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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
You already know the place and importance of Bhagavad Gita. It contains seven hundred verses divided into eighteen chapters. It begins with a confession from Arjuna that ‘My dear Krishna, I am suffering from narrowness of outlook. I am thoroughly confused with regard to what I am to do. But I would like to have everlasting goodness and elevation in my life. Please instruct me, so that I shall be able to achieve this. I am your disciple and you are my Guru. So instruct me, as any good Guru will instruct a devoted disciple’.
So mark this point, ’I am suffering from the narrowness of outlook’. The words Arjuna used are
“My nature has been overpowered by the constriction called karpanya” In answer, it became a prolonged dialogue extending up to eighteen chapters.
Many chapters begin with a question from Arjuna. And the last chapter, eighteenth, also does equally so. The questions Arjuna raises in the last chapter is this. Perhaps many people do not know that this is so and the importance of the enquiry.
त्यागस्य च हृषीकेश पृथक्केशिनिषूदन ॥
tyāgasya ca hṛṣīkeśa pṛthak-keśi-niṣūdana ||
This is what Arjuna said, “I would like to know very clearly and in a distinct manner, Krishna, the meaning, relevance and application of Sannyasa and Tyaga.”
The entire Bhagavad Gita speaks and delineates only Tyaga and Sannyasa. Krishna is imparting the art and the process of living in this world abandoning, abandoning, renouncing, renouncing. “Renouncing what?” is the important question. Krishna does not refer to renouncing anything externally, but he speaks everything about renouncing internally. It is primarily desires, secondly, possessiveness, thirdly, the very ego. When these things are renounced, you will be able to live comfortably, happily, successfully and effectively.
The word ‘Sannyasa’ was used by Krishna right from the third chapter and it had occurred on several occasions. Now, Arjuna wants a greater definition with clarity and precision about Sannyasa and Tyaga. The entire world, in one way or the other, is troubling us. If you want to live in this world without trouble, without conflict and disharmony, you must have the power and enrichment of renunciation. Now taking up the subject in a very thorough manner, Krishna says in human life, there are three important tenets, three important practices, disciplines, which should always be there, clung to, preserved and pursued. What are they? Yajna, Dana and Tapas.
Why I thought of mentioning about these today? Because the time for the Anna-Vastra-Dana-Satram has come. Generally we do it in the month of July. A month before that, we prepare a letter, announcing the scheme, which will be sent to about four or five thousand people who are devoted to the Ashram in one way or the other. That letter is being signed by me, so the subject is quite fresh. I thought I would share with you, what is this Anna-Vastra-Dana-Satram and where does it have its right place, how does it inhere in our dharmic life.
So Krishna speaks of three, Yajna, Dana and Tapas. Yajna is any action or interaction which you do in dedication to the Supreme Lord, providence. That Supreme lord is the Paramatma in you, the Parameswara of the world. It is called Atma, Brahman and God. Whatever you do as an offering to the Supreme is called a Yajna. But the Supreme remains invisible here. So it is a unilateral action.
When it comes to Dana, it is not unilateral. It is bilateral. You have to part with your belongings for the inevitable use of the others. Anything becomes a Dana when you offer things belonging to you or bought by you, by virtue of your own earnings and you lovingly give them to those who are not connected to you by blood or matrimony. Suppose you look after your son and spend money on him, it is not a Dana. Suppose you buy an article for use of your brother-in-law, or maybe brother, sister, nephew, niece etc., so certainly it is not Dana. Dana becomes so only when you are giving something which you are not generally otherwise bound to give as a matter of duty, like looking after one’s own blood and matrimonial relations. So that is why I am very particular in emphasizing the taker should be not belonging to the orbit of blood and matrimony.
And how should you give? You should give it with loving words of dedication and humility. I would like you to receive what I give. I am lovingly giving this. Please make use of these materials in your life. By so doing, I shall be very happy and feel blessed and enriched. Our good Danas are made chanting Veda mantras. Veda mantras are very sanctifying. And such mantras are uttered while giving Dana. So you can imagine the sublimity, the divinity, the devotional character of Dana.
In our society, particularly in India, we have not reached a state of societal affluence. A number of people are still starving, they are undernourished, they are underprivileged, not all people have jobs. So everybody needs some kind of a help or the other. And all of you should feel happy that there is an opportunity to give. Suppose nobody is prepared to take from you, how will you make this Dana? But this Dana is an important ingredient in the matter of spiritually, religiously and otherwise enriching, enriching, sublimating and elevating your inner personality.
Dana becomes bilateral because you are giving the material things to somebody for his or her use, and the other party receives it, lovingly from you. The others are getting the material part of it. And you are getting the spiritual enrichment in the process. In both ways, it is immensely benedictory, helpful and enriching. Now this kind of an instantaneous fruition of a religious act cannot be seen in any other sphere. Suppose you perform a haven or you perform a great pooja in honour of God, you are doing it lighting a lamp or igniting fire and whatever materials you offer into the fire, the fire will burn and reduce it into ashes. You can only see the ashes there. Suppose you do pooja, the flower will remain there, the oil will be burnt off, and whatever nivedya you offer, you yourself will have to take it back and make use of it. The other party always is invisible and infinitely distant. So we have a contentment that “I have done pooja”, that’s all. But here, right in front of your eyes, you see the materials are given, as they are given. The word ‘give’ means somebody should take. Then only giving becomes meaningful or complete. So the others receive it.
We have been doing this Anna-Vastra-Dana-Satram for the past twenty-six years and this is the twenty-seventh year. Last year, we distributed to 23500 deserving families, primarily in Kerala and also in Delhi, Vasundara and then in Jamshedpur. In Jamshedpur, it was a kind of a tribal population that we were able to reach, 1250 families. I had told them “Next year if we come here, we would distribute to 1500 or more.” Every year we are increasing it by at least a thousand. This time we have targeted 28500 families. Now, in Kerala, we are reaching it to something like four hundred and odd villages and there are more than fifty distribution centres. In our Ashrams, a large number of people from the surrounding areas also are given. Initially, the system is we distribute tokens first to the families and with the tokens, they are asked to come at a specific time in the distribution centre. Tokens are collected and the materials are given.
Our Mā always used to say, how happy people are when they receive it. I am very particular that the whole process should be done in a very sublime manner. There should not be the feeling that ‘I am giving and they are taking’. No. With what attention and fondness and love, devotional also, you give to the first person, in the same manner, we must be able to give to the last person also. And we have Nama sankeertana going on throughout the offering, chorus recitation. We show Aarathi to the recipients. The idea is it is not merely a material or a visible giving and taking. It is not secular act. We would like to consider it to be a divine act. That is what Krishna says, Yajna, Dana and Tapas.
Yajna is very holy, Dana is equally holy and there is tapas also. All these are of equal status. And these triple, this constitutes the very dharma. In every yuga, in every society, at every time, in every household, these three should not be left at all. So, while defining Tyaga, he says, there are many things to be given, but these items should not be renounced. In fact, in Yajna itself is a tyaga, Dana is also a tyaga and Tapas also is a tyaga. I will explain it later.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.