Volume 11 - Issue 10
October 2013
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DISCOURSE QUIZ

ON DASARA YAjNAM

 

Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

 

One of the unique aspects of the Dasara celebration in Prasanthi Nilayam is the Veda Purusha Sapthaha Jnana yajna – the sacrifice undertaken according to Vedic injunctions. During this seven-day ritual, every evening there are talks by scholars, but the highlight of these sessions is the message of Bhagawan Baba. Over the past several decades Swami has delivered innumerable discourses explaining in detail the significance of every aspect of this Vedic sacrifice; He has revealed amazing secrets of this ancient ceremony in a manner only He can.

This quiz is an attempt to relive some of these messages and utilise them effectively to transform our lives.

 

01. The very first Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana yajna was inaugurated by Swami in 1962. This was a major step forward in Swami’s Mission of Veda Samarakshana (protection of the Vedas). In the inaugural Divine Discourse, Swami highlighted the true significance of yajna:

“Today, long before the Sun rose, I could see Aananda (bliss) rising in your hearts; for you woke up long before dawn and got ready to come here for the inauguration of this yajna (Vedic ritual of sacrifice)! I had suggested 9:30 as the time for this event, but others suggested an earlier muhurtha (auspicious hour). My sankalpa (resolve) prevailed due to the showers that came this morning, and we are meeting here to inaugurate the yajna at 9:30 itself! Ananda is ultimately based on food, food is derived from rain, rain is the gift of God in exchange for yajna offerings.

Yajna (sacrifice) is the destiny of every living being. Life is sustained by the sacrifice of the living. Every being, from the tiniest amoeba to the most profound scholar, is perpetually engaged in yajna. The mother sacrifices for the child, the father for the progeny, the friend for the friend, the individual for the group, the present for the sake of the future, the rich for the poor, the weak for the strong - it is all yajna - sacrifice, offering. Only, most of it is not conscious or voluntary or righteous. It is done out of fear or greed or with a view to the fruits thereof, or by mere instinct or primeval urge. It must be consciously done for spiritually elevating purposes, especially in man. Then, when life becomes yajnamaya (sacrifice-filled), egoism will disappear and the river will merge in the sea.

“The stream of yajna is the River Saraswati of the Vedic Triveni; the meaning and significance, of every single hymn and rite of the Vedas is yajna. Every single syllabus of the Vedas is a name of God; it has about thirteen lakhs of such syllables. When the river Saraswati underneath the twin rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, dries up, it will be a terrible tragedy; so also when the stream of yajna dries up, it will be a great loss of spiritual wealth; because when that happens, India cannot continue to be India. Do not be satisfied with simply collecting a few gaudy shells from the shore of this ancient culture. Dive deep into her past and bring out the priceless pearls.”

According to Swami: “The Vedas and the Shasthras (scriptures) are the ....................... of India.”

  B. Two eyes


02. During a Divine Discourse given in 1979, Swami asserted the universal benefit of performing yajnas:

“Since several centuries and millennia, yajnas like the Veda Purusha Sapthaaha Jnana Yajna (Seven day Vedic sacrifice) which is being inaugurated here now, have been observed in India for the welfare of the world. These yajnas are not performed to benefit an individual, a family, a sect, a caste or those who follow a particular faith. The aim is universal and the beneficiaries are all living beings, for such yajnas calm the elements and propitiate the deities presiding over the earth, water, fire, wind and sky.

“Here we see rithviks (priests performing the rites) who are specialists in the different stages of Vedic sacrifice. We hear the recitation of Vedic hymns; we have pandits reading the Ramayana (History of Rama), the Bhagavatha (Legends of Divine Advents) and the Devi Bhagavatha (Exploits of Divine Universal Mother) from the original texts; we have the ceremonial worship of Devi on the lines of Shastric (ethical) injunctions. Also another is engaged in prayer of the thousand lingas (Symbolic Form of Divinity), while the fifth propitiates the Sun God by means of ritual prostration to the accompaniment of mantras, praising His Glory. Godhead, in all its manifestations of elements and forces, is thus being adored for seven days as part of the Veda Purusha Jnana Yajna.

