'Be' with Swami Venkatesananda

Sacrifice

The spirit of sacrifice was created by God. It is God himself. Hence we find that the seed dies to give birth to the plant, the mother suffers birth-pangs to create new life. Metaphysically even creation is the supreme self-sacrifice of God – the one who has become many. It is this spirit of sacrifice that promotes life and well-being here.

In this sense it is not a ‘slaughter of a victim’ (as ‘sacrifice’ is translated by the dictionary), but a mystical, magical, divine transmutation of all substances and of all activities inherent in life. In this there is no loss, but fulfillment. The fulfillment of a seed growing into a tree, the fulfillment of motherhood, and the fulfillment of all life by the realization of potential divinity. With the sacrifice of self-limitation, the self realizes its oneness with the cosmic being, the drop shines as the ocean in supreme cosmic love. Thus sacrifice is pure love in which there is no sin, no sorrow.

Which Gods do we nourish by sacrifice? If the above injunction is read with the commandment in the Taittiriya Upanisad that we should treat our parents, teacher and guest as god, it is clear that the god is our neighbor in the Christian sense. In other words, we should all serve one another; and the word yajna or sacrifice reminds us that we should not have the slightest trace of selfishness. Our charitable acts should leave no egoistical trace behind, even as ghee poured into fire is totally consumed. We make one another’s life miserable here only on account of selfish desires, greed and inferior motives. When the spirit of self-sacrificing service governs the actions of man and when he learns to rejoice in the happiness of his neighbor, then we will have paradise on earth and everyone’s desires will be fulfilled. This doctrine of self-sacrificing, selfless service is truly the wish-fulfilling cow.