On tyaga

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 13 11:52:22 CDT 1999

There has recently been some discussion on the nature of tyaga and how the
earnest sadhaka should approach it.  Here are some thoughts I have on the

In the karmakanda tyaga is used as a technical term for a particular
ritual act.  When making an offering into Agni the basic process is this:

1)  The purohit recites a certain mantra.

2)  Then he offers it to the devata(s) mantioned in the mantra e.g.
Agnaye svaha

3)  Then the yajamana and his wife respond e.g. Idam Agnaye na mama, "This
is for Agni not for me."

(Of course in real vidhis things get more complicated but this is the
general idea.)

Step 3 is called tyaga.  The efficacy of a yagna is due to the fact that
we are giving away to Bhagawan what is ours.  Hence it is translated in
English as "sacrifice."

The concept of Bhagawan is related to this to.  The root bhag means to
share, to apportion.  Bhagawan is He who is receives a portion
of the yagna.  Recall the deadly insult which Daksha Prajapati gave which
so infuriated Sati Mata was to not invite Shiva Bhagawan to his yagna,
implying he was not Bhagawan at all.

>From these and countless other examples in the shastras we see that the
basic relationship between  bhakta and Bhagawan is that of giver-receiver.
If the bhakta didn't give he would not be a bhakta and if Bhagawan was not
their to receive the prayers and offerings of the bhakta, he would not be
Bhagawan!  This kind of relationship is hardly restricted to spiritual
life. For instance I give rent to my landlord and in return I get a place
to live.I give part of my income to the government and in return get various
social services etc.  At the lowest level Bhakti is of the same kind.
Although this type of Bhakta is making sacrifices, he is doing so with the
expectation of receiving something in return whether it be wealth, or fame
or Heaven or whatever.

At the next stage the bhakta gives up these expectations.  Whatever is
done is offered up to Bhagavan simply because he is the Lord.  The bhakta
no longer has that abhiman "I am doing this and this", he knows that it is
Bhagavan who is the doer.  This is tyaga and karmayoga as described in the

So far we have not parted company with the other darshans.  However as far
as Advaita Vedanta is concerned there is one more step.  It is not enough
to move the locus of karma from the jiva to ishwara.  After recognizing
the illusionary nature of his being a doer, to achieve complete jnana he
must also realize that karma--"doing* itself--is mithya.  In our
sampradaya this is the ultimate tyaga--to give up all false concepts such
as karma in their entirety.

There may be other practices which are helpful in various ways to those
who cannot ascend to such heights straightaway.  but unless they
contribute to the notion that karma is illusionary, they cannot be
considered part of Advaitic sadhana.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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