According to Swami: “Recitation of the Vedas purifies the environment and strengthens the will to .................”

 

03. During a Divine Discourse given in 1974, Swami answers all queries one might have about the object of performing the yajnas:

“The Vedas (sacred ancient scriptures) are the very roots of Bharathiya Culture. So, it is the bounden duty of every son of India to observe the rites and rituals, the injunctions and instructions, laid down in the Vedas. Many have fallen into the habit of asking, what is the object of these directions, what can we gain from them? Well, let Me tell them that the one single object that the Vedas have in view is to make man Divine, through a series of spiritual exercises. They lead man from the animal stage, when he believes he is - just a body suffering hunger, thirst and desires of various kinds - into the state of human-ness, when he recognises that he is far higher than an animal and later, the Vedas persuade him to use his intelligence and discrimination to sublimate his passions and emotions to the Divine level where he is in eternal bliss.

“The Vedas elaborate the Sanaathana Shaasthra (the primal Science of the Spirit). Understanding this science well and practising it form the duties every man owes to himself. That science results in the removal of ignorance, the gaining of knowledge; not the knowledge of material, worldly things, which changes and gets superseded every few years! It endows the seeker with the knowledge that is the key to the entire gamut of knowledge, that which if known, everything else is known. That is why the Vedas are called so. Literally 'Veda' signifies, Vedayathi ithi Vedaha, that is to say, "Veda means "______________________”.

 

04. During a Divine Discourse given in 1989, Swami elaborated on the nine different ways that the Vedic knowledge has been brought down - Divine as well as human: “The Vedas developed under nine heads: (1) Sruti (2) Anuswara (3) Trayee (4) Aamnaayam (5) Samaamnayam (6) Chandas (7) Swaadhyayam (8) Gama and (9) Aagama.

Sruti refers to the process of learning the Vedas from a preceptor by practising the precise manner of chanting the mantras and thereby acquiring proficiency in the recitation of the Vedas. The sounds have to be reproduced exactly as taught by the preceptor by listening to him with intense earnestness. The Vedic mantras are thus learnt entirely by listening.

Anuswara refers to the practice of repeating the mantras learnt from the preceptor, contemplating on them and preserving them in their purity by constant recitation.

Trayee: Originally only three Vedas - Rig, Yajur and Sama Vedas - were considered Apourusheya, that is, those without a human origin (that is, emanating from the Divine). The Atharvana Veda comprises hymns taken from the Yajur Veda. Because of their Divine origin, the first three Vedas were called ‘Trayee’ (the Triad).

Aamnaaya refers to constant contemplation of the root syllable ‘Na.’ Acquiring knowledge of the Vedas by this practice has been described as Aamnaaya and Samaamnaaya.

“One meaning of Chandas is that it is knowledge which should be guarded in secret and propagated with care. The Vedas are also described as Chandas. The entire Sama Veda consists of Chandas.

Swaadhyaayam refers to the process by which the Vedas have come down from generation to generation, through father to son, in genealogical succession. Acquisition of Vedic knowledge was not through books. It was transmitted from preceptor to disciple over the years. It is because this knowledge was handed down directly from preceptor to pupil, it has been described as Swaadhyaaya.”

Revealing the origin of the Vedas, Swami then makes the astounding statement: “All in all, the Vedas represent the emanations from .......................................”


 

05.During a Divine Discourse given in 1983, Swami alerts us that there are three different kinds of debts every man owes upon birth: “Every man, irrespective of the country, race or period of time in which he is born, comes into the world burdened with three debts. The first debt is owed to the Divine. The second is to the rishis (sages). The third is to one's parents.

“A debt is an obligation arising out of what one has received from others. We can easily identify these debts because in the human body, different divine forces are present nourishing and protecting it. This divine energy permeates the entire body; it is called the Rasa (Divine Essence). We owe a debt of gratitude to the Divine which has not only endowed us with this precious human body but which also sustains it. We shall be able to enjoy these gifts of the Divine only if we discharge this debt to the Divine. How is this to be done? It is by rendering service to other bodies saturated with the same Divine, by doing righteous deeds and consecrating all actions in the service of society. The debt to the Divine has to be discharged in full in this life itself or during many future lives. The earlier we repay this debt, the sooner we shall realise Divinity.

