammadans, but the Hindus, they took objection that “This is not according to our scripture. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has introduced something new.” So he complained to the magistrate although the magistrate was Muhammadan, he was government representative. So he took action. What action was taken? Now, the first of all he warned Lord Caitanya’s party that “You cannot perform saṅkīrtana.” Then Lord Caitanya’s party neglected. Then the magistrate sent some constables and they broke the mṛdaṅga. You have seen the mṛdaṅga. So there was some disturbance and Lord Caitanya formed a party of one hundred thousand people from Navadvīpa and He began to make a civil disobedience. He performed saṅkīrtana all over the city, and there was some trouble between the Muhammadan magistrate. And at last, they came to compromise. And when the compromise was done, then there was some discussion. The discussion was the distinction between Muhammadan religion and Hindu religion.

Now, Caitanya Mahāprabhu first of all inquired that the Muhammadan magistrate… They established their relation as the uncle and nephew. Caitanya Mahāprabhu became the nephew, and the Kazi, the magistrate, he became the uncle. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu addressed the uncle, “My dear uncle, why you are killing your father and mother?” So the uncle replied, “What is that? I am killing our father and mother?” “Yes. Because the cow is your mother. She gives milk. And the bull, he helps you in the agricultural fields. He produces grain. So just like father and mother—mother supplies milk and father brings grain—so they are your father and mother. How you are killing your father and mother?”

So the uncle replied that… He was also very educated, learned. He said that “In Your Vedic scripture there is cow sacrifice. So You are also killing cow.” Just I am going to explain the sacrifice. Now, Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained there that that was not killing. When there was some animal sacrifice, an old animal would be sacrificed in the altar, but it would be given a new life. It was practically testing of the Vedic mantra by the qualified brāhmaṇas. So He said, “Because at the present moment there are no qualified brāhmaṇas, therefore such kind of sacrifice is stopped. Stopped.” That was His explanation.

So these sacrifices means unless they are performed very nicely, according to the rules and regulations as they are mentioned in scripture, they will not produce the desired result. That is the way of sacrifice. Now, here it is said, brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma haviḥ. Now, where is the butter, where is the grain, and where is the qualified brāhmaṇa who can chant the mantras, hymns, very nicely, so that we can get the result? So any kind of sacrifice at the present age is impossible. It is not possible. The only sacrifice—that kīrtana, saṅkīrtana-yajña. That is possible, which you have just now tried. This was introduced, and this is recommended in Bhāgavata. This is authoritative. And when Caitanya Mahāprabhu… Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. That is confirmed in Mahābhārata, Bhāgavata, Purāṇa, Upaniṣad.

Now, in the Bhāgavata in the Eleventh Canto you’ll find the symptoms of Caitanya Mahāprabhu in which it is stated that yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ: [SB 11.5.32] “Those who are intelligent persons in this age, in Kali-yuga, they will perform saṅkīrtana-yajña and satisfy Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Lord Caitanya.” So this saṅkīrtana-yajña, that which you are performing,

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

[My dear Lord, and the spiritual energy of the Lord, kindly engage me in Your service. I am now embarrassed with this material service. Please engage me in Your service.]

So if we think, if we are Kṛṣṇa conscious, that “I am eternal fragment of Kṛṣṇa, therefore my duty is…”

Now, everyone can understand what is the duty of the fragment to the whole, fragment to the whole, that the Kṛṣṇa is the whole, whole machine. Suppose… In this mechanical world we can understand that the whole machine is there, but there is a small screw which is fragment of that machine. So that screw should be properly adjusted in the machine and it will help machine working nicely. Similarly, we are all different fragments of the Supreme, Kṛṣṇa, and if we dovetail ourself in the work of Kṛṣṇa that is the highest yajña. That is the performance of yajña.

We haven’t got to search out for large quantities of butter, clarified butter or grains. That is impossible factor now. It is very difficult to secure butter for eating purposes, and who is going to sacrifice? That is not possible. Although that is mentioned in the different scriptures, that sacrifice should be performed in that way, but it is impractical. It is not possible. So such sacrifices as recommended in the scriptures by offering clarified butter and grains, or sacrificing some animal… There are so many.

