Om Namo Bagavathe Vasudevaaya
3rd Chapter – karmayogaḥ
इष्टान्भोगान्हि वो देवा दास्यन्ते यज्ञभाविताः।
तैर्दत्तानप्रदायैभ्यो यो भुङ्क्ते स्तेन एव सः॥१२॥
iṣṭānbhogānhi vo devā dāsyante yajñabhāvitāḥ |
tairdattānapradāyaibhyo yo bhuṅkte stena eva saḥ ||12||
Meaning: The Devas, nourished by Yajna, will give you the desired objects. One who enjoys the gift of the Devas without offering them (anything in return) is, indeed, a thief. (3.12)
इष्टान् = desired; भोगान् = necessities of life; हि = certainly; वः = unto you; देवाः = Gods; दास्यन्ते = will award; यज्ञभाविताः = being satisfied by the performance of sacrifices; तैः = by them; दत्तान् = things given; अप्रदाय = without offering; एभ्यः = to these Gods; यः = who; भुङ्क्ते = enjoys; स्तेनः = thief; एव = certainly; सः = he.
Explanation: In the next two shlokas Lord is highlighting the need for “Responsible Living”. Living responsibly means confirming to the order. As we saw, there is a natural order prevalent, which needs to be recognized and respected. Natural order will continue to support the creation, without swerving away from its responsibility. Natural order here is called as Devas(Gods). We saw in the last post that propitiation includes both the prayers and wise utilization of the resources with appropriate replacements done for the consumption made.
Vedas (the primary body of knowledge) instruction for prayers is by the performance of fire rituals (Homam). Agni (Fire) is considered to be the medium for pleasing all the devatas. In fact Agni is the courier service, who receives the oblations offered and carries it to the correct address where it is meant to be delivered. We would have heard, purohit chanting, “Vishnave Swaha; Vishnave idam na mama” and offering the oblations (ghee or cooked rice etc.,) into the fire. This means, this one is for Mahavishnu, please deliver it to the Lord.
Vedas give instructions as to how these rituals should be done, the type of rituals for different requirements, lists out the rituals which needs to be done mandatorily. They talk about the place within the agni where the oblations should be given, when they should be given. They all may appear symbolic, but the point is, the detailing is to ensure that the action done towards propitiating a particular devata reaches that devata and the kartha (performer of the action) gets the total benefit of such action. Further, such detailing is required to help the doer to have full focus on the action to be done. Following these disciplines will benefit the personality and ensure that the person following the disciplines will develop into a focused one. Such focus is the prerequisite for the spiritual growth and important for realizing the truth about one’s true nature (which is the primary goal).
Even when we look at the cultural aspect of Sanatana dharma, we can see many of the natural forces are worshipped; many of these devatas are worshipped in the form of festivals. Pongal (Makara Sankaranathi) propitiating Sun/Indra, Chitra Pournami for the Moon, Kartigai Deepam to worship the Lord Shiva in the form of Agni and these festivals are a nice package to ensure that we do perform “Thanksgiving” to all these devatas.
Scriptures expect one to live a life confirming to the order, be thankful for all that is given and be responsible in utilizing the resources given. This is called leading a life of dharma.
In short, BE A CONTRIBUTOR AND NOT A CONSUMER.
One should develop the habit of including everyone and everything in life. I remember a small anecdote which happened to me years back. Those were bachelor days in Bahrain and few of us were staying together in the same apartment and our food was taken care of by a cook. There was a period, where it was the fasting month and the benefit of having a cook helping us in the preparation of food was fully realized and appreciated. One day one of the friends, happened to come a bit early for lunch as nothing was available outside due to the fasting month everyone had to come home for lunch (non fasting ones). This friend came home and driven by hunger, finished of all the food (almost) what was prepared for atleast 5 people. The rest of us were slowly trotting in to find morsels left and upon enquiry, the response was, I was hungry, food was there, I ate it. I asked him don’t you have to think whether everyone would have had the food, reply was I don’t need, all it mattered was my hunger and hence I ate it. I told him strongly that never to repeat this approach and always think about others. Mindless consumption should be avoided.
Even we would have faced some similar experiences, unexpectedly guests would have come and the available food will be served and the lady of the house would be walking a tight rope walk. Even if we are guests, we should be alert and ensure that we don’t cause embarrassment by showing our eating abilities. We should always be alert and bring others into the picture. These are small examples, and we have to make a difference through our attitude and vision(which includes the whole rather than the part).
Lord here tells strongly that propitiate the devas regularly and for sure devas will bless you with all your needs including your personal needs as house, spouse, children, wealth, health etc., He reprimands, that having received all that one wishes for, one should continue to propitiate the devas. The one’s who don’t do this is fit to be called as a THIEF (Stena).
The idea here is one should live responsibly, should not disturb the natural order, and should keep the common good in mind always. Mere consumption without contribution is condemned here. The Lord will praise the opposite behavior in the next shloka.