Gita Daily Readings

4th November
Chapter XVI: 17-18
Self-conceited, stubborn, filled with the pride and intoxication of wealth, they perform sacrifices in (or for) name out of ostentation, contrary to scriptural ordinances.

Given over to egoism, power, haughtiness, lust and anger, these malicious people hate me in their own bodies and those of others.

Commentary

Three types of yajna (sacrifices) are specially mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita:

(i) Jnana yajna (dissemination of spiritual knowledge) which is dear to the Lord.

(ii) Japa yajna (repetition of the divine name or mantra) which is the Lord's own special manifestation, and

(iii) Nama yajna which may mean either sacrifice merely in name, i.e. without the spirit or divine purpose behind it, or sacrifice for the sake of winning name and fame (publicity stunt). 
The last is diabolical.

It is not the action itself that counts in the eyes of the Lord, but the spirit that motivates it. Hence, the sacrifice and the charity that these demons perform do not please him, for even these are geared to the destruction of others. Their charity is like the “free gifts” and “prizes” offered by rival firms as part of their sales promotion programs, aimed at the destruction of others' business.

Elsewhere in the Gita it has been said that even they who hate God (and thus think of him constantly) also reach him. The hatred of the demons does not amount to that. They “hate me in their own bodies and those of others.” The first takes the form of a reluctance to turn within and live for even a short while a day with one's own self (they take a transistor radio to disturb the peace of the seaside or public park); the second implies exploitation and cruelty shown to others, without recognizing that in them, too, there is the spark of God.

The description of the diabolical state comes to an end with these verses. May we never approach it in thought, word or deed!

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