Now, this sacrifice of animals was protested by Lord Buddha. He deviated from the Hindu religion. Lord Buddha was born in Hindu family. He was kṣatriya. He was a king’s son. But he wanted to preach nonviolence. He wanted to preach completely, to stop completely animal killing. But because in the Vedic… Of course, I have already explained that sacrifice of animals, as stated in the Vedas, they are not for killing. They are meant for giving a new life to the animal. By Vedic mantra… The Vedic mantra are so powerful that that was a test how a dead animal can get, regain new body. An old animal is sacrificed and it gets a new youthful life. That was the test. It was not meant for killing. Don’t misunderstand that sacrifice. But that is mentioned in the Vedas. So people misused that sacrifice means… That sacrifice… They wanted to give evidence from Vedas, “So here is… Animal sacrifice is mentioned in the Vedas. Why we shall stop?” So Lord Buddha started his movement, completely stopping this animal sacrifice. But he knew that “These foolish men will come and give me evidence that ‘Here in the Vedas animal sacrifice is recommended. Why you are preaching? Why you are preaching stoppage of animal killing?’ ” Therefore he completely rejected Vedas. He said that “I don’t accept Vedas.

That is stated in a very nice verse about Lord Buddha by a Vaiṣṇava poet.

nindasi yajña-vidher ahaha śruti-jātaṁ
sadaya-hṛdaya darśita-paśu-ghātam
keśava dhṛta-buddha-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare

It is very nicely composed. The idea is that the poet is praying Lord Buddha. And Lord Buddha is also mentioned in Bhāgavatam as incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. So he is praying Lord Buddha, “My dear Lord, you have assumed now the buddha-śarīra, body, just to, by taking compassion on the poor animals, and therefore you are also deprecating the animal sacrifices recommended in the Vedas.

So because Lord Buddha did not accept… He had to do that because his mission was to stop animal sacrifice and animal killing. “Now if these foolish persons, without knowing the Vedic purpose, if they present, ‘Oh, here it is recommended in the Vedas,’ then there will be disturbance.” So he had to discard, he had to go out of the Vedic rules and regulation, and he preached his own philosophy.

So therefore sacrifice, any kind of sacrifice, that sacrifice is now consolidated in this sacrifice of, I mean to, sacrificing your time and sitting down here and chanting

Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

[My dear Lord, and the spiritual energy of the Lord, kindly engage me in Your service. I am now embarrassed with this material service. Please engage me in Your service.]

This is the best kind of sacrifice recommended by Lord Caitanya for this age. He said that kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā. Harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam [Cc. Ādi 17.21]. Just like if we want to give stress on a particular subject matter we say that “Do this! Do this! Do this!” similarly, Lord Caitanya also stressed on this performance of saṅkīrtana thrice. He said, kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā: “In this age of Kali there is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way.” Thrice He said. And what is that? Harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam. Now here also thrice: “Simply just chant Kṛṣṇa’s name, Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare.” So this is the best kind of sacrifice.

But because… Other sacrifices, they are also recognized. Just like yoga. Yoga is also recognized, but that was meant for in the Satya-yuga when all people were very much all virtuous, cent percent virtuous. There was no, I mean to say, sinful men at all. Now, as the age advanced, in the Tretā-yuga there was seventy-five percent virtuous and twenty-five percent sinful. In the Dvāpara-yuga, fifty percent virtuous and fifty percent sinful. And in this age, Kali-yuga, almost cent percent sinful, although it is calculated in the śāstra that seventy-five percent are sinful and twenty-five percent are…

That you can see how many percentage are going to join our saṅkīrtana movement. We can see from the audience. You see? So it is difficult, but it is the fact. If we perform this sacrifice nicely, according to the rules recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, we are sure to get salvation. Niścitam. Niścitam means sure. So let us perform this sacrifice with patience and perseverance, with steadiness, and then surely we shall achieve the desired result, spiritual salvation, which is that… It is stated, brahmaiva tena gantavyam. The whole thing is meant for go back to home, go back to Godhead. That is the whole thing. This is not our home; neither it is our place. We come here as a foreigner.

Just like I have come to your place as a foreigner. Suppose I am here for last one year. I may remain here for three months more or one year more, or then I may go back. Similarly, we are all foreigners in this material world. We come here for certain… That is changing bodies, changing bodies, changing place. So this is not our place. Our real place is… [break]

…the human society. This sacrifice of saṅkīrtana-yajña. It is nothing manufactured, it is recommended in Vedic literature. It was actually performed by Lord Caitanya. So there is nothing unauthorized. It is completely authorized. So I shall request all friends and audience here to take up the matter very seriously and just try to execute it, although there are some impediments. So any good thing you do, there will be so many impediments. But we have to execute our mission.

Thank you very much. If there is any question, you can ask. [end]

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