by Swami Krishnananda
This term 'Yajna' comes into high relief in this context of the great hymn to the Vedas, I made reference to. The central culture of Bharatavarsha, India, may be summed up in one term, 'Yajna'. You have heard this word uttered many a time. People perform Yajna. They perform Havan; they offer sacrifice, pour sacred ghee in the fire. But, this is only an outward expression, a symbol of the intention behind what is known as Yajna. The performance of a ritual is a spatio-temporal shape given to the inner idea expectation which is the Yajna. I am coming to the point, again. Your obligation to the world, as a whole, is the Yajna. You may ask me, why do you call it a Yajna? Why do you call it a sacrifice? Why do you say that my duty towards my nation is a Yajna? It is a Yajna because of an important factor involved in this process of the fulfilment of duty. In the discharge of duty, whatever be the nature of that duty, we diminish ourselves in one way and enlarge ourselves in another way. The diminution of the assertive or the individuating factor in ourselves is the Yajna or the sacrifice that we perform for the sake of the enhancement of the larger dimension of our personality.
Human society, in the Vedic hymn I mentioned, is envisaged as one single organism. We owe an obligation mutually among ourselves, merely on account of the fact that we live a single life of immanent relationships which obliges us to manifest this inner communion in outward activity, conduct, behaviour etc. Our conduct or behaviour, externally, in human society, is an outward manifestation of the internal bond that is perpetually maintained among ourselves, even without our knowing the very existence of this relationship. We are called phenomenal beings merely because of this fact – phenomenal, because we do not know the 'noumenal' implication of our existence. Yoga is the technique, the art, the science of bringing you into union with the noumenal implication of your own self. The phenomenal individuality of yours is brought into coordination with the noumenal universality of your existence. This is something very profound for us to contemplate. Phenomenally, we are cut off from the world. On an outward observation through the perceptional faculties of the senses, we may regard ourselves as men and women, people belonging to different nationalities, age groups, different levels in economic existence, etc. This is not our real nature. Our unhappiness, to reiterate, is our inability to recognise the fact that we belong to a different order of existence altogether, raised above the one in which we seem to be involved today in this world of diversities. Yoga tells you of the great implication of the Vedic hymn which proclaims that, ultimately, finally, basically, we are neither men nor women. We are not even human beings as we understand ourselves to be. We are bits of universal force. We are eddies, waves as it were, in the ocean of Cosmic Power and it is this deeper reality of ours that keeps us ever restless. That is why we cannot sleep a single night with composure in our hearts, because we have lost our mother, our parent as it were. We have been cut off from our own very source. We are sundered completely from our own self. This is 'Atmaghata', that has taken place, as the Isavasya Upanishad puts it. These people who have lost the consciousness of the Self, are the killers of the Self, and they go to regions which are Sun-less, dark and torturous, says the Upanishad. This is a way of putting the condition that awaits a person who takes appearance for reality and completely misconstrues the relation of himself empirically with this basic Reality of all things. We have a reality in our own selves which is commensurate with the Reality of everyone else. The Artha that we are pursuing, the objective of our life, the Kama, or the desire that we are evincing in respect of objects of sense, are nothing but the phenomenal expressions of the beckoning of the noumenal Reality within us. It is calling us. The mother is calling the child, "You come". The universal call is the pull that is exerted upon us in the form of a desire for things in the world. This is the metaphysical meaning, the philosophical explanation behind even ordinary desires or any kind of impulsion from within us to do anything whatsoever, personally or socially, or in any other capacity.
So, Yoga gives us a great message: the message not of any scripture, not of any religion, but the message of the Cosmos, the message that comes from the distant stars, like the cosmic rays, as the modern scientists tell you, which come and impinge on us without our knowing that they are on our heads. The Universe is speaking to us in the language of desire and it tells us that our destination, our central goal of life, is a graduated attunement of our personality with the various degrees of manifestation of this ultimate Reality. The necessity to tune ourselves with the requirements of political administration, the needs of human society, the requirements of even a family or the demands of our own physical personality – all these are the various degrees of the expression of the law of the one Universal Existence. The various duties that we are called upon to perform in the different vocations of life are the obligations that we owe to this one Reality in its various facets. So, Dharma is Universal. It is not a religious term. It is a scientific expression. It is the Law that binds you to the Whole. It is the principle by which the part is coordinated to the completeness of the structure of the universe. Here is the message of Yoga for you, and difficult as it is to contemplate the further implications of this wonderful message, it is imperative at the same time to bear this in our mind every moment of our life, if we are to breathe a breath of satisfaction, if we are not merely to go on cursing our fate, finding fault with things and becoming disssatisfied with anything and everything in life. If it is given us to be happy at least for a moment in our life, if this is a practicable proposition at all, I would tell you that this cannot be, if you are not to be in union with Reality.
