There are five sacrifices which we must offer daily and these are spoken about by all Gurus. There are five Gods also associated with the sacrifices.
- The Sacrifice to Rishi or Vedas, Rrushi Yajnya (sacrifice for the source of knowledge). Siva is source of knowledge and universal teacher.
- The Sacrifice to Devas or Deva Yajnya (protection for the environmental powers as Gods). Durga is an integration of all godly powers.
- The Sacrifice to Pitris or Pitru Yajnya (responsibility for the parents, ancestors and self-genetic system). Surya is a token of respect and remembrance to the ancestors and forefathers.
- The Sacrifice to Men or Nrru Yajyna (positive interaction with fellow human beings of the society). Ganesha is the God for this sacrifice and is associated with community activity.
- The Sacrifice to Bhutas or Bhoota Yajnya (care for the protection of biodiversity). Vishnu is the God for preserving the universe.
Each one of these has an outer and external meaning.
The sacrifice to the Rishis or Vedas is study and teaching. Every day an individual should study some sacred scripture. After acquiring this knowledge, he/she will understand him/her/self-better. Then this knowledge can then be shared with others who are ignorant.
Manu, the first man and legendary author of an important Sanskrit Law Code defined as Manu-smriti described the teaching as a sacrifice. The outer meaning is that thought is applied while reading even one shloka. It is not how much one has read. The inner meaning is that all learning is considered a sacrifice and it must be shared.
Swami Sivananda shared all the knowledge he was blessed with, with his disciples. So did Swami Satyananda, and he said that after his body left this earth, all his wisdom was available to all seekers.
Practice Ahimsa and non-violence
The sacrifice to the Devas means Homa and recognition of Prakriti (Mother Earth) Bhumi and what we owe her. Lighting an oil lamp daily, is a symbol of the fire god. The inner meaning is understanding our interdependence with the cosmos. We must live in harmony with all God’s creatures. In the Hindu faith, it is advocated to practice Ahimsa and non-violence.
The sacrifice to the Pitris is the offering of water to our ancestors. The inner meaning is to recognize the debt we owe to the past and the generations who lived before us. Our ancestors who made the earth habitable for us.
The sacrifice to man is hospitality. Every day one must feed someone who is needy. The inner meaning is to serve and help humanity and those who are suffering.
The sacrifice to the Bhutas is to serve the invisible entities around us and placing a little food for animals and the poor. The inner meaning is to care for those who are destitute and the recognition of our debt to those who enabled us to live today.
Practicing the five sacrifices daily is a very powerful sadhana. It keeps us in touch with the humanity in us and makes us aware that we must practice karma yoga.
For many of us have this a way of life. I came across the description of the five sacrifices in “Sanatana Dharma,” a book written in 1916, published by the Board of Trustees, Central Hindu College, Benares. I also have added to the description.
The five sacrifices will preserve the universe and raise eco-consciousness in the human environment.
Aim Hrim Klim