Ch. 3 Yoga of One’s Own Dharma (Part 4)

This article is part 32 of 52 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

Thus, one who leads life in the form of tapas, yajña, and dāna, does not have to hanker after mokṣa. It is readily available. By leading a life that is dedicated to the divine, he climbs above the duality caused by lust and anger. Gradually he will realize that there is something beyond worldly enjoyment and becomes eligible to see the abode of paramātmā. Then is freedom from karmic shackles.

yastvātmaratirēva syādātmatṛptaśca mānavaḥ |

ātmanyēva ca santuṣṭastasya kāryaṅ na vidyatē || BG 3.17

Kṛṣṇa says, “sahayajñāh prajāh srṣṭvā” (It appears that there is a pāṭhāntara, “sahayajñaih”). It is probably necessary to make sense of this verse by explaining and understanding the inner meanings of expositions of the earlier ācāryas.

  1. It should be noted that there is no mention of division on the basis of region, caste, or clan. By the words “prajāh srṣṭvā”, it is clear that it refers to all humankind. Therefore, this instruction applie to all humans, irrespective of caste or position in life.
  2. The temperament of yajña is inherent in the makeup of human nature. It has not entered man from outside. It is not created by someone else’s influence. The inclination towards yajña is one of the innate qualities of humanity.
  3. Yajña is worship. An important part of worship is naivedya or oblation. It is also called āhuti or havirbhāga; that itself is upāyana or gift. The common English translation of the word yajña is sacrifice. In essence, ’sacrifice’ also means proper conduct of oneself towards something sacred – that is, start with worship and make an offering. Giving up something that belongs to us for an object worthy of worship – giving up one’s ownership with a sense of reverence is yajña.
  4. Is not the purport of the earlier verse that Yajña is inborn in man? What does it mean? Does it not imply that giving up ownership is inborn and natural in him? Is it real, though? Our experience tells us otherwise. Man is by nature selfish. Giving up something selflessly is usually unnatural to him. (See #7 below).
  5. Let us explore the experience in greater depth and breadth. In every human, there is surely some generosity in something. Even the most parsimonious man will show some affection and concern towards his wife and children – at least sometimes. He might loosen up, at least to reach his own selfish ends. He might draw someone close to him and help him. The seed of selflessness is thus sown. Dāna and yajña are the workings of sattva-guṇa. There is no human without at least some goodness in him. Just as there cannot be a person who is completely sāttvika, there is no one completely devoid of goodness. In some people, the quality of sattva-guṇa and the tendency towards yajña are quite minimal and feeble. By associating with the world, these feelings gradually grow and become more intense. Lust becomes love. Love transforms into attachment. Attachment moulds into fellowship. Fellowship trains one to give up selfishness, at least a little. This is the instruction of nīti acquired by acquaintance with the world. This teaching is possible because there is at least an iota of sattva in all humans. The germination of this tiny seed of sattva is the initial manifestation of yajña. Matthew Arnold’s opinion is nearly the same – “... the enduring Power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness.” (Literature and Dogma).
  6. Initially, natural selfishness itself expects others’ help. No one can lead a life in this world without at least some help from other people. Thinking thus objectively, a solitary life is not a full life. No man is completely independent. Everyone is dependent on others. As humans are necessary for one another’s survival, they have established families, societies, and states. Plato the philosopher affirms the same. Thus, interdependence among humans is a natural state.
  7. Even though the seed of yajña is naturally present within us, our difficulty is that it is dormant (See 5. above). As we will later see in the sixteenth chapter, daivī and āsurī qualities are both mixed in our nature. Selfishness and friendship with others co-exist. A sense of ownership exists alongside  indifference. The object of dhārmika rituals is to sift through this mixture, separate out the virtuous qualities and reinforce them. Among all dharmas, the first one is the intention to help others, the will to think of others’ welfare. Even if it is born out of a desire for one’s own welfare, it is not a flaw. It is enough if from within arises the realisation that there is someone other than oneself and that their companionship is valuable. This wisdom paves the way for further lessons in moral instruction. When man progresses from egotism to affection – when ego expands from self-centredness into a sense of ‘mine’ and ‘my people’ – it can be said that the progress of nīti has begun. The second step is moving from the sense of “only these are mine” to the feeling that “all are mine”. Due to the organisation and mechanics of creation, natural self-love and self-regard themselves desire the company of others and help practise giving up selfishness.
  8. parasparaṃ bhāvayantaḥ”: is the golden maxim of life in the world taught by Bhagavān. That indeed is friendship with the world. It is a yajña where one’s selfishness is offered as an āhuti. Bonding with family is its preliminary form. The husband has to give up something for the happiness of his wife. She, in turn, has to do the same for him. This mutual giving up for the other’s sake itself is yajña which leads to a rise in matrimonial bliss. In fact, love itself is preparation for giving up oneself. Without the yajña of the offering of one’s ego, there cannot be family or friendship or society, or any human relationship at all.
  9. As the fluid of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ gradually spreads from one’s home to the extended family, to society and then to the country, it goes deeper and becomes thinned and diluted. As ego thins out, the practice of likening oneself with the whole world increases. As the practice of ātmaupamya (the feeling that the whole world is like us) increases, the universe is seen and experienced as an extension of oneself. When the sense of belonging breaks out of the embankments of worldly attachment and rushes into the sea of paramātmā, mokṣa or salvation is gained.

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.


Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

Prekshaa Publications

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...