Now, this climate had arisen out of a historical reason: for that we have to go back to the Veda. You might say that the law of sacrifice was a great discovery of the Vedic Rishis. The law of sacrifice, which is given in the Bhagavad Gita is not for the first time a new discovery enunciated, and Sri Krishna Himself says that, “This law, I have declared long ago, in due course it was lost”. Now, when He had announced this law of sacrifice long ago was not in this body because Arjuna asks this question that, “You are now, and you said that you gave this Knowledge to Vivasvan earlier”. So, Sri Krishna says, “It was not in this body that I gave this Knowledge, there are many births of yours and many births of mine; in my past births I have given this Knowledge”. So, He refers to a time when this Knowledge was discovered and given from age to age: paramparā datta.
And if you read the Veda and if you ask the question: what is ‘the’ essential teaching of the Veda? It is nothing but this law of sacrifice. There is a very important verse in the Rig Veda which is called: puruṣasūkta (R.V.10.90), (Purusha–Sukta); it is the hymn of the Purusha, in which it is clarified that it is by the sacrifice of Purusha that the whole world has come into existence: so there, it is a sacrifice of Purusha. Now, this discovery, that this world is the sacrifice of the Lord Himself, and therefore the whole of the Rig Veda is nothing, and the whole of all the Veda is nothing but enunciation of the law of sacrifice. Right from the first verse to the end, it is nothing but enunciation as to how each individual should make a sacrifice that is the basic teaching of the Veda. Now, it so happen that this Knowledge was given to people who were at that time doing sacrifices in the form of havana. Therefore this teaching of sacrifice got conjoined with the normal method in which people were doing sacrifices. And the Vedic teaching was given in such way that ‘that’ teaching was gradually misunderstood to be confined only to external sacrifices.
Question: And by the law of sacrifice you mean giving up feeling of doer–ship?
You are right, there are three things in the law of sacrifice: first of all the action itself is offered to the Divine; secondly the doer–ship, that I am the doer of action, also is offered; and thirdly, you recognise that Lord Himself is the sacrificer. These three things are involved in the law of sacrifice. He is the doer of action. These three propositions constitute the law of sacrifice. Now this Knowledge was ‘the’ Knowledge of the Veda. And therefore, the teaching of the Veda was…this was the teaching that if everyone does whatever it does with this Knowledge…
Question: You give up your I–feeling
First your action itself, then I–feeling, and then recognition that Lord is the doer: all the 3 things are to be conjoined.
Question: That I–feeling, it is He only, you have to realise this.
Yes, actually ‘I’ is ‘He’, not ‘you’. So, give up your egoistic sense of doer–ship and refer it to the Lord, as He is the doer. And allow Him to act. So, when you allow Him to act, that itself is a sacrifice.
Question: You are merging yourself.
Then you are only nimittamātram, you only become the instrument of His action. This is the real meaning of renunciation of action. You are no more doing, it is ‘He’ who is doing and it is only like a flute: the flute gives the music, but neither the blower is you, nor the wind that is you, nor the music is you, you are only the flute, but you are not the music giver. So, when this is recognised, then your life becomes perfect.
Comment: Very difficult.
But then, the life becomes really perfect. Now, this is the secret of the Vedic teaching. And the whole of the Veda is nothing but different states in which you are; different conditions of your doer–ship, in which you experience; so, it is a detailed examination of the different stages of action, different senses of doer–ship, different ways in which you offer to the Lord and discover Him; the different ways in which you allow the doer Lord to act through you, in detail it is given. And this teaching was regarded as the teaching of the true knowledge. Therefore it was called Veda: Veda means nothing but ‘Book of Knowledge’. But because this was the teaching, given the context in which the external sacrifice was being performed, and the whole of sacrifice gradually came to be understood in the sense of ritualistic sacrifice. That is why Sri Krishna says, “In due course of time the original teaching was lost”.
And then, in the 4th chapter, Sri Krishna explains the real sacrifice. The real sacrifice is one in which at the end of sacrifice only one thing is left, which was supposed to enjoy, and that is amṛtaṁ. It is not the remainder of the food that remains at the end after distributing food to everybody, which is the ritualistic meaning of sacrifice. But after having done everything, give up everything, then there is one reward for you, and that is the nectar: it is not the ordinary food that remains. What is remainder is that you attain to immortality. So, it is in that sense that the yajña was to be understood; and this meaning is explained by Sri Krishna in the 4th chapter.