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warrior whose compassion for his kith and kin has got the better of him, then such a meolodramatic withdrawal from the world would not bring peace; for the mind would continue to be in turmoil in the vortex of its worldly attachments. It does not have the maturity of dispassion that should precede renunciation. Doing what is assigned to one as one's duty is far more honourable than running away from action in dislike of that action. If one does one's duty in the spirit of yajna, the actions  do not bind one.
The whole universe, says Krishna, is a complex of mutual
yajnas. When the world was re-created by the Lord at the beginning of the kalpa, He created divine beings to be in charge of the elements and ordained that human beings should propitiate these gods to ensure that the elements behave properly. These yajnas thus give rise to a complex ecological cycle. Yajna sustains the normal behaviour  of the elements. The latter  in turn sustains the fertility and usefulness of the environment in which we live, which sustains humanity, whose duty it is to perform the different yajnas enjoined on them. This cycle    started by the Lord at the time of creation cannot be interrupted except at the peril of the collapse of the system itself.
Let us now try to understand the concept of
yajna as Lord Krishna explains it. He talks in the language of the times, when it was normal to talk about creation, divine beings, yajnas to propitiate them, and so on. The concept is difficult to appreciate if one does not have a feel for these ideas which are extra-normal to modern thinking. Modern interpretations are however available and one such is Swami Chinmayananda's. Our productive potential, including labour and capital, says the Swami, has to be propitiated selflessly. Without a generous accommodation to this productive potential in an unselfish manner, without this yajna, no society can hope to effectively reap the benefits that can accrue to it from the environment. The principle of detachment from selfish ends is inbuilt in this yajna.  The divinity of the elements is the productive potential latent in the richness of Mother Earth and the capabilities of labour and capital. So when Krishna says, 'Do your actions in the spirit of yajna' a modern secularly oriented person may take it to mean: 'Do your duty because you are a link, though only one, in that vast chain of the nation's productive potential and you have to do your duty unselfishly, always aware of the rights and needs of the other man, however high or low he may be'. This is the yajna of propitiation of the productive potential.
Let us come back to Krishna who is repeatedly asked by Arjuna: 'Which is the correct path - renunciation or the path of action?' But Hinduism does not have binary answers to such questions.

Aug.2, '99  ©Copyright  V. Krishnamurthy  Home  Contents   Next