Satyameva jayate, is a great motto with which you are all familiar. And what is this Satyam, the Truth? Satyatvam badha rahityam said a great master. That which is 'uncontradictable', is the Truth, and if 'Truth alone triumphs', it is another way of saying that the 'Uncontradictable' alone triumphs. My dear friends, can I put you a question? Have you seen anything in this world which is uncontradictable? Everything is contradicted by everything else. There is supersession of values. Everything is transcended by something else. There is nothing in this world which cannot be negated by a subsequent occurrence or historical procession. It is because of this fact that it is said that there is no Reality in the appearance of this world. The appearance carries Reality, no doubt, the appearance of the world is a vehicle of Reality, but the structure itself is not Reality. We may make a distinction between Nama-Rupa-Prapancha (the world of names and forms) and Vastu-Tattva (essential Reality). The vehicle is the outer, phenomenal, transient expression of a particular degree of Reality and not the whole of Reality, so that at no occasion in the process of human history can you discover the whole of Reality. By a study of human history the entirety of Reality cannot be known because at every moment of human history there is only a partial expression of it and the reason behind the procession of human history can only be said to be the universal impulse within everything to effloresce into the realisation of the destiny of history. The rivers will not be quiet until they reach the ocean. There is roaring and rushing and moving and meandering of the rivers and rivulets. All this noise continues until they reach the sea. So is human history supposed to cease moving when the destiny of the cosmos is reached. This destiny is known as Moksha, a term with which, I believe, you are familiar, again. Moksha is the 'Infinite Value' or the ultimate determining factor of the principles that govern the fulfilment of all objectives – of Artha or material gain, and the achievement of Kama or desire both conditioned by a tremendously restrictive discipline, the rule of Dharma. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha – these four aims are so comprehensive that they mean the total Integral Life of all.
Moksha is the Infinite Value. It is not the last value, or one of the four ends of life. It is the Infinite itself. You cannot say that the Infinite is the last end in the long chain of development. It is Infinitude and, therefore, it subsumes within itself all other values. The temporal values, the objects of the world, the desires of life, the various vocations which we pursue, are all subsidiary to our allegiance to this ultimate call of life in its totality which we designate as Moksha, or liberation of the Spirit. The activities in life, in the various fields, and the various aspirations of mankind, whatever be its movements, whatever be the directions they take, all these are the gradual growth of the human personality towards this attainment.
This is the message of Yoga. It is, thus, impossible for a person not to be a Yogi. Tasmat Yogi Bhava, (therefore, become a Yogi), says the Bhagavad Gita. This is the message of the Eternal to the temporal. It is not Krishna speaking to Arjuna; it is the Absolute admonishing the relative. Tasmat – therefore, because of the fact that it is impossible even to exist maintaining one's integrity without relationship with Reality. Just as, without life-breath, we cannot live, without contact with Reality we cannot exist. The values that we seem to be admiring in life, are assertions of this Universal Spirit, and it is the battle between the Spirit within and the material universe without that we call history. It ceases, it fulfils itself, it finds its consummation, when Matter emerges into Spirit, and Spirit unites itself with Matter, so that the subject and the object cease to be two contending parties. They stand as one integrated Principle – the Absolute.
This is the goal of life towards which everyone is moving. 'You' and 'I', and everyone else, not merely human but even the other levels of existence are all tending towards this mysterious culmination of the values of all life, and what can be a greater call, what can be a more solacing message than this wondrous word that we hear from the adepts who have trodden this path, seen through the vicissitudes of life, and plumbed the depths of existence.
At this auspicious moment, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty upon you all, that, in the words of the great Mantra called the Gayatri, we have our understandings properly directed. We have no other prayer except this, that our understandings move in the direction of Reality. We need understanding and nothing else. Understanding itself is satisfaction. Chit (Consciousness) is Ananda (Bliss). The more you understand, the more do you become happy. It is wisdom that gives you satisfaction and not material possessions. The more you know, the more do you commingle with Reality. The goal of life is wisdom of existence, the knowledge of Reality, union with the cosmos, and this is the ultimate aim of Yoga. It is not merely the ultimate aim, it is also the immediate aim. It is that which is under our very nose, just new, and the step that we have to take now is the step in the direction of Yoga. Life is Yoga.