“Next, the debt to the Rishis: By selfless investigations and experiments, the sages discovered for mankind the paths to be followed for bettering our lives here and attaining mergence. They have laid down the types of right action that will help man to lead a good and worthy life and successfully strive for Self-realisation. These guidelines and codes of conduct have come down to us in the form of Shastras (spiritual sciences). The Shastras also deal with rituals and forms of worship for propitiating the Divine. The sages have taught how man can proceed from the human to the Divine.

“Because the sages of yore have given man these precious guidelines for a righteous and sacred life, we repay the debt by respecting these codes and observing the injunctions laid down by them. Today, instead of honouring and following the shastras, people are dishonouring and violating them and committing many wanton sins in the process. When we follow the path laid down by the sages, we can lead exemplary lives and reach the full height of human potentialities.

“The third debt we have to pay is the Pithru-runam (debt to the parents). A person desires to have a son and feels that without a son he cannot escape hell. This is not a correct interpretation of the debt to the parents. The ancients desired to have sons who would lead righteous lives and help the parents in discharging the debt to .........................”


06. During a Divine Discourse given in 1986, Swami mercifully enlightens us with a prescription for the atonements of any sins we may have committed in our lives: “In the ordinary course of life, man does many actions which, wittingly or unwittingly, cause harm to other beings. To atone for such actions, five yajnas - propitiatory rites - have been prescribed by the shastras. These are: Deva yajna, Pitru yajna, Bhoota yajna, Manushya yajna and Rishi yajna or Brahma yajna. The inner significance of each of these yajnas should be clearly understood by everyone.

Deva yajna: In numerous daily activities like walking, breathing, and others, unconsciously people cause the death of many creatures like ants, insects and micro-organisms. To atone for these sins committed unknowingly, Deva yajnas, to propitiate various deities, have been prescribed. Moreover, in our body, in every organ and limb, the presiding deities are present in the form of Rasa (a subtle fluid). Hence these deities are called Angirasas (the presiding deities of the Angas or limbs). Because these deities in the subtle form protect the organs concerned, gratitude has to be expressed to them in the form of Deva yajnas. During the states like sleep, these deities take care of the body. As the body has been given to man for the performance of his duties man should be grateful to the deities who protect it.

Pitru yajnas: When a branch is broken, a flower is plucked or a tree is cut down, many small creatures may be losing their lives. Recognising one's responsibility for this loss of lives, one should perform Pitru yajna (sacrifice to the manes) by way of atonement. In addition, one should remember that he owes his body and all that it contains, as well as the food that has nourished him in childhood, to his parents. As long as they are alive, it is one's duty to serve them and keep them happy. The obsequies and ceremonies that are performed after their death are laid down to honour their memory. By performing Pitru Yajnas, the ancestors are propitiated.

Bhoota yajnas: When we take a bath or wash our clothes, or sweep the house, many living creatures may be losing their lives. To atone for the death of such creatures, Bhoota yajnas (offerings to the Bhoothas) have to be made. This practice has come down from the times of ancient sages. The rishis used to maintain deer, cows, and other animals in their ashrams and look after them with loving care as expression of their love for all living beings. Following their example, other people used to scatter sugar or flour near anthills for feeding the ants. To offer the remains of one's food after a meal to cows or dogs or other creatures is also a form of Bhoota yajna. Even today many people keep dogs, parrots or other pets at home. By showing love towards living things in this way, some atonement is made for the unconscious harm done to various creatures in daily life.

Manava or Manushya yajna: These yajnas or rituals are done to atone for many offences committed against various beings in the course of daily life, in actions done during work or play.

Rishi or Brahma yajna: Considering human birth as a precious gift, the ancient sages provided through the scriptures, the Upanishads and the Dharma Sastras, a body of principles for guiding man's life so that he may strive to attain the true goal of life - namely Self-realisation. They laid down the four Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha - as guidelines for humanity. These regulations, which are not applicable to animals or birds, have been prescribed for man alone because he alone is endowed with powers of enquiry and discrimination to choose between right and wrong...The rishis laid down the royal road of righteous life, for all humanity. It is our duty to show our gratitude to them by meditating on them and offering worship to them through Rishi yajnas.”

