A CONSECRATED LIFE
*** The Only Source of Good *** The Five Great Sacrifices ***
*** How to worship *** Salvation (Mukti) ***
Religion is not only a matter of Temple rituals on special days or times or places. Every day and every moment can be the occasion for worship; every place can become a temple or a shrine; every action can become a sacrament by being offered to God and therefore performed to the best of one's abilities.
THE ONLY SOURCE OF GOOD
"If a householder is a genuine devotee, he performs his duties without attachment; he surrenders the fruit of his work to God - his gain or loss, his pleasure or pain - and day and night he prays for devotion and for nothing else. This is called motiveless work, the performance of duty without attachment. .....
If a householder gives in charity in a spirit of detachment, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. It is God alone that he serves - God, who dwells in all beings; and when he serves God, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. If a man thus serves God through all beings, not through men alone but through animals and other living beings as well; if he doesn't seek name and fame, or heaven after death; if he doesn't seek any retum from those he serves; if he can carry on his work of service in this spirit - then he performs truly selfless work, work without attachment. Through such selfless work he does good to himself. This is called karmayoga. This too is a way to realize God. .....
Therefore I say, he who works in such a detached spirit - who is kind and charitable - benefits only himself. Helping others, doing good to others - this is the work of God alone, who has created for men the sun and moon, father and mother, fruits, flowers, and corn. The love that you see in parents is God's love: He has given it to them to preserve His creation. The compassion that you see in the kindhearted is God's compassion: He has given it to them to protect the helpless. He will have His work done somehow or other. Nothing can stop His work".
(To Bankim Chandra Chatterji - from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Abridged, p. 365-366).
THE FIVE GREAT SACRIFICES (PANCAMAHÂYAJNA)
A day passed bereft of the performance of Yajna (sacrifice) is a day gone to waste. Such is the injunction of the scriptures. An ideal family man is he who engages himself daily in the five Great Yajnas. AIl the five of them form his nitya karma (obligatory work).
First and foremost among them is Deva Yajna - the worship of God. The day invariably begins with it. This has to be gone through devoutly and to the best of one's knowledge. It may be augmented with rituals according to traditions and individual tastes.
The second in order is Rishi Yajna - the adoration of the Enlightened. The great ones who have had God-realization have not allowed their rare experiences to go into oblivion. Out of compassion for the ignorant humanity they have passed them on to posterity in the form of scriptures and sacred books. A devoted study, assimilation and practice of the principles contained in them constitute this yajna. Expounding the holy scriptures with a devotional attitude to the ardent enquirers and devotees is also an aspect of this Yajna.
Pitri Yajna comes third in rank. It has two aspects. The living parents have to be revered and devotedly served every day. He who pleases not his parents cannot please anybody here or hereafter. This is the first part of this Yajna. Thinking daily holy and auspicious thoughts for the welfare of the departed ancestors is its second part.
Fourthly comes Nara Yajna - the devoted service to mankind. Individuals are the limbs of the community. At all levels and in all fields the interest of the limb should be subordinated to that of the main body. Any position reverse to this is definitely harmful. That man who places the public interest above the personal and acts accordingly is doing Nara Yajna. This age is in need of emphasis on this Yajna.
Bhûta Yajna or a reverent relationship with all the living beings completes the list. Since aIl creatures have come from God, the Cosmic Life, they have to be treated with due regard. The domestic animaIs and birds require to be tended on a par with the human. The cow-mother - Gomâtâ - is literally worshipped in this great land. Bhûta Yajna does not, however, preclude stern steps being taken against terrific and venomous creatures that prove to be a menace to human life.
It is God Himself who has become the entire Creation. All beings are therefore to be revered as the various manifestations of Nârâyana. The tiger-Nârâyana, however, has to be respected from a safe distance. - Sri Ramakrishna.
Through the meticulous practice of these five Great Sacrifices - Pancha Mahâyajna - the life of man on earth becomes prosperous and auspicious.
(From Swami Chidbhavananda's Commentary to the Bhagavad Gîtâ - Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, Tirupparaitturai)
HOW TO WORSHIP
Whatsoever thou doest, whatsoever thou eatest, whatsoever thou offerest, whatsoever thou givest, whatsoever thou doest of austerity, do thou that as an offering unto Me (Bhagavadgîtâ IX, 27).
Whoever with devotion offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, water, that I accept from the soul trying to reach Me, offered as it is with love (Bhagavadgîtâ IX, 26).
The wise should act without self-interest, desiring the welfare and the integrity of the world (Bhagavadgîtâ III, 25).
He who see me in every being and every being sees in Me, he is never lost to Me, nor am I lost to him (Bhagavadgîtâ VI, 30).
He who, established in unity, worships Me who am dwelling in all beings,that Yogî (*) abides in Me, whatever his mode of life (Bhagavadgîtâ VI, 31).
He who judges of pleasure or pain everywhere by the same standard as he applies to himself, that Yogî is to be regarded as the best (Bhagavadgîtâ VI, 32).
(*) Yogî is one practising Yoga. Yoga comes from the root yuj- ("to join", "to bind together"). Akin to the Latin religio (from religare, "to bind together"), the word yoga in the Bhagavadgîtâ could often be translated as "religion", of which the outcome is Union (yoga) with God. Hence a Yogî is one leading a truly religious life. Therefore Yoga is much more than what is commonly understood in the West, where that word often stands for "Hatha yoga", a kind of psycho-physical gymnastic.
In order to learn what really Yoga is,
please read Swami Vivekananda's books on
Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga.
S A L V A T I O N (M U K T I)
One must learn sooner or later that one cannot get salvation if one does not try to seek the salvation of his brothers ....
The unselfish man says: "I will be last. I do not care to go to heaven. I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers".
You will go to hell if you seek your own salvation! Seek the salvation of others if you want to reach the Highest! Kill out the desire for personal Mukti! That is the greatest of all spiritual disciplines.
What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all around us, the Virat (*). When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all other gods ... What we need is Chittashuddhi, purification of the heart. And how does that come? The first of all worships is the worship of the Virat, of those all around us. Worship it ... These are all our gods: men and animals ...
(*) The totality of the living beings in the physical world.