Gita Daily Readings

Chapter Three: 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.


Not the ritual called yajna, but the simple universal daily act of cooking food itself is regarded as yajna or sacrifice here. It is symbolic and illustrative, but not descriptive and exhaustive. Even so, all our actions should be acts of self-sacrificing, selfless service - always for others, never for ourselves. We are "the other" of others!

That settles once and for all this futile wrangling over ethics - what is good and what is evil? Self-sacrificing, selfless and desireless service is good; selfish action is evil. It does not matter what the action appears to be externally - an act of selfless service is good. It does not matter how grand and philanthropic it looks - a selfish action is evil.

The spirit of sacrifice was woven into the very fabric of our life, so that we were almost compelled to feed our fellow-men and animals and insects before we ate. Self-sacrifice is our religion. Charity is our supreme duty. Our prayer to the Lord is that everyone should be happy; all beings should enjoy peace, happiness and prosperity. Bali-dana (popularly, an animal sacrifice or its symbolic equivalent) is the culminating point of yajna. According to Bhagavatam, king Bali gave everything to the Lord and eventually offered himself too, in an act of supreme self-sacrifice. True bali-dana Is total sacrifice of our whole being, our very soul, at the altar of God so that in the full and direct realization that the "I" is and has always been a non-entity, a shadowy dividing factor, even the thought "I do this" or "I enjoy"  or "I suffer" is no more in our heart. Charity involves sacrifice. Sacrifice leads to self-sacrifice. We are freed from sin.

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