Gita Daily Readings

12th April
Chapter Four: 30-31
Others who regulate their diet offer life-breaths in life-breaths. All these are knowers of sacrifice, whose sins are destroyed by sacrifice.

Those who "eat" the remnants of the sacrifice, which are like nectar, go to the eternal Brahman. This world is not for the man who does not perform sacrifice; how then can he have the other, Oh Arjuna?

Commentary

Lastly, there are those who are abstemious in their diet. They eat merely to keep body and soul together. When the life-force in them clamors for more, they turn it upon itself (offering, as it were, the life-force itself as the oblation into it).

The spirit of sacrifice destroys sin. All these practices are neither good nor bad in themselves. For example, austerity (tapas or fire) can either lead to the destruction of the sinful nature or increase one's vanity - depending on the inner spirit. The spirit of yajna "detaches" the self from the activity itself, thus allowing the latter to wipe the mirror clean so that in it the ever-pure self is instantly reflected in all its glory. Failure to understand and adopt this symbolism will often result in our wiping the mirror with the face, thus transferring the evil tendency from the mirror (the body and mind) to the skin of the face (the ego). The spirit of sacrifice also warns us not to expect anything in return; only the ashes of purity or sattva will remain after the sacrifice. The sacred ashes are so dear to Lord Shiva (the divine auspiciousness itself) who naturally bestows upon us all that is good.

This residue of the sacrifice is nectar which confers immortality on us. We must let it nourish our life in every way. (It also refers to the remnants of charity, especially of food, which become holy and soul-purifying.)

He who is devoid of the spirit of sacrifice - the selfish man given wholly to sense-indulgence - is a burden on earth.

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