Morning Light Press, Sandpoint, Idaho, U.S.A.2009.
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(also published in India by New Age Books, New Delhi)
Rita Is Founded on Yajña
Rita and Yajña
As the gods do, so should the humans --follow the law of Rita. The preservation and maintenance of Rita depends on the proper relation between earth and heaven (Dyava-prithvi). This proper relation is based entirely on yajña by which alone an act or the whole life can be made sacred. To sacrifice (derived from the Latin sacre + facere) is to make sacred. It is by yajña that one participates in the right order. Yajña is the ‘abode of Rita’, ‘the home of Rita ’, ‘the dwelling of Rita , or ‘the path of Rita’ (Rig Veda I,43,9; I,84,4; III,55,14). Yajña becomes the cause, the origin and the beginning of all righteous acts and it prescribes obligations of the world (Rig Veda I,164,50; X,90,16).
Yajña is the very navel of the universe (vishva nabhi); ‘ayam yajño bhuvanasya nabhih’ (Rig Veda I,164,35). Yajña is the central thread binding together human souls with the souls of the gods for everywhere and in everything ‘the all pervading Brahman is ever established in Yajña' (sarvagatam brahma nityam yajñe pratishthitam) (Bhagavad Gita 3:15). Prajapati first fashioned Yajña, and through it he wove into one fabric the warp and weft of the three worlds (Rig Veda I,164,33-35). Prajapati is also identified with Yajña. The creation sustains itself through Yajña.
It is important to emphasize that Yajña is not only sacrifice in the sense that the lower levels must practise self-containment and obedience to what comes from above, but also it is the process of reciprocal exchange between levels. This is clearly brought out in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says: ‘Sustain the gods with yajña and let the gods sustain you, sustaining each other, you will reach the highest good. Fostered by yajña the gods will bestow on you the joys you cherish’(BG 3:9-16).
Yajña of the Mind
The Yoga Sutra continues the Vedic sacrifice (Yajña) by the sacrifice of the limited and limiting mind (citta) for the sake of Purusha who is the only true seer. This Purusha is not personally yours or mine; it is the pure power of seeing. One sacrifices the limitation for the unlimited power to see, a sacrifice of one’s separated self –with all of one’s fears and hopes, likes and dislikes, sorrows and pleasures, failures and ambitions– for the sake of the Only One who truly sees. Then follows the sacrifice of the seen for the sake of the Only One who truly is. Then there is no separate object but the Purusha, there is no separated subject but Purusha, there is no knowing except Purusha. The seer, the seen and seeing are all One; there is no other. This is the state of kaivalya–of aloneness, not because there is an opposition or a separation but simply because there is no ‘other’.
Thus sacrifice permits Order. Yajña, born of Rita, is the ground for the re-establishment of Rita. As Shatapatha Brahmana (I.3.4.16) says, Yajño va ritasya yonih (Yajña is the womb of Rita). In the utsava (festival) of life, all of sadhana (practice, effort) is yajña. In the movement from asmita (‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’) to Soham (I AM), from a limited self to the Self, from the identification with citta to that with Purusha, from the self-will of Arjuna to his willingness to carry out Krishna’s will, one places oneself in the right internal order. The resulting insight (see Yoga Sutra 1:48-49; 2:15; 3:54) is naturally full of truth and order: tatra prajña ritambhara.
“To this subject Ravi Ravindra brings a lifetime of enquiry and an unusually wide range of experience… Yet what impresses in these essays is not the considerable learning nor the influences which come into play, but the fresh and original quality of thought and the way in which this is combined with a profound understanding of the traditional knowledge of Hindu India…. will provide richly rewarding reading for all those interested in the thought of India or in the mysteries of the psyche. The essays it brings together are clearly the fruit of long and sincere personal enquiry, and achieve the remarkable feat of being at one and the same time fully in accord with traditional Hindu thought and of speaking to the present-day world in a language it can readily understand.”—Temenos Academy Review by Stephen Cross, author of The Way of Hinduism.
“Whenever I meet Prof. Ravindra I am reminded of J. Krishnamurti whom I taught yoga for many years. Having known Prof. Ravindra for a long time I admire his honest spiritual quest. He is indeed a true sadhaka… such a rare and true sanyasi. Enjoy his spiritual journey. He not only practices yoga but communicates it so well. I recommend this book to all serious students of yoga.”—TKV Desikachar, Founder Director of the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai, India, author of The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice.
"Throughout the book, it is clear that its author is not merely an armchair researcher but an engaged sadhaka, or practitioner, who can look back upon many years of personal spiritual struggle. His own yogic journey was significantly influenced by the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, the method of Jiddu Krishnamurti (with whom he was befriended), and the Gurdjieff Work. His essays on Krishnamurti and the Gurdjieff Work are among the most compelling in the book. The thoughtful reader will find much in this work that is not only informative and practically instructive but also inspiring." -Georg Feuerstein, author of Yoga, the Art of Ecstasy and many other books.