According to Swami: “There is no greater gift than the gift of food to the hungry, there are no greater gods than one's parents, there is no higher dharma than compassion, no more profitable acquisition than the company of the good, no worse enemy than anger, no worse disease than debt, no worse death than infamy, no higher merit than ......................”


07. During a Divine Discourse given in 1974, Swami gives mankind hope of how to invoke Gods to bring peace and prosperity in the world:

“From the Universal Absolute manifested the Brahman, the Cosmic Principle. From the Brahman, Karma (regulated activity) based on Vedic prescriptions originated; from this kind of Karma, the Gods are delighted and they shower rain, directing the rain God Parjanya to bless the world and its people; since rain falls, crops grow and food is available for consumption; through food, man gets health and strength and vitality; as a result of this vitality, man multiplies and reproduces himself. This is the cycle, according to the Vedas - Karma, Rain, Crops, Food, Fecundity. Krathus (elaborate rituals) of this type, are undertaken for invoking timely rains, congenial seasons, and peace and prosperity for the whole world.

“It is the activity which declares whether the individual or society is good or bad. The thermometer measures the temperature of the body and announces whether the body is well or ill. The Karma or activity is the indicator of inner character. Observing one's actions, their motives, their consequences and the extent of one's involvement, it is possible to declare one as a pashu (beast) or Pashupathi (the Lord of Individual Souls), that is to say, as Divine as God Himself.

“The Krathu is also a Karma, albeit a Vedic Karma, dedicated to the acquisition of the welfare of the world. All Karma done to ________________________is good Karma which Gods would appreciate as a Krathu. The evil consequences that are sure to affect you when you have committed wrong Karmas can be counteracted by engaging yourself in beneficial Karmas, thereby earning merit.



08. During a Divine Discourse given in 1993, Swami elaborates more on the rationale behind performing the yajnas:

“Man's life originates in fire, grows on fire and ends in fire. Born from the warm womb of the mother, sustained by the fire of his digestive organ, man ultimately ends on the funeral pyre. Fire is thus the basic cause of human birth and death. Fire is an embodiment of the Divine. Fire is effulgent. It nourishes the whole world. But it needs to be kept under control. There is nothing great without restraint.

“The ancients started performing yajnas and Yagas (sacrifices) to propitiate the Divine in the form of Fire. The sacrifices were performed not to secure personal benefits or to get desires fulfilled, or to get over difficulties. They embarked on sacrifices only to secure Aathmaanandam (Bliss of the Spirit).

“Once, Emperor Janaka performed a big yajna. Many scholars participated in the sacrifice, including scholarly women. Among such women were Maithreyi, Gargi and others. At that yajna, a pandit called Ashvala started putting questions to the sage Yaajnavalkya. ‘How many deities are there here?’ he asked. Yaajnavalkya, being a very shrewd person, took the cue from the word ‘here'. He answered ‘There are 3306.’ The entire assembly was taken by surprise at this figure. They wondered whether there could be 3306 deities present at the yajna.

“What lay behind Yaajnavalkya's reply? He considered everyone present at the yajna as Divine. ‘God appears in human form.’ Hence, in those days, men were not regarded as mere human beings at yajnas and Yagas. Every individual was considered as a manifestation of the Divine.

“Ashvala then posed another question to Yaajnavalkya. He asked: ‘Is it possible to reduce this number of deities?’ ‘Yes, it is possible,’ said Yaajnavalkya. There was no mention of ‘here’ in the second question. Yaajnavalkya answered: ‘Thirty three deities.’ Asked whether he could state who these deities were, Yaajnavalkya said: ‘There are eight Vasus, eleven Rudhras, twelve Aadhithyas, Indra and Prajapathi. All these together make 33.’ The assembly was satisfied with the answer.

“Then, Gargi got up and asked: ‘Venerable sage! Is it possible to reduce this number further?’ ‘Certainly yes,’ declared Yaajnavalkya. ‘There are six: Agni (Fire), Bhuumi (earth), Vaayu (the Wind-God), Aadhithya (the Sun God) Amarathvam (Immortality), and Adhvara.’ These six are the true deities, he said.”

