Gita Daily Readings

24th November
Chapter XVIII: 5-6
Acts of sacrifice, gift and austerity should not be abandoned, but should be performed; sacrifice, gift and also austerity are the purifiers of the wise.

But even these actions should be performed leaving aside attachment and the desire for rewards, Oh Arjuna; this is my certain and best conviction.

Commentary

It has been said that Krishna's Gita is a synthesis of the best in Aryan and non-Aryan traditions. Krishna accepts the ancient Aryan yajna (sacrifice), the non-Aryan tapas or austerity, synthesizes them and shows that this synthesis is superior to either of its components. Then he rejects routine ritual (the vaidika sacrifices) and foolish tapas - to give us buddhi yoga. This is indeed the highest statesmanship.

Tapas or austerity has already been dealt with in great detail. Suffice it to say here that simple life itself is tapas. Simplicity enables one to be free from slavery to the world and makes charity possible. Charity alters values. What is mine, becomes another's by charity; and freedom from attachment spares me the worry concerning it. Objects have value only on account of attachment! Realization of this deflates the value of even those objects that we retain out of necessity; then they can be given away without leaving a dent in our heart.

Charity, too, has been dealt with earlier. It is really giving away what actually does not belong to one! But sacrifice, which to me sounds like making something sacred, something leading to self-knowledge, is self-sacrifice or the abandonment of all that one identifies one's self with. In the ritual yajna, when pouring ghee into the fire one utters the mantra "svaha" which literally means "killing of the self." It frees one from the prison-house of the ego, to roam in the realm of the infinite. The ego is just an idea. The assumption that it is real is one's only "possession" - that must be sacrificed. Then one sees that one's other possessions were not possessions at all and charity becomes natural.

All these should be performed without desire for rewards. Charity done with an eye to name and fame is only payment of advertisement charges!

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