Finally, after several more reductions, Swami then said: “Asked whether a further reduction was possible, he said it could be reduced to one, namely, ..........................”


09. During a Divine Discourse given in 1983, Swami explains in detail about the two different kinds of yajnas:

Yajnas are of two kinds: Antar-yajna (internal) and Bahir-yajna (external). The internal yajna is the striving to realise the Divinity within. The Divine is in every one and it can be realised only through Dyana (meditation). The mind is the sacrificial altar. One has to offer as sacrifice on this altar one's all bad qualities. It may be asked how any bad quality can pollute the body-mind-complex when the Divine is the in-dwelling Spirit. But, it must be realised that this is not one's first birth in a body; many lives have preceded this.

“Man in Sanskrit is called Maanava which means, Maa (not), nava (new) - 'not new'. Birth as man is the final stage in the upward evolution of the 8400 thousand species of living beings. In previous lives, one might have been an insect, a worm, a bird or an animal. It is as a result of this that, despite the presence of the Divine, man displays now many animal qualities. For example, pride is not an innate human quality. It is the natural trait of a buffalo. If one displays pride, it means he has been a buffalo in previous lives. Some persons exhibit stupid stubbornness. This is not a human trait. It is the quality of a sheep.

“Sometimes some persons tend to indulge in petty thefts. This is derived from previous lives spent as a cat. Similarly, the vacillating and fickle nature displayed by a person may be attributed to a previous life as a monkey. Some persons are incurably ungrateful. They indulge even in harming those who help them. This is not a human trait. How, then, is it present in a man? It is because he must have been a serpent in a previous birth. The serpent is notorious, for emitting poison even when fed on milk.

“One should offer, therefore, at the altar of his mind as a sacrifice his stubbornness, thieving propensity, ingratitude and pride. This is the Inner yajna. Unfortunately, instead of performing sacrifices of this kind, people treat goats and fowl as offerings. As a result the bad qualities continue to grow in man. It is to eliminate this evil sense of ingratitude that external sacrifices like yajnas and Yaagas have been recommended to man.”

Swami teaches us further: “One must constantly strive to get rid of evil tendencies. Inherited evil traits rooted in the mind must be given up at the sacrificial altar. Of these traits, the worst are ...................”


10. During a Divine Discourse given in 1996, Swami reminds us of the auspiciousness of the sacred Vijayadashami day that is held on the conclusion of the seven-day yajna, also called the Poornahuthi day:

“Today, Vijayadashami, is a thrice-sacred day for Prasanthi vaasis (the dwellers of the abode of peace), that is to say, those who live in the Prasanthi Nilayam, here or elsewhere. It is as sacred as Triveni, where three rivers commingle their holy waters. Today is the samaapthi (conclusion festival) of Dasara; it is also the Samaapthi (conclusion) of the yajna sapthaaha, the seven-day rite of puja and paaraayanam (adoration and recitation); it is also the samaapthi day of the poorva-avathaaram (the previous incarnation), the Samaadhi Day (the entombment) of the Shirdi Sareeram (body of Shridi Sai Baba). Sam-aapthi also means the attainment of Brahmaananda (Brahmic Bliss) and so this day we have a chance to imbibe the Bliss Indescribable.

During a Divine Discourse given in 1981, Swami explains the meaning and the significance of the last day of the Seven-Day yajna: “On Vijayadashami day, the seven-day long Vedic ritual, performed for the promotion of peace and prosperity among all men in all lands and called Vedapurusha yajna (sacrifice dedicated of Vedic divinity) concludes with the valedictory offering to the Gods who preside over various facets of Nature. This is called Poornahuthi (the fullest Invocation) and usually a number of valuable things are poured and placed in the sacrificial fire, adored and fed during the entire week. The closing ritual is named Samaapthi, a word usually translated as the End. But its real meaning is Samaapthi, or the attainment of Sama and Brahma (Braahmic vision).

“The final offering is of ___________ , which is the culmination of the sacrifices rendered all along.”



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